Spencer Schar: Kayaking for Beginners

Entrepreneur Spencer Schar enjoys bass fishing in his spare time and kayaking in the lakes near his home. This article will take a closer look at the sport of kayaking, providing pointers for beginners interested in taking up the sport.

For the uninitiated, the iconic image of a kayak gliding across glassy water can be incredibly alluring. Nevertheless, many novices struggle to know where to start, finding some of the terminology, skills, and equipment involved somewhat daunting. Fortunately, with a little research and preparation, anyone can take up this pastime, which can be as tranquil and relaxed or thrill-seeking and adventurous as the kayaker wants it to be.

For complete beginners, a kayaking trip with training to help novices master the basics is an excellent place to start, providing an opportunity to get to grips with the sport in calm, shallow water under the watchful gaze of an experienced guide. Beginner kayaking courses help participants to master basic skills, such as paddling, balancing the kayak without capsizing, and exiting the cockpit if the kayak flips over. Once the novice kayaker has these skills under their belt and they are comfortable and confident in the cockpit and water, they can take part in an intermediate course to test their stamina and skills.

It is crucial for beginners to ensure they train with an experienced guide capable of stepping in if something goes wrong. For those who are new to kayaking, taking a tamer overnight kayaking trip or one that lasts just a few days is sensible, helping them to gauge how their muscles stand up to the strain of paddling for long periods of time. Focusing on trips that travel through and explore beautiful landscapes and regions with relatively calm water is much more appropriate for inexperienced kayakers than kayaking trips that involve rocky rivers and white water.

In addition to signing up for a class or taking a tour, many kayakers become involved with the sport through a friend, borrowing a kayak from them or renting one from an on-the-water outfitter to avoid the hassle of transporting the boat. While renting a kayak is likely to provide just the bare minimum of instruction and gear, it is an affordable means of trying out the sport. Having a friend who is an expert paddler presents a low-cost way of getting involved in kayaking and learning the basics, as well as providing companionship as the kayaker progresses.

Although many people use the words “kayak” and “canoe” interchangeably, there are key differences between them. While kayaks are traditionally closed deck, canoes are more commonly open-top boats. Another distinguishing feature is the sitting position adopted when kayaking. The kayaker always faces forward, with their legs stretched out in front of them. Canoeists, on the other hand, either kneel or sit on benches running across the beam of the vessel.

The kayak was created by the Inuit people of the Arctic territories. Inuit kayaks have characteristic wooden frames covered with sealskin, with the kayaker sitting in a small hole in the center. Over the years, kayak design has evolved considerably, culminating in the creation of a comprehensive range of boats suited to a variety of different water types. From peaceful canals to coastal waters to white water rivers, there are kayaks on the market to suit all needs and tastes, meaning that the sport can be enjoyed by all.

For beginners, stable sit-on-top kayaks are ideal, although people of all different ages and abilities can enjoy the sport. When starting out, it is sensible to try out a range of different kayak types, enabling the novice to gauge which one suits them best.

Essential kayaking gear includes a paddle, bilge pump, and coastguard-approved personal flotation device that fits properly. In addition, on warm and calm days, a spray skirt may be appropriate.

Kayakers also need to ensure that they are wearing the appropriate clothing. For a warm-water outing, shorts or swimwear made from nonbinding, noncotton material will help to keep the kayaker comfortable. A rashguard top, sunhat, and neoprene footwear are essential, while a lightweight fleece vest or jacket and rain jacket and pants may be appropriate in some weather conditions. For water temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, a wetsuit is also required.

Overnight kayaking trips usually involve an early start to maximize daylight hours out on the water. Whether a trip has a duration of one night or seven, participants can expect to be paddling for several hours per day, although more casual trips will provide them with more opportunities to relax. Many kayaking trips involve wild camping in forests or on the coastline, presenting the opportunity to enjoy spectacular scenery and discover hidden coves that are only accessible from the water. Kayakers could find themselves gliding between steep canyon walls in regions rich in wildlife that are inaccessible via traditional hiking trails, enabling them to enjoy a unique scenic adventure while simultaneously honing their kayaking skills.

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