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How do I get started?

There are a few ways to get started. To me the two best ways to get into kayaking is either going out with a friend who knows how to kayak or take a kayak class at a river near you. The kayak class can be a great option if you don’t know anyone in the sport but are really interested. Not only do they provide all of the equipment you need in order to kayak you get an instructor that teaches you how to kayak properly and how to be safe on the river. There are many things having a more experienced kayaker around can help with, such as; cleaning up, demonstrating technique, and giving feedback as well as confidence.

I can’t afford kayaking stuff.

A lot of the kayaking gear is pretty expensive, however there is a lot of high quality used
gear you can purchase for a good price. Many shop you take kayaking lessons at will do
an end of the year sale where they sell the kayaks they used as demos. If you’re not
quite ready to buy a kayak, many shops will rent out a kayak to you after you have
completed a course with them. This allows you to keep working on your skills while not
having to fully commit to all of the gear.

I feel like I am stuck in the kayak and can’t get out!

A lot of people right when they sit in a kayak for the first time feel like they are trapped
and there is no way they can get out. Luckily the first thing you do in most kayaking
classes if flip over and wet exit the boat with an instructor standing right next to you. You quickly realize how easy it is to actually exit the kayak. Once you pull the tab on the front of your skirt water floods into the kayak and carries you right out. Once you do this a few times you feel much more comfortable in the kayak, and know it’s easy to get out.

How do I know where to go?!

When you first go out with your friends or an instructor people normally follow someone
down the river. However, sometimes you find yourself ahead of them or you took a totally
different path not on purpose. When this happens there are many different things to look for. The biggest thing to remember is paddling a kayak is like driving a car. If you look at the bad things around you you will probably run into them. So when you are headed downstream you want to look for the deepest places where the most water is. If you see flat “green water” it’s normally a good idea to right down the middle of it. It’s important to keep your eyes and focus away from the rock and other dangerous features in the river and keep focused on the places that look best.

I’m going to hit my face on rocks.

Flipping in flat, deep water can seem much different than flipping over while in the middle
of a rapid. In a rapid you also may notice that they are not always very deep. Hitting your
face is a real danger, but there are many ways to mitigate the danger. For example, when you are paddling down the rapid it is important to stay sitting forward, this gives you a better center of gravity and offers better paddle strokes; if you stay in this position if you flip over your face will be looking at the boat and not the rocks. Also when you practice the wet exit you are supposed to be tucked forward to the cockpit of the boat with your face down in the boat protecting your nice smile from the rocks. Practicing in a controlled environment until you are comfortable with these skills gives you a better chance of staying safe on the river, having more fun and protecting your smile.

Have an awesome time on the river!!!

– Johnny Chase