How to Kayak without Knowing How to Swim

How to Kayak without Knowing How to Swim

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The thought of being in the water can be quite stressful, especially for non-swimmers. Many expert kayakers will talk to you about how scary it was at first and how they were too close to quitting.

The good news is, you can still learn how to kayak even if you don’t know how to swim; you just have to be determined. In this article, we’ll go through some great tips that are extremely helpful for beginners who can’t conquer the fear of falling from their kayaks, so make sure to check them out!

Kayaking for Non-Swimmers

We understand how dangerous it can be to go kayaking when you don’t know how to swim. This is why we’re keen to provide you with valuable tips and tricks to help you make the right decision. 

In this part of the article, we’ll go through some brilliant ideas so you can make it back to the land safely. 

Take a Kayaking Class

There are plenty of kayaking classes for beginners. You’re in luck if you live near a kayaking spot because you can enroll on a beginner course easily. Otherwise, you can find excellent courses online, usually with prices ranging between $50 and $75.

Although these classes mainly focus on kayaking skills, there’s an integrated part for learning wet exit. During this part, you’ll learn how to get back to the kayak when it flips. Not only this but you’ll also get to practice it until you master how to do it without the need to swim as you use the kayak as a floating device.

Wear a Life Jacket

Some states don’t allow kayaking without wearing a PFD (Personal Floating Device), and others don’t. Nonetheless, you should never go into the water without one, especially if you don’t know how to swim.

Moreover, it’s best if you try using it in a swimming pool before you go kayaking so as to get used to moving while wearing a PFD and practice how to float while wearing one. Don’t worry; life jackets are quite easy to use. We just want you to be familiar with how to use them while you’re comfortable. 

Also, keep in mind that the standard PFD is bulky, so it can be a bit annoying until you get used to it, which brings us to the next part: choosing the right PFD. 

Types of PFDs

Choosing the right type depends on the situation and the nature of the water around you. 

Type I: Offshore Vests 

These vests are designed for rough and deep water. Offshore kayakers need dependable vests that can keep them floating for longer durations.

As the name implies, offshore vests are mostly worn when the kayaker is away from the shore since it’ll take some time for a rescuer to reach the kayaker. Also, they can keep unconscious kayakers facing upwards until help arrives. 

Type II: Near-Shore Vests

Although these vests are extremely buoyant, they can’t keep the kayaker facing upwards. That’s why they’re only worn nearer to shores where there’s a big chance the user will be rescued within a few minutes. 

Type III: Floatation Aids

This is the standard type of PFD, which is used by kayakers, skiers, and the majority of surfers. It’s intended for calm waters only and will keep the kayaker floating until they get back into the vessel, so they’re not designed to keep the kayaker’s face upwards either.

Type IV: Throwable Devices

These devices are not designed to be worn, and usually, they won’t even fit into the kayak. 

Regardless, as per coastal law, they should be used in any vessel that’s longer than 16 feet. If your vessel flipped, and you can’t float yourself on the water, you can grab the IV throwable device, and it’ll keep you floating.

Type V: Special-Use Devices

These devices are customized to certain watersports, such as kayaking paddling vests. Some states require using these devices to stay safe on the water, so you have to get them to meet Coastal Guard requirements and use them according to their label.

Choose a Stable Kayak

Stable kayaks don’t capsize easily, and as you use them in calm water, you’ll be secured most of the time. These kayaks are usually of the sit-on-top type. They have a wide base and tend to be short rather than long. What most kayakers don’t like about them is that they’re slow. However, that’s a bonus for beginners who need to feel in control while kayaking.

Don’t Fear the Water

Your fear can get in the way and may lead to you falling in the water more frequently. You have to get used to the idea that you might eventually fall and be prepared to act on it. Panic, on the other hand, won’t do you any good, so stay calm, be confident, and enjoy your time. 

Important Tips

If you’re still not sure that you can do it, here are some tips that will make you feel more confident on your trip:

  • Stay away from white water and strong waves 
  • Try guided kayak trips before individual trips
  • Get a kayaking buddy

Final Thoughts

If you follow what’s mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about kayaking even if you don’t know how to swim, particularly if you learn how to “wet-exist.” However, It’s never too late to learn how to swim, so if you think that it’s the only way to feel safe while you’re in the water, why not do it? It’s as challenging as learning how to kayak or any other new skill.

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