The safest way to start kayaking on the open ocean

Kayaking can bring calm and serenity, or a rush of adrenaline and adventure; it all depends on where you go.

For those seeking a mix of calm and the rush, ocean kayaking could be your next adventure. Before packing up the car and heading to the closest bay with grottos begging to be explored, consider the following steps and ensure your safety while sea kayaking.

Know your basic techniques

Before going out into open waters where conditions can change at a moment’s notice, ensure you know and have perfected the basic paddling techniques for solo kayaking. A well-practiced stroke, the right grip, individual style, and good balance will help you navigate waters safely and efficiently.

Practice self-rescue and safety

If your kayak flips and your find yourself upside down in icy waters, it’s important to know how to get out of this dangerous situation. In calm, shallow waters, practice the “wet release”, and then again in more extreme conditions. Always wear your personal flotation device (PFD) wherever you kayak. Your PFD will help keep your head above water, and help keep your body warmer in cold water.

kayaking on the open ocean is a great way to pass the time

Choose the route and check the weather

Once you have found an area you would like to paddle and explore, always check the marine forecast to gauge the conditions. Even on clear days there will be wind and waves, however these will worsen in stormy conditions. It is best to avoid fog or misty areas as visibility can be lost within minutes.

Always take a map

If you’re unfamiliar with the area and paddling in new territory offshore, a map can help you find your way if your mobile device fails you. A marine GPS may also help get you out of those tricky situations and back to shore.

Use the buddy system

When possible, avoid kayaking alone, especially as a beginner. Conditions can be unpredictable, and the more companions you have, the safer you are. There is always safety in numbers, and if you take a more experienced paddler along, you can gain invaluable skills. If confident, experienced and familiar with the area, leave an itinerary or route plan with a friend or relative to make sure help can be sent if needed.

Stay hydrated

Although pulling through water may not seem too difficult, dehydration may set in if you’re paddling for long periods in the sun and ocean. Always carry water and continue to hydrate throughout your expeditions.

Before your next kayaking adventure, make sure you know how to pack your kayak with basic supplies.