Sea kayak trip 22-24.05
This trip was something new for me. I’ve never had experience with sea kayak.
First day: We were practising basic skills in the river in Kristiandsand. We learnt how to control our kayak (move forward/backward; turn the left/right, stop), how kayak behaves in the water with current and obstacles, how stable kayak is (we made raft and changed position by climbing across kayak)
Second day: We all met at Paradisbukta close to Helleviga. First experience with sea kayak in combination with sea was scary and concurrently exciting. Everybody was a little worry because the wind and waves sometimes influenced our kayak more than we wished. I felt that I had to more concentrate on keeping my kayak under control. During day, we were also practising navigation and everybody had to lead our group for some time. We finished this day in such nice place – island Kapelloya with small beach, rocks and green grass. First time we explored the island than built the shelter and the evening spent by playing games.
Third day: We continued the way back around many islands. I navigated first and leaded the group to two small bays in SE of Helgoya. I had problem recognized the shapes of bays (I predicted bigger bays) so I missed these bays. Then I more concentrated on navigation and I felt more confident. My second navigation was finally correct. I think that this day everybody felt more confident with sea kayaking, we enjoy sun and positive atmosphere in our group and I took many pictures. During one break we learnt four important things: (rock are slippery, fix your kayak safely, if it’s break for 10 minutes – it means 10 minutes, If you want to go somewhere alone, say about this others). Btw on this island many eggs were. We finished this trip by practising rescue person who capsizes.
Equipment: sea kayak with a big space (valley) for your stuff (I was surprised how much staff you can put to sea kayak), paddle (if you are right-handed person, your bottom blade point to you and your upper blade point to right side), life jacket which is called Sea Buoyancy Aid (SBA) and spraydeck.
How to hold paddle: Recommended grip width is roughly the distance between your elbows or a little less – see the picture. Keep this “box” during paddling. Your right hand is your control hand. This means that your grip is fixed and does not change during the strokes. You can control the angle of the blade by your right hand. Don’t hold the paddle too tight, otherwise your hands will quickly tire. Your left hand should grasp the paddle shaft loosely, to allow your right hand to twist the paddle to desired angles for turning, bracing and rolling. The “right hand fixed, left hand loose” technique is ideal for a wide variety of strokes, recoveries and manoeuvres.
Safety: If you capsize, hit 3 times your boat (you get to know other about this), after remove the spraydeck and push your body from kayak, still hold your paddle, climb to front of kayak. The closest person move to the person in the water in direction 90 degree to her/his kayak, others move to this person and make the stable raft by holding kayak. The person in the water climb on the back of the kayaks (raft), first person help him/her and after pull out kayak from water on the raft made from kayaks and spilled the water from kayak. Finally, help person back to her/his kayak. Everybody have to have spare clothes.
You have to keep group together in case of somebody capsize or different emergency situation.
On the sea – better to stay close to coast (be careful about streams); for break use hidden place
On the river – you can use stream to increase your speed and easy way (make the turn in direction of stream, catch a stream), obstacles: place where water goes again the stream is behind obstacles. This place is also good for break – water is stable here.
Navigation: For me navigation on the water is not easy. Sometimes you can’t see the island until than you get closer to the island. We learnt some main marks – see picture. During navigation, you have to consider weather, wind, sea stream etc. to avoid paddling for longer time then necessary.
How to control kayak: Keep your legs together with feet against the footpegs. Adjust the footpegs so that your knees are bent slightly and you are able spread and press them against the kayak for extra balance if needed. Keeping your legs together allows better torso rotation and makes paddling more efficient. Your torso and legs will do most of the work. Your shoulders and arms are only there to transmit power. To learn the principle, try paddling by rotating your torso and keep your arms absolutely straight. When you place the blade in the water, imagine you are pulling yourself up to and past the paddle.
COMMON MISTAKES: poor posture, insufficient torso rotation, ending the stroke too late and too far behind the hip, pushing the upper hand too forward, creating a less effective blade angle, rocking the kayak from side to side with abrupt weight shifts, straining the wrists by allowing them to bend.
Keeping balance – To stay in balance, you need to try keep your upper body upright. Just relax your stomach and lower back and let the kayak tilt freely when the waves push it. Keeping your eyes on the horizon will also help to keep the balance. Don’t hold on the kayak. It will tip you over rather than give you any extra support. If you lose balance and need to get support from somewhere, just quickly slap the surface of water with the back face of your paddle blade. This technique will give a fairly good support for a second, so you also need to recover your balance immediately.
Paddle as stern rudder – Stern rudder or stern draw is especially usable when wind, waves or water current tries to overtake control. However, the downsides are that it slows you down and breaks your paddling rhythm. That is the reason why you should not consider the stern rudder your primary method for fine tuning direction.
To learn how stern rudder is done, you need to have the kayak moving. So for beginning, paddle forward until you gain a good speed. After a normal forward stroke, let the paddle stay in water and continue the stroke behind you until the paddle is almost parallel to the kayak.
Forward and reverse sweep strokes – actually that technique mostly just increases the overall speed and does very little to turn the kayak. We need to modify our forward paddling stroke a bit and do a so called forward sweep. Forward sweep stroke can be done when the kayak is moving, or when it is standing still. First take a regular forward paddling grip from the paddle. Place the blade into the water as forward as you can easily reach and keep the power face of the blade pointed away from the kayak. Keep the other hand fairly low. Start doing a big arc that starts close to the bow and ends near the stern. Do the stroke by rotating your torso and try to keep your posture otherwise as still as possible. (At the beginning of the stroke, the kayak’s bow is pushed away from the paddle, and at the end the stern is pulled closer to the paddle, making the kayak turn to the opposite side of the stroke.)
To make the kayak turn rapidly on its place, a good addition to forward sweep stroke is a reverse sweep stroke. It is just a forward sweep done backwards, starting from the back and ending close to your toes.
Carving turns – carved turns are especially useful when counteracting weather. Since carved turns require you to edge your kayak. When the kayak is edged, the curve of the hull is submerged, forcing the kayak to turn to the opposite side of the edging. The amount of edging you’ll need varies from kayak to kayak. To make your kayak edge, push one knee up against the underside of the foredeck (It is means if you want to turn left push you left knee) while simultaneously weighting the opposite hip. Edge the kayak while gliding, and try to hold the edge for as long as you can. To improve your balance, keep your eyes up, towards the horizon.
Moving sideways with sculling draw- When you want to move alongside a dock or a friend’s kayak, one of the best techniques to use is the sculling draw. It might be slightly hard to master, but it is the most powerful way to make your kayak move sideways and keeping balance is easy. Turn your torso to the side and put the paddle almost vertically into water. The trick is to move the paddle back and forth parallel to the kayak while turning the blades’ power face slightly toward the direction of the sweep. This draws the kayak towards the paddle. Keep your upper hand in a fairly fixed position, and start waving the blade in water by moving your lower hand. Try to keep the movement continuous; move the paddle so that it forms a thin figure 8 in the surface of water. You will have to resist the blade’s tendency to slice the water.
Paddling backwards – Paddling backwards technique is much the same as reversed forward paddling and can be also used for reducing speed in waves or when approaching for a rescue.
1. Avoid risks: avoid paddling alone, remember that the weather can change rapidly, avoid paddling far from the coastline, have a map that shows rocks and seamarks, avoid paddling on ship routes, wear a head lamp etc. if it is dark, have fresh water and spare energy with you
2. Deal with the risks, have good enough paddling technique, know how to prevent capsizing
3. Be prepared for accidents, always wear life vest, know how to do a wet exit and get back in, have equipment and knowledge to empty your kayak, practise safety skills well and in real conditions, have a mobile phone in a waterproof container, have spare clothes in a dry place
4. Have backup plans for everything. You can never be too prepared.