How to paddle???

Hello. I am brand new to kayaking as the post subject must suggest. In a sense I am new to being on the water period. So I am almost new to being on water period. Unless you count swimming.

I bought a “Pelican” Kayak for $250. Not sure if it is a great deal or not but it’s what I got. It’s also not a real skinny one either. So I feel it is probably a good beginers Kayak. Also I don’t plan on doing White Water. The biggest I’ll probably go is the Chattahoochee River here in Atlanta. Which to many of you I’m sure is laughable. Then the other places I plan on paddling is down in South Georgia along marshes, swamps, and small rivers.

I took it on a small 103acre lake today then realized there is a lot more to paddling than I thought. I could do ok sometimes and not ok other times.

My question is. Is there information I can find in either a book, online, or video which could get me going in the right direction? In technique and on the river.

Any help is appreciated

Here is a link to my Cardomain where you can view my Kayak on top of my vehicle.

Have a great day


Well, this forum is probably the best start. It’s how I gathered information from other people and then expanded from there. Yes, with books, videos and then, I enrolled in a kayaking class. Not sure if you have any down there, but it would be a good place to learn.

Next I started attending symposiums and just hanging out with other paddlers. The symposiums were huge for learning…the right way. There is so much information out there, and it may seem overwhelming at times, but it seems like you have a grasp on the level of paddling your looking to explore.

Who knows, since your so new to the sport, you may become very serious with the sport down the road, like most of us on this board.


Welcome Mark
You’ve already gotten some good suggestions. I’d second the taking a class, and reading posts here, also look for a club that paddles on a regular basis, many have day set aside just for practice and building skills.



Hey Mark
I’m new to canoeing. The man I got my canoe from took me to Grand Bay in Valdosta to a canoe trail. It was short but nice. In a few weeks we are going to the Alapaha River from Lackland to Naylor, about 12-14 mile run. We also plan to go from Mayday to Statenville when the water is right to try out the small Class I/II over the shoals. Your welcome to go along if you want to.

The other guy will be in his yak.


Good question!
There are techniques to paddling, and it might add to your enjoyment to get some tips and learn some basics. Before I bought my first kayak I took an “intro to paddling” type class where an instructor went over basics like entering/exiting your kayak, proper forward stroke technique, and techniques for turning (sweep and draw strokes). They also covered some great basic safety info, which is important, too. If you can search around, I’ll bet you might find a local paddling club or instruction center where you might be able to take a class or get some instruction. I think that instruction can’t be beat since you get feedback as you are trying out the techniques.

Also, I think you might find for free some useful info in the “Guidelines” section on this site. Click there and scroll through all the articles. Lots of good info there - I learned a lot from reading through all those articles when I was starting out.

I hope you have lots of fun in your new kayak!

Welcome to paddling
I know what I’m about to say might be heresy in this circle but I can’t help it. You have a recreational kayak and thus can have plenty of fun without taking any lessons if you have been around water and are in reasonable shape.

If the weather and water are warm, figure out a self rescue technique that works for you and your boat. Basic paddle strokes are easy enough and only require a little concentration at first before they become second nature.

There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience on this board but it seems the recreational folks don’t post advice, only the purists.

Of course if you are inclined to take formal instruction, by all means do so. But please don’t feel as though it’s necessary. Do what’s safe. Stay off cold water until you have the skills and equipment for it. Wear your pfd and stay in flat calm water. In case you wander too far and the weather turns sour, be prepared with food, water and supplies to wait it out. Use common sense.

Have fun!

You’ve come to the right place for good advice from a great group.

Or is that good advice from a great group…?

At any rate, as you ride you personal learning curve I’ll tell you the end-of-the-line is only where you -and to a certain extent, your wallet -and ALSO to a certain extent, your significnt others -want it to stop.

We’ve seen folks here get a starter boat and have a ball in it ad infinitum, getting better at paddling it and being happy in the moment forever.

And we’ve seen folks here start oiut with basic boats, and then run the progression to slimmer, faster boats, and go on to be race winners and long-distance paddlers, and have paddling in their blood.

And we’ve seen other folks here start out beginners and then progress amazingly up, up, and up, perfecting skills and demonstrating astounding progress in stunningly short periods of time…

All in the P.NET family.

As was poted in another ongomg thread, most of us here feel sort of like “These are freinds we just haven’t met yet…”

Now -a little advice on paddling?

Look in the column on the left -click on guidelines. There’s as astounding wealth of good information straightforwardly presented in easily digestible doses that covers the gamut of paddling -from types of boats and thise that make your day float, to PFDs and paddles and techniques to make them go.

Try it -then come back here for details and specifics.

Wecome aboard, read some, do some, and then,


And then, why, relax, hit the beach, and


-Frank in Miami

Nice Dog. :slight_smile:
Yes. You can learn of books and vids. I started that way. Getting good instruction will speed up the learning curve. Join a local paddling club. That can increase the learning and help find paddling partners.

Google paddling clubs and outfitters in your area.


You have gotten some very good advice already on this thread. I would point out that in addition to a basic lesson you will find a great deal of information on the Guidelines section of P.Net to the left. I have gone back to re-read several sections of the Guidelines and have concluded that it is a good resource.

Happy Paddling,


Video v. In-person
I am guessing that what happened was you hit a little wind and found that the boat was not going in the kind of straight direction you’d like? There is a point to be made that time in the boat would help. I see a lot of people in their first rec boat who simply have a stroke that is unequal from side to side, the left is stronger than the right or vice versa, so the boat reacts accordingly. That can be fixed up with time and attention. And there are videos that talk about the basic stroke, and turning, available in some video stores or thru online sources.

However, I agree with the above that you really should get at least one basic lesson. Videos are helpful, but nothing beats having someone observing you to make sure you are paddling in a way that doesn’t create undue strain on your wrists and shoulders. It’s also a good opportunity to get help with turning your boat and have a conversation about what kind of gear might be most apt for what you want to do with the boat.

Welcome to Kayaking!
Welcome to the “club”. You’re hooked!

First of all, make sure you get a PFD and wear it. Also take hypothermia seriously. We’d sure hate to lose you enjoying you’re soon to be favorite sport!

As for videos, I bought the “forward stroke” DVD sold on this site and found it very helpful. I too have a rec kayak. But within a year I found myself paddling for hours across lakes, upstream rivers, and against wind and waves. I always enjoyed it, but definately had more fun after watching the DVD and applying what I learned. That said, had I initially taken a lesson or two I would have had even MORE fun!

Happy Paddling!

Correct technique
As you’re already discovering, there’s a right and wrong way to paddle your kayak.

The wrong way, in addition to making evry outing an intense workout, can lead to possible damage in the shoulders.

I’m a poster child for that fact.

All the books and videos in the world won’t come close to having qualified instruction (something I wish I’d had to begin with…not 5 years into paddling)where an instructor can look at your technique and give you hands on on what you’re doing wrong…or right.

The ADK up here in NY has instructors who need to recertify every so often and are willing to teach free classes simply to re-certify.

Definitely work on exercises (like wall pushoffs) which will strengthen those areas of the body you’ll be using to paddle…Correct paddling technique is hard to concentrate on when everything aches and you’re still 2 miles out.

Lastly, while-should you stay with the sport-you’ll eventually ‘outgrow’ your present boat, don’t immediately sell it off. My America has become my backwaters and marshes and creek boat allowing me to still visit places I could/would never go in my artic tern.

Welcome aboard!!!

paddling information

it won’t be long
before you take a long hard look at the strean, or trickle, of water under every bridge with true lust.

Two things, fisrt, always wear you pfd, stuff happens, even on flat water.

B., start looking at better light weight paddle, it does make a difference.

and last, just enjoy your self.

what kind
what kinf of pelican did you get ???

Thanks guys
I have some better pictures on my “Car Domain” site which I linked at the top of the post. I know it’s wide but I know if I got anything skinnier I’d be barrel rolling more than a Blue Angel.

After I got a Kayak and some friends saw it on top of my vehicle. I have 6 friends wanting a Kayak. Unfortunatly for them I’m only buying a Kayak rack big enough to hold mine. Sorry but because my vehicle is yellow doesn’t mean it’s a taxi.

I looked around at some local outdoor stores. Basically “Dick’s Sporting Goods” type stuff. So I couldn’t manage to find anyone with knowledge. But I saw a Beautiful Perception that made me want to cry. It was also $1,800 which made my wallet want to cry. But being in the pool table business I see how quality can make a difference. I have a Cue Stick for pool that cost $850. And I had a Shaft ordered which cost $300 by it’s self. It’s just what your into.

I’ll check out the “Guidelines”. I would have earlier but I thought it was a “Forum Rules” page.

Thanks for the advice and look forward to learning more.