Sea kayak paddling

In the end of May, we have already got some experiences in paddling in canoe but not in kayak. So the next step was learning how to kayak paddling. We spent 4 days with kayaking during discovering the river Otra and some islands on the south coast of Norway.

On Tuesday we met at 0915 at the row club in Kristiansand. We got an introduction to sea kayaks, different basic techniques and equipment. Our teacher also taught us about entry and exit techniques.

Our essential kayaking gears were the followings: coastguard-approved personal flotation device that fits properly, paddle in the right size, spray skirt which protects from getting wet in the kayak.

It is important to know how to adjust and sit in the kayak. The first thing should do prior to make sure that it is setup properly for the paddler. Without having proper contact with the backrest, foot supports, and thigh braces, the kayaker won’t be able to properly control the kayak. Secondly, we learnt how to get into and the kayak. Being able to get into a kayak while it is on land is one thing and getting into a kayak while it is on the water is another completely. While the kayak is on land, we have more stability. While the kayak is on the water, it is moving so we need to use the paddle for stabilizing. We learnt that kayaks properly paddled are propelled by the torso and not the arms. So we tried to paddle by rotating the torso and get less fatigued, paddled longer, and put more power behind the blade.

After we tried these techniques, we went for a river trip on the river Otra. During the day we were paddling quite well without any falls in. However, in the end of the day, all of us had to fall in purposely. That was the way how we learnt about the X-rescue which is one of the easiest kayak rescue techniques.

First, we paddled up to the capsized kayak. We moved up so that our cockpit was right next to the bow of the kayak. Then we lifted the bow end out of the water and turned the kayak up so that it was righted. We had to make sure that the kayaker we were helping always held onto his or her kayak. Next, we rolled the kayak onto its side so that the water drained out. Then, we put the kayak back into the water, and tried to arrange it so that the stern of the empty kayak swung over close to the bow of our kayak. This was to made it easier for the person that we were helping to get back into his or her kayak. We helped them by putting the paddles across both cockpits and by leaning most of our weight over onto their kayak. This held the kayak steady so that they could have pulled themselves back up into the kayak.

On Wednesday we also met at 0915 at the row club. We went for a day trip around Odderøya. It was important to stay together all the time. It was our first time to kayak paddling on the sea. The weather was sunny and nice, and there were no any big waves on the surface. We had a lunch break on an island and then we arrived back to the river soon.

On Thursday morning we met at 1000 at the parking area on Langenesveien in Paradisebukta. We started a two-day trip from there. The group paddled to southwest to the island Kapelløya in Ny Hellesund. The weather was also sunny and hot during the whole trip. The leader of the group always changed and that was the way how we were practising sea navigation. Personally, it was quite difficult for me because of a lot of similar islands. When we got the island Kapelløya we were surprised and amazed at that area. Everything was green and there was an amazing sandy beach where we left the kayaks. We unload them and made camp on the island. This was the paradise! In the evening we went for a swim and practised some rolling techniques, as well. We discovered the island and found some really nice spots there. The only thing which was missing was water so we had to bring it in our own bottles. We made delicious evening meal and had nice dinner. My favourite part of this trip was relaxing under the stars. The last thing I had seen before I fell asleep was the moon.

In the morning I got up to the sun shined brightly. I felt really hot in my sleeping bag even it was on the grass. Summer is here! We had breakfast, broke camp and started to paddle back. We were paddling back on a different way than the previous day. Each of us in the group was chosen as a leader again. Our teacher taught us the MYABCDE method which includes the following seven steps: Me, You, Area, Boats, Communication, Doctor and Emergency. In this way, it is easy to remember these important aspects during paddling. We had a short lunch break in the afternoon and we arrived back to the starting point in Paradisebukta. I was really happy about my performance on the trip and I felt satisfied.