Kayaking is becoming an increasingly popular extreme water sport. You should always seek professional guidance when beginning a new extreme sport, but here are our simple tips to get you started, and to keep you upright.
1. Getting into the kayak. You will need to find a calm, shallow spot of water, where there are no rocks. Place the kayak into the water with the bow front, and your hand firmly grasping the stern grab loop. The seating part of the vessel should be in water which is shallow enough to stand in.
You should approach the kayak with your paddle in one hand, walking alongside it up to the cockpit. Make sure that it is secure before you attempt to enter. Place your paddle across the boat, just behind the seat. Then reach your closest hand across the kayak and steady the vessel, keeping hold of the paddle with your other hand.
You then need to place your first leg into the boat, shift your weight over, keeping your other leg on the ground, then move to sit on the kayak. Keep steady, and your hand on the paddle at all times. Now bring your other leg into the boat, leaning back and keeping your first foot on the floor of the kayak. Slide down into the cockpit, keeping your balance using the paddle if necessary, place both feet firmly on the floor.
2. Now it is time to learn how to hold the paddle, you can practise this on dry land before entering the water. A kayak paddle is different to a canoe paddle in that it has two blades attached to the shaft. You hold the shaft, and use the blades to pull yourself through the water.
Make sure that you are holding it in the correct direction, the smooth or concave side should be facing you, this will make a difference in the power of your strokes. Many paddles are asymmetrical so make sure that you have it the right way up, the top is more horizontal than the bottom half. Use the writing as a guideline, it should be upright at all times.
Learn your grip, right handed people will control with their right hand, and the paddle will rotate and move in their other loose hand. Your control hand will not change it’s position at all. Now grab the paddle, have your hands on the centre, about a shoulder width apart. Keep your legs in the thigh braces and the balls of your feet against the feet supports.
Once you are comfortable in your position and have your grip ready on the paddle, you need to rotate your body whilst moving your arms in and out. If you want to stroke on the right hand side of the boat, your need to rotate your body anti-clockwise whilst extending your right arm and pulling your left arm in. The next stroke means on the left hand side and you will need to rotate your grip. Bend your wrist on the control hand and rotate the paddle in your other hand until it is lined up to enter the water at the right angle.
Keep rotating your torso and the paddle within your loose hand, keeping your grip on the control hand at all times, extending and retracting your arms to achieve the correct angle.
3. Getting out of the Kayak. This is not as easy as it sounds for first timers. We recommend that your always secure your boat with a tie line before exiting. Use your paddle to keep the vessel steady at all times.
Get yourself into a crouching position, for quayside exits, swing bottom first onto the dock, swiftly followed by your legs. If you want to exit to shoreside, you would be better crouching then standing, and putting a leg onto dry land first, then bringing the rest of your body over.
Here at Get Afloat we are passionate about getting people more active, and out on the water. Please do let us know if you try Kayaking, and we would love to see some pictures.