My Basic Kayaking Tips for Beginners

Kayaking is perfect for those who want to exercise outdoors and relax in nature great peace. You can bring your kayak to lake, river, or sea to enjoy some quality time with friends and family. However, when talking about this water sport, it is not as easy as buying a suitable one, taking it into the water, and paddling. Kayaking requires some certain skills and ability to interact with your surroundings. Once you get enough basic knowledge and paddling skills, then you are ready to bring your boat out to the water. The following is a comprehensive guide about kayaking tips for beginners who want to get the best performance.

Kayaking Tips on Choosing the Right Paddle

First of all, the most basic lesson for a beginner is choosing a suitable paddle that helps avoid muscle sore. To do that, you need to consider all the factors that affect kayaking, especially destination, and related activities. When talking about the design, there are two types: inexpensive straight shaft and curved shaft that works to reduce the burden on your wrist.

Kayaking Tips on Choosing the Right Paddle

Image source: Alpine Boats

A kayak paddle used for white waters area is short in length and easy for users to control. On the other hand, recreational kayak paddle is light in weight to support kayakers to paddle fast and effortlessly. Furthermore, it can be said that the wider the kayak, the longer the paddle.

Also, physique and body shape of a paddler is also critical in choosing the right paddle. To be specific, with a kayaker who is in short stature or shoulder/arm problems that make the paddling less efficient, a short paddle with a small blade will enable moving faster with less effort. For tall people, a long paddle will enhance the paddling speed a lot. Finally, professional paddlers who participate in kayak racing events require shorter paddle shaft with wider blades to move forward as fast as possible.

How to Carry Your Kayak

How to Carry Your Kayak

Image source: kayakguru.com

One of must-have kayaking tips is carrying a kayak. To carry your boat in the long distance, instead of lifting it by using muscle energy, a kayak cart will help you go anywhere.

It is true that most kayaks are large and heavy, and the transporting is also very difficult and tired. Carrying kayak is not easy if you are doing it regularly because it can weigh up to 100 pounds, causing problems for your back and hip.

In that case, you need a kayak cart. A kayak cart has two wheels attached to your car or pulled by yourself. More specifically, a good cart means its tire is also durable and easy to move on bumpy terrain.

Besides, you can load your kayaks and accessories, as well as personal items into the cart and easily bring them all together along the trip, especially in remote places.

How to Sit in Right

Another of my kayaking tips is learning to sit on the right. Although everyone knows that kayaking is very tired out, your muscles can still get more exhaustion if you are not sitting in a correct position in the cockpit. Thus, bend your knees slightly and ensure enough space for legs to move freely. Then, keep your body up straight, comfortable, and easy to move.

How to Sit in Right

Image source: YouTube

Paddling Technique

For a beginner, some basic paddling techniques are essential. In general, kayaking techniques can be summed up in one action: put the paddle into the water and pull. Paddling fast and rhythmically forward will make your boat move. On the other hand, gripping your paddle lightly will allow you to control the movements of the boat and keep your arms from muscle soreness. Most importantly, always keep your upper body balance by pointing your nose forward and lined up with the boat. Once you balance, you can prevent the boat from turning over, and the control of its movement will be easier.

Is Kayaking Instructor Necessary

Even though nowadays, information technology has developed so far. You can learn anything at home easily. However, with this activity, my kayaking tips are that you should take a course for beginners. This is extremely important to ensure safety when paddling. A basic course not only provides knowledge but also helps saving money from investing in additional equipment. Besides, you can get more information through videos or books.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Kayaking

Choosing the right kayak

If you are new at kayaking, it is best to start with these kayaking tips below. After gaining more experience and confidence, paddlers might choose to switch to a faster boat with less stability. Additionally, length is also a factor, as shorter kayaks are easy to control, while longer boats are for long distances.

Choosing the right kayak

Image source: The Online Fisherman

In generally, recreational kayaks are suitable for beginners, with wide size, light weight, and high stability, suitable for kayakers to paddle easily in calm water. The materials are different, but mostly from plastic or fiberglass, or a combination of increasing durability and reducing weight. Also, recreational kayaks have wide and open cockpits so you can get in and out without any difficulty. This type of boat has many versions, including solo, tandem, and tri-kayak.

Dressing appropriately

The next thing you need to remember is clothes must be matched with the destination, especially water temperature and weather condition. In particular, bring a hat and sunglasses to avoid the sun, sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin. Then,  choose quick drying clothes made -from thin material and many layers to keep the body well ventilated.

Gear and equipment

Accessories for kayaks are various, from kayaking life vest, float bag, and spray skirt, to safety gear and much more. At first, many people think those items are excessive and a waste of money. But when it comes to your safety in the water, they might help you get through the dangerous situation.

  • Life jacket: All kayakers must wear a lifejacket in the case of sudden fall to the water. Kayaking lifejacket is usually different from others as it is comfortable to make any movement in paddling with higher back and fitter size.
Life jacket

Image source: Old Town Canoe

  • Bilge pump: Kayak pump might sound unnecessary, but this is a useful accessory that helps you remove water out of the kayak. Without a bilge pump, the boat will sink or flip because of too much water.
  • Personal floatation device (PFD): in the case of immersion, a PFD will keep you afloat and protect the upper body from any water obstacles.

Weather check

One of my important kayaking tips is checking the weather on the day you go kayaking. It takes a huge role in a successful trip. The first step is checking the wind direction so you can make your boat go faster by using wind power. You also need to look at the speed of the wind through weather report. As a breeze from 1 to 3 knots will cause small waves; from 11 to 16 knots will cause high waves of 1 to 4 feet. If you are an inexperienced kayaker, it is best to paddle in calm waters or waves of 1 to 2 feet height.

Next step is checking on the clouds. Cirrus clouds are the highest clouds you can see. That means turbulence will appear in a day or the next two days, while in low and thick clouds is a sign of humid weather. If you see dark clouds are billowing and drifting toward your position, then it definitely will be thunder. In such case, you need to get out of the water immediately.

Weather check

Image source: Flyopedia

Last but not least is the fog. Dense fog condition can make you get lost or even accidently hit the rocks or other boats. So it is best that you stay close to the shore as much as possible, otherwise, bring along a compass or GPS.

Kayak Fishing Safety

Many people think of buying a kayak because they want to fish. To ensure safety, you should go fishing with at least one person who knows how to handle unexpected situations. Furthermore, as mentioned above, always check the weather elements including the wind, waves, thunder, and fog… Especially, if you are taking this fishing thing seriously, consider investing in a fishing kayak a boat. On the contrary, a used kayak is okay.  More importantly, this kayak boat must integrate with the fishing gear like rod or GPS device, with the large and stable hull.

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