It’s also an extremely exhilarating experience that is worth an attempt, as long as you remain aware and follow all the necessary safety protocols.
However, ocean kayaking is generally not recommended for total kayaking beginners.
If you are completely new to the world of kayaking, start off in more protected areas, that are less exposed to strong currents, wind and choppy waves.
A small bay which has calmer waters would be a nice and peaceful place to start your foray into sea kayaking.
If you’re a little nervous and want to learn more about how to kayak in the ocean (and especially how to kayak in rough water), you’re in the right place.
Here’s our guide of important things to keep in mind, and potential dangers to be aware of, before kicking off your sea kayaking adventures.
Other things which we recommend taking along for an ocean kayaking trip include a backrest, first aid kit, safety whistle, and any navigation materials for longer trips such as a map and compass. Oh, and sunscreen and a hat if you’re blessed with sunny weather on the day of your trip!
Bonus: your life jacket will also keep you nicely warm and insulated during chilly weather.
If the area you will be kayaking in will be completely new to you, check with the locals about current and shoreline conditions, as well as any weather patterns that you should be aware of. They may also be able to recommend the best time of the day to head out, and best launch spots to start from.
Experiencing waves is inevitable while kayaking in the sea. Therefore, there are specific boats designed especially for ocean kayaking. Most waves are under 3 feet and easy to navigate, but it can be extremely difficult to handle larger breaking waves. Take a helmet along with you and be prepared for the fact that paddling around in big waves could lead to your boat capsizing.
Again, it isn’t a good idea for beginner kayakers to head to an area with high waves. Start off by sticking to those areas that have a more gradual shoreline, and where the waves are lower. That’s where you should first launch from, starting off in waters that are knee deep.
Once you get into the kayak (quickly) set off with a strong and swift forward stroke to deal with any incoming breakers.
When first starting out, plan your trip to be a swimmable distance of the shoreline until you’ve learned the necessary paddling skills needed to handle rougher waters and choppier waves.
If you are heading out into an area where the waves look to be strong, capsizing could potentially occur. This is one of the main fears that many kayakers have about paddling in the ocean.
To overcome this fear, get comfortable with capsizing! As strange as that may sound if you learn and practice how to re-enter your kayak with ease even while out in deeper waters, you will be more self-assured and able to do so in case it happens during your trip.
Although kayaking is known to be one of the safest activities, especially if you follow general good practice tips for safety, there is always a risk involved with water sports. When it comes to ocean kayaking, it’s important to be aware and fully prepared to deal with the ever-changing and dynamic conditions of the sea waters.
Here are some of the potential kayaking in the ocean dangers to keep in mind before you set off on your adventure:
Be aware of current conditions in the area that you plan your trip in. Although you may have previously faced strong currents when kayaking in rivers, tidal areas in the ocean can also have particularly intense ones. They can take you much further than you started, without you even realising it.
Whether the currents are ripping or tidal, both can prove a challenge for kayakers. Try not to panic and put your kayaking skills to use to get back to shore!
Planning to go ocean kayaking when it’s colder out?
It is possible to get hypothermia if your boat capsizes and you’re submerged in icy water. Although this isn’t something that many think of when planning their trip, this is much more likely to happen than encountering sharks, for instance!
Wearing a wet (or dry) suit is a good idea once you’ve checked the weather forecast for your trip.
Also, if you have enough flotation equipment in your kayak and the means to send out a distress signal, you’re more prepared for any potential rescue operations that may be required in case of a boat capsize.
Hypothermia can also occur if the temperature drops suddenly, or if you get lost out at sea during chillier weather.
The unpredictable nature of the ocean does mean that kayaking too far from land comes with quite a few risks. If the weather or water conditions change suddenly, it is advisable to be closer to shore.
In case of a boat capsize where you’re unable to reenter, you can get extremely tired swimming back to shore (unless you’re an experienced long-distance swimmer accustomed to navigating big waves, of course!)
It’s a scary sight (and sound) to experience a thunderstorm while out at sea. If you hear even a hint of thunder while kayaking in the ocean, head to the shore immediately. Lightning is more likely to hit any high objects, so keep your paddles at a low angled stroke and keep your head down. Anything metal should be removed out of sight where possible.
Watch out for any bigger boats in the area. They can move quicker than you might think, and they might not be able to spot your little kayak. Steer well clear of the path of any large boats or ships you spot.
To make it easier for other boats to spot you, stay close to your group and wear bright and easily visible clothing and life jackets.
One of the most common fears that ocean kayakers face is encountering sharks. And while it’s not a completely invalid concern, in most areas, it is highly unlikely.
Do a bit of research on the area you’re heading out into to check whether there have been any shark sightings at all.
There are many reasons why a kayak lover would want to head out into the ocean. Not only is it a fantastic workout, but it’s also a great adventure and an unforgettable experience.
Sure, there are some dangers and risks associated with it, but if you follow the guidance in this article and are informed about the area you’ll be heading out in, you should be completely fine.
Ready for your next kayaking adventure? Our full range of waterproof bags and dry bags offers you the perfect equipment for your trip.