Kayaking can be a wonderful way to get out and enjoy the outdoors. It is also a great sport for any beginner to learn. Like cycling, it’s relatively simple to pick up. Within a few hours, you’ll be happily paddling down the river! However, there are so many different types of kayaking – from flatwater kayaking to sea kayaking and white-water kayaking.
Whether you want to go kayaking in the best spots in the world or in your local area, you will need to have a good basic skill set before heading off on an adventure of your own.
So, here are some tips that every beginner kayaker should know before they get in the water for the first time.
Get yourself kayaking lessons. You might find yourself paddling around in circles for the first half an hour without some proper coaching. You’ll waste a lot less time and learn how to paddle and recover from a capsize if you take lessons from a professional.
It might be a hot sunny day, so you’ll be tempted to wear shorts and tee to go kayaking. But the water temperature might be icy cold. Make sure you wear clothes that are appropriate for the water, not the air temperature. If you fall in (which isn’t totally unlikely) then you will be glad you wore a wetsuit, kayaking gloves and waterproof cagoule rather than your summer clothes.
Kayaking through a light drizzle won’t raise too much of a problem. But trying to paddle through a heavy rain will fill your kayak’s cockpit with water and render it unstable. Make sure to check all weather conditions where you’re kayaking before packing your car and heading down to the lake. Also, take note that heavy rains from a day or two before will make for more turbulent waters.
If there is one tip I would like to share for beginners, it would be don’t kayak alone. It’s never a good idea to go kayaking by yourself – no matter how much experience you have had. Team up with another kayaker. If you get into trouble, at least there is someone there to help. Remember, safety first!
So, to wrap it up if you're planning your first non-guided outing? Make things easy on yourself and;
- Choose a small, calm body of water. Lakes or ponds with little or no powerboat traffic are ideal.
- Find a gently sloping sandy beach to launch from. Steep, mucky and rocky shorelines will be more challenging.
- Go on a sunny, windless day. You’ll keep complications low and comfort high.
- If it’s breezy, start out by paddling into the wind. Paddling into a headwind on your way back is a struggle; paddling with a tailwind is, well, a breeze.
- Plan on an outing, not an expedition. For an optimum fun to fatigue ratio, keep your paddling time under two hours.
Now that we have covered all the basics, you are ready to go kayaking for the first time! Be sure to take lots of pictures to remember your first great adventure in nature!