Been there… Done that… And I am not sure if I will do it again… (I probably will but it might be a while). Yesterday morning we carried James’ kayak to the beach and I watched as he effortlessly paddled out into the ocean. As I sat on the shore line watching him I started feeling a little envious! I had decided originally not to take my kayak down because I was a little bit scared. I love the ocean but thinking about all the things swimming around out there makes me a tad bit uncomfortable. Especially since I can’t see what is swimming around. The surf is rough and so the water is murky making it hard to see through.
James looked to be having a great time paddling around out there and the water seemed pretty calm once he made it past the breaking waves. I decided as I sat watching him that when he came back in we would go and get my kayak and I would give it a try.
We got my boat and I launched out and into the ocean… Success!! I was out there! In the ocean! Paddling around with the fish and the…. Oh my who knows what else… For some reason it took James a little while (OK so maybe like a minute) to get back out and I started to freak out!!! I wasn't real sure how far out I was supposed to go so that I wouldn't get toppled by a wave and he wasn't out there to tell me. The waves were big and the swells were lifting me pretty far up and then quickly down as I waited. Within a few minutes I also started thinking about the fish… or rather the sharks that surely were swimming below me ready to catch me if I fell off my kayak.
I turned, yelled to James that I was out and quickly paddled back to shore. As I paddled over the breaking point of the waves I quickly learned I did that all wrong and over board I went. Not fun!
The whole basis of this blog is sharing our lessons learned from our trials and errors so here are some pointers for kayaking in the ocean. Paddling in the ocean is not the same as paddling in a river.
- Have the right boat. We love our Ocean Kayaks! We personally think Ocean Kayaks or a sit on top kayak are better suited for the ocean then a sit in. They are easier to roll off of in the event of a large wave and they are easier to recover as they do not fill with water. You will need to also make sure any and all hatches and shut tight and the drain plug is screwed in.
- Study the waves a bit before you decide to launch out into the ocean. We learned this last year when James was fighting massive waves trying to get his boat out there. Some days and some places the ocean is too rough and it is better to wait until a different day or time. If the waves are 2-3 feet or bigger you need to wait. Also by studying the waves you will start to notice their pattern. Breaking waves typically come in sets of 6-8 with a calm spot that follows. This is the best time to launch your boat into the ocean.
- Hopefully you have also already checked the weather. Storms do pop up quickly at the coast so you will want to be sure your day is clear so you don’t encounter any unforeseen conditions.
- It’s best to walk your kayak out to just past the breaking point. Wade out while holding on to the front of you kayak so you can more easily lift the front over the waves approaching. Ideally you will be able to hop onto your kayak at the point where the waves are still just swells and not crashing on top of you. Once you are past the breaking point or surf zone you are less likely to get capsized by a big wave.
- Once on your boat paddle fast and straight to get out to a calmer section of the ocean. It may take a while to get used to the waves and currents and the swells in the tide. You may want to sit and get steady before paddling around.
- As soon as you are out you will need to identify a landmark on the beach. From the sea the shore line will look the same and you will want to be sure you find your way back to your starting point or at least close. The current and wind can carry you down the coast before you even know it.
- Be sure you only paddle out as far as you are able to paddle back, you do not want to fatigue on the ocean for sure!
- Riding back in is the tricky part. Find a spot on the beach where there aren't people (good luck) so that you have a good opening to land and avoid running into someone else. You will want to be prepared to flip your boat, both James and I flipped yesterday coming back in. My lesson learned is to paddle back in on the back side of the wave, you do not want to get caught on the top of the crashing wave, it will tip you over. If you do get caught in the crashing wave, jump of the boat on the ocean side so your kayak does not crash into you! My legs most certainly will be black and blue today. I rolled off my boat on the beach side and then my boat slammed into my shins… OUCH! Also once you are off your boat grab it and go fast toward the beach to avoid the next wave… I attempted to recover first from the crash and got slammed a second time… Double OUCH!!! My poor shins!!!
- Don’t wear your expensive Revo sunglasses when you are heading out into the ocean (James), you will be sick when you realize they are goners!
It will take some practice to get used to ocean kayaking. Don’t give up, give it another try (I might… I probably will…). Once you have your bearings out there you are sure to have a great time! With some experience you can even learn to kayak surf… Sounds fun!!
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