Tips for my first Kayak Lesson

-- Last Updated: Jul-09-07 11:24 PM EST --

Can anyone give me any tips for my first Kayak lesson in approx, 2 weeks time. What do you recommend for clothing, bare feet, water socks, stretching, nose plugs etc...

Ask instructor
The best advice should come from the instructors. They will have a better idea on water temperatures, how much time you might spend IN the water, etc. Nose plugs are nice when practicing “wet exits.” I didn’t have them at my first class although they were offered. Above all, have dry clothese to change into when you’re done, even if there are not “plans” to get wet.

Buy my book
It is called “Tips for my first kayak lesson”

Looks like you answered your own questions.

Only tip that I would give is make sure you know how to swim.

Also make sure you use the porta john prior to the lesson



If you feel the instruction was really
good and you got your monies worth and more… slip him or her a few bucks as a tip. They are usually paid well below the poverty line.

have fun! - nm

You’ve got most of it
Comfort is key, so you can focus on learning.

  • Make sure you’re dressed to stay in the water for a while.
  • If your class is located in a “buggy” place, you might want some sort of repellent. Here’s a tip that I learned last week when I wore my long sleeve hydroskin: those nasty brown flies can’t seem to bite through neoprene
  • A swimming mask would be a nice addition to your already good list, and water shoes if not in a pool.
  • Bring your own paddle float if you have one. Some classes use them, and there’s not always enough to go around.
  • Having a friend take you to class is good. This way, if there are drills where people have to “buddy up”, you already have a buddy.
  • Come to class thinking that the boat is more of a pool toy than something that’s supposed to keep you dry and above water.

    Oh, and have fun…Lou

Yes they did say to bring a set of clothes or just realize you will get completey soaked because they teach getting assisted help when you fall out and on your own. It is in a lake so I will pick up some water shoes. Good tip on the bugs, didn’t think of that one. I’m nervous but have to remember I"m there to learn and not impress, just have fun.

Get wet before class
If this is practical, hang out in the water a little bit brfore class with your PFD on. Kick it up a notch and swim around with your paddle and boat. Or go for broke, and flip over your boat, swim under it, and pop your head up in the cockpit for a little air. Any or all of this will get your body and brain in gear and make it a more relaxed experience.


I concur
I completely agree and encourage getting wet before the class.

Otherwise, people tend to get nervous and tentative trying not to flip over while learning the basic strokes. That was my experience when I took a class a couple of years ago. After I got wet practicing self rescue (part of the class), I got much much more comfortable edging and leaning. Only then I felt like I was actually getting something out of skulling brace, among other things.

  • Nose plug will make wet exit much nicer experience.

  • Strap for glasses, if worn

  • If wearing flip-flops, you may lose them. There might be stuff you don’t want to step on, so water socks or shoes might be a good idea. $5 water shoes from Wal-mart would suffice.

  • Having a friend makes it much, much more fun.

  • Sunblock if it is a sunny day

  • Go for a boat that’s not ‘too’ stable. If you can get there early and get used to the boat, even better.

  • Place to put your wallet/keys/etc. I’d get a small dry bag. It’s great not just for kayaking, but for going to beach, etc. Don’t forget to take it out of the hatch after the class!

Dry Bag Fanny Pack
I got this little one, and it’s great for the beach or anyplace where it’s wet.

Oh, and I really like taking a class with my own boat. A while ago, I really got good at a re-enter and roll w/paddle float in an old whitewater boat in pool class. I later tried this with my own boat and it was a whole different animal.


Hey -
What kind of kayak did you get??

^^ Is that question for me?


I didn’t notice
his name was Hey :wink:

Not yet
I was looking at the Prodigy EXP as you suggested and really like it but I finally went to a real kayak store where the owner suggested I demo a few first because they are so different. I had a chance to look at quite a few I was interested in but once I get my lesson then I can test drive some. I started picking up some rack accessories, because I’m not going the inflatable route now.

Theres a few I like, Dagger Approach, Pungo 120 Angler, Blackwater 12, Prodigy 12 EXP. As the owner of the shop said take a lesson first and see if I even like paddling before buying anything, makes sense.

don’t drown…
…upsets the other students.

then there’s the cockpit left tip.

There are also bow & stern tips, but you need relatively big water for those, and while some call it ‘perling’ (‘pearling’, sp?), I think another definition does a better job of describing hese two tips: each is an ‘endo’.

For you, as a beginner, the best two tips are the elementary left & right ones noted above. You can impress your instructor(s) by accomplishing them with aplomb. Or a plum, I’m not sure which.

But as for advice -as others have noted, relax and have fun, as you begin your paddling journey. May you progress quickly and enjoy it “ginormously” as you -hopefully for many miles and many moons,


-Frank in Miami

You want him to moon you?

first days = always a little anxiety
Day #1 is pretty much the same for everybody Quincy!

Agree on getting there a little early, take your time to get your PFD properly secured, then walk/jump in…and get warmed up by holding your breath underwater. When in the boat stay loose in the hips…let the hips ride with the boat, tilt your upperbody as to always stay over the hull as much as you can while staying relaxed in the hips!

Take your time during a wet exit, paddlers who drown most always have rushed the procedure and get their feet entangled in something that they’ve taken their eyes off of. Once flipped, tap the hull with both hands a few time(Expand the number of taps during day #1!!), then grasp the cockpit rim and make sure the feet come out cleanly. A good PFD will literally pop you to the surface.

What kind of kayak?
My experience with teaching beginners is that some arrive with recreational boats with no thigh bracing and enormous over-sized cockpits and some arrive with kayaks. So, the first thing I do is show them the difference and how the people with kayaks can lean and turn their boat using their thighs and the others have to use the paddle alone to do manuvers.

Is your boat a kayak with thigh contact? It’s something you may want to make sure the course you are taking is aware of or… what kind of kayak they expect.