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Lifestyle and Living

Let’s Get Kayaking – A Beginner’s Guide

Oct 2021 | By Miles Cruise

Let’s Get Kayaking – A Beginner’s Guide

There’s nothing quite like getting out on the water. While there are countless water sports for you to try, today we’ll be taking a look at the art of kayaking. Mind, body, and spirit, this is one of the best activities to increase your wellness on all levels. It builds strength and keeps you active, while remaining a peaceful activity that brings you closer to nature.

This guide will help you get ready for your first time kayaking, so you can get out on the lake and enjoy the scenery this summer!

BACK TO THE BASICS

For your first time kayaking, it’s best to borrow the equipment from a friend or find a rental place near you. You’ll need a kayak, paddle, and life jacket for each person participating. Once you have your gear, the first step is choosing the right location! If you’re new to paddling, a lake is the best place to learn. Calm waters and no currents to pull you downstream are ideal conditions for a beginner.

PREPARING TO PADDLE

Now that you’ve reached your destination, it’s time to get started! To climb into the kayak safely, hold your paddle in one hand and brace it on top of the kayak several feet in front of the seat. Put your other hand on the back of the seat, and lean your weight onto both hands to stabilize the boat.

Next, step carefully into the kayak, being sure to put your feet in a position that allows you to sit down without much adjustment. Once you’re seated, get comfortable, and get started!

START SIMPLE

On your first outing, it’s recommended that you stay close to shore. This way, you can make your way back easily if you get tired without needing to paddle back across the lake.

Now that you’re ready to start your adventure, hold the paddle with both hands so that the long edge of the blades are pointed upward. Maintain good posture, keep your wrists in line with your arms and shoulders.

The key to proper paddling is to use your core! Keeping your arms bent at the elbow in a fixed position, make a stroke by rotating your torso until the front blade of your paddle is over the water near your feet. It may feel instinctive to use your arms to paddle, but it’s important not to give in. Instead, rotate the opposite direction once you’ve dipped your paddle, and you’ll complete your first stroke! Now you can set off in your chosen direction, and get used to the motions.

LEARN TO TURN

Eventually, you’ll need to turn around. There are a few ways to turn your kayak, which we’ll cover here.

If your kayak is still moving, the easiest technique is to use your paddle as a rudder. Dip the paddle into the water beside the kayak on the side you’d like to turn to. This will cause your boat to swing in that direction, and will also slow your speed.

If you’re stationary, a reverse stroke will turn you around. Dip your paddle into the water on the side you’re turning towards, and paddle backwards on that side until you’ve turned as much as needed.

A more complicated, yet more efficient, method of turning is by using sweep strokes. Starting with your paddle in the water at the rear of your kayak, draw the paddle in a semicircle towards the front of the boat, and repeat as necessary to turn the kayak around.

Once you’re comfortable maneuvering in the water, you’re free as a bird!

ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE

All that’s left to do is have fun! Be honest with yourself while on the water, and try not to push your comfort levels – if you’re starting to get tired, there’s always another day to explore!

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