Kayaking is among the most popular outdoor watersports in the world. It is a great way to have fun, exercise, and see nature. Kayaking can be done on rivers, in creeks, at seacoasts, or in open water areas where there are conditions favorable for navigation.
For newbies, one may want to know exactly what kayaking is, its origin, how it is done and the equipment needed among other things.
Look no further as this article will take you through all about Kayaking.
Definition of Kayaking
Kayaking is a water sport in which you engage in an activity of paddling over smooth surfaces by using kayak. Kayaks are usually long, slender boats either propelled by a double-bladed paddle or designed for paddling with single blade.
The sport may be done on calm water bodies like lakes, rivers, seas, bays among other places where navigation can take place under favorable conditions. The activity is deemed safe as it is very easy to learn and enjoy even for beginners. It also provides an opportunity to see nature closely especially on rivers and creeks.
History of Kayaking
The origin of kayaking is traced to the early 20 centuries when people started using boats for movement around the waterways. The first recorded use of Kayaks goes back to between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago in what is now North America. It involved usage of kayaks by the Eskimos who lived in northern regions where they used it for fishing.
Other reports have it that Canadians were among the first to develop modern day Kayaking as the Baidarka, which was made from seal skins, wood among other materials was developed by them many years back. Soon after, other people started copying the design and it spread to other regions of the world.
Types of Kayaks
Kayak is a general term used to refer to all types of boats that are designed for paddling over calm water. It can be either kayaks that are propelled by double-bladed paddle or those that use a single blade for navigation.
They may also appear with one, two, and four cockpits and even more depending on what they are intended for mostly hunting, or fishing among others as some also have storage space where you place some gears.
In most cases, those designed with one cockpit as well as those with no cockpit at all are more stable as they simply offer easy control especially on flat waters where there are minimal chances of capsizing.
However, those with four cockpits are good when the water is rough and navigation may involve a lot of movement.
Kayaks also come in various shapes and sizes to meet different needs of people most especially for commercial or recreational use depending on what you intend to do with it most times.
Some kayaks have a shape that usually offer maximum stability, which makes them ideal for beginners while others have a shape that provides agility, and allow for quick turns.
In addition to the two types already mentioned, there is another type known as Surf skiing, which can be used for surfing but mostly where waves aren’t very big. The only difference between this type and regular kayak is that it has an open cockpit and a smaller length.
Below is a list of some common types of kayaks available across the globe. You can find them used or new depending on where you are located as some models may be limited to a particular region.
· Inflatable Kayaks
These are easy to carry along as they come with a bag and those made from good quality material last long, the only issue being the time it takes to pump up before use.
· Sit-on-top kayak
This comes in single cockpits and an open cockpit, which offers maximum stability, but less storage space for gears.
· Tandem kayak
This comes in two cockpits making it perfect for recreation or commercial purposes, as there is room for one more person whom you can take along with you. It also has storage space that you can place gears or equipment.
· Recreational kayak
This comes in one cockpit and is most suitable for flat-water activities making it great for beginners.
· Whitewater kayak
This is most suitable for rivers with rapids, also perfect for white water rafting. It comes with closed cockpits, which provide enough ventilation while ensuring safety of the participant.
· Fishing kayak
This is specially designed to accommodate one person with basic fishing gears like rods and reels apart from storage space where you can keep your catches. It also features a pedal drive system that propels the kayaks forward using foot power instead of using paddle to create maximum efficiency when fishing.
Equipment Needed for Kayaking
Kayaking is among the simplest water sports that you can take part in. However, before you venture into the sport, you must know the various equipment needed.
The basic equipment include:
· Paddle – Kayaks are usually propelled by a paddle on either side of the boat. You must know that you can use either one or two depending on what kayak you have and the number of cockpits it has.
· Spray decks – Those with open cockpits will need spray decks, which are simply covers for the hole in your cockpit to stop water from getting inside while paddling.
· Neck Towel – This is used to keep your face free from water before heading back into the boat after each time you dip your face in water when paddling.
· Wetsuit/Life Jacket (PFD) – These are safety gears that prevent hypothermia during cold nights out on the waters. Look for life jackets that are approved by the U.S Coast Guard and strictly follow the recommended weight for your body type before purchasing one.
· Other Equipment: The other equipment you may need from time to time include the spray skirt, bilge pump, towline, anchor, paddle float among others.
How to Kayak-Basic Principles
Before actual engagement in this sport, you must familiarize yourself with some of the basic principles that kayaks and canoe users follow such as:
Know How to Paddle
This can be achieved through using a stationary kayak or simply going ahead and purchasing a model that comes with a paddle already attached to it.
The most important thing here is to make sure you understand all the ways on how to use your paddle correctly which includes knowing when to use it, what angle needs to be used and at what speed should you move your arms in order for you not miss catching any waves or wind currents.
It is also very important that before going into actual action, practice doing some drill from time to time so that you will have enough strength for your upcoming adventure.
Know the Current Weather Condition
This is very important because it will affect your entire trip. If you are planning to kayak during winter or in large bodies of water, that features cold weather, then you should know how to dress for this type of conditions so you will not experience any problem when staying out in the open for longer periods. Also knowing when it is better to move towards shallower places where water might not be as cold is also helpful when dealing with such situations.
Consider the following:
· Ask yourself why you want to try out kayaking. If it is for the fun of being out in the water or testing your limits when it comes to dealing with wind currents and waves, then there’s no problem.
· Decide whether you plan to use your kayak for recreation or if you plan to use it for work. This is very important because depending on what your plans are, you should know how much storage space to have, and at the same time, what type of model to choose that would be most appropriate for your situation.
· However, if you plan to use it only during summer season or in calm waters, where there are no strong waves or wind currents to deal with, then getting a touring kayak instead would be better since they are designed in such a way that they make it easier for users who don’t have enough strength to paddle them.
· Consider which design best fits your needs. There are different types of designs available when it comes to kayaks so consider which one suits your purpose. For beginners, the sit on top kayak is recommended since it makes it easier for them to get in and out of them because they are semi open, which means there are no tubes that separate you from the outer environment. This type of design also comes with bulkheads which are flotation devices that provide additional safety during the trip by allowing users to stay afloat even when capsizing or if their kayak has already flooded with water.
Where to Go Kayaking
If you are just starting out on Kayaking, you may be wondering where to go. Well, the best place to start your adventure is in your own backyard. If you are living near a large body of water, rest assured that there are several advantages to trying out Kayaking at home first before venturing into waters that are more difficult where there are already people who have been kayaking for years.
Other places to go kayaking include – On rivers – Lakes and reservoirs – Saltwater bays and other large bodies of water – On the sea
These are just some examples and other locations may be considered as long as there’s a body of water that you can kayak to. It does not really matter whether its calm, located near your home or not but consider those factors first before making any decisions because it will affect your whole trip.
Kayaking Activities to undertake
Once you get to know how to Kayak, there are many activities that you can do, all of which involve Kayaking such as:
Fishing is very common among those who love kayaking. Many people enjoy practicing this activity on large bodies of water such as bays and lakes and it doesn’t matter if they do it on their own or with a group. People usually go fishing on their own kayaks but during the summer season, there are some who prefer to fish in groups because of the easy access they get when it comes to spot where fish can be found.
· Sea Kayaking
Sea Kayaking is suitable for those living near coasts or large areas that have calm waters where waves are not strong nor rough. In these types of places, sea kayaking becomes very popular since people earn a lot from practicing it especially those who have been into kayak tours for years as a profession.
· Whitewater Kayaking
Whitewater kayaking involves more risks than normal kayaking, which is why it is considered dangerous because of the strong current of rivers and waterfalls that one might come across during their trip. However, those who are interested in whitewater kayaking should keep in mind that even though they put themselves at risk, there are many people around them to help. Such include lifeguards and other rescue teams who can provide support when necessary.
· Kayak Diving
One would not think of kayaking and diving in the same sentence but actually, it is possible. Kayak diving is a relatively new activity that was only recently introduced to people who are fond of adventure sports. Still, some prefer to go for this type of adventure over others because they can easily get to places since they do not have to use any kind of boat or vessel that other water sports require.
· Surf ski
This is a kayak used for recreational purposes and it comes in various shapes and sizes. Surf ski is similar to kayak but it has two pontoons at the end instead of one only. With this design, you can expect that these boats are more stable on rough waters especially if you are doing race with other people on some sort of competition.
Is Kayaking Dangerous?
Like any other outdoor adventure, kayaking also puts you at risk of various dangers and accidents. However, it does not mean that you should not try this type of activity because the benefits if everything goes right are more satisfying compared to everything bad that can happen.
Some of the things you might want to consider are weather conditions, water currents, time of day etc… These factors will affect how your entire trip would go which means they must be given their full attention instead of just disregarding them as minor details.
For those planning to do some kayaking in the near future, here are some tips you might want to consider to mitigate any dangers and make your kayaking a fun experience:
1. Stay hydrated- The reason why kayakers need water is that staying hydrated helps them function better. This means that before going out there; make sure that you have enough water available for you to drink during the trip because dehydration might cause fatigue, which means it will take longer before reaching where you are supposed to go.
2. Wear Life Jackets- Wearing life jackets does not mean if something happens, help will automatically come to them immediately. Even if they are safe out there, it does not mean that they can just take off their life jackets because this could put them in danger especially if bad weather strikes.
3. Keep away from fast-moving currents- If you are planning to do something like Kayaking during the spring when the temperature rises, make sure that you avoid rivers with fast moving currents as these are dangerous and should instead be left for experienced kayakers only.
4. Avoid at all cost-The best way anyone can enjoy any sport is to do it injury free. This means that one needs to avoid taking risks because even though accidents may happen at times, taking unnecessary risks will only cause more problems than anything else which is why it is recommended to always prepare before venturing out there especially where there are risks involved.
Benefits of Kayaking
Just like any other sport, Kayaking too has its benefits as seen below:
· Better cardiovascular health
· Experience of being one with nature as you enjoy the beauty that surrounds your location during the trip
· If done regularly, kayaking can contribute to weight loss as it has been found out as one of the top sports that burns down calories fast.
Kayaking is a great sport for those who are looking to have fun on some adventure that involves water. This might be dangerous at times but it is one of the best sports that you can do without harming yourself or others danger, especially if you are not an expert just yet.
As you have seen, there are different types of kayaks available on the market today, which might make choosing one type over another confusing. However, before buying any kind of kayak for sale, you need to know what purpose they will serve first because this way, it would be easier to choose which model would suit your needs most effectively.