Kayaking has become an increasingly popular adventure sport and people love it. Though it may seem like a fun activity to do with your family over the course of a holiday, kayaking can be extremely dangerous if not done under the proper supervision. Every year, numerous accidents are recorded owing to the violation of even the most basic of kayaking safety rules.
To minimise and prevent accidents while kayaking, the proper measures must be taken. Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure you have the right kayak and the precautions you can take to prevent a kayaking accident.
How to choose the right kayak?
Choosing the right kayak is all about keeping in mind where you are going to use it. Depending on the water body you are going to paddle in, there are a number of kayaks you can choose from. Choosing the right kayak depends on the following factors:
Where you want to go
If you are paddling to a small water body like a pond or a small lake, your options for choosing a kayak will be different than if you are going out on open waters with high wind and temperature.
Sit-in or Sit-on-top
There are two kinds of kayak that people normally choose from depending on the level of comfort they feel in each kayak. The sit-in kayak is great for people who prefer paddling and want to stay dry while doing so. It is the traditional type of kayak.
On the other hand, the sit-on-top kayak is the most user-friendly. It is more stable than the sit-in kayak and also drains water through scupper holes in it. It is ideal for families and is very convenient if you are looking to go for a swim.
The sit-in kayaks are further categorised into three types:
These kayaks are wide, short and have large cockpits that house a few stash spots for your essentials. These kayaks are affordable, stable, easy to turn and are mainly used on flat water and meandering rivers. Recreational kayaks are not ideal for longer trips, waves and rapid rides.
Also known as sit-in sea kayaks, these kayaks are long, robust, easier to turn and are the most efficient over long distances. They have a rudder to deal with strong winds and rough currents.
They are more efficient and versatile than recreational kayaks. These kayaks are good in rougher waters and are easier to transport and handle. Since they are sleeker and more adaptable, touring kayaks are often more expensive than the other two kayaks.
Shape and Size
The shape and size of a kayak determine the cargo it can hold. If you have a big family with you, a large cargo space will probably be your biggest concern. Also, it is known that the longer and narrower the kayak is, the faster it will travel. A wider kayak on the other hand is more stable but will travel slower.
Kayaking Safety Tips
- Take into consideration the weather conditions before leaving on a kayaking trip. Prepare for drastic changes in weather.
- Dress appropriately. Consider the weather, wear layers and always wear a life jacket on water. If it is uncomfortable to kayak with an ordinary life jacket; invest in a kayaking life jacket that is designed to be comfortable while kayaking.
- Always follow the boating rules of the area you are in.
- Choose the appropriate paddling location depending on your skill level. Look for calm bays or rivers without too much of a current. If you venture into unprotected waters, it is imperative to keep your calm.
- Carry the essential safety gear with you at all times.
Kayak Gear and Clothing
It is necessary to wear the proper outfits while kayaking. Since you are going to be changing on a wobbly kayak, choosing the ideal materials that can survive any mishap is important. Here is a list of things you should pack before leaving for a kayaking trip:
It is imperative to understand what to wear when going on a kayaking trip. Most people forget that the air temperature and water temperature differ during the day and it becomes considerably colder on water. Hence it is necessary to dress according to the water temperature and in layers so that it can be easy for you to adapt to the changing temperature.
Opt for quick drying clothes
If you are going kayaking, it is certain that you getting wet. Prepare for such cases by avoiding wearing clothes made of cotton and other water-retaining materials. Wear clothes that are made of quick-drying fabrics instead.
Wear rugged clothes
Since you will be kayaking over an extended period of time, it will be beneficial if comfortable clothes made of rugged and abrasion-resistant fabrics that can sustain wear and tear.
Kayaking over open areas means long exposure to direct sunlight. It is necessary to wear clothing with UPF rated fabrics regardless of cloud cover. It is also important to wear sunscreen for reflected UV radiation.
Footwear that are lightweight, water resistant, protect toes and the bottoms of the feet are ideal. Any footwear with back straps, sandals, flip flops must be avoided because they come off your feet easily.
Hats and Gloves
Hats with wide brims will protect your eyes from the sunlight reflected from the water. Look for hats that have a strap to secure them in case the weather turns windy. Gloves are important to protect your hands from getting blistered due to paddling. Paddling gloves are a must-have during a kayaking trip.
It is also necessary to carry safety gear and equipment like a spare paddle, dry bag, signalling whistle, a personal floatation device, watch, water resistant compass, GPS, flares, towline and other gear. This equipment can be of tremendous help in case of emergencies.
Kayaks are inherently designed to require minimum maintenance. Even then, the moving parts of the kayak, including the foot braces and rudders, should be rinsed and cleaned regularly to prevent jamming and to ensure smooth working. The kayaks must be thoroughly inspected before long trips to ensure a safe kayaking experience. Maintenance of bulkheads, damaged hulls, water outlets will also enable a safe kayak for using.
Many boat manufacturers and maintenance service providers in India offer extensive kayak building and repairing services.
Kayaking is an adrenaline-filled experience when done right and done safely. It is worth investing in the proper safety equipment and following all safety measures to ensure that this fun-filled activity becomes a memorable experience.
What are your thoughts on kayak safety? Any other rules you would like to add? Drop a comment to let us know!
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