10 Basic Tips Before You Head Out On Your First Sea Kayaking Expedition

Since recreational kayaking has been growing in popularity, many experienced kayakers have been trying their hands (or paddles for that matter) at sea kayaking expeditions, which requires a bit more strength and endurance.

Below are 10 vital tips for anyone who is going out for their first sea kayaking expedition.

1. Learn the fundamentals of sea kayaking

sea kayaking expedition

Going for sea kayaking is a bold but risky venture for an unskilled person. In fact, such a person can be overwhelmed by both the fear of the sea and the lack of maneuvering and paddling capabilities, resulting in serious trouble. Therefore, it is important to learn and master basic kayaking techniques and to practice them on the beach and then on shallow water before stepping into the open sea. The most essential skill tips for those planning their first sea kayaking expeditions are:

  • Learning to hold paddles with light grips in order to control the kayak’s motion, to remain flexible when paddling, and to reduce the chances of straining body muscles.
  • Learning paddling styles (pace and range) that work for them and make them feel comfortable; and sticking by those styles during open sea kayaking in order to operate naturally.
  • Mastering swift, deep-forward and rhythmic paddling in order to make the kayak to cover the targeted distance while on water.
  • Learning to make sweep strokes that are wider than forward strokes. The sweep strokes are usually corrective and can help kayakers to maneuver with ease.
  • Learning to keep the body’s center of gravity balanced in order to make steering easier and to minimize the chances of tipping. Usually, the center of gravity of the body is balanced by keeping the nose pointing forward and in line with the boat’s center.

2. Pick a route that you are familiar with

Sheltered areas of the sea and bays that are protected from choppier waters and stronger winds of the open sea are the best places for first-time kayaking expeditions. Hence, it is important to check a recent marine forecast for a general idea of the kind of weather to expect. As a rule, fog, massive waves and strong winds must be avoided. Fog can cause loss of sight of the land completely, resulting in a precarious kayaking experience. Besides, kayakers should know how to read nautical charts and compasses, and should carry maps when going for sea expeditions.

3. Never go on a sea kayaking expedition alone

group expedition is better

Group expedition is always better when starting out.

For your first open sea kayaking expedition, it is prudent to go with a veteran group of guides or experienced friends because the sea is pretty unpredictable. You need a more knowledgeable friend or guide to help you when the sea turns rough.

However, the people you travel with should share the same kayaking aspirations and goals with you. For instance, if in your kayaking team there are members who want to explore caves lengthily, while the rest want to paddle and cover as many miles as possible, frustration will set in because of the bad group dynamics and almost all members of the group will not enjoy the expedition.

4. Start small and improve progressively

When going for your first sea kayaking expedition, make sure to plan for a small and short voyage closer to the land. The small voyage will help you to practice your skills and to boost your confidence. From the short experience, you can improve in subsequent expeditions by covering more miles and exploring more sea features. Starting small helps prevent potential disasters for beginners.

5. Select a boat that is suitable for your trip

A good sea kayak injects more fun into the expedition, and allows you to control and maneuver it with greater ease. Typically, there are different types of high-quality vessels, including one-person, two-person and three-person sea kayaks, which average 14 ft-17ft in length. If you have a problem choosing the right kayak, make sure to consult a veteran or kayaking expert for advice. The right kayak should have enough storage space, be in good condition and should be suitable for your needs.

6. Dress for the water temperature and not for the weather

While appropriate garments for a sea kayaking expedition depend on the kayaker’s location, it is usually wiser to consider the water temperature instead of the air temperature when making dress choices. First-time kayakers should carry warm clothes for land use only and must avoid wearing the warm clothes at sea, regardless of how painful, wet and smelly the thermals become in the morning. But as soon as they land on the shore, they should change into the dry clothes.

7. Carry a variety of food items

Camping food is one of the most important things you must prepare during a sea kayaking expedition. The types of food you carry should be a matter of personal preference, but it is good to carry a variety of food and to have herbs, spices, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, and treats like biscuits, sweets and chocolates to boost your calories and morale appropriately. Pre-boiled eggs are a delicious on-the-sea snack that you may consider for your voyage. Moreover, you should carry enough water and enough fuel for your cooking stoves.

8. Never forget to have a barometer

Jason_Lewis_kayaking_through_IndonesiaA barometer is useful for monitoring pressure changes at the sea level in order to predict potential changes in the weather. Typically, when a barometer indicates a sudden or sharp change in pressure (whether downwards or upwards), it is an indication that strong winds should be expected. Indeed, having a barometer on your watch will help you to know the pressure changes over a specific period of time and to make the right decisions for safe kayaking.

9. Know and plan for how far you can go on your voyage

When planning for a kayaking trip, you should know how far you can comfortably paddle per day. This will give you a rough idea of how many hours you will spend per day paddling your way across the sea, and of how many days you can cover and complete your planned trip.

When planning for the number of days you will take on your kayaking trip, make sure to allow for the hours that you will take off for sightseeing and bad weather. Usually, kayakers cover an average of 15 miles per day (equivalent to an average of 5 hours of paddling) and they usually take 3 hours for every 12 hours off for sightseeing and bad weather.

10. Learn how to rescue yourself and to rescue others

Rarely do kayaks capsize when the sea is calm. However, anybody planning to go on a sea kayaking expedition must prepare for the worst. Indeed, it is wise to carry safety and rescue gears such as life jackets, inflatable paddle floats (allows kayakers to create stabilizing outriggers and to re-enter their boats after the kayaks capsize) and pumps (used to remove water from the boats whenever they are filled with water). As part of preparation for rescue, those planning for their first kayaking expeditions should take rescue classes.