Kayak Instructions Beginner Basics
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Kayaking is a dangerous sport and it’s essential to have proper kayak instruction before heading out on the water. Learning a variety of strokes, taking safety training and knowing how to judge the waterways you’re planning to paddle are important techniques that could save your life in an emergency one day.
It’s best to start kayaking by taking some lessons. This way you’ll learn good technique from the start rather than spending valuable time trying to break bad habits later. Most beginners start out on flat water as this gives you the chance to learn strokes and technique without worrying about currents or waves.
Look for a school that offers courses with small or semi-private classes – this way you’ll get individual attention and more value for your money. Although kayak instruction in a large group might be cheaper you’ll generally learn less.
If you’ve already had some kayak instruction and want to advance to the next level look for a school that specializes in the area you wish to advance in. If you think sea kayaking is your thing look for a school on the coast and if whitewater is luring you go for a specialized whitewater school.
Moving on from basic kayak instruction
Once you’ve learned basic techniques on flat water you can move on to more challenging water and conditions. At this point it’s usually a good decision to learn how to roll, read water currents and to learn about rescue techniques. These skills are essential whether you’re planning to kayak in calm sea coves or through whitewater. You never know what the weather and the water is going to throw at you and you’ve got to be prepared.
Whitewater lessons start out on lower grades of rapids and teach you how to read the river, which strokes you’ll need to manoeuvre safely and quickly and will prep you in safety instruction for difficult situations. A two-day whitewater course costs between $140 and $280 depending on where you stay and whether all gear is included or not.
Sea kayaking lessons can usually be taken at most beaches – you can opt for a half day of basic kayak instruction for about $50 or if you’re more serious, move on to intermediate lessons where you’ll learn about surf-zone paddling, rolling, paddle bracing and water rescue. Private lessons cost about $65 per hour.
You can choose to take kayak instruction as part of a holiday and plan a multi-day trip with a kayaking school or take evening and weekend lessons closer to home. Either way it’s important to keep your skills up by practicing regularly or you’ll find you’ve lost some of your technique by the next time you hit the water.