Rough Water Kayaking Guide, Safety And Techniques


Some people who think about kayaking usually imagine paddlers leisurely cruising in calm blue waters. However, those who have been kayaking in the open waters know how quickly the water and weather conditions can change out there and make paddling more challenging. Suffice to say that navigating your kayak in rough water will test your skills and grit. Fortunately, rough water kayaking isn’t always as difficult or perilous as many people think it is provided you keep the following tips in mind.

Get the Right Equipment

When kayaking in adverse water and weather conditions, it is crucial to bring along kayaking safety gear and equipment. This includes a well-fitting life jacket for kayaking or a personal floating device, a headlamp with batteries, a signaling or communication device, an emergency whistle, and others. It may seem like a lot to carry on such a small boat, the boat they’re actually very portable and shouldn’t take up too much space in the kayak.

More important than having these safety gear and equipment is knowing how to use them properly. To reiterate (something this important is worth repeating), never forget to pack these kayaking safety gear and equipment and practice using them so you don’t fumble around when faced with unfavorable circumstances.

Embrace Risks

There are always risks involved when kayaking in rough waters and unfavorable weather conditions. Although it is generally recommended to avoid paddling under such circumstances, there are times when water and weather conditions quickly take a turn for the worst. That said, instead of focusing on avoiding risks, it would be better to be prepared for them instead and manage them accordingly.

Escape Plan

When planning your kayaking adventure, it would be a wise move to know the different landing spots that are available and near your paddling route. These will serve as suitable exit points for you just in case the water and weather conditions become too dangerous for paddling. You can use a kayak GPS to help you map out your paddling route and exit plan.

Get Proper Training

Kayaking in rough conditions is not for those who are just getting started with kayaking; it calls for advanced kayaking techniques like bracing, surfing, rolling, and others. This is one kayaking adventure that requires knowledge, experience, and technical kayaking skills. That said, you’ll want to get the proper training necessary to face this particular kind of challenge. In fact, no one regardless of skill and experience should go kayaking in perilous water and weather conditions without proper training.

There are plenty of kayaking schools out there that can teach you these skills. Certified training programs are designed to teach paddlers everything they need to overcome rough water and weather conditions while paddling at sea. Paddlers are taught everything from the necessary kayaking and safety equipment to contingency planning and navigating strong winds and rough waves and even kayak self-rescue skills like how to get back into a kayak after it’s flipped over. All in all, these programs should be able to help you prepare for anything and everything that can go wrong while you’re out there.

Keep an Eye on the Wind


Strong winds can make paddling in open waters even more difficult. When strong winds are blowing, most experts would advise that you avoid paddling perpendicular to them. This is because it will tend to blow you away from the direction you want to go. That said, it is better to paddle into the wind instead as this can help minimize the wind’s influence on your boat. Also, when you paddle into the wind you’ll be facing the waves which then helps to prevent your kayak from being broadsided.

Watch the Waves

Sometimes, you will observe that the wind and the waves will be going in different directions. More often than not, the wind will be pushing you towards one direction, while the waves will be pushing you towards another direction. This can be a difficult situation to manage, and even seasoned kayakers often have trouble navigating their kayaks under such circumstances.

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One of the best ways to deal with this particular situation is to keep your eye on the waves more than you would on the wind. You’ll want to avoid running parallel to the waves regardless of what the wind is doing. Remember, all it takes is one strong wave hitting against the side of your touring kayak to flip it over.

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Navigating your kayak in rough water and adverse wind conditions are very challenging and will take a lot of technical skills and knowledge to be able to successfully pull off. However, don’t let that intimidate you because there are ways to get through such challenges. And when the worst does happen, you’ll feel much more confident about rough water kayaking if you are properly trained and have the right equipment with you.

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