Don’t jump right into it – even though it’s tempting!
There is usually more involved with kayaking than people think. Make sure to do your research before going on your first trip. Some ways to help you learn and get some experience are:
- Go on a tour with an experienced guide. They have a lot of knowledge to share, and trust me, they don’t mind you asking questions! Plus, you’ll get to see how to prepare for a tour, what to do on the water, and how to put everything away at the end. They also will overview safety tips, paddling techniques, etc.
- Take a class. Yes, there are plenty of classes out there that specifically teach you how to kayak. These can be extremely helpful and prepare you for being out on the water.
- Watch videos and read articles (like this one!). There is tons of good information to be found on the internet to help you.
Make sure to bring everything you may need. I would recommend putting a list together of everything you will need and check it off so you don’t forget it. Some things you will need:
- A properly fitting, USCG approved life jacket.
- A whistle. This will help alert others if you are in trouble. It’s also a good idea to pick up a strobe light or flare.
- An extra paddle, in case you drop and lose the one you’re using.
- A dry bag for your belongings.
- A buddy! Having someone with you makes it more fun, and keeps you safer.
This is just a few things to help give you an idea. Especially if you’re going on an extended kayaking trip, make sure to have an extensive check list. You don’t want to be stuck out on the water without safety supplies or other necessities.
And then… be over-prepared.
So, now you have all the obvious necessities for kayaking. What about those things that people don’t think they’ll need? If it’s your first time kayaking, you might forget some of the things that aren’t necessarily necessities, but that sure are nice to have with you.
- Sunglasses – with a strap! It’s too easy to lose your sunglasses. You can buy a cheap strap just for your kayaking adventure.
- Lip balm with SPF.
- Sanitary wipes or hand sanitiser. This is especially helpful if you’re bringing some snacks with you.
- Extra water bottles. Grab some more than you think you’ll need, just in case.
- Some type of emergency shelter, like a tent and survival blanket. Hopefully you’ll never have to use this, but, like I said, over-prepare.
Have fun, but be aware of your surroundings.
Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. But with like any physical activity, there are always dangers and things to keep an eye out for.
- Always be looking out for animals popping out of the water. Here in Florida, manatees like to come up right underneath the kayak and this isn’t something you want to be caught surprised by!
- Don’t assume boats and larger vessels are paying attention to you. While kayaks and canoes have the right of way, when boats are coming, you should always try to move out of their way. This is like when walking through a crosswalk – you have the right of way, but you still check for cars anyways.
- Know how to get back into your kayak if it tips. You should especially practice this before going out in deeper water far from shore. There are classes to learn how to do this as well as many videos online.
- Similar to the last point, know how to rescue others. If someone else is struggling to get back into your kayak, you can assist and safely rescue them. You truly never know when you will be put in a situation like this, and you need to know how to help another person without endangering yourself.