A kayak is a low-to-the-water, canoe-like boat in which the paddler sits facing forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other in rotation. You sit lower and interact more with the water than in a canoe. You lean deeper into the turns and spray hits you at speed, thus you get soaking wet much quicker. A true watersport.
With two blades on the paddle a kayak can be faster and more agile than a canoe.
This allows team leaders to safely escort groups in canoes as they can quickly paddle around them.
Wildwater paddling, rolling, and surf kayaking are also possible with this design.
Below are most basic skills to prepare for kayaking. Good water confidence is essential for safe kayaking. Like most watersports, kayaking involves occasional swimming. As part of the learning process, capsizing and getting wet fully clothed is inevitable.
Before we start paddling, it is a good idea to learn how to capsize and how you get back into the boat.
This training will give you the confidence you need for all the other skills.
But first we want to improve our emergency swimming skills.
Look forward to many capsizes (swims) during your learning period and later on. The more you practice the capsize drill the better you'll be prepared for when it happens unexpectedly.
About 75% of accidents are classified as "capsizes" by the Coast Guard. Statistically, capsizes appear to be as likely on calm water as on choppy or rough water. So get ready and be safe.
Practice balancing until you get a feel for it. For your first attempt choose an area of calm, sheltered water and enlist a friend for support.
Keeping your balance will be slightly easier whilst your clothes are still dry. Wet clothes add a fair bit of weight, so try to stay dry as long as you can. Eventually you get wet anyway.
Sit just in front of the seat opening, with your legs in the water for stability.
Sitting on top raises the centre of gravity and makes the boat more prone to tipping over.
Bring up your legs to the side, towards the deck, until you lose your balance and fall into the water. Repeat until you get quite good at keeping your balance.
Climb in and try to stand up in the cockpit.
See how long you can stand up before you fall in.
Once you've mastered this, fill some more water into the boat and try again.