Frequently Asked Questions
FAQHere are some common questions about our sea kayak trips:
Our full terms and conditions can be found here - terms and conditions.
Yes - we give you some high quality kayaking waterproofs (jacket and trousers) to wear and your lower half will be inside the kayak anyway. You'll soon forget about the rain - it might mean that we can't see far off mountains and islands but we'll still be able to journey and see all the detail around the coast. We'll also still be able to see Seals and other wildlife.
Once you book a trip and pay a deposit we treat that as a firm booking for that trip type and date and our usual terms and conditions apply. If we have at least a weeks notice and we have space in our schedule then there may be a possibility that we could change the trip during off peak times. During peak season we are very busy and so changing trip times/dates within 2 weeks is not possible. Full terms and conditions are here - terms and conditions.
Day trips If the weather creates dangerous conditions for sea kayaking then we will cancel the trip and you won't be charged. The wind speed and sea state are the two things that can make sea kayaking dangerous, we assess the direction and strength of the wind and the experience level of the group and decide if the trip is viable - only the guide in charge of your trip or a senior guide can make this decision. If you choose to cancel and we deem it safe to run the trip then you will be charged. If there is availability on other days then we may be able to transfer the trip. Please bear in mind the weather can change quickly and a forecast is only a prediction - therefore we may have to cancel at short notice. Multi-day trips If we encounter bad weather during a multi-day trip then we may have to spend half a day or a day onshore, this is part of sea kayaking and we don't offer any refund for this.
We are a busy sea kayaking company and during peak season we are nearly always fully booked. The only real way to guarantee that you'll be able to come sea kayaking with us is to book a trip in advance. It is very difficult to predict the best days yourself as the weather changes very quickly and a good sea kayaking day relies on far more than just a bit of sunshine. Unless you have local knowledge and sea kayaking knowledge to be able to interpret the wind direction and strength and tide times and heights, and then apply it to the Arisaig coastline, then as a beginner its actually very difficult for you to predict which days would deliver the best days sea kayaking conditions. We do find though that the best days sea kayaking are not really coincidental with the sunniest days, there are just too many variables with sea kayaking - wildlife, other paddlers, sea conditions - part of the magic is in the unpredictability of journeying on the sea.
Sea kayaking is similar in intensity to walking - its is moderate aerobic exercise involving lots of different muscle groups but mainly the muscles of the torso and upper body. It places a light but repetitive load on these muscles - you don't need to have big muscles but you do need to be capable of sustaining a moderate level of physical effort. If you don't do any exercise, don't enjoy physical effort or have a very low level of fitness then you may find sea kayaking challenging. The most important thing to note is that we are here to enjoy the journey - we'll take plenty of breaks and paddle at an achievable pace.
Our largest kayak has a maximum load of 140 kg - however this is more of a theoretical weight limit and anyone that is significantly larger than average may find paddling a sea kayak uncomfortable. Everyone is different and so this is a very difficult subject to advise on - if you are very unsure about sea kayaking due to your size, fitness or weight then taking part in a less commiting and easier paddlesport may be a good way to start - a taster session, a short session on open top kayaks or a paddlesport that doesn't involve journeying or a remote setting such as at a waterpsorts centre or on an enclosed piece of water. You can then always progress to sea kayaking later on.
Capsizing is very rare on our sea kayak trips - we use stable kayaks for beginners. It does sometimes happen, but is nothing to worry about. Your guide will give you a briefing at the start of the trip on what to do if you capsize - how to exit the kayak and what the guide will do to help you get back in. The guide is able to quickly empty the water out of a kayak, hold it steady and show you the best method for climbing back in - in most cases you'd be back in your kayak in under 2 minutes. The only way to rule out any chance of capsize is to use a double kayak - these are incredibly stable.
We have both, we always default to single kayaks for all customers - please let us know if you'd like to paddle a double kayak instead.
We use a mix of sea kayaks for all of our trips: On most beginner trips we use P&H Virgo sea kayaks - these are shorter than an expedition sea kayak and so are easier to turn. They are very stable and easy to control kayaks with a high backrest that provides loads of support and comfortable seat. We also have double kayaks which are incredibly stable, these have space for two paddlers and are steered using a rudder. A good choice for anyone who is nervous, is unsure of their physical ability/fitness to sea kayak. We also have an expedition fleet of Valley, Northshore and P&H sea kayaks. We supply you with a high quality waterproof kayaking jacket and trousers. Also a spraydeck (neoprene or nylon depending on your experience level) and a buoyancy aid.
The weather in Scotland can be quite changeable and difficult to predict. It is incredibly rare to get long periods of bad weather in the summer and most of the time the sea kayaking conditions are very good around Arisaig - most weeks will see a mix of sun, cloud and rain with light to moderate winds. We find this changeable nature fascinating and it always adds a lot of drama and atmosphere to the landscape, something that really makes Scotland's coastline special. We can get stable high pressure weather systems forming which can give up to 2 weeks of sunshine and light winds - sometimes even longer. The flip side of that is deep low pressure systems which can bring strong winds and rain - but these move across the country much quicker and are only every short lived. The bottom line is that if you need every day of your holiday to be sunny then you should maybe look at another destination! If you are happy to adapt to changing conditions and enjoy the drama and intrigue that comes from watching a landscape transform on a daily basis then you'll have a great time in Scotland.
Midges are small flies that are present during the summer months in Scotland - in their highest numbers from June to September but they can also fly outside of these months. They can be irritating if encountered in large numbers - the good news is that they are very poor at flying and can't fly in any wind or in direct sunlight and they can't fly fast enough to keep up with walking speed. They also don't venture more than a few metres from where they land on plants, so we don't encounter them on the sea. We can go entire week long expeditions without encountering a single one, or in very still, cloudy and humid conditions they can be present in their thousands. The easiest way to manage them is to bring long sleeved clothing and a midge head net, you could also try a natural deterrent such as smidge (please don't bring any DEET based products on trips), but simply covering up is easily the best way to deal with them. If they are irritating us then we can go for a paddle or a walk, or we can spend more time in our tents or the group teepee tent that we bring, or we can light a fire on the beach - the smoke gets rid of hem pretty quick.
No - dogs can't come on our trips. There isn't space for them in a sea kayak and all of our trips involve journeying - it wouldn't be a good experience for the dog. There is also a chance your dog could cause disturbance to Seals and other sensitive marine life that isn't used to dogs.
It is easier if you are a complete beginner - choose any trip that is graded Open or intro, they are all beginner friendly, although bear in mind sea kayaking still requires some fitness and a positive attitude. If you have sea kayaking or paddlesport experience then read on. The most important thing about the grading is that it is there to help you choose the best trip for you rather than set any rules about who can join that trip if that makes sense. The conditions on any of our trips could vary quite a lot, a certain grade doesn't necessarily mean you'll be exposed to certain sea states or wind speeds. So the way we grade has more to do with the average conditions we may encounter by paddling in the area we want to and therefore making sure that the people we have on the trip still have a good time and are all of a similar experience level. The trip is fully guided so we will keep the group safe no matter who is in it and you don't require any specific skills or knowledge. The key to enjoying any trip is knowledge/skill, fitness and feeling confident about being in a sea kayak. One of the difficult things is that these three things don't necessarily relate to the amount of time someone has spent in a sea kayak. If you've been sea kayaking before then you'll already know lots of things that will help you - how to launch and land, how to paddle efficiently in a straight line, how to turn, what kit to bring, how to pack the boats. You should also feel a level of confidence in the sea kayak - a feeling that you can control the boat. An improver graded trip may be accessible to someone who can learn quickly, like being challenged, has a higher than average level of fitness but has only done a couple of days in a sea kayak before. It may also suit someone who has done 20 days sea kayaking before but likes to learn at a much steadier pace. It could also suit a highly experienced sea kayaker who simply wants to see a new area and be guided round the coast. An intermediate graded trip is generally only suitable for those who regard themselves as experienced sea kayakers. Intermediate graded trips may be in more exposed areas where there is a greater chance of encountering rough conditions and so feeling confident and able in a sea kayak is very important. Usually people booking intermediate graded trips have done several expeditions before or have built up a lot of experience on day trips or paddling with a club. They don't require a high level of fitness to take part but the fitter you are the easier you will find any trip. If you are still unsure then feel free to drop us an email.
Trips are confirmed when two clients book. If you book as an individual and are the first to book then one more person needs to book for the trip to be confirmed. It is incredibly rare that we have canceled a trip due to insufficient numbers.