Tips For Safe Kayaking
While white water kayaking may now be counted as an official Olympic sport, many people still enjoy it as a pastime. But if you’re interested in participating in this thrilling activity, then it only stand to reason that white water kayaks would be a necessity. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to know before you buy your kayak.
Some people get kayaks confused with canoes, as there are a few similarities. Kayaks are fully enclosed, ride closer to the surface of the water, are more narrow, and the paddler sits with their legs outstretched in front of them. Canoes are open, sit a bit higher over the water and the person inside typically uses a seated position when paddling.
A kayak paddle has blades on both ends allowing a single paddler to row on both sides of the craft more efficiently. You can lazily paddle a canoe from one side to the other, but you won’t have the time to switch sides with white water kayaks. You need to be able to quickly control your vessel, so the double-bladed paddle is the only way to go.
Because you will be running through rapids on a regular basis, it’s important to have a waterproof skirt attached to the cockpit. This will keep spraying water from getting into the kayak, it will also keep you dry if you happen to capsize.
Speaking of capsizing: Kayaking through white water means you are virtually guaranteed to tip over on a fairly regular basis. Most times you will be able to upright yourself by using the proper rolling technique, while remaining in your kayak. However, there is also a chance that you and your kayak could become separated. For that reason, it’s important that your kayak has external lifelines built into it. These will make it easier for you to grab your kayak in rough water.
It’s important to make white water kayaks as safe as possible. But you are the one who is ultimately responsible for your safety, no matter how many safety features your kayak may have. Your first line of safety is knowing what you’re doing. Being able to read a set of rapids and knowing various kayaking techniques is vital to having an enjoyable day on the water. The other thing you need is a good kayaking helmet. You will be going through rocky water, and protecting your noggin is a top priority.
You should only buy a kayak from a shop with knowledgeable staff. Never buy a kayak from a big box department store. Not only can the quality be questionable, but there won’t be anyone there to answer your questions and give you advice. You also need to be sure that you let the salesperson know you are looking for white water kayaks. They are made differently than regular kayaks, and you could probably get away with using a white water model on calm water, you couldn’t get away with using a regular model on rapids.