Kayaking In Rough Seas

When some people think about sea kayaking, they think about kayaking around atolls rising out of crystal clear water. But sea kayaking can be very different. It can be a battle between you and the ocean. It can be a rigorous test of your kayaking skills. It can be a struggle to stay above water.

Kayaking in rough seas should be avoided if possible. This kind of kayaking is physically demanding and potentially deadly. However even if you take every precaution to avoid kayaking rough seas, the ocean is fickle and calm winds can pick up quickly.

One day you'll find yourself kayaking through calm seas and you'll feel the wind slowly start to pick up. The sea that was once as smooth as a glass window now looks like it's covered with giant pieces of jagged glass. It can be a life threatening situation if you don't know how to alter you kayaking technique to match the changing conditions.

Here's how you can survive kayaking rough seas:

Get Proper Training

All the kayaking books and articles in the world aren't going to prepare you for the real thing. Sea kayaking is a rigorous sport that requires a lot of specialized knowledge and technical kayaking skill- the kind of kayaking skill you can only learn from an experienced sea kayaker.

A good training program will teach you about the equipment you need as well as the best paddling techniques to use when you're in different kayaking conditions. But more importantly, these training programs will prepare you for anything that goes wrong while you're kayaking at sea. You'll learn contingency planning and how to navigate strong winds and rough seas to find your way to safety.

No one should attempt sea kayaking without proper training.

Mind The Wind

When you find yourself caught in strong winds, make sure you're aware of the direction of the wind. You don't want to be caught kayaking perpendicular to the wind because it'll have a tendency to blow you where it wants you to go as opposed to where you want to go.

You can minimize the wind's influence on your kayak by kayaking into the wind. That way you'll negate the wind's influence on you. In addition, by facing the wind, you'll also be facing the waves which will prevent you from being broadsided by a wave. There's no quicker way to capsize than being hit broadside by a wave.

Mind The Waves More

When the wind and the waves are going in different directions, watch the waves. It's a tough situation to manage. The wind will want to push you one way and the waves will want to push you another. You can mediate the situation somewhat by tacking the wind and the waves, but make sure the waves are always foremost in your mind. Never run parallel to rough seas no matter what the wind is doing. All it takes is one good wave against the side of your kayak to send you swimming.

Timing Is Everything

You can't paddle mindlessly in rough seas. If you stroke away without timing your strokes, you'll waste a lot of energy. In short, there has to be a method to your kayaking.

The waves will determine your timing in rough seas. Paddling at the wrong time can waste a lot of energy.

Sea Kayaking is a physically demanding and technical sport. While you should always avoid rough conditions, sometimes rough kayaking conditions spring up without a lot of notice. If that happens, you'll be glad you were properly trained to deal with it. By kayaking into the wind (or into the waves) you'll be sure to make it to your emergency exit point dry... relatively dry at least.

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