Thinking of Kayaking on the East Coast?

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Starting out in kayaking can be a daunting, confusing and frustrating exercise. Of course, most of us now have access to a wealth of information online and to some extent, this can be part of the problem. And buying from a retail outlet isn’t always a good solution as you may just be sold what’s in stock and not necessarily what is best for your paddling needs. So following is a succinct summary of how to get started.

First, find a local kayaking school by asking friends and family for recommendations and do an online search. Contact the company and ask for advice – this should be comprehensive, expert and FREE without obligation. Next, get yourself booked on to a one day course that will teach you the basic skills to manage and control your boat as well as deal with capsizes and recovery – fundamental for your longevity! With the basic skills under your belt and a good source of advice, buy yourself a boat, paddle and buoyancy aid and get out on the water and get plenty of paddling time into ‘cement’ the skills you’ve been taught.

A good idea is to take advantage of local expert knowledge and experience and join a trip organised and led by a local paddling school. These schools are paid for their expertise so all you have to do is just turn up and paddle – no planning, no worrying about tides, weather or launch limitations. Guides should be BCU trained and qualified and your trip will be covered by the school's insurance. And of course, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to get ideas on launch locations as well as loads of useful tips and advice – FREE.

To get you started, some of the basic kit you’ll need to get started;

  1. Decked kayak with two watertight hatches (one fore & aft), all-round deck lines & a retractable skeg OR
  2. Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak with at least one large hatch & a comfortable seat.
  3. A basic and cheap buoyancy aid – all UK sold buoyancy aids are CE approved and are of a high standard so get a cheap unit just to get started.
  4. 215cm (no longer) fibreglass shaft paddle with plastic blades – pay as little as possible.
  5. One spare paddle – any type but must ‘split’ down to two separate lengths for on-deck storage.
  6. A neoprene spray deck – make sure it fits correctly (decked boats only).
  7. A tow line with a large mouth opening for easy packing away.
  8. A good pair of ‘wet boots’, thick under soles and ankle protection – not cheap neoprene booties. The east coast houses a lot of ‘stuff’ underfoot that will slice through a thin cheap boot – I’ve seen it many times, you have been warned!
  9. Use synthetic materials layered for warmth and venting to cool as needed. AVOID all cotton and denim, these materials are cold, heavy and take a long time to dry. Take professional advice before buying specialist paddling clothing – it’ll save you time and money!
  10. Ensure you have plenty of dry bags – nothing stays dry in water sports so you can never have too many dry bags. Use lots of smaller dry bags which make packing your boat and finding specific gear a lot easier.
  11. Plenty of fluids (hot or cold) and plenty of food and spare clothing in case of a capsized.

Be patient and learn the basic skills properly – never underestimate the water, if you do, it’s just a matter of time before it bites! Take your time to get the basics right. Paddling with a local provider will get you started as well as give you a shortlist of launch venues. And remember; do your research and ask questions, the advice is free of charge!

Published On: 18th August 2015