Kayaking is one of the most satisfying outdoor activities. It is an epic way to get out on the water for leisure or for a more rigorous adventure. It involves paddling a narrow watercraft called a kayak using a double-bladed paddle.
Kayaking has numerous benefits such as boosting your health by engaging your body in exercise, allowing you to meet like-minded people, and allowing you to bond with friends and family when taking an adventure together. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for you to enjoy ocean and mountain views and enables you to get up close to marine life, especially in beautiful places like Alaska!
If you are new to kayaking, it can be pretty intimidating. It is vital that you get proper guidance from professionals to master the basics of kayaking before attempting to kayak. Remember, kayaking involves being in risky environments where there could be tides and waves or even animals, such as whales. Still, as a beginner, you might face challenges when it comes to paddling or other important basic kayaking skills.
The Basics of Kayaking
The most important things you need to know as a beginner are the basic kayaking techniques, equipment, kayaking safety gear, and of course the types of kayaks that suits you as a beginner. Below are the essentials that you need to know about kayaking.
Equipment and Gear
When you book a guided kayak tour, you will be provided with the equipment and kayaking gear. These include a paddle, personal floatation devices, a bilge pump, and a spray skirt.
- A paddle is the equipment that propels your kayak. It is as essential as the kayak itself. When it comes to choosing one, factors such as the measurement of your torso and the size of your kayak must be considered for optimal performance.
- Personal floatation devices (PFD) are essential for your safety. They come in different styles to suit different waters. Your guide will provide the best PFD (life jacket) that suits the kind of water you will be kayaking in.
- A bilge pump, also known as bailer, is used to remove water that may collect in your kayak.
As we mentioned, most kayaking gear is provided by the kayak tour company. However, there are a few important things you should consider carrying for yourself. They may include swimwear or shorts, wetsuit boots, a hat to protect you from sun, sunscreen if your skin is more susceptible to sunburns, and maybe sunglasses. Also, remember to bring clothes to change into when out of water so you’re not driving home from your adventure in wet fabric.
Types of Kayaks
Once introduced to the kayaks, you will notice their difference in types and sizes. Your guide will help you select the most suitable kayak for the environment in which you will be kayaking.
The two main categories of kayaks are sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks. Within these categories, there are various types that can suit you as a beginner, such as sit-on-top, tandem, touring, and inflatable kayaks.
- Sit-on-top: Sit-on-top kayaks are wide and steady due to their good center of balance. They are easy to maneuver on the water making them the best choice for beginners. While they are wide and stable, they are larger and slower than other types and fit best in calmer waters.
- Touring: Touring kayaks are another type that can be used by beginners with a good sense of balance. They are narrow and lightweight and can be transported more easily than sit-on-top kayaks. The challenge for beginners when it comes to touring kayaks is that they are narrow making it difficult to get in and out, especially when you are out on the water.
- Inflatable: Inflatable kayaks just as the name suggests can be inflated to be used and deflated, rolled, and tucked away when not in use. This makes them very easy to transport to your launch point. They are situated for all skill levels and are suited for calmer waters.
- Tandem: Tandem kayaks are made for two people. They come in all forms: sit-on-top, touring, as well as inflatable kayaks.
Just like any other activities that require skills, kayaking requires practice to master the skills, and you can only master kayaking techniques by practicing kayaking. At first, the experience can be quite daunting. Your kayak might feel a bit unstable, and handling the paddle itself might be challenging until you’re used to it.
Your guide will coach you on how to get in and out of your kayak, paddling skills, and safety procedures before you launch into your adventure.
The most common basic techniques you will learn as a beginner are:
- Forward stroke, which keeps your boat moving forward.
- Reverse stroke, which is a braking stroke. This can also move your kayak backward.
- Sweep stroke, which is basically a turning stroke.
Time to Go Kayaking with Above and Beyond Alaska!
When you have learned the basic kayaking skills, it is time to go kayaking! There’s no better way than to book a guided kayak tour with Above and Beyond Alaska in Juneau, AK. Here, you will not have to worry about being a novice. In fact, you will feel like a pro by the end of your tour. Moreover, the unique adventures and beautiful scenery that we have in Alaska cannot be found anywhere else!
Above and Beyond Alaska offers group kayaking trips with highly-experienced guides. You won’t have to worry about being alone on the water. Our kayaking tours are suitable for all experience levels. So, if you are ready to start your kayaking journey in Alaska, call or email us today to learn more about how to book your perfect Alaskan adventure with us!