inflatable_kayaking

10 Top Tips for an Inflatable Kayaking Newbie

I love to take to the water in any way I can. Over it, in it, under it, or through it. I am there. I’ve been feeling frustrated since losing my beloved Scally boat a year ago, I miss idling away a Sunday with a trip along the Medway. I have also been thinking how best to improve upper body strength to give me more power on the coffee grinder or winches – my two favourite spots on a racing boat. So I found a great, affordable solution – an inflatable kayak!

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The kit is small, and lightweight

Seyvlor Tahiti Inflatable Kayak:
I invested in an Tahiti inflatable kayak. It weighs approx. 10kg. And I also got a Seyvlor rapid pump, which is easy to use, and pumps on the up as well as the down. It’s a robust, affordable, family kayak.

I plan to use the kayak with my children (I think it will easily take 1 adult and 3 kids), and so wanted to test it out on my own first. I easily managed to carry everything to the riverside, and inflate it on my own. It was really stable when getting in and out, and was easy to paddle on my own. I covered 5 miles in a couple of hours.

Here are my top 10 tips for an inflatable kayaking newbie!:

1. Take everything with you!
Sounds obvious, but just check you’ve got everything. In my instruction pack (which I didn’t bother to read!) there was what I thought to be a spare bung. It turns out that this wasn’t a spare bung, but was in fact the crucial bung required to seal up the floor of the kayak

2. Bridges – proceed with speed

I went under a bridge at a nice ambling pace, and suddenly heard a thud/splat… next to my left elbow, I turned to see that a pigeon had kindly dropped a present on to my new kayak. Lesson learned – go fast through bridges and definitely don’t look up!

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Stunning scenery on the River Medway

3. Watch a few kayak tutorials before you set off
Paddling isn’t as straightforward as it looks. There is a definite technique to be learned. I didn’t watch any videos beforehand and duly ended up absolutely soaked, clearly through using a dreadful technique. I got from A to B, and had a great time, but I was soaked through at point B

4. Take a towel
I learnt that lesson the hard way – see point 3. I had no towel

5. Carry a drink with you (and maybe a snack)
Kayaking is hard work, and an upstream paddle can leave you hungry and thirsty. I did a 5 mile round trip, and wished I had taken some supplies with me

6. Plan your route
Another obvious one. But take time to look at the navigation online. All navigable waterways are mapped online by gov.uk, and there’s so much information available. It’s sensible to take a look. Work out how long it might take, and then add a bit off leeway. The waterways are beautiful, why rush?

7. Go it alone
Don’t be afraid to go on your own. It is the most blissful, and peaceful experience. My trip was so relaxing, around every corner you wonder what might be next. It’s real escapism. Silence, other than the sound of the occasional fish surfacing, or your kayak gently gliding through the water. This is a relaxing getaway, your own little slice of heaven

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I loved the peace and quiet – pure escapism

8. Avoid the big boats
Yes, it is heaven, and yes it is peaceful…but occasionally your little bubble may be briefly burst as a massive motor cruiser so rudely decides to motor on by. These 30 ft beasts, may look small when you’re on land. But when you’re in a small inflatable kayak, pootling along, minding your own business… they appear out of nowhere, are irritating, and are huge! The COLREGS (collision regs that govern our waterways) state that motor boats should give way to paddle, they also state that boats should navigate to the right in order to avoid a collision. In all reality, a lot of these alleged ‘mariners’ don’t know their COLREGS, may have been drinking, and think that whoever is the biggest wins! So keep out of the way, don’t kayak with your headphones in, and as soon as you see a motor cruiser, make your intentions clear, and get out of the way

9. Keep your stuff dry
My kayak was a little wet by the time I got back to base. Luckily I’d put my fleece and bits and bobs in a dry bag. They’re not too expensive to buy, and are well worth the investment. I would also recommend a bag or waterproof case for your phone

10. Tell someone your plans
It may seem a safe little trip out. But on the water, things can sometimes go wrong/off plan. It is for that reason, that you should always tell someone where you are, how long you plan to be, and then also let them know that you’re safely back. Whenever I do anything alone on water, I always nominate a good friend as a ‘shore contact’. I let them know what I’m doing, where I’m going, when I expect to be back, and I always tell them when I am back. It’s sensible, good practice, and takes less than 1 minute

 

Enjoy your kayaking adventures. I absolutely loved it, and cannot wait for my next trip out. If you’ve got an more inflatable kayaking top tips, please do feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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