Some Basic Safety Information From Kayak Missouri
Now here at Kayak Missouri we want you to be prepared for your kayak and other paddling adventures. We suspect that some of you stopping here and looking around are new to kayaking and are not really sure where to get started so we thought it would be a good idea to provide a few beginner tips.
First and foremost, don't be afraid to ask. Be it here at Kayak Missouri, from a qualified instructor, random kayakers you meet, a local group, your gear supplier or the local kayak shop; please don't be afraid to ask. Most kayakers and other paddlers really enjoy what they do and like to share and help in any way practical.
Now we can't help you pick out a boat or paddle, those are very personal choices but what we can say is to talk to others and attempt to try as much out as you can until you find what feels right to you. Local paddle shops often host demo days or can schedule tryouts for boats you are interested in and there is nothing that will help you pick the right boat and paddle better than using them and see how they feel. Sometimes you think you can get a good deal by acting now but be leery of anyplace or person that doesn't give you a chance to try it on the water either as a demo or by having an easily understood return or credit policy. And remember, most "big box" retailers and many online sellers don't have the expertise among their staff to provide really quality direction in getting you into a boat that is the right fit for you.
So you have a boat and paddle, what else? The most important thing you need to be able to do once you have that boat and paddle is to be able to get back in your boat when you fall out. And yes you will fall out; so there are techniques you should know to be able to get back in. In most instances there is some basic safety equipment that will make this much easier and safer when properly used. This is where a good instructor comes in to play and it is always money well spent. Of course there are videos and the like on the internet and articles compiled in books or magazines to help but nothing will be better than actually doing it on a regular basis to make sure you have it down for when you really need it. Practice when you first get your boat and then every paddling season thereafter; it is one thing you can't practice enough.
For closed deck kayaks (sit in style whether closed with a skirt or not as opposed to sit on style), a hand operated water pump
is often a handy thing to have. A proper re-entry technique will help to reduce the water remaining in the boat once you are back upright but there will certainly be some water left behind and having the means to get it out can be helpful. A handy sponge will also be helpful while also being useful for wiping down and cleaning up your boat at any time. Just remember, hand pumps and sponges are good for getting small amounts of water out of your boat efficiently; boats without bulkheads or large open cockpits can take on a large amount of water, these boats may benefit from additional float bags or other devices to provide additional buoyancy and water displacement in the event of a capsize.
Always remember, even capsizing can be fun. As long as you know how to re-enter and have practiced it enough so that you are confident that you can get back into your boat; you will enjoy the additional paddling freedom you have earned as you paddle away from shore. Start slowly, work at your own pace and take advantage of the cool water of a hot summer day to hone your skills so you are ready for whatever gets thrown at you when you least expect it. Be safe out there and most importantly; have fun because life is way too short to not go kayaking.