Here are 7 handy tips that will make your kayaking trip exhilarating and unforgettable.
1. Boat entry
How do you enter your boat without problems? Getting into or out of a kayak may be quite an ordeal for paddlers. The majority of capsizes tend to occur at this point. So if you don’t want to get drenched, you must master the technique of getting in and out of your kayak. The easier way is to place your paddle across the boat, making sure to put it just in front of the position where you’ll be sitting. That will not only balance your boat as you get in or out, it will also prevent you from pushing off and leaving your paddle on the bank. It happens!
2. Get in a comfortable position
Kayaking is longer and harder when you are in an uncomfortable position from the get-go. So make sure you are well-positioned in your kayak before you set off. Ideally, your bottom should be comfortably in the seat with your legs slightly bent. If you straighten your legs, there will be unnecessary strain on your lower back. Paddling is all about good posture, so sit straight up to allow your core to provide power to your strokes. Remember that your arms should experience a little exertion as you paddle — proof that you are using your core.
3. Paddling the kayak
Once you are inside your kayak, you can begin paddling. It is quite easy. Just rest comfortably on your seat, keeping your boat stable. Grip the paddle with your thumbs under and your hands over it — making sure your grip is as relaxed as possible. Hold your paddle a little wider than your shoulder width, keeping your elbows straight and high.
Place the paddle in the water nearest to your toes and draw it backward toward your hip and parallel to the boat. Then draw the paddle out from the water and repeat the same movement on the other side of the boat. Your torso is your engine, your source of power — so you should twist it to enable you to make the strokes and prevent possible strain of your shoulders, back and arm.
4. Making strokes
You are now set and ready to go. For the forward strokes, make sure they are deep and even. To achieve that, turn your torso and place your paddle blade parallel to your foot. Draw your paddle from the water as your hand reaches the hip and turn your torso again. Now repeat the process on the other side of your boat.
Making even strokes on either side of your kayak will keep the boat moving in a straight line. However, since at the beginning you’ll find it a little difficult to keep the boat going straight, try to focus on a specific point on land and paddle straight toward it.
5. Turning your kayak
Want to turn the kayak? There are several ways to achieve that. Basically you need to use your paddle as a rudder, dragging it closer to your boat to ensure the boat turns toward the same side as the blade. With this technique, you will lose a lot of your forward momentum — a problem you can resolve by using the more effective sweep stroke. That is, you alternate forward strokes on one side of your kayak with sweep strokes on the other side. A sweep stroke is when you simply sweep the paddle wide by one side of your boat until it comes around and touches the stern (or back of your boat), then you continue the pattern to create a wide arc turn.
6. Dress for the water and wear a buoyancy aid
Dressing for a kayaking expedition is not simply about wearing clothes that are ideal for the weather. Even during a hot sunny day, the water may be ice cold. So make sure to wear clothes that are appropriate for the water temperature and not the air temperature. Likewise, you must wear a personal floatation device (or lifejacket) to keep you afloat should your boat capsize. Wearing a buoyancy aid is also encouraged as it allows for more movement around your neck and arms. Remember also to bring extra clothes even if you feel very sure you aren’t going to get wet.
7. Do not go kayaking alone
If there’s one tip that should be said aloud to every kayaker, it is this one. Regardless of how much experience or whichever location you are paddling, it is never a good idea to go alone. Team up with another kayaker so that should you get into trouble, there will be someone there to give you a helping hand. Planning your kayaking trip with a professional provider such as Captain Mike’s will ensure that you go out on the water with a skilled, experienced guide.
At Captain Mike’s, we help kayakers of different skill and experience levels to find their footing and enjoy paddling. We have a whole range of stable and comfortable kayaks — from the tiny, squat freestyle play boats, reassuringly stable sit-on-tops, speedy flat-water boats, to the long and narrow racing boats. So if you are looking for a recreational kayak that is perfect for the water you’ll be paddling in, you can take advantage of our broad-range of boats. Want to know more about our remarkable assortment of kayaks? Visit the “Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy” site.