Kayaking Tips for Beginners

Kayaking is a popular watersport that involves paddling a small, narrow boat known as a kayak using a double-bladed oar as a means of propulsion. The watercraft is available in a variety of sizes and types, depending on its intended use, but most kayaks feature an enclosed deck area that covers the legs. The boat sits low in the water and usually only accommodates a single paddler; however, tandem kayaks hold two people, and some boats can even hold up to three people.

Is Kayaking Easy?

Kayaking is not as hard to learn as most people might think. You only need to learn a few basic skills to paddle effectively. You will also need a good guide or instructor to help you learn the correct way to enter and exit a kayak, how to execute the forward stroke and the sweep stroke for turning the boat, and a few lessons on kayaking safety.

When kayaking for the first time, try to plan a trip that is four hours or less. You don't want to exhaust yourself or take on more than you're ready for your first time out. The suggested time of four hours or less gives you enough time to get a feel for kayaking and decide if it’s something you like doing. If it's really windy, it’s best to wait for another day with calmer wind conditions.

Overcoming Kayak Flipping Fears 

One of the most common fears faced by beginner kayakers is the fear of flipping over. How easy a kayak can be flipped greatly depends on the type of kayak you’re using. Higher-end kayaks take quite a bit to flip over, and tandem kayaks are even much harder to flip. With that being the case, it’s still important that you know how to get yourself back in the boat if the unlikely event does occur.

The best way to overcome the fear of flipping over in a kayak is to practice falling out so that you gain experience re-entering the kayak from the water. Remember to always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). When going kayaking with an outfitter or rental company, listen to their safety talk carefully and ask whatever questions you have prior to heading out. 

What to Wear Kayaking

Although plans for your kayaking adventure may not involve taking a dip, that doesn't mean you'll stay dry in a kayak. You should always plan for the possibility that you can end up in the water. It’s also a good idea to wear a waterproof dry bag to keep your phone, wallet, and any other personal items from getting wet.

What you decide to wear will also depend on the weather conditions. If you're going to be paddling in warm climates such as the Caribbean, Aruba, or even in Florida, shorts or swim trunks with waterproof pockets and a t-shirt are the way to go. Kayaking at sunrise on a spring day in Chicago; however, will require warmer clothing such as a wetsuit or drysuit.

Conditions for attire can often change when kayaking, so be prepared. What's warm enough on land might not be warm enough when on the water, or you might find yourself getting too hot from the effort of paddling your kayak on a sunny day. Always wear thin layers of synthetic fabrics to keep warm and dry. This gives you the option of removing layers of clothing if you get too hot. Sunglasses, a hat, and gloves for cool days are also good accessories to have on hand. 

The Enjoyment of Kayaking 

There are quite a few reasons why people get into the watersport of kayaking. While there are many reasons to kayak, your primary reason should be personal enjoyment. Whether you’re kayaking for serenity, relaxation, adventure, fishing, camping, or exploring, always have fun on your outing. Kayakers all over the world form a group bond that promotes the enjoyment of this outdoor activity.

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