Recreational kayaking can be described as using a kayak that is meant for calm water and paddling near shore. This can mean kayaking on a lake, a slow moving river or the shoreline of the ocean. Often times these kayaks do not have rudders may have open cockpits and sometimes are even inflatable kayaks. It usually doesn’t mean expeditions, whitewater kayaking or open water crossings. Keeping that in mind, if you are recreational kayaking do you know what safety tips you should consider before you start paddling?
Recreational Kayaking Safety Tips
Recreational kayakers make up the majority of kayaking people. Often times those who purchase a recreational kayak have had little to no training in kayaking safety education. Whether paddling a hard-shelled kayak or an inflatable kayak, there are a few points to remember and take note of before you enter the water.
- Only take a recreational kayak out on the calm water or slow moving rivers during very mild weather. The recreational kayak was not built to withstand harsh conditions, white water rapids or choppy water. Take note of the wind factor before heading out for the day.
- Stay close enough to the shoreline that you can easily get help or swim back if you needed to. Recreational kayaks are usually not equipped for heavy flooding and can be difficult to bail out any excess water as well as re-enter the kayak should you tip.
- Ask yourself if you are able to swim in the clothes that you are wearing. It is unlikely you would ever have to, but it is certainly possible. If you are not able to swim in what you are wearing then you have a problem. Dress for the water as well as for the elements.
- If you do have to swim to shore, is there help nearby if you need it? Be aware of your environment, what is close by and where the nearest help is should you need it. There can be some stunning isolated lakes rivers that can be very tempting to paddle, but if there is no one else around and you are an inexperienced kayak, who will help you if you need it?
- If you do end up having to swim in the water, do you have the right gear to get yourself warm once you reach the shore? Always have an extra gear and warm clothes with you should you need them.
Recreational kayaking can be a huge amount of fun and offer some excellent wildlife viewing as well as great exercise and a relaxing environment. Equip yourself with a little safety information before you hit the water. Knowing you are prepared for the unlikely event that things don’t go smoothly will allow you to relax and enjoy your ride. Stay safe, be prepared and always keep your eye on the shoreline.