There isn’t a better way of spending a sunny spring or summer day than heading to a local river and paddling the day away. If you’ve never been, it can be kind of intimidating, so we’ve compiled a little guide for beginners that will have you owning the waters in no time.
1. Dress in Layers
It might be hot and sunny outside but think twice before you forego sleeves. Remember that even on the muggiest of days, the water will probably still be freezing cold (especially in springs and lakes), so you’ll want to dress in layers if at all possible. A wetsuit and kayaking gloves aren’t out of the question if you’re going to play it safe. You’ll be thanking yourself later, especially in the event of an unexpected capsize. Plus, long sleeves will help give another layer of sun protection.
2. Look into Lessons
There’s no shame in learning from someone who has experience. Plenty of places offer quick and relatively inexpensive courses, taught by trained kayaking guides, that will help you feel confident in your abilities, educate you in emergency scenarios, and help you have more fun out on the water. With a fast Google search, find an instructor and class that’s right for you.
3. Pick the Right Boat for the Water
Many beginning kayakers don’t know that different kinds of boats are more suited for different kinds of water. For example, a sit-on-top kayak is ideal for your local lake, while coastal waters might call for a sit-in touring boat that can better handle winds and currents.
4. Hold Your Paddle Correctly
Facing the concave part of the blade toward you, hold your hands shoulder-distance apart and place them on either side of the paddle. When you’re moving through the water, your knuckles should line up with the blade, and the concave part of the blade should sweep through the water.
5. Safety First
Taking lessons will help with this as well, but you want to make sure that you’re well-prepared for any issues that pop up, even if you decide to take the risk and venture out without a tutorial. One of the easiest steps is to bring along a buoyancy aid—a life jacket is always a good bet.
6. Strength in Numbers
When you’re starting out, make sure you have company. Bringing at least one person along on your adventure can not only make for a more enjoyable experience but also can be a huge comfort in the event of a mishap.