How to Paddle a Kayak
How to Hold the Kayak Paddle
The Exciting Sport of Kayaking
Kayaking is a fun way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. It can also be an intense, exhilerating experience as you ride white water on a fast river.
Whatever your goal may be, getting the basics down first will make everything that happens later, much more enjoyable. You will want to know how to properly hold the paddle, how to perform a basic paddle stroke and how to turn the kayak most efficiently.
All of these, and a few more tips are contained in the following video clips and paragraphs.
I'd like to thank my son, Dan Mills, for his help recording the video. He does this sort of thing for a living using professional equipment. While on a weekend camping, kayaking trip, he agreed to shoot some footage using my Samsung WB250F, which is not a bad little camera, but is definitely not what he is used to using.
Four Tips for Paddling a Kayak (2:33 video)
- Begin with hands about shoulder width apart, although personal comfort is important as well. (See photo above).
- Hold the paddle loosely, avoiding the tendency to grip it tightly.
- The long part of the paddle blade goes on top. (See photo above).
- Paddle with the pulling arm straight.
- Push with the opposite arm to give additional power to the stroke.
- Push on the foot peg on the side on which you are paddling.
- Rotate at the waist to power the stroke rather than pulling with the arms
Three Ways to Turn a Kayak
- Alternate paddling forward on one side and backward on the other. (See video).
- Use a wide shallow stroke on the side opposite your turn. (See video).
- Use a wide shallow stroke on the side opposite your turn while leaning slightly away from the way your are turning. Be careful, it is easy to capsize with this method. It is worth practicing in shallow water, because it is a very effective way to turn a kayak.
Five Insights into Kayak Ownership
- Shorter kayaks are more maneuverable. Longer kayaks glide through the water easier.
- Recreational kayaks will have a larger cockpit for ease of entry and exit. Touring kayaks have a smaller cockpit so that a water shedding skirt can be attached for rough water.
- How will you use the kayak? Is it simply for floating on a lake while you sip tea? This is fine, but you may not want to purchase an expensive touring kayak. A nice recreational kayak, such as the one in the video, would work just fine. The kayak in the video is a 14-foot Wilderness Systems Pungo.
- Will you be paddling on lakes only? In that case, a longer (14 feet and up), narrower kayak will glide through the water with ease. On the other hand, if you will be spending time on rivers, shorter kayaks (14 feet and under) will respond much more quickly than longer kayaks. But for lakes, my 17 foot, Current Designs Storm is a dream.
- I am fond of 14-foot kayaks for general use on lakes and rivers. They are long enough to glide well and short enough to respond quickly for turning. This is my personal opinion.
Seventeen Foot Current Designs, Storm
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