What should I know as a beginning kayaker?

These lessons began with the Inuits. Sort of.

The basics of the sport haven’t changed much since those brilliant Alaskan paddlers used their boats to paddle inland seas in search for, first of all, food.

What should I know as a beginning kayaker? Think of the water, not the weather.

Water temperature should be your first and last consideration in the matter of what to wear. While the air temp might suggest shorts and no shirt, the all-important ambience of the water might better suggest a wetsuit. We Hughes Brothers will talk about kayaking gear in another blog coming soon. Since we gave up hardcore bass-fishing with supplies bought over the years – thousands of dollars worth of plastic doodads in our dusty tackleboxes – well, a man has to spend his fishing money somewhere. And we’ll tell you what we think about preparing for the all too not unlikely event of sudden introduction to a watery environment far, far different from the Fourth of July temperature of the air.

What should I know as a beginning kayaker? Wear a life vest.

Actually, you should be wearing what is more appropriately called a buoyancy aid. The big difference here between such an aid and a traditional life vest – more allowable movement about the arms and neck, that critical muscular and operational part of the body where kayaking begins.

Even if you’re an especially strong swimmer, such a device will protect you in that sudden, sudden moment when you’re heels over head in a fast-moving stream at, oh, forty degrees Fahrenheit.

What should I know as a beginning kayaker? Think, think hard about your boat.

Make your first boat as exactly right for you as possible. Consider all the variables: intended use, the water on which you’ll most frequently be paddling, and cost. Cost most certainly as you dip your big toe into our sport.

Think first of a sit-on-top yak: easy to paddle, stable and stable some more, affirmingly stable.

What should I know as a beginning kayaker? Know the basics. Know them well.

Nitty-gritty stuff. You know, how to sit properly, how to paddle efficiently. These fundamental skills, this basic knowledge will serve you over years, hopefully decades, of good times in a boat that is so completely your own, on a lifetime succession of outdoor trips that you cannot, will not ever forget.

Okay, okay. A few of the basics.

In that all-important first lesson on kayaking, on that most meaningful day when a certified instructor takes you down to the water on a righteous morning, you’ll hear again these lifelong lessons.

· Do not slouch in your yak, the living-room comfort of your seat notwithstanding.

· Sit up straight, lower back and butt at a really sharp and accurate ninety degrees.

· Come to know your foot pegs, that daylong source of comfort and strength.

· Point your toes outward on those pegs. Bring your heels inwards.

· Bend your knees out, out to where they contact your boat’s thigh braces.

What should I know as a beginning kayaker? The paddle, the paddle.

Hold your paddle with both hands, distance apart right at the shoulder. Ensure that the concave part of the blades is facing you. As you dip the paddle into the water, this concavity should sweep through. And hence the power of your stroke. Your knuckles – keep them nicely aligned with the blade of the paddle.

What should I know as a beginning kayaker? What to wear while kayaking? What to wear.

Again, build your wardrobe around the temperature of the water. Anticipate worst-case sorts of scenarios. Then double your thinking. Bring along a second set of clothes. Should the worst happen, you’ll be twice grateful. Please note that yet another Hughes Brothers blog article addresses in specific detail the necessities of dress for kayaking in especially cold weather.

Stand by for the really, really critical stuff. Stand by.