Thinking About Going Kayaking Alone? Read This Before You Go.
Kayaking is a relatively safe and user-friendly activity. Once you get the hang of it, kayaking is very relaxing. But one common phrase paddlers often hear is “never kayak alone”. Sure, it’s easy to understand why people would say this. But it’s not a good blanket statement because it completely ignores the fact that kayaking alone can be safe—and incredibly fun.
Beginner? Don't Go It Alone.
So we should modify this to say that you should never kayak alone if you are a beginner. There are risks and hazards involved when you are kayaking alone. Granted, the risks are also present even if you are in a group. But you understand that kayaking alone is riskier.
That said, there are a lot of kayakers that love paddling alone. There are only a few things you need to learn and master before you can take on such a big responsibility. So the good news is that with practice, you can eventually do this on your own.
If you have worked towards increasing your skills and paddling alone, here are a few safety tips to remember.
1. Check the Weather.
Weather conditions can change quickly, and this is perhaps the most dangerous part of paddling alone. You need to be able to adjust accordingly. But to stay safe, do not go kayaking when the weather isn’t favorable. High winds and waves can easily swamp a small watercraft, regardless of your skill level.
Before heading out, check your local marine weather conditions. This is available with the National Weather Service.
Checking the weather isn’t just about trying to decide whether to go kayaking or not. It’s also necessary so that you can dress accordingly. Cold water can prove to be a big hazard because if you get immersed in cold water, you can easily get hypothermia. You need to be more conservative with your clothing choices if you are planning to paddle in cold water.
As much as possible, paddle in calm conditions close to the shore, especially if it’s your first time kayaking alone.
2. Choose a Suitable Destination.
Choose a paddling location that is appropriate for your skill level. An ideal kayaking environment has protection from wind and waves. It should also have a good access point for launching and landing. Try to choose a kayaking location with lots of places to go ashore. Bonus points if the place has minimal motorized boat traffic.
Quiet lakes, calm bays, and riverways without noticeable current are ideal locations.
3. Tell Your Friends.
You can paddle alone, but you should make sure people know where you are going. Paddling alone is riskier, and even the most experienced paddlers can run into trouble sometimes. After taking your paddler’s safety course, you might be tempted to think you can handle everything—and maybe you are right. But you will still be wise to have a friend onshore who knows your location.
Make a plan and then give it to someone who is staying onshore. Include your time and location of departure, your anticipated route, and time you expect to get back. Don’t forget to check in once you make it back so that people know you have arrived home safely.
4. Do Not Forget Your Safety Gear.