How To Kayak

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Are you planning to learn kayaking?

Are you first-time kayaker?

Do you want an easy to follow tutorial that helps you learn the basics of kayaking?

In this article you can find all that and more. Today, we are taking a look at all the basics that you need to know if you are a beginner at kayaking. Whether you are thinking of trying out kayaking or are already a beginner, these tips will come in handy.

Also, we’re sharing some of the best kayaking spots you should try out as a beginner, and things to keep in mind when choosing the spots where you can practice kayaking. So without looking anywhere else, just read and keep scrolling.  

What is kayaking?

When you use a kayak to move on a waterway, whether as a recreational activity, for fishing, for sports, or for any purpose, it is referred to as kayaking. You typically use a paddle to move your kayak from one place to the other.

These days, kayaking is enjoyed as a recreational activity, and many people love going out in their kayak and spending time outdoors, amidst nature. This activity is one of the easiest and most soothing ways to move around on the water.

Benefits of Learning How to Kayak

Kayaking can benefit a person in many different ways, including boosting physical as well as emotional and mental health. Some of the main benefits of kayaking include:

  1. Improved cardio vascular health
  2. Improved muscle strength especially around the arms, shoulders, chest and the back
  3. Lesser risk of wear-and-tear around the tissues and joints
  4. Improved strength around leg and torso
  5. Stress-buster
  6. Improved breathing
  7. Mood booster

How To Kayak: A Tutorial for Beginners

Preparing to kayak:

Things you will need

  • Kayak
  • Life jacket
  • Kayaking clothes
  • Hat/cap, sunglasses, water, first-aid kit, signalling whistle, watch/timer (to give yourself enough time to head back), dry bag, headlamp (in case you’re slow and it gets dark), dry snacks   

Setting up your kayak getting yourself ready

  • Make sure to check all safety points in the kayak and ensure there is no leak.
  • Dress in the right clothes.

Getting into the kayak safely:

  • Always enter your kayak on flat ground.
  • Place the kayak parallel to shore.
  • Put the paddle behind the seat.
  • Now place one end of the kayak on firm ground to act as a support.
  • Hold the paddle and slide your legs one by one inside the kayak.
  • Place your bottom firmly on the seat.

How To Kayak: Proper sitting position

  • Adjust your footrest and the seat back.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent and you should be feeling comfortable.
  • Ensure your knees are firmly touching the side of the kayak – this will help control the sideways motion.

Getting comfortable in your kayak

  • Position your seat in such a way that it is upright and you can maintain the right posture throughout.

How To Kayak: Paddling

Holding the kayak paddle or oar

  • To find the right grip and hand position, hold the paddle on top of your head, with the centre of the shaft (the long stick) over your head.
  • The longer edge of the blade should be on the top.
  • Your arms should be at a right angle at the elbow.
  • You will have to maintain this distance between your hands when you paddle.
  • To grip the paddle, use your thumb and forefinger to make an Okay sign.
  • This will help your other fingers stay loose and move the paddle easily through water.

Proper paddling technique

How to Move your Kayak Forward

  • Once you are comfortably seated, use your paddle to push your kayak gently through the water.
  • Move your torso and place the blade fully in the water around your foot area. As the blade goes behind, rotate your torso.
  • Push against the shaft using your upper hand.
  • As your hand reaches slightly behind your hip, slice out the blade from the water.

How to Move your Kayak Backward

  • Immerse the blade near your hip area.
  • Use your lower hand to give the push.
  • As the blade comes near your feet, slice it out from the water.

How to Straighten your Kayak

  • Keep following the going forward paddling technique and match it equally on both sides.
  • This will help your kayak stay in line and let it keep going straight.

How to Turn your Kayak

  • Repeat the forward strokes on the same side of the boat.
  • This will help you slowly turn the kayak.

How to Stop your Kayak

  • Look back to check the space is clear.
  • Stick the back of the paddle in the water at a 75 degree from the kayak.
  • Turn your body towards the paddle.
  • Push the paddle forward and down around the bow of the kayak.
  • Bring it back around the hip to stop.

How To Kayak: Dismounting

How to Safely Dismount from your kayak

  1. Place the kayak parallel to shore.
  2. Put the paddle behind the seat.
  3. Now place one end of the kayak on firm ground to act as a support.
  4. Hold the paddle and slide your legs one by one outside the kayak.

What should I do if my kayak tips over?

  • Stay calm.
  • Your life jacket and swimming skills will make it easier for you to stay safe.
  • Flip the kayak back.
  • Grab the middle with both hands and pull yourself inside around the centre.
  • As you become perpendicular to the kayak, get your feet in and slide in slowly.

Best Places for Beginners to Learn How to Kayak

Once you’ve practiced enough, you may want to explore these destinations that are popular with new kayakers:

  1. San Juan Islands in Washington: Mild water with stunning natural beauty.
  2. Colorado River in North America: Perfect for beginners, options to try the next level.
  3. Lake Powell in Utah: The best experience in recreational kayaking.
  4. Lake Tahoe in California: Enjoy crystal clear views in mild water.
  5. Sea Caves in California: Paddle your kayak around caves and coves that are jutting out of the water.  

5 Tips For Choosing the Beginner Kayak Spots

As a beginner, you need to be careful about the spot you choose to kayak in and understand the best times to go there.  

  1. Always choose a spot that is frequent by other kayakers. This will help you get immediate help in case of an emergency.
  2. Choose a lake or pond that is usually mild and calm and from where you can easily spot the opposite shoreline.
  3. Kayak in a spot that is closer to the shoreline and from where others from the shore can spot you easily too.
  4. The first few times that you go kayaking, choose spots where you can kayak for a small amount of time and then easily get back on shore.
  5. The best weather to practice is on a warm and sunny day.

The golden rule – no matter how calm the water and how confident and confident you are, always wear your life jacket.

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