Kayaking is a thrilling, fun and easily accessible water sport. It is a great pastime that appeals readily to nature enthusiasts and those who are looking for a physically challenging experience on water. It also can be done in a variety of settings from small and narrow canals to open lakes. But when beginning, kayaking can be a little scary particularly when your boat flips over and you don’t know how to correct it yourself.
So just how stable are kayaks and do they ever tip?
Kayaks are a lot more stable than most people imagine. And they are not easy to tip over. For example, when using a sit-inside kayak, you are sealed inside and your lower body enclosed with a skirt to increase stability and control of the boat. A good number of sit-in-kayaks have shorter and wider hulls to boost their stability. Likewise, most recreational kayaks have flat hulls that make them highly stable and less likely to tip over. The problem with sit-in-kayaks is that when filled with water following a tip over, they are difficult to exit and bail and you have to do it manually by an Eskimo roll or wet exit.
Sit-on-top kayaks are designed to offer great stability on water. While some of them appear unstable and wobbly, their flat hulls make them very difficult to tip. Sit-on-tops also come with foot supports on either side of the boat, allowing you to position your body in the center and use your feet for added stability. If you flip over your sit-on-top kayak, you automatically fall off the boat — so you don’t have to be an experienced swimmer or have technical skills to survive a tip in such a kayak. That is why a sit-on-top kayak is regarded as the safer boat if there is a tip over, particularly for a beginner.
How kayaking conditions affect stability
Apart from the type of kayak, the possibility of tipping depends on the kayaking conditions. If you’re paddling in calm waters or an inland waterway, then flipping over is not easy. However, the risk of capsizing increases with sea kayaking where larger waves or unexpected changes in conditions are frequent. Similarly, in whitewater kayaking, the rough waters increase the risk of tipping over and it is advisable that you undergo some safety training before hitting the rapids or embarking on rougher seas.
Always keep an eye on your safety
While kayaks are generally stable and rarely tip, you should always prioritize your safety on the water. Regardless of the type of kayak or paddling conditions, always make sure to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or life vest. You should always keep in mind that anything may happen when you are on the water and it is best to be prepared and put your safety first. Failing to wear a PFD greatly hampers your safety, particularly if the conditions are also battling against you.
At Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy, we understand that you don’t want to fall in the water, especially if that isn’t why you go paddling in the first place. But we also understand that boat stability is a very subjective thing and a boat that may be seem threatening to a novice may be quite stodgy and boring to a skilled, experienced and extreme paddler. That is why we have assembled a huge range of stable and comfortable boats that meet the needs of different kinds of paddlers. We also insist on personal flotation devices on every boat to keep our clients safe and to make paddling a fun and memorable venture for everyone. For more information on our kayaks, visit Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy website.