Written by 4:21 pm Kayaking, Kayaking Basics

How To Get Started Kayaking – Advice & Tips for beginners

(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Getting into kayaking is something you have been giving some serious thoughts. It could be you have seen all the fun and great exercise this activity comes with, or it could just be after your doctor ordered. Whichever the case, kayaking is an amazing sporting activity you could get yourself into today. 

Since this is a whole new area you wish to venture in, obviously, you would love to know some few things about kayaking before you take things really serious. Here is how to get started kayaking.

WHAT IS A KAYAK

If you are reading this, it is very likely you know what a kayak is. However, for people who haven’t heard about it before. A kayak, somehow, is like a canoe. You can paddle it on water. However, unlike what we see on our canoes, here you sit down as you use a double-bladed paddle to move forward or turn the kayak. Your legs often stretched in front of you. It was originally meant for hunting but is now being used for recreational, as well as, racing purposes.

WILL I REALLY NEED TO BUY A KAYAK FOR MY TRIP?

At this pointing time, you really don’t need to buy, but rent one. You can actually do that once you have the necessary skills and you wish to take things a notch higher. Ideally, it will make a lot of sense if you start with kayaking lessons. Those few learning sessions will be equipped with all you need to know before you invest your money on your own kayak.

WHERE CAN I RENT MY FIRST KAYAK FROM?

This sport is fast becoming more and more popular. Service providers have seen this and are now taking full advantage of this new craze. You can actually rent the kayak around some of the most popular kayaking sites or even along the lakeside. You can rent one and normally the rates will depend on the size of the kayak, the kind of trip you wish to take and additional services you will be given once you rent a kayak.

DO I NEED ANY EXPERIENCE BEFORE MY FIRST TRIP?

No, you don’t need any kind of experience when getting started. Just like any other sporting activity, you will learn along the way as you develop proper kayaking techniques. However, it is really important you know how to swim; let’s say at least 25 meters. When getting started, obviously, you might find yourself in the water a couple of times and those swimming skills will surely come truly in handy.

WHAT BASIC SKILLS DO I NEED FOR MY FIRST TRIP?

For beginners, you need to know some of the things before you set out on a kayak. In this case, we are talking about how to operate your kayak without any problem.

How do I get in and out of a kayak?

  • When you are at the shore

If you are at the shore and you want to get in or out of your kayak; with one hand, you need to hold the pedal right in the center. Place the pedal across a kayak some few feet right in front of the seat; this is the exact spot where your knees would be if you were sitting. Put the other hand right on top of the seat’s back.

At this pointing time, your body should actually be positioned perpendicularly to your kayak. Starting with the foot closest to the kayak, step in. You need to do this at a perfect angle; one which will allow you to sit almost immediately without being forced to adjust your feet as that can rock your boat. Additionally, you might want to use your pedal as a stabilizer of the kayak as you step in. You also need to put a bit of weight on both the paddle and seat as well.

  • When you are at the dock

If you are at the dock, you first need to choose the right place to dock. Here you need to find a place where your kayak is very close to the dock, as that will help reduce the distance you have to step down. Hold the dock with one hand and then seat back with the other hand. Lastly, step in at an angle and take that sit quite smoothly.

  • How Do I hold the paddle properly?

Typically, kayak paddles come with a brand logo on one of the sides. So when you are on your seat, you need to make sure you can read the logo. 

  • How do I make a stroke?

That first stroke is important, and you might want to ensure you do it perfectly well. First, you need to rotate your torso that is to your right while at the same time reaching forward with the left side of the paddle. Here an extension of about 50 percent will make you get that perfect stroke. Take the paddle and dip it right into the water and ensure it is not more than halfway up the height of the blade.

Secondly, pull back with a bit of firmness and rotate your torso to the other side. As the left paddle exit, it should be at the line of the hip. Immediately after that, your pedal should enter the water on the opposite side as you repeat the steps once again.

  • How do I turn around in a kayak?

There are three ways you can do this, but for starters, we are going to mention just one that is quite easy to pull off. First, you can use your paddle as a rudder. When the kayak is moving, take the blade and put it in the water right on the side of the side you would like to turn towards. Drag it in water until your kayak starts to turn to that side you want it to.

DO I NEED TO BE IN SHAPE?

Kayaking, basically, is like any other sporting activity; it involves a sense of the exercise. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go kayaking; you can do it whether you are in shape or not. However, you might also want to keep this in mind; there is a maximum weight limit. Excess weight can lead to the capsizing of the kayak and that can be really dangerous. As much as being in shape is not a primary requirement,  if you want to go for those long and sweat breaking kayaking sessions and enjoy every bit of it, you need to be in a better shape

WHERE SHOULD I TAKE FOR MY FIRST TRIP?

When getting started, you need to keep things a bit slow. For beginners, it would make a lot of sense if you go on your first trip to lakes, and rivers. When starting out, even a very mild current can take a toll on you. So when getting started with kayaking, you might first want to start with an outdoor group excursion. Here, you will be provided with the necessary equipment. For the first trips also, you might want to ensure you avoid any technical kayaking areas like waterfalls and rocky rivers. You don’t need the requisite skills to maneuver through such areas.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

Kayaking, pretty much like any other outdoor activity, has clothing specifically meant for it.  Ideally, before you go out kayaking, you might need to be well prepared for the elements. For example, if it is summer, you can do quite well with some light clothes. However, you shouldn’t have any issues with these clothes getting wet. For winter, you would do well with a wetsuit, but you might want to layer it with a waterproof jacket. Additionally, you are advised to wear PFD (Personal Floatation Device) for safety just in case you find yourself in water.

CAN I GO KAYAKING IF THE WEATHER IS BAD?

Contrary to popular believe, kayaking is an all-weather sporting activity. Although it is much fun and enjoyable when the weather is a bit warm, especially in summers, you could still have an action-packed outing when it is cold or even raining. However, you might need to be careful about some dangerous conditions such as high winds, high river levels or even heavy rain.  They can make your ride incredibly dangerous and you may find yourself at the bottom of the sea.

WILL I CAPSIZE A LOT?

This rarely happens. However, if you act inappropriately and you have that uneven distribution of weight on your kayak, you would capsize. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t worry you a lot. Kayaks are incredibly stable and easy to handle. So those capsizing issues are an occurrence.

WILL I GET WET?

Definitely yes; it doesn’t matter how careful you are, you will get wet. When launching your kayak into the water, your feet will get wet. In other cases, people paddling around you will like splash water.

CAN I KAYAK WITH CHILDREN ALONG?

Of course yes; kayaking is totally safe for children.  In this case, we are talking about children aged 4 years going up. You need people who can easily understand and follow laid down instruction. However, you might want to use a kayak which you can easily keep a close eye on them.  So if you want a weekend to remember with family, kayaking is definitely what you need as a family.

WHAT SHOULD I PACK FOR MY FIRST TRIP?

As with any other outdoor activity, you need to bring a few essentials. For your first trip, you need to pack plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, snacks and extra layers of clothing. If you can’t just leave your phone behind, ensure you have a dry bag where you can safely stash your phone without having to worry about water coming in contact with your phone.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SAFETY PRECAUTION DO I NEED TO TAKE?

Right before that first trip, if you want to stay safe and remain alive to see another day, you need to take a number of safety measures. Kayaking, just like any other water sporting activity, can get really dangerous for beginners. Here are some of the measure you might want to take before that first outing.

  • Bring a friend along: If you don’t have a guide with you, bring a friend along for your first trip. Another paddler during those first sessions can be of great help. They provide much-needed help and assistance.
  • Always know your distance: If you don’t have any rescue training, don’t go for those long kayaking sessions. In short, you shouldn’t go farther away from the shore. You need a place where you can swim easily in the shoes in case of an accident.
  • Check your PFD (Personal Floatation Device): Ensure this protective gear is tight and is not very loose so that it doesn’t mess with your breathing. If at some point you find temperatures soaring through the roof and you want to remove those extra layers, get to the shore first. Do not do it in the middle of the river or sea. Before you can get that extra layer off, you will need to get off your PFD first and that can be really dangerous.
  • Bring your whistle along: You never know when you might actually need it. That distress signal can have you rescued in a matter of minutes. So don’t underestimate the power of a whistle when you are out there kayaking.

WHAT SHOULD I NOT BRING ALONG?

When it comes to what not to bring along, the answer is pretty much simple. Anything you don’t want to get wet, especially if you don’t have a dry bag with you. In this case, it could be your iPhone, iPod or any other electronic device.

Last modified: January 23, 2021

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