You’ve lugged your sit on kayak out of the shop, wrestled it onto the roof of your car and transported it back to your home. After a few sessions just getting to grips with the basics, you are now thinking about taking your first proper sit on kayak trip.
Chances are that you’ve purchased lots of equipment from your local sit on retailer – possibly more than you actually need. But before launching head long into the sunset it may be useful to stop and consider what kit you really do need during your paddling trip.
Tools for the job
Kayak – possibly a little obvious, but in your enthusiasm to hit the beach don’t forget to take your mode of transport with you. It’s easily done!
Paddle – another necessary bit of kit that you can’t do without and yet is easily forgotten.
Buoyancy aid/personal flotation device – it may be that up until this point you have been quite happily paddling without a flotation device. Now you are about to embark on a journey it is always better to wear one as BA/PFD’s can be lifesaving if events go awry.
Clothing – paddling long distances will mean that you end up far from your original launch point. In the time it takes to get from point A to B the weather may have taken an unexpected turn for the worse and with just your board shorts on you could be at risk from such things as hypothermia. Always pack some form of waterproof wind breaker and possibly a fleece, depending on how much room you have. If you don’t have a waterproof bag then wrap them in some old carrier bags and keep them in an old rucksack secured to your kayak. A beanie hat may be useful too.
Other gear – a good waterproof watch, compass, sunglasses, sun block, energy boosting chocolate bars and drinking water (a flask of tea/coffee at colder points in the year) are all good things to make sure you have on board.
If you’re paddling in winter then it may be worth purchasing a drysuit/surface immersion suit and neoprene gloves. (You can see more winter sit on top kayaking tips here – www.sitons.com/articles/winter-kayaking-cold-weather-paddling/)
The most important thing to do before heading off on your jaunt is familiarise yourself with the weather forecast. Even if you’re not a budding meteorologist, having an understanding of the weather ahead will give you an idea of the kind of conditions you are likely to encounter.
If you’re venturing into tidal waters then take a moment to note the tide times. As with weather information, having no understanding of this phenomenon is the easiest way to end up in trouble.
If this is your very first time out on your sit on kayak then make sure you choose somewhere with minimum obstacles. If you’re unsure of the area you’ve chosen then, where possible, ask for guidance.
Launching your sit on kayak
Consider the area you are about to launch in – particularly if this is your first time.
Water is a constantly moving and changing entity. Even if the H2O in front of you looks placid and calm – it isn’t.
Inland waters such as rivers, canals and streams flow somewhere, and open water is always affected by tide, wind and, in some cases, swell.
Understanding, at least to some degree, how water moves will ensure you have the best time possible.
Here are some things to avoid:
Inland water – Keep well clear of damns, flood gates/barriers, water falls, obvious fast flowing water (think rapids) and locks.
Open water – Avoid big swell, harbour mouths, ferry/cruise liner ports, heavy boat traffic areas, rocky spots, excessively windy/rough waters and submerged obstacles (this info can be obtained from Harbour Masters and online prior to launching).
The general advice upon arrival at your chosen launch spot is to assess the situation before heading off. If the spot looks dodgy, for whatever reason, then postpone your session.
If in doubt – don’t go out.
The great thing about sit on kayaks is that they are a lot easier to launch and land than closed cockpit kayaks. They are way more durable and a lot less skill is needed to pilot one.
All in all, a sit on kayak is an easy and generally safe way to get some water time and enjoy a satisfying outdoor sport. Use your melon, don’t put yourself in unnecessary harm’s way and you will be rewarded of hours of paddling bliss.