Kayaking is a great activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. However, just like any other physical outdoor activity, practice is essential to keeping you safe and making it an enjoyable experience. If you’re thinking of taking up kayaking as an individual or family activity, the following are five tips to keep in mind:
#1 Start Out Slow
You don’t want to start off your first kayaking trip in rough rapids. Take it easy. Find a smooth lake where you can practice. Not only will it be a safe place to learn how to kayak, but it will be a serene and beautiful location to enjoy as well. Similarly, if you’re planning to fish from your Kayak don’t take your rod the first time you go out, take some time to get used to the feel of the kayak before you start to multitasking.
#2 Learn How to Properly Balance and Paddle
Although you might be tempted to start racing your fellow kayakers your first day out, you don’t want to underestimate the importance of learning the basics. Kayaks, unlike rowboats and other wider crafts, can capsize quite easily if you don’t know how to properly balance and row. Start by slowly paddling forward by using your oar to paddle on one side and then the other. Use deep strokes to begin with and, once you have that down, start to experiment with different types of strokes to see how they affect your movement. Keep in mind that your ability to paddle correctly will directly impact your balance. Each stroke actually acts to keep you balanced while you’re in your kayak. Once you begin to feel more comfortable, begin to make wobbling motions to put yourself in more “risky” situations. You want to get a feel of the kayak and of what movements will cause you to tip more than you should. Again, make sure that you are experimenting in flat, safe waters.
#3 Take it Up a Notch with Moving Water
It’s still not time for the rough rapids, but moving water is a go. Find a river nearby where you are comfortable and where the water is moving at a reasonable pace. This will be a great place to test what you have learned about balance and paddling. See if you can navigate the current. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right away. You have all the time in the world. Stay for as long as you need and enjoy!
#4 Find a Kayak Play Park
A popular place for aspiring and pro kayakers, play parks are a great location to see what you can do. Like wave pools, kayak parks consist of flat water which has been manipulated to create small, moderate, and rough rapids. Be gradual in your advance. Start off with a short trip in relatively smooth waters, and increase your time and the difficulty level as your abilities improve.
#5 Get Out on the River
Now, it’s time to take on a river. Don’t overestimate your abilities. Pick a river with some easy rapids and make sure to take a friend. Not only will having a buddy make you safer on the water, but it’s always more fun as well!