Kayaking is one of the best outdoor activities for people who love to be on the water. Whether you just want to keep on paddling or you want to stop in the middle and enjoy fishing, you will surely have a good time.
However, while kayaking may look easy, in reality, it can be quite challenging. With this, as a beginner, you need to learn basic skills. Keep on reading and learn from some of the insights we will be sharing. It won’t be easy, but with practice, it won’t take long before you will be able to master it.
1. Learn the Purpose of the Rudder
One of the first things that you have to do is to be familiar with the different parts of a kayak and their uses. From the different parts, the rudder is amongst the most important.
It should be noted that not all kayaks have a rudder. If there is one, it is located in the back part of the boat. You will be using the foot pedal for the movement of the kayak from the left to the right. It is a relatively new innovation in kayaking.
There are some situations when a rudder will be essential. For instance, it is a must-have when you are paddling in open water and there are waves and wind. It is also important when you are using long kayaks.
Especially for novices, one common myth is the belief that the main purpose of the rudder is to turn the kayak. In reality, its main use is to make sure that the kayak remains straight. This will be handy when you are in a windy environment. In this situation, your boat will naturally turn based on the movement of the wind, which is called weathercocking. With the rudder in place, you can prevent such from happening.
2. Know Where to Bring your Kayak
While it is good to be adventurous, you should never be ignorant. With this, it is also important that you know exactly where to bring your kayak, which will depend on your skills or how much you know. If you are a beginner, do not go too far, especially when you are on your own. As a rule of thumb, be as close as possible to land.
In line with this, you should also learn the proper technique when it comes to how to go back to your kayak. When in the middle of the water and the kayak flips, you must be capable of getting back to the kayak, especially if you are too far from the shore to swim. If you are kayaking with someone else, you should be more conscious about this.
If there are wind and waves, as a general rule, you should avoid kayaking in such a location, which is one way to prioritize your safety. Make sure that you are in a place where you can swim comfortably if there is anything unfortunate that happens.
3. Invest in Roof Racks
For those who often travel and bring their kayak with them, one of the best investments to have is a roof rack. While your car may have a factory-installed rack, this may not be enough. It would be best to have special racks installed that are suitable for the weight and size of the kayak that you have.
There are some important considerations that will help you in choosing the best kayak racks. For instance, think about the size of the kayaks that you will bring, as well as their weight. If you are driving interstate and in bumpy roads, look for tougher racks. See to it as well that they have thick pads to avoid scratches and other visible damages.
Aside from having the right roof racks, you should also know how to use it properly. That said, below are the easy steps you have to follow:
4. Use the Power of Torso Rotation
It is also important that you know the right technique when you are trying to propel the kayak to the direction that is desired. One of the most common mistakes that a lot of beginners commit is to use only the upper arms when they are stroking. Rather, what you should do is to engage the entire body, which will provide you with more power as you propel.
Torso rotation is a critical technique that you should learn for paddling success. It will provide control and power in every stroke. This way, you will be able to draw power not only from the arms but from the entire body as well. Take note that a simple twist of the shoulder does not correspond to torso rotation. You should aim to twist your core all the way to the upper body.
5. Keep Safe
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, every beginner should practice safety when kayaking. With this, one of the most important is to be aware of the surroundings all the time. You should know the areas where you can enter and where you will be at risk. Learn how to assess the safety of the water based on wind and waves, among other things. When you know that there is danger, retreat. Better safe than sorry.
To add, you also need to master basic techniques that will come in handy in emergency situations. For instance, it is critical that you learn how to get up from the water when a kayak capsizes. You should master basic rescue skills, especially if you intend to go kayaking with a partner.
If you are not a good swimmer, it is also important that you use a life jacket all the time. In fact, to be safe, it will be good to wear a life vest even if you know that you can swim. This will help in your chances of surviving on the water.