6 Common Kayaking Mistakes

Whether you’re 8 or 38, any­one jump­ing into a kayak for the first time make the same mis­takes. It seems that the feel­ing of invin­ci­bil­i­ty is ingrained in our blood no mat­ter how old you are. As a guide since I was 12 years old, I’ve watch many peo­ple make many mis­takes because they refused to lis­ten to a kid. Shows what they know.

Listen to Your GuideLis­ten to Your Guide
I under­stand the feel­ing of hop­ping into the kayak­ing, secur­ing your skirt, and want­i­ng to pad­dle as fast as you can to feel the wind in your hair. This, of course, isn’t always the best option. You more than like­ly don’t know the body of water that you are pad­dling and you don’t under­stand the dan­gers that lay beneath the rip­pling sur­face. Wait for your guide to give you instruc­tions! Injuries and acci­dents hap­pen when peo­ple don’t lis­ten. Your guide may seem like an incom­pe­tent kid, but they most like­ly know more than you do about kayak­ing in that moment.

Paddle RightPad­dle Right
Begin­ning pad­dlers tend to lock their shoul­ders and tor­so to feel in con­trol, and then pad­dle with their elbows bent and clos­er towards the body. This “pad­dle hug­ging” always leads to sore mus­cles and some­times more exten­sive injuries. Be sure to con­quer your “paddler’s box” by sit­ting up straight in your boat and reach your arms out in front of you. Your pad­dle should be as far away from your chest as pos­si­ble. By main­tain­ing your “paddler’s box”, you will main­tain pow­er, have more endurance, and pre­vent injury.

It isn’t hard to fig­ure out that you will get thirsty at some point dur­ing your pad­dling excur­sion, but what you don’t real­ize is how fast you will become dehy­drat­ed. Whether you have a Camel­back, Nal­gene, Platy­pus, or even just a reg­u­lar bot­tle of water, be sure to drink and keep your body hydrat­ed through­out your day. With the sun beat­ing down on you and being reflect­ed onto you from the water, your body will be beg­ging for gal­lons of water by the end of your trip. 

Sun ProtectionSun Pro­tec­tion
Of course, your clothes will pro­tect you from the sun, but there’s only so far a rash guard will go. Be sure to slather on the SPF and pay very close atten­tion to your face. Bring the tube with you and reap­ply any time you stop. Remem­ber to wear a hat to pro­tect your scalp, and a pair of sun­glass­es to shield your eyes from the bright­ness com­ing at you from seem­ing­ly every direc­tion. Be sure to apply sun­screen even on over­cast days. The sun may not be out, but the UV rays are still com­ing down on you. Anoth­er sun­screen tip — don’t rub it too close to your eyes. Your sweat will make it leak into your eyes leav­ing you squint­ing for the lat­ter por­tion of your trip.

vdDress the Part
Now, you don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe just for one pad­dle trip, but it would be smart to invest in a cou­ple things espe­cial­ly if you intend to pad­dle more. Just like any oth­er action sport, a hel­met will keep you from pass­ing out, except that while kayak­ing, your hel­met will keep you from pass­ing out in the water. Cot­ton takes for­ev­er to dry so lean towards the syn­thet­ic, silki­er mate­ri­als that wick away sweat. Ath­let­ic shorts, board shorts, and swim suit bot­toms are great exam­ples that near­ly every­one can find in their dress­er draw­ers. You can just wear a tank top, or bathing suit top under your life pre­serv­er, but a rash guard is a great item that you will be want­i­ng after 10 min­utes of pad­dling. It guards against rash­es due to the rub­bing of your arm against the pre­serv­er and a must on a long pad­dle trip.

scStay Calm
One of the most impor­tant things about pad­dling is to stay calm. Whether it is being freaked out by a chop­py part of the riv­er, an eddy, or you acci­den­tal­ly flip over just remem­ber to stay calm. If it is one of your first times, you are most like­ly not on a body of water that pos­es immi­nent dan­gers. Slip out of your boat and hold onto it. Wait for your guide to pad­dle over and give you instruc­tions on how to pro­ceed. If you stay calm, then this keeps you and your guide in a safer position.