Kayaking 101

Today was without a doubt THE most fun I’ve ever had on TV – see for yourself HERE!

The world of kayaking has many options! You can glide down calm lakes, plow through rapids, and being the lucky Vancouverites we are there’s plenty of salt water to explore!

This sport is one of my favorites; it can be peaceful and meditative on still water or exhilarating and exciting on white water. To help get you out enjoying one of the fastest growing water sports here’s my version of a kayaking crash course 


Safety First:

-You need to know how to swim; even the most experienced kayaker winds up in the water sometimes

-Life jacket (if you spend more you’re paying for comfort and features…not necessary a safer option – $60-$150 is average…more expensive will get you a different cut/fit, pockets for gear, etc)

-Kayak with a partner or a group. People underestimate how easy it is to get lost

-Bring sunscreen. The sun’s impact is drastically increased by the reflections in the water around the kayak

-Use a paddle leash to keep your paddle from floating away

-Keep a safety kit in your storage space on every ride (duct tape, flashlight, bandages, dry food, whistle)

-Deep Cove Kayak runs beginner classes every Saturday and Monday, everything from proper stroke technique to rolling in a kayak is covered

-Short wide kayak is the most stable; a long, narrow one is the fastest but is harder to turn and tips more easily

-Lighter the paddle the more efficient– good price point is $100


Set Up:

-Adjust your back brace so it is both loose and supported

-Sit in the kayak and adjust your foot pegs – the position of your foot pegs should allow for your knees to be slightly bent (you’ll be using the pegs for leverage later on)

-Stretch before you begin, especially your neck and shoulders


Go Time:

For beginners, merely getting in and out of a kayak can be a challenge…

-Dip your paddle in the shallow water and press it up against the kayak for support

-Sit on the edge of the kayak dangling your feet over the side

-Keep your weight centered and low

-Swing your legs one by one toward the cockpit and slip inside

-Reverse the order for getting out!



Your technique will be the difference between fun and frustration. Strong short strokes increase blood flow and heart rate, using more oxygen. You’ll actually exert your entire body, not just the arms. The control points for steering and balance are your hips, knees and feet. Legs help keep you balanced and provide power to the strokes. Use the torso, back and shoulders to preserve arm strength.

-The common mistake of letting your arms do all the work will result in a short-lived day on the water. Instead, keep them relaxed and straighter like you would when riding a bike

-To make turns, paddle on the side opposite to the direction you wish to go

-When you find your paddle “pushing water,” you are wasting energy. The ideal process should be silent with continuous tension on the water (watch Olympic kayaking)


And there you have it, a quick crash course to get you out on the water all thanks to knowledge and equipment from Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Centre. Trust me; the time you spend perfecting your kayaking skills will be well worth the effort. HAVE FUN!