Learn how to kayak

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Although this activity may look easy, there is much to learn before climbing into a kayak and setting out into the water
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Enjoy the thrill of kayaking.

Kayaking is an exciting way to enjoy the outdoors while having fun at the same time. Although this favorite pastime may seem simple, there is a lot to learn before climbing into a kayak and setting out for an adventure. While the following tips will get you started, for safety reasons beginners should consider taking classes from a professional in order to learn how to kayak at a safe level.

Before you learn how to kayak, make sure you have any kayaking gear you need, including lifejackets, paddles, boating apparel, helmets and other kayak accessories.

Wet Exits

One of the most important skills for a beginning kayaker is to learn how to make a wet exit you need to know how to get out of your boat if it overturns. The first thing you will need to do is calm down. In order to escape, a cool head is required. Find the quick-release strap located on your spray skirt and pull it. Make sure to pull towards the front of the boat and then up, making sure that it clears the lip. Once you do this, the entire skirt should lift up, allowing you to exit the boat. Beginners should practice this and other kayaking moves in a pool before venturing out into unknown waters.

Basic Strokes

Every stroke includes a push with one arm and a pull with the other. Your strong hand the one that controls the paddle grips the shaft of the paddle. Make sure to line up your knuckles with the top of the paddle blade. Your less dominant hand pushes the paddle through. A common error occurs when beginners grip the shaft of the paddle with two hands, which is ineffective. Try to relax the non-control hand during each stroke. During strokes, turn your torso to maintain proper arm position. Remember that in kayaking, it is the torso not the arm that does the work.

Going Backwards and Stopping

The backwards stroke is the key to stopping a kayak. Rotate the torso to the stroke side and look to the back (stern) of the boat. Place the backside of the paddle into the water and close to the side of the kayak. Rotate the torso back to the neutral position while bringing the strokeside forward along the side of the boat. The off-stroke hand moves back toward your head at eye level.

To stop the kayak, place the backside of the blade in the water slightly behind your seat with your stroke-side elbow in tight against your body and hold the paddle still as the kayak drags it through the water. Repeat on the other side. It should only take two or three strokes at the most to stop the boat.

Eskimo Roll

Once you've learned how to save yourself should you become trapped under water, and how to maneuver your boat, the next skill that is mandatory for anyone wanting to learn how to kayak is the Eskimo roll. The object of this move is to put the boat back under your body once it has rolled not to pull yourself back over the boat. Gravity and the pull of the water make pulling up impossible. These are the basic steps required to perform an Eskimo roll.

For a right-handed roll, lean towards the left of the boat and place your paddle on the left side as well. The right hand sweeps away from the boat and the left hand stabilizes the paddle shaft near your chest to become like an anchor. Grip the paddle firmly with your right hand and sweep with the paddle blade held on or near the water's surface. This action will cause your torso and head to move towards the surface of the water.

The hip snap is the last part of the maneuver and it involves leaning all the way over to the opposite of the boat you started your roll on. Boat rotation is rooted by the power of the torso. When the hip snap is almost complete, begin raising your head and shoulders out of the water.

Professionals make the Eskimo roll look effortless, but the maneuver is actually quite a difficult move to master when you learn how to kayak. Take lessons from a professional and do your homework before attempting to kayak.

If you decide to learn how to kayak, following the above tips will give you a head start but only time spent practicing with a good teacher will make you a pro. Good luck and have fun.

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