Total Newbie

I am a complete novice!! My husband just bought me a Pelican 11DX kayak for my b’day. I am 5’3" and about 150 lbs.(gasp!) I am working really hard to lose weight and want to incorporate kayaking into an exercise regime. I am close to Mobile Bay and several slow rivers. A family member has a large swimming pool that never gets used so I am going to practice basic things like staying in the darn thing to begin with. At least my husband will be close by to keep me from drowning. Any suggestions on must haves, or definite don’ts?

Learning is a lot of fun!
Congratulations on the new boat!


Keep the front pointed downstream…
…and the big hole up.

Pretty much all else follows those two basic rules.

If you are in the deep south, don’t shoot at

snakes that are in the boat with you.

You must have
A PFD. And it doesn’t do you any good if you aren’t wearing it! Like strapping it under your deck bungees, or tossing it in a hatch. And a good 8 hour lesson will go a long ways towards enjoying your kayak.

And lots of paddling!!! Enjoy!

had to laugh at that one. I have actually seen that happen to fishermen in this area. You can’t get much deeper South than here.

Years ago I…
…came up with the unwritten ruls of paddling in

the deep south.

  1. Logs do not swim upstream.
  2. If you see a log swimming upstream, it ain’t

    a log.
  3. Never shoot at a snake in your boat.
  4. never swim with a pissed off snake
  5. Never gig a frog whose eyes are 6" apart
  6. Frogs do not have eyes 6" apart.

    Canoed and camped all over swamps in Al, Ms, and

    La. I used to load the canoe up with camping

    equipment, find some swamp, and camp for the


    Lived in Coast of NC; Huntsville, Al; Vicksburg, Ms; and Picayune, Ms.


Learn how to get back in/on
After getting a PFD to give you more time afloat, you also need to learn how to capsize and re-enter the boat. People usually find that while quite doable, it requires practice because it isn’t as easy as it looks int he pictures. As above, look for a place where you can get a few lessons in basic strokes and learn a way to re-enter that works for you.

Click on the “GuideLines” link to your
left. Scroll down to Kayak. Read and understand everything written there. Do what you learned.

You won’t waste time learning things you don’t need or have to re-learn something you learned wrong to begin with.

learning to capsize & re-enter
Well, after spending Saturday in my sister’s pool…I definitely know how to capsize the darn thing! It’s the re-entry that is difficult. I spent lots of time climbing in one side to flip out the other side. Lots of entertainment value for the family but little help on how to do this correctly. I have incorrect down to a fine art! I can’t wait until next weekend to have another go at it.

drowning is not necercerely going to happen if you flip. I saw a movie that had good tips (I’m a novice too, so I don’t know a whole lot )… It said if you flip, lean forward so you can get your legs out easier. Leaning back in the boat may take more effort. Next, push the kayak away from you and come up to the surface and hold on to your boat. The video said never leave your boat, and so I never leave mine.

Cool kayak, and good luck!!

Getting back in
You need to use the paddle, with an inflated or foam paddle float on the end, as an outrigger to stabilize the boat as you get back in. And come in from the side rather than hanging down into the water, etc. Follow the above suggestion to the link on this site to read and really understand the procedure. You may also need to get a stirrup, but start with the basic paddle-float re-entry and see how that goes first. You can complicate your life with the stirrup later if that doesn’t work.

It sounds like you just tried to launch yourself over the boat without an outrigger or anything. And yeah, there are taller guys with longer arms and/or great upper body strength that can do that. But many/most women are not built to do that, especially if it’s not a boat with a rear deck height at the waterline like some of these super low volume rolling boats. You just end up proving the darned things do roll.

Is this boat 11 ft long?
Typically an 11 ft boat won’t have waterproof compartments front and rear, and without these, you aren’t going to have much luck reentering the boat, unless you get float bags and hve them tied so they won’t get loose. If this is the case, just don’t go out in conditions that are likely to cause problems, or if conditions are rough, stay close enough to shore that you can swim the boat back. Especially be careful of going out if there is likely to be a strong offshore wind.

The boat is 11’6"…
it is a rec boat and only has minimal storage on deck. I live in Baldwin county Alabama which is on the coast and we have lots of slo-o-o-w moving rivers in this area. Also Mobile Bay is close by and the head of the bay is shallow and protected. I will stay out of the Gulf (of Mexico)it is too temperamental and way over my skill and boat capabilities. We will probably hit the bay this weekend and see how it goes. So far my best friend is my PFD.