So you’ve taken the kayak out a few times on the lake and are ready to step up your paddling. What’s next?
Start by perfecting your strokes. This will make your paddling more efficient, meaning your boat will go faster, and your arms won’t tire as quickly. Kayakpaddling.net has some great animations to show you how to get your stroke right.
Before you go out on any trip in a kayak, you need to have safety covered. You’re out there on your own in a kayak, so it’s your responsibility to make sure that you have emergency equipment if anything goes wrong. Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations (and common sense) require all kayakers to carry:
1. A personal flotation device: Kayak-specific PFDs offer the best comfort and fit, plus handy features like pockets. (They have to be approved for use in Canada and fit properly.)
2. 15 metres of “buoyant heaving line”: Don’t get tied up in knots. Paddling stores sell compact throwbags stuffed with just the right length of floating line.
3. A “manual propulsion device”: This one’s easy – it’s your paddle.
4. A bailer: A hand-operated pump is the best option, also handy for waterfights.
5. A sound-signalling device: Attach a whistle to your PFD.
6. Navigation light: Carry a white 360-degree light, or a water-tight flashlight if you are out between sunset and sunrise.