Kayak paddles comprise double blades, while, canoes use single blade paddles. There's the sea or ocean kayaking, which involves taking the kayak out to the ocean or open water (lake). Taking the kayak down the rapids is called whitewater kayaking. It is popular among adventure enthusiasts, divers, etc.
Kayak Paddling Instructions
Before entering a kayak, it's better to be aware of some basics. The first important point to note is that the power in paddling is generated from the torso (trunk) and then channeled through the arms. The control of the kayak comes from the application of the right strike in the right direction, at the right time.
The length of the paddle must be correctly chosen as longer paddles can cause injuries. Moreover, it won't allow the paddler to perform the right paddling technique. The local AC National Training Provider, guides, coaches or AC Instructors, can help figure out the appropriate length for each person.
How to Paddle a Kayak
By sitting astride behind the cockpit, one can sit comfortably and slide one's feet into the cockpit. The paddler must sit straight, all the way back in his seat. His knees must be bent, and must not touch the kayak's deck.
* For the right hand placement, hold the paddle horizontally above the head, such that the elbows are at right angles (surrender position). The paddler must make sure the hands are symmetrically placed and equal hand to paddle blade distance is maintained on each side. One could place some electrical tape to help maintain position on a regular basis.
* The paddler should extend his arms in front of him, with the paddle being tilted towards the right of the boat. The stroke begins when the shoulders are slightly rotated to bring the bottom arm forward. The bottom arm is extended (not straight) and the top hand's elbow is bent, arm relaxed, and eye height.
* The blade is to be dipped into the water near the paddler's ankles and pulled back along the boat's side. As the paddler pulls the blade back, he is to twist his torso to the right for power, while paddling, and relieved pressure off the arm muscles. The hips should be kept straight and the back and shoulder muscles should be used to power the stroke.
* For reverse strokes, the paddler's torso is to be rotated completely, with the blade being completely submerged. Bottom arm is not straight, but is extended. The stroke ends when the rotation finishes. The elbow should be kept in front of the line of shoulder and not behind, to protect the shoulder joint during reverse strokes.
* Capsizing is quite common, and paddlers must be able to exit the boat calmly. When the kayak capsizes, the head gets immersed into the water, and paddlers instinctively lift their heads. This results in scratches and bruises as paddlers twist in the cockpit. Instead of panicking, the paddler should leave the cockpit correctly and move to the surface.
These were some basics regarding kayaking, however, if you haven't tried it out before, make sure you have a guide or a partner who has good kayaking experience to accompany you. All the best!