Brand new to Kayaking and worried

And this be the issue at times…
Yes, a sudden squall can come in and catch the best led tours by surprise, because a fast storm can move faster than a bunch of newbie paddlers half a mile from land.

Someone can capsize a super stable boat on flat water by tensing up and just compounding the whole thing. I have a friend who has capsized a Pungo 12 in perfectly flat water with no wind on small pond. This should be practically impossible to do as long as the paddler is sitting down, but he managed.

Someone can utterly panic and have trouble in a capsize, either with the wet exit or with following instructions to get back into the boat. I happen to have dealt with the latter a couple of times, but the good news is the OPer is not a 300 pound guy.

The most important first step in reducing risk is to get a good outfitter, and this seems to have been handled.

The next ideal step is to get into a boat and capsize it, before the tour, so that the “first time” thing is over. I suggested the OPer do it, but that did not seem to go over well.

As to the rest - yes completely unexpected things can happen. But I already managed to offend the OPer by suggesting that there was some basic anxiety that might be good to deal with. I am not seeing that it helps to bring in more reasons for anxiety.


– Last Updated: May-26-15 2:55 AM EST –

Staying upright in a canoe or kayak is not that complicated in anything less than lousy conditions - see the discussion in my first post...

I have seen plenty of people have a dry first outing in canoes and kayaks. I personally have never gone over without some "help" from a partner in a tandem boat. On the other hand, I have also seen enough people go over repeatedly even in a stable 17 foot canoe on flat water, because they just didn't "get it"... you still have to hold the boat up, it doesn't hold you up... so I am not agreeing with those saying it's practically impossible for you to fall in - hell no *lol*

You'll be wearing a PFD and have others there to help though, so you might get wet and a little chilled, but should come through a dunking just fine otherwise.

I would be sure to speak up and tell the instructor that you are first timers and be sure to get some introductory tips on getting in and out, staying up, and if you will be using a spray skirt, detaching it. If you do capsize, they will help with getting the water out and getting you back in the boat.

Other things you *could* do, would be to take one of their lessons sessions, prior to taking a tour, or maybe to take a tour at mid-day (when there is more light and it's a little warmer) rather than sunset, for your first outing.

If it were me
I would get out in warm water in kayaks and practice wet exits before the trip. That experience will almost certainly eliminate any fear of being upside down in the water. You will have more fun if you have eliminated that fear. In other words, listen to Celia. Most people are fearful of being upside down in the water trapped in a Kayak. It is a normal human fear that most people have, not a sign of weakness on your part in any way. If you do this you will have more fun on the tour which sounds delightful by the way!

Also, I think you should always go out on the water assuming that you will end up in the water at some point. Be prepared for that and then if it happens it will not seem like a big deal at all. Low stress is a good thing.

very few people video

– Last Updated: May-26-15 9:24 AM EST –

boring scenarios in the paddling world. It's the catastrophes that draw the attention.
In defense of Celia, I had the same thought reading your initial post.You were freaking out pretty bad. Be aware, flipping over in Nova Scotia sans drysuit would be at the bare minimum, FREAKING COLD, so I'm sure the guides have you in something with uber stability, where the only way to flip is by freaking out.

some help

– Last Updated: May-26-15 10:01 AM EST –

First, I agree with the suggestions that you contact the company and get some background on them. Qualifications, how they lead a trip, what they do in case of capsize. I don't agree that all outfitters are trustworthy because I've personally seen some put novice paddlers in unquestionably dangerous situations. So I guess I disagree with the group on that point but agree that you should get some feedback on them.

Secondly: almost every novice I've met is apprehensive about capsize. I think this is perfectly normal. People are most concerned about entrapment, but if you're instructed properly on how to wet exit, entrapment is of no concern. I'd go so far as to say that even without instruction, you'll find it easy to slide out of the boat. But the great thing about learning a wet exit (very simple) is that after the first time it removes all fear of "what happens when I tip over?".

So what comes next? Can you swim? You'll be wearing a PFD, you'll be with a capable outfitter (after vetting them you'll know this), stay calm and with the boat and follow the outfitters' instructions.

Apples and oranges
The double the tour group is putting you in is not the same kayak or conditions you are seeing in videos. Before you get invested in mistaken assumptions stick with the details of the trip and not unrelated videos. Send an email to the tour operator with your concerns.

something else
I’m going to suggest that a very useful thing to do before your adventure is to start right away at conditioning your body to what you will be doing. That is sitting in a position you probably are not used to and using muscles in a different way than you are used to.

Try sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you–knees raised a little and no back support. Extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder width and height (it would be helpful to have a broomstick to hold} and twist your torso from side to side as if you were paddling. Do this for as long as you can as many times per day as you can find time for.

My experience with new paddlers is that they get quite uncomfortable and tire very quickly. You might find that this will be a much bigger problem than tipping over. Not to worry though, it gets better and better with practice.

Your biggest worry is that you will have too much fun and want to go paddling all the time.

Some Nova Scotia water is quite warm
The north side near PEI and Cape Breton has very warm water as its in the Gulf Stream rather than the Labrador Current

Not sure where you are going; you didn’t say

Everyone new is concerned about getting stuck in an upside down kayak. The reality is that you likely will not be wearing a spray skirt so can’t have issues releasing that and it is very hard to stay in an upside down tandem tourer . You won’t be able to stay in

The tandems I have paddled on tours are very wide and stable. Outfitters do not want to be exposed to lawsuits

No need to worry
Guided trips are done by professionals that know what they are doing. They know how to keep you out of areas where you will flip, and on the rare case that you flip, they know how to get you back in quick so the only bother is being a little uncomfortable from the cold and wet.

Think you should either find some
literature or media to read/watch…or take a lesson or two to get your body acquainted with the duties of what your upperbody and lowerbody should be doing.


swimmers report

probable hypothermia at Port Hood

there’s a Walmart down the road.

The climate viewer from El Dorado sez July and August may see near freezing temps

Any more from the OP?
I am interested in this thread because I am thinking of going to big water for a guided tour. I have been looking at The Apostle Islands in Lake Superior off of the shores of Wisconsin.

One thing I see when I read about the outfitter is, the single day tour you are in a tandem boat with a guide, not with your spouse. That is just this particular outfitter I am looking at and I don’t know about all outfitters around in other areas.

That sounds like a good idea to me. You may want to check further with the outfitter you are going with and see if it would be tandem with your husband or each of you in a tandem with your own guide.

What I am seeing at the outfitter I am looking at is, if you do the 2 day tour, the first day you get actual training. You have discussion and teachings at the outfitter on the first day with some training and guidance at the shoreline later in the afternoon. Then on the 2nd day, you do the tour and because you’ve had the training, you can be in a single boat on your own with a guide in his own boat. Only if you’ve had the training do they allow to be in a single boat by yourself (or I assume a tandem with your spouse rather than having to be with a guide.) That’s something to research with the outfitter of your choice.

On the subject of seeing videos of people flipping their boat, I don’t see many videos on actual accidental flipping. Most of the videos I see are people practicing their rolls. These are done on purpose. I’ve never been in a narrow sea kayak and am just a novice beginner myself, so I don’t know how easy it is to capsize one of these sea kayaks. But perhaps these videos you have watched are actual practice rolls where they are purposely rolling over.

On the subject of the wet exit, I am waiting for my pool to clear up and to actually have some warm swimming weather. I plan to put my 13 foot boat in the pool and flip it over on purpose to practice wet exit and getting back in. Not sure only being in 4 feet of water if it would help on the learning self rescue getting back in the boat since it would be water capable of standing in, but it shouldn’t hurt to practice in the pool.

So, does anyone have any good videos or instruction pages on how to actually do a wet exit they could share, both for myself and the OP to give her peace of mind? I always hear the term wet exit, and I assume, especially in my bit wider kayak, that you would just fall out of the cockpit unless you actively hold on with your legs on the thigh/knee braces. This would of course be assuming you’ve already removed your spray skirt (of which I do not yet have.)

get someone to wade out to nipple
deep water for safety, with you in the boat, make sure there are no obstructions- logs, large rocks, make sure your feet or shoes aren’t wedged in the boat, snug is okay but you should be able to relax and free yourself

since you don’t have a skirt yet it should be really simple, I think about “forward rolling” (like they taught in gym class)you tuck, you push off with your hands and you initiate by leaning forward not back, you can push out off the sides of the cockpit as well- gravity is workin’ with you- most folks find it a lot easier than they thought it would be

once you get a skirt practice it again- sliding your hands forward around the cockpit to find the grab loop, then tug and follow the previous steps- again have someone in the water for added safety

last step in the progression is to do all the following while holding onto your paddle with one hand.

After emptying your boat a few times you’ll be sufficiently motivated to want to learn to “roll” while staying in the boat

Visit the Articles section above
Under “Guidelines” you’ll find loads of videos and well written articles on technique and safety, including capsizes and wet entries. Pool practice is helpful (you need a paddle float if you don’t already have one), but practice in actual conditions is even more helpful - once the water warms.

Taking an ACA skills class is even better. I have a lot of trust in ACA certified coastal kayaking instructors. If you watch any of the videos about the ACA instructor training/certifications, you’ll understand why.

The OP signed up for a 2.5 hour sunset paddle with certified instructors/guides accompanying the group. I think they’ll be just fine and hope they return to report on their experience.

after the trip …
You will still be new to kayaking. If “all” you are doing is a “no experience necessary” day trip in a tandem with a guide, you’re going to be FINE. But, I agree with the other reply, borrow a couple of kayaks and go out on a gentle small lake at sunset to try it all out (wearing PFDs)…then have glass of wine and toast the great vacation you have planned!