Antarctica Marathon 2014: Day 6: Kayaking with Marathon Tours

Antarctica Marathon 2014: Day 6: Kayaking with Marathon Tours

This is a post about the kayaking experience in Antarctica and how it is set up on the OneOcean cruise.

Kayaking on Marathon Tours Antarctica Marathon Trip

I titled this specifically for Marathon Tours. Normally on OneOcean cruises or expeditions, usually only one group of 16 people could go kayaking and they would do it the entire time they were there. There are two downsides to it: you would have to do it the entire time you were there and you would miss out on the land excursions. The way Marathon Tour has it is that as many groups of 16 can go as possible. Unfortunately, two kayak excursions were cancelled because of rough waves (2m). One of those trips, people on the much larger Zodiacs barely made it back to the ship.

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The usual process goes like this. You would sign up to go on a kayak expedition the first night you are on the ship. You can still sign up but try to sign up as soon as possible, within the first night. It’s not crucial that you’re the first to sign up so don’t feel rushed to sign up. There will be a few lists and the kayak director will choose which groups go when. Seven groups signed up but only 4 got to go due to bad weather.

The kayak director/guide usually announces the groups the night before so you know to wake up a bit early. There is a wake up call for all passengers and breakfast starts about 30 minutes later. About 30 minutes later is the time the kayak people need to be in the mud room to get into their dry suits. The exact time is one hour before they commence the gangway operations. If you get dressed and the trip is cancelled, then that group will be the next one to go when possible. Because you have done it once before, you only need to show up 40 minutes before gangway operations.

You are recommended to wear three layers of pants. They will not let you kayak with jeans on. No Cotton! The first would be a tech sweat wicking layer, second and third would be a wool or non-cotton thermal layer. I would recommend two thermal layers and then a thin waterproof layer on top. They also recommend a few layers of shirts. The composition would be the same as the pants. I would go as far as to recommend a thin waterproof jacket on top. Many people wore wool sweaters and thin thermal bubble jackets underneath the dry suit. There is a lot of room inside so wear as many layers as you think you will need. As they are sitting right above the water, it can get very cold due to direct heat transfer from the water up to your suit.


You will not need gloves for the kayak trip. You can put your bare hands on the kayak paddles and there are gloves attached to the paddles that work pretty well. At first the pole is a bit cold but they warm up as soon as you start paddling. You will need some waterproof gloves when you get in/out of the Zodiac.

The order of operation is to put on the dry suit, put on the splash skirt and then put on your life jacket. The splash skirt is neoprene and attaches to you. This will go over the giant hole in the kayak to make it water resistant.

This group is usually the first group to get on the Zodiac so they can start the kayak tour. The tour usually lasts for about 2 hours. They use open water kayaks, both singles and doubles. Sometimes you will be placed in single or double kayaks depending on the demand.

You will get into the kayak one of two ways. The first and most common way is directly from the small Zodiacs. Two people will hold the kayak still while you get in it. It is fairly easy from what the kayak told us.

The second way is directly from shore. The kayaks are beached on shore and you get in. You get pushed out and the ruder gets flipped down as you hit the water.

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Once you get into the kayak, you may need to adjust the foot pedals for the ruder. This will control where you go. These are ocean kayaks, so they are longer and a bit wider than a normal kayak. You bend your legs so that your knees hit the two sides of the kayak. This is for stability. You are also encouraged to sit up straight for better stability.

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You don’t need any prior kayak experience to go on the kayak tours. The kayaks are pretty simple to operate. It helps if you went kayaking before but not necessary.

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You will cruise around for about 90 minutes and the kayak guide will lead you to different places and may say something about the location. There is usually a zodiac following the kayaks to help. Once the tour is done, everyone hops into the zodiac directly. This is actually pretty simple. The staff on the zodiac will get your paddle then he/she will hold your kayak. You will transfer your dry bag over to the zodiac (if you have one), then cling onto dear life on the zodiac and slide onto the zodiac. You zip back onto the ship after that.

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Every few days, the kayak guide will have you shower off with the dry suits on to remove the salt from the outfits. You will shower with everything on, then slowly peel off the layers until you are washing down the dry suit. This will help it last longer. Not every group will have to do this, but whenever the guide decides the suits needs to be washed.

1 Comment on "Antarctica Marathon 2014: Day 6: Kayaking with Marathon Tours"

  1. Giddy for Points | August 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Reply

    What gorgeous views! I love kayaking but have never done it in freezing temperatures before :p

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