Guest Post - Allie Mason, Riber Products Ambassador and the author of The Autistic Guide to Adventure
Kayaking is something I first discovered as a teenager whilst in the Scouts, and is an activity that I have gone back to over the years on family holidays or local days out. Now that I have my very own Photon, I am looking forward to spending more time on the water than ever before - perhaps even convincing my dog to join me!
If you haven't had as much experience with kayaking, however, this is the blog post for you. I'll be sharing my advice for getting started, beginning with the absolute basics.
- What will I need?
In the UK, we are lucky in that there are many places offering you the chance to start kayaking that don't require you to buy any of the expensive equipment yourself. You can instead rent your kayak, paddle and buoyancy aid right from wherever you are launching (the term used for leaving the shore and heading out onto the water). All you'll need to do is wear clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting wet, as well as bring a spare set of clothes and a spare pair of shoes for changing into when you're done. Plus a towel, of course, for drying off!
Allie's top tip: if you wear glasses, make sure to either store them safely on the shore, or, if you need them whilst kayaking, buy a glasses strap/cord to keep them secure. My other half wasn't very impressed when his glasses fell into the water and sunk to the bottom of the lake, never to be seen again ...
- Where can I go?
If you've never been kayaking before and don't own any of the equipment listed above, your best bet is going to be to find a local business that offers both equipment hire and a dedicated place to launch. You can't just rock up at any river or lake and start kayaking there - most will require that you have a waterways licence. Therefore, when you're just starting out it's much easier to go somewhere that you know it is permitted to paddle on, and that provides you with everything you need to do so. A further bonus of this approach is that these business will have staff on hand in case of emergencies, so if you get into any trouble on the water, there will likely be someone with a speedboat who can come out and help you!
- What if I'm nervous?
Something that can often be overlooked is the value in familiarising yourself with the different aspects of kayaking before actually heading out on one for the first time. Feel free to take some time getting used to wearing a buoyancy aid if you've never had to put one on before, or to sit on/in the kayak whilst it's still on land and figure out where all your limbs need to go! I personally prefer a sit-on to a sit-in kayak, because I feel more confident knowing that if I fall off, I can tread water and then climb back on, rather than have to roll myself back upright.
Allie's top tip: if it would help you to feel less nervous, you can always start with a double or tandem kayak, where two people can paddle together. This is a great option if you already know someone who has been kayaking before, because they can then sit in front of you and show you the right technique.