Saltwater kayak – There is nothing more exciting than approaching a rapid and paddling in saltwater kayak. However, the first time out in a saltwater kayak can be scary. There are a few things to consider when approaching kayaking as a new paddler.
Safety While Learning Saltwater Kayak
It is imperative that while learning to kayak that its done in a safe environment. Any sport involving water is dangerous and therefore the new paddler needs to be aware of these dangers. To eliminate some of the concerns, a new kayaker should choose an instructor that they are comfortable with. Also, start learning in a pool setting so that the student can learn how their movements in the kayak are going to cause the boat to move. Most importantly, learn how to roll the saltwater kayak before getting into white water. Last but not least, choose a team to kayak with that employs good safety measures on the river to include safety boaters in a catch eddy downstream so that a ” T” rescue can be deployed swiftly if need be.
Physical Ability for Kayaking
A person does not have to be a marathon runner to saltwater kayak, but it is important that a person is in relatively good shape and can swim. River currents may be swift and if a person does come out of the boat then its a sure thing that swimming to shore, or a calm eddy behind a rock is going to require some strength. Its also important to have a strong upper body and flexibility to move the hips with the boat and to be able to have a strong paddle stroke when needed. Many times put ins and take outs require a hike and carrying equipment. These things need to be considered. Flat waters may be easier at first, but swimming ability is still a concern.
Mindset for Learning to Saltwater Kayak
Kayaks are flatter than canoes and kayaking is on top of the water. It is intimidating to look a white spray of water in the face, or to know that if something does go wrong, and it will, that currents may push or pull a swimmer in many directions. A new paddler needs to have a survival instinct when it comes to the river and an understanding that if one does swim that the other kayakers will be there with a safety line, “T” rescue or a boat to hang on to. It is also a different feeling when the kayak rolls and a person has to make the decision to get out of the kayak and “pop the skirt”.
River waters are dark and when a person first rolls, it can be scary trying to get right side up again. In the moments taken to set up an Eskimo roll to right the boat, a kayaker’s head can hit a rock or the paddle may come loose. Its keen to have a strong mindset and confidence in one’s ability to right the boat and or to stay calm enough to do the right things under water. Practice makes perfect when rolling and it cannot be stressed enough that pool work is key to maintaining good practices in the off season. Timid strokes and slow decisions usually result in worse things happening than strong strokes and wrong decisions on the river. However, when considering safety, physical ability, and a good mindset, anyone can learn how to kayak.
How to Winterize a Saltwater Kayak
Whether a boat will be left in the water, or stored in a boatyard for the winter, a little preparation in the fall can prevent major problems when winter settles in.
Remove Food and Clothing and More from the Boat
Begin winter preparations by taking off all perishable food items, including canned goods that may rust in damp lockers. Also remove clothing, bedding, books, life jackets, sails and sail bags—anything that can hold moisture and may mold or mildew over the winter. Also remove detachable electronic devices such as GPSs, plot charters, and sound systems that might attract thieves or be damaged by dampness.
Prepare the Boat’s Engine and Batteries
Refer to the engine’s owner’s manual for specifics, but in general, the engine either needs an adequate amount of antifreeze added to the coolant system, or it needs to be drained. If the boat has a heat exchanger, the heat exchanger should also be drained, along with the hoses that take water to and from the heat exchanger. Remove the boat’s batteries and store them in a warm dry place, and connect them to a trickle charger so they maintain a charge over the winter.
Treat the Fuel Tank
Some experts recommend draining the fuel tank, and some boat storage facilities require it. However, there is a large contingent of boat owners who do the opposite. They fill their fuel tanks leaving as little space as possible for condensation to form. Adding a biocide to diesel fuels keeps microbes in the fuel from growing and gumming up the system.
Winterize the Boat’s Plumbing
Take the boat to the pump out station, and have the holding tank pumped. Run some fresh water into the tank, and have that pumped out as well. Close the seacocks, and drain the hoses leading to the head. Pump the boat’s drinking water tank dry, disconnect the hoses leading to sinks and drain them. Without water in the tanks, fittings, or pipes, there is little danger of damage from freezing.
Complete Maintenance and Repairs to the Boat Exterior
Touch up varnish and paint to protect wood, metal and fiberglass surfaces through winter. If the caulking around windows, vents, chain plates, or deck fittings, is crumbling, recaulk to keep water out and reduce potential problems below deck. Finish by washing and waxing the boat.
Below Deck Preparation
Clean any soiled surfaces, paying special attention to the galley and head. To reduce the growth of mold and mildew, leave locker doors, hatches, drawers and the ice box open. Vacuum carpets and upholstered surfaces, and prop seat cushions up so air can circulate around them.
To Cover or Not to Cover
Boat covers can help keep a boat clean, and protect woodwork, canvas, and paint from the elements, but if they are not properly vented, boat covers can also trap damage-causing moisture. In the wind, the cover can wear away paint, gel coats, woodwork or canvas if not properly secured.
Inspect Dock Lines
If the boat is going to spend the winter at the dock, inspect dock lines to make sure they are not frayed, or led ashore over sharp or rough edges that might saw through them in rough weather. Consider adding rubber shock absorbing snubbers to dampen the effect of heavy winds on dock lines.
Winterizing a boat in the fall can prevent many costly problems in the long run.
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