Top 10 Tips for Kayaking Along the Coast
Posted On Tuesday, April 07, 2015
This month we want to get back into nature! With the gorgeous Eastern North Carolina weather, it is hard not to find any excuse to be outside. There is no better place to be outside than in Emerald Isle; and if being outside wasn’t enough, why not be outside and out on the water? It doesn’t get much better than that! Kayaking is a great outdoors, on-the-water activity that will surely get you excited to be on the Crystal Coast this spring. So, here are our Top Ten Tips for Kayaking along the Coast!
1. Where to Go
Before you begin your kayaking adventure, it’s important to know where you are going to go. Different areas around the coast provide different opportunities for kayakers to experience different environments, difficulty levels, scenery, etc. Knowing where you are going to be kayaking specifically can help you follow up with the rest of our tips.
Some of our favorite places to kayak along the coast are:
With over 8 miles of beautiful kayaking waterways, this is our top destination for kayaking. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring the salt marshes and checking out the local wildlife. These beautiful, calm waters are ideal for any level of kayaker. You can paddle from Emerald Isle over to Bear Island and enjoy all the exploring along the way. Guided tours are also an option and can teach a lot about local environment and ecosystems, history, wildlife, and more! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even pack your bags and enjoy a night of camping at Hammock’s Beach State Park before returning to your Emerald Isle vacation rental.
(map courtesy of ncparks.gov)
Paddling along Taylor’s Creek in Beaufort is a great way to enjoy the calm waters, warm air, and great local views. You can kayak along the Rachel Carson Reserve, explore the salt marshes and estuaries, and even catch a glimpse of some wild ponies! The Maritime Museum is even offering two kayaking events for families this month, so be sure to look into that for both kids and adults.
Bogue Sound and White Oak:
These are two other great places where you can take your kayak and explore! Bogue Sound is a great place for beginners to learn in the shallow, warm waters of the Bogue Sound. White Oak provides "black water” kayaking, which includes exploring bayou-like conditions with lots of vegetation and shade from the low hanging trees. Both are beautiful, fun places to take your kayak this spring!
2. Check the Tides
It would be a bit of a drag to plan out your whole kayaking adventure, and then find out that the tide is out, making it difficult (but not impossible) to make your way out into the clear blue water. To avoid any last minute frustrations, be sure to check out when the tides will be going in and out so that you can have an easy transition from land to water as you get ready to depart.
3. What to Wear
Wearing the appropriate clothes is important when preparing to kayak. Though the weather is warm here in the spring, sometimes the water can be cooler in the early mornings and late afternoons. Be aware of the water temperature so that in case you take a spill in the water, you won’t get cold! Luckily our waters are warming up this time of year! Wearing sturdy water shoes or sandals is also a good idea. However, the most important thing to wear when you are setting off for your day on the water is a life jacket! Though we’d all like to think that there is no way we could possible tip over into the water, it’s important to be prepared. Wearing a life jacket is very important for any water sport activity, so be sure to don one of these before you push off. It should be noted as well that anyone under 13 years of age is required to wear a life jacket.Of course, there is one more thing that you must wear: a smile! No outfit is complete until you have a smile, luckily you won’t have to search your wardrobe for that one—it’ll come all on its own as soon as you step outside!
4. Type of Kayak
There are several different types of kayaks that you should consider when preparing for your adventure. Kayaks are generally more stable the wider they are—definitely an important factor to consider if you are a beginner. You can also opt for a single, tandem, or "tri-yak.” Single kayaks have just one cockpit, tandem have two, and "tri-yaks” have three. If you would like to paddle with a friend, or if you have children you’d like to keep close, this is something you will want to take into consideration. Other things to consider are the widths of the cockpit openings, storage room for any items you’ll be taking, and weight of the kayak. Don’t worry though if you are not sure where to start. Kayak rental shops such as Barrier Island Kayaks can help you find the perfect kayak for you.
5. Lifting the Kayak
When you are transporting the kayak, it’s important to know how to lift the kayak so that you don’t hurt yourself or damage the kayak. Warm up your muscles a bit first before you try to lift a kayak. This serves a double purpose because you then have your muscles warmed up for your paddling as well. After you are warmed up, set the kayak on its side with the cockpit facing you. Bending your knees, put your hand on the inside rim of the cockpit and move your shoul
der underneath your hand. Slowly, lift with your knees and stand up. You’ve got it! You’re ready to move out into the water!
6. Kayak Safety
But wait! Safety check! Make sure that you are wearing your life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Check? Good. Now, it is a very good idea for you or someone with you to know basic first aid and CPR when you begin kayaking. Carry a first aid kit with you in a waterproof case. Know where you are going, and make sure that someone back on shore knows where you will be and when in case of an emergency. Keep a map and compass with you so that you always know where you are. Carrying a whistle can also be a good safety precaution in case you need to alert someone of where you are. Knowing how to right your kayak if it gets overturned is also very important especially if it gets swamped in water. You can find some in-depth tips on how to properly right your kayak on this website, but it may be a good idea to also take a class on basic kayaking skills and safety. Barrier Island Kayaks also provides basic kayaking instruction courses, so you can check that out as well.
7. Getting Into the Kayak
There are two ways that you can start your kayaking adventure: one is from a dock, the other is from the water’s edge, but they have basically the same techniques for getting in and out. In both cases, you will want to make sure your paddle is always in reach. You don’t want to push off and then find yourself literally "up the creek without a paddle.” The best way to ensure that you keep your paddle within reach is by using it to help stabilize yourself. Basically, you want to get into the kayak by carefully placing one foot in the kayak, then the other. Then, quickly (and carefully!) lift yourself into the kayak, crouch down, and lower yourself into the kayak.
8. Basic Paddling Techniques
The most important part of paddling is to remember to relax! Your initial reaction will probably be to dig into the water with all your strength, but it isn’t necessary. Sit comfortably, lean back in your seat, and gently pull the paddle in the water and push the other end of the shaft away from you. Congratulations! You’ve started paddling! Gently turn your body with the push and pull motion, but don’t rock too much, or your trip over the water will continue under the water! To turn the kayak, continuously paddle only on one side—the side opposite of the way you want to turn. To slow down or stop, paddle in the opposite direction. It’s simple once you get the hang of it, but it does take some practice. Check out these tips and video tutorials for more information.
9. Practice, Practice, Practice
If you are a beginner, this all may seem a bit daunting, but it will definitely get better with time! Keep practicing and keep having fun. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come to you right away. Take it nice and easy. If that means you have to paddle in circles for a while until you get the hang of it, that’s okay! No one’s rushing you—this is your vacation after all! Practice makes perfect and you’ll have it in no time!
10. Have Fun!
This is one of the most important tips we can give you and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Let the warm spring air, clear water, and sense of adventure guide you along the waterways of the beautiful Crystal Coast!
Throughout this month, stay tuned as we rediscover our wild side and take a look at some of the great outdoor activities you can enjoy here on the Crystal Coast! Kayaking is just the beginning, stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!