For beginners, kayaking will prove to be the most thrilling experience of their lives. However adventurous kayaking may be, it can also be a very dangerous sport. A person needs to be extremely fit, both mentally as well as physically, to participate in kayaking activities. Common sense is also key, and your instinct as well as an awareness of your environment can help you greatly in case you end up in a life-threatening situation while kayaking.
To enjoy this sport to the fullest, it’s absolutely necessary to take certain precautions. Most importantly, listen carefully and follow all the instructions your instructor or guide give you. General safety tips regarding kayaking have been designed with the conditions of water, gear and equipment in mind. Follow these top four tips to ensure an amazing experience for your next kayaking expedition.
Weather and water conditions
The weather and the water can be highly unpredictable and just as turbulent. Before you embark on your kayaking expedition, there are certain questions that you should ask yourself before heading out. For example, am I truly suited for kayaking? What kind of climate conditions will I come up against, and will I be able to handle extreme cases? Am I carrying the right gear as well as safety equipment to deal with these situations?
You have to be self-reliant at all times and prepared to experience sudden temperature and climate changes that can occur during your expedition. Exposure to cold water for prolonged periods while kayaking can lead to serious damage to your body. You have to keep in mind the following facts before you try your hand at the sport: Your body has a 25 % higher chance of losing heat in water in comparison to being in regular conditions on land. If you’re kayaking in cold weather conditions, you have to realize that the water temperature is always colder than the surrounding air temperature.
Sea kayakers are always at risk of hypothermia, which can sometimes be caused by rain or one’s own sweat. Therefore, consider what to expect if you or your companions end up experiencing it. It occurs in different stages gradually, so it has to be treated according to the symptoms that appear at a particular moment.
You have to have waterproof gear as well as wear proper clothing. Climatic conditions are highly unpredictable and are bound to change suddenly. Your clothes have to protect you from cold weather conditions and be comfortable enough to allow you free movement.
Dress properly with the thought that you might end up immersed in cold water. Also remember that you’ll be spending a lot of time being wet. Always be aware of the air and water temperatures before you plunge into the activity.
You have to wear waterproof clothing, yet it has to be comfortable and breathable. Always dress in layers and bring a waterproof bag filled with dry clothes—never remove your clothing while you’re in water, either. First aid kits are essential, and signaling devices such as whistles, flare guns as well as high-power torches are important to have in case you need to signal for help. Also carry an extra blanket with you at all times.
Types of kayaks
Most people, especially beginners, are usually better off with a rigid kayak. Inflatable ones do have their uses, but rigid hulls are just more versatile, especially if you plan on going out on the open ocean. An inflatable kayak wouldn’t be my first choice if a curious shark were to take a bite out of curiosity.
One more thing to mention is that there are two sitting positions for a kayak: sit-in and sit-on-top. Most fishing kayaks are sit-on-top, as they allow more storage and are easier to enter and exit. However, if you plan on fishing in cold waters, you might want to consider a sit-in kayak, since this design helps prevent your lower body from getting wet due to dripping water and waves.
Most fishing kayaks come with one dry storage compartment and one tank-well (this is a compartment that holds things which can get wet, such as a bait bucket or a cast net). If you plan on doing longer, multi-day excursions, it might be a good idea to look into having more dry-storage capacity.
Gear and equipment
It’s best to become familiar with your gear and equipment. Learn how to use them properly and discuss their limitations with your instructor. Rudders or skegs are important items of equipment when it comes to dealing with high tides, high winds, and rapid currents. Make sure you select the proper weight of this equipment, too, so that you don’t end up carrying too much during your trip.
While kayak fishing, you occasionally might want to stay where you are, rather than go with the current or wind. To do that, you’ll need an anchor. It’s important when anchoring a kayak to always secure the anchor to the kayak at the very front or the very back. If you attach the anchor line to the side, the current may cause the kayak to flip over. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult, if not outright unsafe, to reach the very front or the very back of a kayak from the cockpit.
To remedy this, fishing kayaks have a pulley system on the sides, consisting of either one pulley across the entire length of the kayak, or two separate ones for the front and the back. This allows you to tie the anchor line at the side of the kayak, which you can reach, and then move the secured point to either the front or back of the hull.
Kayaking is a hobby and a sport, which has seen a great surge in popularity in recent times. Kayakers love this sport as it gives them complete access to all the undiscovered parts of a river that cannot be reached by bulky watercraft. Kayaking also offers relaxation and solitude to people who are looking for peace.
If you aren’t a kayaker yet, what are you waiting for? Go get your kayak and start a most wonderful and enjoyable hobby of your lifetime!