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How Do I Start Out Kayaking?

With autumn and winter coming in, it might be a good time pick up a new sport to keep warm and fit throughout. For those of you who haven’t kayaked before we hope to dispense some knowledge for you to start kayaking.

Kayaks are a fantastic way to begin to explore the water; you could be gliding over a bed of spider crabs through clear sea water, dipping in and out of lily pads in a still lake or smashing through ocean waves.

Below we will instil some basic knowledge on how to get the kayak into the water and the craft moving.

Is it too cold to kayak in the autumn/winter?

The phrase, “no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing” springs to mind here. With autumn and winter firmly at the doorstep, we believe there is no better a time to pick up a water sport. The colder weather means quieter waters, and all that fresh cold air will keep your immune system high and the blood pumping warm, meaning you’re more likely to survive the dreaded office illness come Monday.

As long as your wrapped up nice and warm or wearing a good thick wetsuit, the winter chill shouldn’t be a problem.

Do I need lessons before buying a kayak?

The simple answer is no; you can self-teach kayaking as it is a very natural feeling once you’re on the water. However, you will have a much more productive and enjoyable time kayaking on the water after taking a few navigation classes and paddling skills lessons (even if they are on YouTube). If you don’t know anyone who can help you, we advise taking up a taster session or joining a local club.

Practice your new skills on nice calm waters, ideally, a lake or the sea when there isn’t any swell or significant tidal patterns. Get your clothing together! Depending on schools of thought, you could either go for layers and a drysuit or a nice thick 4mm+ wetsuit, just don’t forget to buy gloves, boots and a hood – you do not want to be feeling the water on a capsize.

How do I sit in a kayak?

Think three points of contact; this will allow greater comfort and energy efficiency when paddling.

1. Keep the small of your back pressed tight against the back of the seat, adjust your positioning or the seat itself, so you are sat up straight or even slightly forward.

2. The balls of your feet should be braced against the appropriate fitting footrest on an open top, or against your rudder control or brace if you have one on a sit-in kayak.

3. Keep your knees bent and in contact with the edges of the craft so you can control the rocking motion of the boat.

How do you launch a kayak?

You can find several schools of thought here, the more you practice, the smoother your launch will become. Here’s one good way of getting your boat from the shore to the water.

With the kayak on the edge of the water, bow mostly afloat, face the boat and place your paddle across the boat, just behind your cockpit. Next, extend the rest of the paddle, so it is resting on the shoreline. Using the paddle as an outrigger, use it to steady the boat as you enter it. Make sure the rounded edge of the paddle’s blade is on the ground, and the spoon side is facing up to prevent damage or warping.

Remember to keep one hand on the paddle and one on the edge of the boat and maintain a nice low centre of gravity as you begin to slide into the cockpit. Keep your weight on the side of the kayak supported by the paddle.

Three easy steps for boarding the kayak

1. Step into the boat or onto it if an open kayak and brace with your feet.

2. Sit up nice and straight with your back snug into the back of the seat.

3. Place the knees either underneath the coaming (raised edge) of the kayak to control side to side wobbling.

How do I paddle a kayak?

Now you’re on the water you need to learn the most basic form of propulsion – the forward stroke. This is a push and pull motion as you place each end of the paddle into the water.

The fundamental mistake we see with beginners is quantity over quality when it comes to strokes. The key is strong, sturdy, efficient forward strokes, actually feel yourself pulling through the water. You achieve this through proper torso rotation. Contrary to appearances, paddling a kayak isn’t just about using the arms, your torso holds all the power, utilise this, and you will discover impressive endurance and strength when paddling.

Paddle in hand, kayakers will pull the blade towards themselves to move forward. What is equally important is pushing through the water, this creates enormous leverage, adding power and easing your forward stroke.

So, we hope you have learned something new from this article and look forward to hearing about your new kayaking adventures. If you have yet to purchase a kayak, then have a look at our kayaks for sale and see if there is something for you. Happy paddling!

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