Getting out on the water and using your paddles to push yourself through calm waters is one of the most relaxing pastimes, especially when you know how to kayak properly. Most of the time, the kayak does a lot of the balancing for you but there are a few things to remember before you go out on the water. No matter where you are looking to take your kayak, we take a look at some of the most important things to know and remember so you can make the most out of every moment on the water.
How To Kayak
Prepping The Kayak
If it is a borrowed kayak or a new one, the seat might not be in a perfect position. If this is the case, move it into a place where you get the ideal balance and comfort before you get into the water. Allow for a bit of a bend in the knees and make sure they are touching the side of the cockpit for maximum balance and control.
Launching A Kayak
You may spot certain areas that are commonly used to launch a kayak so you can take advantage of a well-marked slope. Be careful when dragging the kayak as you don’t want to scrape it on rough edges such as rocks. If you are kayaking with a buddy then help one another carry your kayaks to the area so you don’t have to scrape it.
When on the shore, straddle the cockpit and edge it into the water. Then, position yourself in the seat and push off with your arms until you are floating.
How To Hold A Kayak Paddle
The proper technique will be a large part of your success on the water and it starts with the right grip. Make sure the blades face the right direction if they are curved as this will help you to move each stroke with more power.
Ensure the blades are in line. If they are feathered you will need to make the necessary adjustments using the twist section in the center or a push button. The longer edge of the blade should be on top. Use a relaxed grip to hold the paddle and make sure your knuckles are on the top then you’re good to go.
Learning Basic Kayak Strokes
There are a few to remember although sometimes what feels natural can help you to meander around calm waters. The following are good to know if you want to learn how to kayak properly.
This is the primary stroke you will use when kayaking. Move the blade into the water around where your feet are before rotating your torso and moving the blade past you. When it passes your hip, move the blade out the water and repeat on the other side. You can do this with a relaxed grip so there is no need to waste energy gripping hard.
Used to brake as much to reverse, this stroke is the opposite of the previous stroke, moving from your hip to your feet, slicing the blade out the water at the end of the stroke.
Otherwise known as a sweep stroke, this is important for getting you where you want to go. Instead of moving the paddle side to side, you simply use repeated forward strokes on one side. Use a wider sweep for balance.
How To Get Into A Kayak In Deep Water
It happens to experienced kayakers, so don’t worry if you are learning how to kayak, falling out of a kayak is part of the territory. Still, when it happens it can come as a shock and you will want to get back on board as easily as possible. Although it is the trickiest way of getting into a kayak, use a little patience.
You want to try and make sure the kayak moves as little as possible. Position your hand on the side closest then reaching across the seat, position the other hand across the opposite side. Pull yourself onto the kayak, with your stomach over the seat and your legs still submerged. With a steady motion, twist your body so you can sit on the seat with your legs still overboard.
Wait for the kayak to feel stable and move your legs into the kayak.
What To Take Kayaking
Get The Right Gear
When learning how to kayak, you might need more than the basic equipment. For your safety, it is a good idea to invest in a quality lifejacket, even if you are an experienced swimmer, you never know when you might get into difficulty. When fatigue sets in after a while, you don’t want to be fighting the water. Remember to buy the right sized paddle for you like something too small and you will find it uncomfortable to row, the same goes for products that are too big.
A hat that gives you decent protection from the sun and sunscreen is always good to keep to hand and there is nothing wrong with wearing a rash vest and neoprene footwear.
No matter how long you plan on kayaking, it is always a sensible idea to keep water with you. Most kayaks have pockets and places to store items so you can take snacks for an energy boost and extra sunscreen should you feel the need to reapply. A signaling whistle might come in handy if you find yourself in difficulty and dry bags can help protect electronics, even if there is a dry area that can be sealed.
Are Kayaks Stable?
Most kayaks are more stable than a lot of people think when they see them in the water, and a lot of your balance will depend on your positioning. The correct strokes also help as sudden movements that sway the kayak can cause it to rock unnecessarily.
They are designed to stay upright and take a fair bit of persuasion to tip. The wider the kayak, the more stable it tends to be although this will be at the expense of speed. Narrow kayaks are faster but more likely to tip. A kayak where you position your legs on top is better for recreational purposes although their width is usually more stable.
Are Kayaks Easy To Tip Over?
Move your head too far either side and you will find yourself falling in that direction. Different kayaks have different stability levels so some will be easier to tip, especially when kayaking at sea where the waves can be unpredictable and sometimes stronger than expected.