If you are confused between rowing and kayaking, don’t worry, you are not alone.
While rowing involves a small boat with two oars, kayaking paddles using a double-bladed oar, and a small boat in a variety of sizes, called the kayak. While the size depends on their use, kayaks usually feature enclosed decks that cover the legs of the rower, with the boat sitting low in the water. Kayaks usually hold only one person, but tandem kayaks can hold two or three people.
If you are kayaking for the first time and don’t know what to expect, it is better to rent the equipment, however, below are some useful kayaking tips and tricks that will help you.
- Dress properly for the water.
Whether summer or near-winter is not as important as the water itself. If the water requires you to wear a wetsuit, then wear one while kayaking. If board shorts are appropriate, then a simple swimsuit will do. Buoyancy aids are also necessary just in case you will fall in the water. Even strong swimmers may not know what to expect, so safety should be the main priority.
Other than that, don’t forget to get water-proof storage cases to make sure that your phone, money, or other valuable items are safe. Dry bags, in particular, are highly recommended.
- Learn safety practices.
For those who will be kayaking in white water rapids, it is necessary to learn rapid safety practices, as the strong waters can be risky, not to mention life-threatening if the kayak flips over. There are a series of hand signals that you may want to learn from as well, to help you communicate with other kayakers. Rapids can be noisy and distracting, so it is helpful to brush up on river language.
- Get to know your paddling style.
Get a feel of how you will paddle and stroke before you set off in the water. Straddle an armless chair while holding a stick and imagine yourself in the kayak, paddling. Your paddling style will depend on how you hold the paddle and keep your strokes.
- Follow the correct sitting position.
Mind your posture in the kayak. Sit with your back straight and keep the balls of your feet in the foot guides or pegs. Toes should be outward-pointing, and heels should be in the center of the kayak. Knees should have an upward and outward bend so that the legs can apply pressure to the thigh braces as well.
- Pace yourself but stay alert.
Don’t worry about the speed. When starting, just take it slow and enjoy the scenery. The folks from Boat Priority advise focusing on your paddling technique first to get a feel of the kayak. However, make sure that you keep one eye on the water as rocks and animals may appear out of nowhere, and colliding with them can be bumpy or sometimes disastrous.
If you feel that you are not ready for whitewater kayaking, you can begin with still waters, like lakes, ponds, or a gently sloping beach on a sunny, windless day. This way, you can get more comfortable with your technique before embarking on more dangerous territory.
- Move with the kayak.
If you ever took a spin while driving, you know that you shouldn’t fight the car, but go with it. The same applies to paddling a kayak. Just follow through with where your kayak takes you and adjust as necessary. It also goes without saying, but remember that if the kayak turns over, save yourself and your teammates or fellow kayakers first before you save the boat or the oars. Safety should always be your main priority.
Kayaking can take an hour or two. By the time you get out of the boat, chances are that your body feels tight and you may even experience cramps. To avoid this, do some light stretching as soon as you get out.
Jogging in place, jumping jacks, side-to-side head rolls, shoulder stretches, tricep stretches, and arm circles are some simple stretching exercises you can do. Stretching will reduce muscle tension and increase blood circulation, which is why you should never forget stretching before going in the water and after getting out
- Check your gear.
Before going home, check to make sure that there are no accidental holes or tears to your gear. Pay special attention to your kayak seat and paddle to make sure that it is safe for you to use the next time around.
Trying out a new sport can be daunting, and in the case of kayaking, it can even be scary. However, it can be very relaxing or exhilarating once you get the hang of it. The important thing is to be ready for anything and always make sure to keep yourself and your fellow kayakers safe.