12 things to know about kayaking before hitting the water

Fancy giving kayaking a go? Here are 12 things you need to know before hitting the water.

The feeling of floating on water is serene, and offers a rewarding experience. But while kayaking is a wonderful sport, you need to take the time to learn it, just like most other sports.

The good news is that learning to kayak isn’t very difficult and can be done in a couple of hours or days. Here are 12 things to know before launching off.

1) Learn the rudiments 

The first thing to do before kayaking is to learn the rudiments. And one thing you need to know is that paddling without learning can be dangerous.

Kayaking looks fun, and it looks quite easy to do, but things can easily go north for you without the right skills. Learning helps you know how to recover in the event of a capsize. Learning will also save you time and energy because you may find yourself paddling in a circle otherwise!

2) Don’t kayak alone

If you get into distress kayaking them you’ll need someone to help you or raise the alarm.

And, while most Kayaking goes without issues, sometimes you may come across unexpected bad weather, faulty equipment, or a capsize. A friend can rescue you or call for help, and even tow you back. .

Having someone paddling beside you can be very helpful. It also makes okaying more fun when you share the experience with someone.

3) Learn about possible hazards in the water

It’s essential to do due diligence and research the water you’re going kayaking on. You can use the internet, radio, and weather apps to research the weather forecast and avoid paddling in bad weather.

It’s also important to know the wind conditions at different hours of the day, because extreme winds could cause high current, which can be hazardous.

And you should do all you can to avoid a collision. Big boats often cannot easily see kayaks, so you need to keep an eye on every vessel or big boat that’s coming, and give way. 

4) Opt for the right boat

When choosing a boat you ned to find one that’s best suited for the water you’ll kayak in.

There are different types of Kayak boats; some are long and narrow, some are miniature, and others are freestyle playboats.

For lake kayaking, you should opt for a fly water boat, and sit on top boats are best for beginners. But generally, for most people touring Kayaks are the best option. They are specially designed for exploring waterways, and they offer paddlers excellent performance and comfort.

5) Learn rescue techniques

It’s essential you learn to rescue yourself and others before hitting the water. You may never get capsized in your kayak, but it is always better to be prepared.

Sometimes the bad current can lead to a capsize, and this is one of the reasons why you must learn kayaking before hitting the water. Your instructor will take you through drills, which would help prepare you for your adventures.

6) Put on a reflection protector

You need to protect yourself from damaging sun rays when kayaking, and your eyes with sunglasses.

Don’t forget to protect your nose, the underside of your chin, your ears, back of your arms, and other vulnerable areas too. Plus wear protective clothing and apply lotions that defend against the sun rays.

7) Remember that people are more important than boats and property

It may seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning: in times of distress, it’s important to remember that saving people is more important than boats and belongings – however valuable.

8) Plan your Kayak trip according to your capabilities

Ensure you practice adequately before going out on a kayak. Don’t test your skills on an unguided trip, instead go with an assistant if you think you are not experienced enough.

You should also avoid going on a kayak if you’re unable to carry out self-rescue. Knowing your capabilities can much minimize danger.

Lastly, make sure your gear is suitable for the trip you are planning. If you have a folding kayak, you can easily deploy it on a moment’s notice wherever you want, whereas if your kayak is on a trailer, you will be limited to bodies of water that either have a ramp or are relatively accessible.

9) Take your safety gear

It is important to carry all your safety gear with you when out on your kayak – and ensure they’re fully tested and functional before hitting the water.

For example, remember your personal floating device (PFD), your whistle, communication device, spare paddle, paddle float, headlamp, etc.  

10) A float plan

You should try to create and share a float plan. A float plan contains the essential details about your kayak trip. The plan should include the following:

  • Where –State your planned kayak route.
  • Who – Names of the people in the trip.
  • When – Planned launch and return time.
  • What – What should happen or action to be taking in the event you don’t return at the said times. 

Ensure that you leave the plan with someone who is responsible and will remember to check it and ensure that you are safely returned when you say you will be – and if not knows what to do.

11) Bring extra clothes to change into

This is easy to do, but people often forget it: don’t forget to bring along extra clothes to change into on case you end up getting wet during your kayak trip.

And not just wet. The sun may be hot and you might work up a sweat on your trip! Its much nicer to change into fresh, comfortable clothes once you’re back on dry land again.

12) Hold your paddle correctly

If you don’t hold your paddle the correct way, you may end up using too much energy, or find yourself frustratingly circling in one spot.

So how do you hold a paddle? The correct way to hold a paddle is with both hands just wider than shoulder distance. The concave part of the blade must be facing you, and when the blade is inside the water it should sweep through.

Ready to stray kayaking – safely?

Kayak can be a fun and relaxing activity. But paddling without taking the time to know the important safety details of the activity can be risky.

It’s important not to leave anything to chance when it comes to the safety of your life. Ensure that you get the right training, that you wear or carry with you the necessary safety items, kayak with a buddy, and carry out other necessary steps to ensure your safety. Then have fun!

Photo by Benjamin Davies