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Kayaking Basics for Beginners

Rahul Thadani
Before you actually venture forth in a kayak, you need to know the basics related to it. For an individual to fully enjoy the pleasures of kayaking, the knowledge and understanding related to the sport is vitally important.

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This is a challenging adventure sport that offers the opportunity to travel in a water body, while enjoying the sights and sounds that nature has to offer. It is fairly simple to pick up the basics, but for a beginner, it is advisable to take the help of an experienced person.

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The Basics

The instructions for kayaking are quite similar to those for whitewater rafting or canoeing. The important thing to remember for a beginner is to never go kayaking alone.
It can turn dangerous at any instant, and it helps to have a friend or two along with you. What you will read here is simply a fundamental run down of the most basic requirements.

Sitting in a Kayak

The way you actually sit in a kayak is very important. It may seem simple, but the truth is, you could lose balance at any moment, and the kayak may capsize. Because kayaks sit low in water, it makes them unstable. Hence, getting used to one, and learning to balance it takes time and effort.
Unlike a canoer, a kayaker sits with his legs stretched out in front of him. Adjust the back rest as per your comfort. As the legs are stretched out in the front, care should be taken that they should not be straight all the time. This may strain your back.
Many kayaks have braces for fastening the legs, and they must be a snug fit; not too tight. Some kayaks also have adjustable stirrups. Adjust them according to your comfort.

Know How to Swim

In the scenario that your kayak has tipped over, it is imperative that you know how to swim. It goes without saying that if you do not know how to swim, you probably should not try kayaking. All the basics that you learn will be useless, unless and until you know how to swim.

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Now, the next part is how to hold the paddle properly. The last thing you want is to be paddling down the river, and then suddenly have your paddle fall out of your hand.

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When you hold the shaft, your hands should be shoulder-width apart. The grip should be relaxed. If the grip on the paddle is too tight, you will get exhausted quickly.
When holding the paddle, your knuckles should be pointing up. When you start to paddle, dip one of the paddles in the water so that it catches the right amount of water to propel the kayak forward.
Use your core and upper body in tandem for an efficient technique. The torso should be wound when catching the water, and it should unwind to push the water back. This should be done in a fluid motion.

Waterways Rules

There are different types of kayaks meant for paddling down different types of water bodies. First of all, you need to purchase the right kind of kayak for your requirements. And secondly, you must know all about the kayaking basics for these different water bodies.
For example, whitewater kayaking is very different from ocean kayaking. One must also know how to read the water currents, and determine the best course to take.

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There are different dangers involved in different kinds of kayaking, and the more you know about them, the better it will be for you.

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Sea kayaking basics are the hardest to learn, as it is considered to be the toughest form of kayaking.
Safety should be your primary concern, and everything else is secondary. You must be prepared for each and every kind of potential danger while kayaking, and simply reading about the basics is good enough. Take lessons, and see as many live demonstrations as you can, to become an expert at kayaking.