Whether you are just thinking of starting or are already on your first few steps in learning how to kayak, we are here to help you. At Captain Mike’s, we want to ensure that you embark on your first paddling trip armed with the necessary skills to pull it off. We are here to provide you with some handy tips to launch your kayak adventure without a hitch.
Here are our top 9 tips for beginner kayakers.
1. Get a lesson first
If you are a complete kayak novice, you should get a lesson first. Actually, while you might think that paddling is an activity that doesn’t require lessons, you risk going in circles or finding yourself unable to recover from capsizing if you don’t take a lesson. Kayaking lessons aren’t expensive and you can easily find a center near you that offers great beginner classes.
2. Wear water-appropriate clothing
Wearing the right clothing is a must if you want to enjoy your day on the water. Many times the air temperature for the day may appear mild and tempt you to go out dressed for the weather. But you most likely will find the water much colder, especially if your kayak capsizes. So you should always dress for the water, not the weather.
For a beginner, it is advisable to wear a wetsuit, waterproof clothes and paddling gloves. As you acquire more experience on the water, you can gradually add layers of quick dry clothing for a suitable outfit that allows you to remove some layers when it is too warm and ensures nothing stays damp for too long. Likewise, you should have backup clothing in order to have a dry outfit to change into after paddling.
3. Pick the right kayak
There are several types of kayaks in the market, but the boat you choose should depend on your experience, weight, height, paddling location and water conditions. Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for beginners as they are stable and easy to paddle. However, whatever kayak you pick, you should remember that the correct boat will set you up for success while one that is unsuitable will only delay your learning curve or discourage your interest in kayaking. That is why if you are unsure you should contact us at Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy to help you find the right boat.
4. Prioritize your safety
You have to be prepared with appropriate safety gear such as buoyancy aids or life jackets. You are always at risk of tipping and you can easily endanger your life on the water if you go out without safety gear. When paddling with a club or school, you will be provided with buoyancy aids. But when going alone you have to ensure that you have your own safety gear or that you can rent it for the day. You also should make sure that you are confident enough to get on the water and paddle without fear or anxiety. You need kayak lessons and regular practice sessions to build your confidence and familiarize yourself with the safety precautions you need to take.
5. Position yourself properly in the boat
When you sit correctly in the kayak, you’ll find paddling much easier and less tiring. In fact, if you don’t sit properly you will get uncomfortable very quickly and will suffer throughout your trip. The ideal way is to sit up straight with knees bent upward and outward and feet resting on foot pegs.
6. Hold your paddle correctly
Holding the paddle properly will make a huge difference in your paddling. Make sure to clutch the paddle with both hands and keep your hands just over a shoulder width apart. Also ensure the concave area of the paddle is facing you so it can sweep properly through the water. As you learn how to have a proper grip of the paddle, ask your instructor to help you hold it in a way that is most comfortable for you.
7. Begin on flat water
You are just beginning and you need the right place to learn the basics. That is why you ought to begin on flat waters such as ponds and lakes where the water is calm and smooth and where with only a little motion you can find your balance easily. Start by practicing in calmer waters — even by just sitting in a kayak on land before you head into water — so you can get a good feel of the vessel, appreciate its features and be able to paddle it safely and comfortably on the water.
8. Master self-rescue techniques
Before you get on water, you should learn self-rescue techniques just in case your boat tips during your first paddling venture. Even if you don’t expect your boat to capsize, you still need to be prepared. Make sure to go through the basic capsizing drill with your instructor until you are totally comfortable with it. Then if your boat tips, remember to always stay with the boat and keep yourself and others safe. And if the boat capsizes, don’t worry about losing your paddle or other equipment — people’s lives come first in such situations.
9. Never go alone
Water can be quite unpredictable, particularly for beginners. So you must never go paddling alone. Bring a friend or a workmate along for the added fun and as a safety measure. When you are on the water with a friend, you can work together to build each other’s confidence, explore different areas, learn from each other’s mistakes and offer help when either one gets into trouble. In fact, kayaking is a remarkably delightful sport to enjoy together in small or large groups.
Looking for a stable, comfortable and safe kayak for your next paddling adventure? At Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy, we specialize in kayaks and related equipment and have a wide variety to suit a broad range of needs, experience levels and preferences. For more information on our range of kayaks, visit Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy website.