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Kayaking has been around for a long time. For thousands of years, people have made little one-man boats in order to travel along rivers, canals, and even across the sea.
However, in the modern era, kayaking has become less of a necessity and more of a recreational activity.
Before this type of recreation was only for the super wealthy, but now, as prices come down and different kinds of kayaks are being made, people from any kind of background can enjoy the sport easily.
Even with this flurry of new interest, that doesn’t necessarily make kayaking easy. People have a general idea of difficulty when it comes to most sports, with many people knowing how long it takes to pick up football or tennis and what the general moves and techniques are.
But that same knowledge doesn’t really extend to kayaking. This makes people hesitate before giving kayaking a go, because they really don’t know much about it.
Well, today we seek to allay those fears by giving you the lowdown on how hard or easy kayaking really is and giving you some handy tips on what you need to get involved with this most ancient of water sports.
So, Is It Hard?
If you want my honest answer to this question, then it is: No.
I don’t think kayaking is hard, it is only certain factors and silly mistakes that make it hard, as with any water sport.
There are many things that can make kayaking difficult when it shouldn’t be, but should you avoid them or come to the sport with an open mind, you should be fine.
Kayaks are very stable, sturdy boats that just require a little knowledge of the technique to paddle when you are on board to be able to go. Things that can affect how easy kayaking is are picking the right boat and using the right gear.
The right boat is important because humans vary in size, weight, and strength. If you are too big or heavy for a kayak, it will sit low in the water and be more difficult to move.
Likewise, if you are too small or light for your kayak, it may be less stable and also be difficult to move. As such, scout out the boat before you impulsively choose it and save yourself some trouble.
This too goes for the gear. If you select a boat and take the wrong paddle, let’s say it is too small, the boat will move at a sluggish pace as you won’t be able to propel the boat forward with enough force.
This can be said about any gear: if your life jacket is too tight, if your backrest doesn’t sit right, if your waterproof bag is leaking, any problems with your gear will be a problem for you, so make sure that they suit your purposes well.
To help you best start your kayaking journey, we will give information on the two most important pieces of equipment: the kayak types and the paddle with paddling techniques.
Types Of kayak
The first thing we need to talk about are the types of kayak, as they have different purposes and different designs as well. The reason for these differences is primarily due to the differences in water types you will take a kayak on. For example, a lake and a set of river rapids.
The lake is calm and still, with a vast amount of water in front of the kayak and not much in the way of physical force being exerted on the kayak itself.
As such, you need a kayak that is easy to move forward and one that has more passive stability (basically bigger), as in you don’t need to have a direct involvement in it being stable.
It needs to be easy to move because there is no force beyond your own making it move, and it needs to be stable because you don’t need to make sharp turns in the kayak and if you fall in, it is a long way to shore in a lake.
However, the river rapids are rough and powerful, leading in one direction with a lot of obstacles. As such, you require a kayak that is easy to steer, to get out of the way of the obstacles, and a kayak that is more compact and therefore less stable, to move it more easily.
As you can see, different kayaks work better in different environments. However, generally there are only two major types of kayaks out on the market today, those are the sit-in or sit-on kayaks.
Sit-on kayaks are kayaks that you sit on top of with no covering over your lower body. These are the best kayaks if you are just starting out, for a few reasons.
For starters, they tend to be bigger and thus more stable, and the open design means that you can get in and out of them very easily. This doesn’t just apply to when you first get into the kayak, either. If you are out on the water and fall in, then it is much easier to get back on these kayaks.
The sit-on kayak is great for the beach or going out on the open sea for a little bit. Their stability is a good counter for waves, and they are very easy to paddle and maneuver.
One problem with them is the amount of space they have is limited. You can only take one or two things with you because they might fall off the boat otherwise.
Sit-in kayaks are kayaks that you get into and your lower half is completely covered by the cockpit. This kayak is great for river or delta exploration and is used regularly in rough or cold-water environments as well.
This kayak can make sharp turns when needed and due to the covering has a surprising amount of storage space.
However, the sit-in kayak is not as stable as the sit-on kayak and if you capsize it can be difficult to get out. If you need to get back in your kayak after capsizing as well, it is even more difficult, bordering on impossible. Yet, if you are able to avoid both these outcomes, then there is no reason not to get one.
Paddling And Techniques
The last thing we will cover today is the paddle. The paddle is a 2 to 3 meter pole with a wide flat oval blade on either end. Each oval blade at the end of the paddle is directly opposite to the other side, as in if the flat side of one faces you, then the other side will be pointing upwards.
The paddle is key to propelling yourself in the water and without it, you would just sit in the water unable to do anything.
To make the boat move, grip the paddle with both hands in the center of the paddle. Each hand should be a meter apart and each should be closer to one of the blades. Place one blade in the water at about half a meter in front of where your torso is in the kayak with the flat of the blade facing the back of your kayak.
Then drag the blade through the water to just behind your torso’s position before lifting the blade out of the water. Repeat this process with the other blade on the other side of the kayak.
If you keep each stroke of your paddle consistent, then your kayak should move forward easily. To move left, paddle more on the right side, and to move right, paddle more on the left side.
If you wish to go backwards, it is the exact same technique as paddling forwards but in reverse. Instead, pull the blade forward from just behind your torso to about half a meter in front of the kayak on either side.
These are the basic kayaking techniques and, unlike riding a bike or martial arts, it is really, really easy to learn and do. There are other techniques that you can learn for kayaking, but make sure to get these ones down first before attempting anything big.
Kayaking is really easy to do, and it can be an immense amount of fun, especially for those that find other sports too hard or taxing. Kayaking can be done at your own pace, is not too strenuous, and can help you explore areas you may have thought beyond your reach.
Nowadays, it is really easy to find a kayaking rental place to practice as well, so if you are unsure about pursuing kayaking, why not give one of them a go and see how you feel. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
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