#TryItTuesday: Kayaking–A New Adventure
Last year when my husband requested a kayak for his birthday, I thought he was crazy.
We had never been kayaking before, and I was almost positive this would be one more thing we’d purchase only to sit in our garage never to be looked at again. When he suggested two kayaks, one for him and one for me, I was even more convinced he had started to lose his mind.
To be honest, I wasn’t interested in kayaking, and I was a bit fearful. Since my double mastectomy, I’ve had a significant decrease in upper body strength. I thought there was no way I’d have enough power to paddle a kayak. I also used the “getting older” excuse – weren’t we too old to learn a new sport?
Well, I was wrong. My husband’s not crazy, and I discovered kayaking is a great sport that not only provides an excellent physical workout, it’s also a great way to relax! (And we are definitely not too old.)
On the first calm evening, we took our new kayaks and headed to Lake Alvin. Lake Alvin has little boat traffic on it and a sandy launch area, making it a perfect spot for our first time out.
Our most difficult challenge for the trip was getting the kayaks to stay on the rack carrier. Thank goodness for YouTube – watching the video on how to strap the kayaks proved successful and we made it to our destination. Our first time out we were on the water for about an hour. It was perfect. While at first, I was a bit nervous, I quickly learned that I could kayak at my own pace. I could row, and rest and enjoy the calm of the water.
Each time we go kayaking, I feel myself getting stronger and my confidence growing. It won’t be long now, and I’m sure we will start exploring new areas to kayak.
Are you interested in kayaking? Here is a list of the essential equipment to get started:
- A U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD (personal flotation device) that fits properly
- Paddle (make sure they check that it’s the right size for you)
As we become more skilled and adventurous with our kayaks, here is a list of equipment that has been suggested by kayaking experts:
- Proper clothing dependent on the weather
- Plenty of water
- Snacks for energy, plus lunch for more extended tours
- Sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses (with a retainer)
- First-aid kit
- Signaling whistle
- Watch (so you can give yourself plenty of time to get back)
- Headlamp (in case you’re too slow getting back)
- Dry bags (for things you don’t want to get wet)
Here are a few safety precautions for kayaking:
- Bring a paddling buddy. When no guide is along, you should always go with another paddler who can summon help or provide assistance.
- Make a togetherness pact. A buddy who paddles off out of sight or earshot won’t be much help.
- Know your distance limit. If you haven’t had rescue training, never paddle farther from shore than you’re easily able to swim. (Near-shore areas are more interesting anyway.)
- Do your hazard research. Ask a knowledgeable local paddler about places to avoid, as well as currents, tides and weather forecasts.
- Know your water temp. You should always dress for a capsize—at a minimum, that means some sort of wetsuit when the water is 60 degrees F or less.
- Check your PFD. Make sure it fits tightly and is only loose enough so that it won’t interfere with your breathing. If temps heat up and you need to remove a layer, paddle to shore first—never remove your PFD on the water.
- Be cautious about using a spray skirt. Don’t wear one unless you know how to properly pop it off and do a wet exit.
- Don’t forget your whistle. The universal distress signal is three long blasts.
If you plan to kayak in the future, consider taking a rescue class. And classes that cover navigation, tides, currents and surf can help you avoid trouble in the first place.