Safety at Sea

5 Tips for the Sea Kayaker Before You Go Out

Whether it is extreme or serene, kayaking is a much more enjoyable adventure when the newcomer to the high seas has gained a certain degree of knowledge and experience.

Sea KayakHere are five tips for the complete beginner to sea kayaking:

1 – Basics

First-time sea kayaking paddlers can experience a variety of mishaps on the initial outing if the standard techniques aren’t learnt, including:

  • Use the proper grip for holding the paddle. A paddle should be held with a light grip to give better control of movement while maintaining a good level of flexibility. Plus, a light grip means less chance of straining the muscles.
  • Move a paddle with a deep, rhythmic, and a swift forward motion to get the kayak moving.
  • Use a sweeping stroke to help with maneuvering and correcting the course. A sweep stroke is much wider compared to the forward and reverse strokes.
  • Paddle at a pace and range that is comfortable for the specific kayakers comfort and enjoyment. Sticking to a personal style makes it easier to move naturally through the sea.
  • Paddling with the upper body held stable. By holding the proper center of gravity there is less chance of the kayak tipping and this ensures the steering action is significantly easier.
  • Practice the proper paddling techniques on the beach or similar shore-based area to get a feel of how to handle the paddles. Move on to shallow waters and get fully used to the proper movement until muscle memory is achieved.

2 – Companion

A solo kayaking adventure for the complete beginner is rarely a good idea. Paddling on the open sea can be quite unpredictable, so going with companions is certain to mean a safer and more enjoyable adventure. Go out with 2-3 other kayakers when first starting out to get a better appreciation of the entire experience. A kayaking adventure can experience several different situations which are much easier to handle when in a group environment.

3 – Lessons

Beginner sea kayakers should start their adventures by learning the basic skills before setting off on to the sea. Basic skills include maneuvering capabilities to paddling strokes. Without the basic knowledge, a paddler can soon find themselves in difficulty. Start with the simple lessons and slowly progress on the path to becoming a professional paddler.

4 – Map

While a mobile phone and GPS can be useful tools while out paddling they do have certain limitations such as reception signal and battery life. For these reasons it can also benefit to have the ability to use a compass and read a nautical chart.

5 – Route and weather

Plan a paddling route that is familiar. Use sheltered areas or bays to get more protection from choppy waters and strong winds. This is certain to benefit the beginner when first starting out. Get a regular update of the weather forecast to determine the likely conditions out at sea. But, when paddling a kayak in the open sea it is always wise to expect a certain degree of waves and wind even on days that appear calm. Avoid kayaking in difficult conditions with fog a real issue – sight of land is easily lost with low-visibility.

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