How to Get Started Kayaking

Kayaks are lightweight and fairly portable, making them great way to seek adventure, even for those with little experience on the water. A kayak doesn’t require much effort to paddle and they can go in nearly any body of water, including the ocean, lakes and rivers. Once one learns to paddle and navigate in a kayak, it can take the adventurer many places that can’t be seen from dry land.

Make Plans

It’s always best to plan ahead before the first kayak adventure. Take the time to practice paddling and balance in calm water before venturing far from home. It’s best to practice in an area with little other traffic and no wind. The kayaker should be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and water temperature because capsizing is very likely on the first few tries and no one wants to risk hypothermia. When it’s time for a longer trip, check the weather daily and plan accordingly for wind and other conditions.

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Adjusting Your Boat

The boat should fit the body well and three points of contact should be maintained at all times. Adjust the seat until the small of the back is touching. Proper form involves sitting upright or even slightly forward. Foot pedals should be adjusted until the balls of the feet reach comfortably and keep a bend in the knees. The knees allow control of the boat while in the water and should remain in contact with the sides of the boat at all times. Be sure there is a snug fit in the boat, that still allows quick exit if needed.

The First Launch

Launching the kayak can be tricky so it should be done slowly until more experience is gained. the kayak should be placed in the water’s edge with the back end still slightly on land. Lay the paddle across it, concave side pointing up, with one side on shore for balance. Slide into the cockpit with one hand on the paddle and the other on the cockpit edge. Slide the feet forward, place the lower back against the seat and place the knees against the cockpit edge.

Learning to Paddle

The inexperienced kayaker should learn the forward stroke as it’s the basic movement in nearly any environment. The paddles should be used push the blade towards the body and then pushed away in even strokes. The torso also needs to move to increase power. Rotate your torso as you paddle for a stronger stroke that won’t strain the arms as much. Learning the most efficient way to perform the forward stroke can be done by observing another kayaker with experience.

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Important Information

One should always wear appropriate clothing for the climate and water temperature. Plan on getting wet and layer clothing as needed. It’s best to never go on paddling trips alone just in case of an emergency or accident. Most importantly, one should never go on a kayak adventure without basic safety equipment kit that includes a personal flotation device, a light, rescue gear and some form of communication.