Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do we need prior kayaking experience?
A: No experience is necessary to participate on our trips. We do ask that you are physically fit and inform us about any limitations you may have.
Q: What is the difference between the Ketchikan Kayaking and Orcas Cove tours?
A: Ketchikan Kayaking takes place in the city of Ketchikan and the Tongass Narrows directly in front of town: it offers a great paddle to historic Creek Street and views of the surrounding islands. We often see eagles nests and interesting tidal life and sometimes whales, seals or sea lions, however Ketchikan Kayaking is not a wilderness kayak trip. Orcas Cove is our wilderness kayaking trip. We travel by boat 8 miles our of town to a place that is accessible only by water. There are no other kayak tours operating in the area and we spend almost the whole 3 hour trip time on the water so there is a greater chance of seeing wildlife on the Orcas Cove trip.
Q: Should we tip our guide?
A: Tipping is customary, but of course not compulsory. A gratuity is a wonderful way to show appreciation to your guide.
Q: Can our kids participate?
A: Absolutely, we love kids on our tours! Children must be aged six or over and parents should be aware that they will do the bulk of the paddling with kids under the age of ten. We have triple kayaks for families on the Ketchikan Kayak tour and center seat double kayaks at Orcas Cove that can accommodate children up to about the age of eight. We recommend the Ketchikan Kayak trip (rather than Orcas Cove) for kids aged 7 and under.
Q: Can we bring our Grandma too?
A: You are never too old to paddle a kayak. Our oldest participant to date was aged ninety and going strong. We use double kayaks to pair people up to make strong paddling teams. Just be aware that kayaking does require some physical exertion and for the Orcas Cove trip we have to "climb" aboard the mother ship. Please call or email us if you have any questions or concerns.
Q: We don't want to kayak in the rain, what if it rains for our trip?
A: Ketchikan is in the heart of a temperate rainforest and we would never do anything if we stopped for the rain. Please do not let the possibility of rain deter you from booking. Southeast Alaska is at its most beautiful on misty rainy days. We provide quality paddling jackets, waterproof pants and spray skirts to our guests to keep everyone as dry as possible. and don't forget that the wildlife doesn't care about the rain. Of a greater concern to kayakers is strong wind, and if the conditions are unsafe we will cancel trips with a full refund.
Q: Why do guests have to sign a waiver?
A: Our insurance company requires that we inform all of our clients about the risks involved in going out on the ocean in sea kayaks. The waiver outlines these risks and all participants must read and sign the waiver. A copy is available here.
Q: What will the weather be like? Is it cold?
A: Summer time in Southeast Alaska is mild with average temperatures in the 60’s, but days can run into the 80’s. We do live in a rainforest and our area is dependent on the rain that fuels the diverse ecosystem here. However the summer months are the driest.
Q: What should we wear?
A: We ask you to dress warmly in layers; as if you were hiking, but without hiking boots. Even on sunny days, kids should be warmly dressed. Synthetic materials, wool and fleece are best as they will keep you warm even if they get damp. Sneakers are appropriate footwear as we step into the kayaks from a dock or a boat and your feet will not get wet. Hiking boots tend to be too bulky for the kayaks. Sunglasses, a baseball cap and a camera are great things to bring along.
Q: Can I sign up as a single person?
A: Certainly! We will be happy to sign you up for an already scheduled Ketchikan Kayaking or Orcas Cove trip. We will team you up with another paddler or a guide in a double kayak. Unfortunately we are not able to run the Orcas Cove trip for only one person but we can work with you to find a time for you to join an already scheduled trip.
Q: What wildlife will we see?
A: We can see many different species of marine mammal, birds, land mammals and intertidal invertebrates. However, our tours are not "wildlife viewing tours" we focus on sea kayaking and enjoying the serenity of Alaska's stunning natural environment. We do frequently have amazing animal encounters however we cannot guarantee wildlife sightings on the tours.
Q: Can we use single kayaks?
A: We use double kayaks for all of our tours but we are happy to provide single kayaks, when they are available, to experienced sea kayakers. Because our single kayaks are very narrow and tippy we ask that guests who use single kayaks be experienced in cold water self-rescue techniques.
Q: Will the kayak tip over?
A: Capsizes on our guided tours are extremely rare. Our double sea kayaks are quite stable and our guides will help you develop technique and grace.
Q: What if our ship is delayed or misses port?
A: Very occasionally a cruise ship will not stop in Ketchikan as scheduled: if a ship misses port completely we give a full refund. If your ship is delayed we will try our best to re-schedule. If we can’t there will be a full refund
Q: I am over 6"4" can I still kayak?
A: We have modified two of our double kayaks to accommodate tall people and have fitted people up to 6"11 in the kayaks. Just let us know when you book so that we can reserve the tall kayak for you.
Q: Do you have a weight limit? I am concerned about fitting in the kayak.
A: Over the years we have seen all shapes and sizes! Ability to participate depends on size rather than weight, however we do not recommend this tour for guests over 275lbs and some guests under 275lbs may not fit into the kayaks. To safely participate guests must be able to step into a spray skirt that is 55 inches around and pull it up to their chest. Guests must also be able to sit comfortably in a kayak seat that is 18 inches wide (same
width as most standard airline seats) and fit into unisex 2XL rain gear. If you are not sure whether you will be able to participate, please call us for more information.
Q: Can you accommodate people with special needs?
A: We are proud of our reputation of providing outdoor recreation for all. The Ketchikan Kayak tour is accessible for people with wheelchairs. The Orcas Cove tour is more challenging because of the transfers from boat to boat, however, we have been able to make the tour work for a wide variety of special needs. Please contact us for more information and we will do our best to make it work!