Earlier this Spring, five friends and I went on a sea kayaking adventure in the San Juan Islands of Washington. We were all excited, but only a few of us had actually sea kayaked before. Luckily one of our team members was a total pro and had a ton of experience from leading trips on Lake Superior.
Here are four great tips we learned that can really help if you’re planning to head out on your first sea kayaking adventure.

Split the Boat

Beginner sea kayakers generally have a tough time adjusting to the constant need for balance in a sea kayak. When waves are high, and you’re scared of tipping over, kayaking in a tandem boat with another person greatly decreases the likelihood of you tipping your boat. In fact, riding in a tandem can do much more for you than just giving you balance!

When you’re riding in a tandem kayak, you’ll have twice the paddling power, allowing you to go farther faster. Plus, you can relax a little! When you’re paddling long distances, it can really help energy levels and certainly keep your crew in a more positive mood.

The third advantage of paddling a tandem kayak is that you can carry more stuff. The boat is a little wider and longer, which means you’ll have more space for those extra camping chairs or anything else you might want to bring for a little added comfort.

Bring A Paddle Float

If riding in a tandem isn’t an option, try using a kayak paddle float. This is simply a little nylon float that easily slips over the blade on your paddle.

Not only does it give you an extremely easy way to stabilize yourself and your boat, but it also provides unmatched support if you do end up tipping the boat and need to rescue yourself.

Pay Attention to the Wind and the Current

A general “average” speed for sea kayaking would be about 3 miles per hour if you know how to use the wind and the current in your favor. However, if you catch the wind or current at the wrong time of day, 3 miles per hour can easily turn into half a mile per hour. When you’re planning your next kayaking trip, make sure you pay attention to wind and current patterns so that you don’t end up running out of energy halfway through the trip.

Make Sure You Have the Correct Gear 

Generally, most of your gear can be used for many different sports. For example, your hiking pants can probably be used for backpacking, fishing, or just hanging out around camp. But when it comes to water sports, especially sea kayaking, specific gear is needed. Since you’ll be getting in cold water, you’ll be at risk of getting your gear wet. This can easily be avoided if you bring the right gear.

Here’s a recommended list:

  • Life Jacket (PFD)
  • Sprayskirt
  • Dry Bags
  • Extra set of warm clothes just in case
  • Rescue Gear
  • Spare Paddle

Now get out there and have a fun (and safe) sea kayaking trip!

Originally Published September 1st, 2016.