Summer is pretty much here, those hot sunny days added with crystal clear calm water... makes you want to dive right in. This time of year is perfect for taking up a new watersport as you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible... plus who doesn't like being in or around water when its too hot to do anything else?
In our last article we gave you a buyers guide to kayaks to point you in the right direction when buying your first watercraft... but how do you get started? If you are asking questions like 'Can i just jump in and paddle?' or 'Should i get a lesson?' then read on...
If In Doubt, Get A Lesson
How hard can it be to paddle a kayak? Those guys out on the water everyday make it look so easy, but the chances are you wont take to it like duck to water (see what we did there?) and most people are more comfortable after having a simple one hour lesson. There's a few options when it comes to booking yourself onto a lesson. You can either get a one to one with an instructor or, if you would feel more comfortable with safety in numbers then there's the group option. Most people like to go for the group lesson as they don't have the feeling of being singled out, plus, you can laugh at your friends when it turns out you are better than them!
Having a lesson can save you time in the long run, you get to learn the basics and it gets you prepared to hit the water without any problems on your first adventure. The last thing you want to do is head out with some friends only to find that paddling around in circles is all you can do.
Dressing For The Occasion
Having a lesson is important but making sure you are dressed correctly is probably second on the list. There's a saying that states 'Make Sure You Are Dressed For The Water Not The Weather'... that's definitely worth remembering before you head out. The sun might be shining and its warm on land but getting wet and not being prepared for it can ruin your session. If there's a breeze in the air it can make it seem like a cold wind when you are wet. Ideally, wear clothes that are designed to quick dry should you fall in the water and items that are also designed to protect you from the sun... sunburn and kayaking don't go that well together.
If you are looking to go kayaking all year round then don't judge your outfit by the air temperature in winter. It can appear warm but the water does dip in the winter months. We recommend some lightweight water-resistant tops and even take a change of clothes with you.
We know what you're thinking, aren't Buoyancy Aids or Life Jackets going to make me look very un-cool? Wrong! Even experienced paddlers wear life jackets and any guide will tell you that it is essential for any time out on the water. Even if you are a strong, experienced swimmer, you never know what trouble you might get into and the life jacket could end up saving your life. You might hear the rumours that they are bulky, get in the way when you are paddling and restrict your movement, but they are all myths. In fact, these days the designs have improved to offer more freedom of movement and the styling has become a lot better... so they now actually look pretty awesome!
Hold Your Paddle
Sounds a bit ridiculous doesn't it? We have seen so many people out kayaking holding their paddle the wrong way whilst out learning. It is something that's covered in a lesson, but just in case you missed it because you were too excited, here's how you should hold it;
Hold the paddle with both hands about shoulder distance apart and make sure the concave part of the blade is facing towards you. When you dip the blade into the water, the concave part should pull through the water. Check your knuckles are in line with the blade and you'll be all set for an easy, effortless paddle. If you don't do this, the chances are you will use a lot more energy and not find it comfortable.
Your Kayak Or Your Friends
The main thing to remember when kayaking is keeping yourself and the people around you safe. This might sound a bit like common sense but, people do try to save their kayaks before themselves or a friend if they find themselves in a panicked situation. The main thing to remember is that if you lose a paddle or your boat, it can be replaced. If you find yourself stuck or in a situation that might get out of control, help yourself and the people you are kayaking with first and worry about the hard goods later.
Go Together, Not Solo
The main tip that we think everyone will stand by when you are a beginner; Don't Kayak Alone! Even if you think you are confident and feel like tackling anything, if the weather takes a turn for the worse or you find yourself lost, it's always better to have at least one companion with you. even some of the most experienced paddlers in the world don't head out on a trip by themselves. If you or someone else in your group finds themselves in trouble, there's safety in numbers.
It's a good idea to learn how to safe yourself and others. You might not capsize your kayak the first few trips you take but the chances are it will happen one day, so you want to be prepared on how to resolve that situation. The number one rule is to try and stay with your kayak if it capsizes and try to get it back in the paddling position. This is something that we hope all instructors cover in the first lesson.
Now Go Kayaking
Now you have read our top tips for getting started, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself kitted out, get booked on to a lesson and spend the summer exploring in your kayak. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions we haven't covered in this article, we are always happy to help and offer advice.
Trust us, you will ask yourself in a few weeks time 'Why have I never taken this sport up before?' and we guarantee you will have the best time. We will see you on the water!