In recent years, adventurous paddlers and expeditioners have shown that you can go just about anywhere there’s water in a sea kayak. From Antarctica to the Grand Canyon and beyond, with the right training and preparation the world is your oyster. We present seven of the most important skills to master in order to stay safe, comfortable and on course while sea kayaking.
Most Important Skills for Sea Kayaking
1 Learn how to make a bilge pump
Having a way to empty your flooded cockpit is essential when you’re far from home. Some sea kayakers use foot-operated bilge pumps, while others use electric.
You can build your own battery-operated kayak bilge pump using about $100 worth of parts available at your local electronics or marine supply store. For more, follow our easy instructions to Build Your Own Battery-Operated Kayak Bilge Pump.
2 Stay visible on the water
Whatever the conditions, it is crucial to stay visible on the water. Sea kayaks are small compared to the various other crafts on the water, and for your safety and the safety of others.
The high-visibility mindset is an essential skill, from picking the right clothing and paddle color to choosing the accessories that make you more visible—especially in foggy or hazy conditions. Read on to learn What You Should Wear To Be Seen On The Water.
3 Scout ocean surf in your kayak
If you choose to paddle in exposed coastal areas, you’ll have little choice but to launch or land your kayak in a surf zone. Breaking surf represents one of the greatest challenges to any paddler.
It’s vitally important to choose the right beach for prevailing conditions because surf is an incredibly dynamic and powerful environment that offers both amazing play possibilities and potentially devastating beat-downs. Watch and learn How To Scout Surf In Your Kayak.
4 Construct a tow line
A kayak tow line is a vital tool to have in your rescue kit. It can make rescues easier, less complicated and faster.
Leon Sommé of Body Boat Blade International shows you how to make your own in our video on How To Build A Sea Kayak Contact Tow Line.
5 Try the sea kayak scramble self-rescue
Knowing how to rescue yourself after a swim in the water is an important skill. This is especially true if you kayak alone or will be going on open-water trips or undertaking big crossings.
The pros at the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre demonstrate how to Master The Sea Kayak Scramble Self-Rescue.
6 Understand marine VHF radio use
If you are spending extended periods of time on the water in your sea kayak, you should know the fundamentals of communication by marine VHF radio.
These radios are key for emergencies or to communicate with other watercraft, especially on large, open bodies of water. Brush up on your communication skills with our Marine VHF Radio Essentials.
7 Re-enter and roll your kayak
Ever taken an unplanned swim on your sea kayaking trips? If you’ve exited your kayak, the re-enter and roll is the fastest self rescue, increasing your confidence and safety on the water.
Learn how to rescue yourself with step-by-step tips from experts at the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre. It’s simple and straightforward with our video on How To Re-Enter And Roll Your Kayak.
The world is your oyster with these key skills for safe sea kayaking. | Feature photo: Watcherfox/Adobe Stock