Back in 2006 I couldn’t find any relevant practical advice to help me start sea kayaking as an amputee. However, I’ve learned a lot during the last ten years and I now feel it’s time to share some of that knowledge and experience with you. So if you value practical advice, or simply want to know a bit more before sticking your rubber toes into the world of paddling, this is for you.
My name is Rick Cooper and I’ve been on the sea all my life, mostly as a sailor. I’ve raced, cruised and instructed on a wide variety of yachts and dinghies all over the world. I’ve always been fascinated by the inter-tidal zone where the sea shapes the land. Often a wild and dangerous area, much of the coastline is inaccessible except to the smallest and most agile of craft. A sea kayak seemed to be the most effective way to poke into all those nooks and crannies, but first I needed to acquire some skills. How difficult could that be? Well, as an above-knee amputee, finding a way to start sea kayaking wasn’t straightforward.
I meet plenty of people sea kayaking who are dealing with their own specific physical challenges. Sea kayaking is an activity appealing to an older demographic and of course, the older we are, the more we have worn bits of our bodies out! Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of young sea kayakers out there too. We come from all walks of life and have a wide range of life experiences. We share a love of being on the sea, independent of spirit and free to chart our own course. However, often the most arduous element of the sport is getting to and from the water, carrying kayaks, launching and landing, loading onto roof racks, staying warm enough…
If you’re still reading then it’s likely that you have some form of physical challenge. You may only suffer a bit of reduced mobility that limits certain movements. We all experience some obstacles when we start sea kayaking. You can overcome some of them. You may just have to ignore or endure others. Are you are an amputee who wants some help? Are you are a coach who want to learn more? Please read on.