How Big of Waves Can a Kayak Handle

Written by Admin

Aug 2, 2022

August 2, 2022

Kayaking is one of the best ways to enjoy the beach. It gives you an adrenaline rush and also gives you the chance to get up close to nature. It is fun, adventurous, and a great sport too. Ask any experienced kayaker about how it feels to be in the water pushing through the waves. They will tell you how incredible the experience is. But you can never fully understand what they mean until you step into the water yourself. We know that you would love to give it a try. Are you ready to try kayaking for the first time?

As a beginner kayaker, it can be nerve-wracking. It is understandable, given that you must encounter and tackle waves. You may have questions about this water activity that you wish to clarify before taking the paddles. One of the most common concerns of people who are just starting out is how big the waves can be that a kayak can handle. 

Even if you are not a beginner, you will find helpful tips in this post that you can use on your next kayaking adventure. We hope to guide you through everything you should know about waves, safety measures, picking the right kayak, and more. All you have to do is scroll through to find the answers. 

What Kind of Waves Can a Kayak Handle?

Generally, kayaks are very lightweight. It is designed to handle waves well. You could say that kayaks can tackle waves better than motorboats. However, can they handle all types of waves, including dangerous ones? As a beginner, it is essential to know how well a kayak can navigate through different types of waves. The three main types of waves include standing waves, crashing waves, and following waves. Let us see how kayaks handle each of them.

Standing Waves

Standing waves are not that scary. However, the extent to which a kayak can handle them depends on its length. The size of the kayak’s rudder also comes into play here. When you encounter these types of waves, you must take sharp turns to navigate them.

Crashing Waves

Here we have the most dangerous type of wave of all. They move incredibly fast and are known for their steepness.

So why are they that dangerous? Speed is the main reason. They move faster, and kayaks generally cannot match their speed. The length of the kayak can make a difference, though. A longer kayak is more stable and can handle crashing waves better. 

Following Waves

These types of waves are less dangerous than crashing waves. They are relatively smaller and slower than crashing ones. Again, how well you can navigate them depends greatly on their length.

How to Stay Safe While Kayaking in Big Waves

Safety comes first. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or an expert kayaker, you should always ensure your safety. Kayaking is an activity that requires you to put yourself out there in the sea. The waves can be rough and unpredictable. So how can you make sure you are safe while kayaking? For starters, pick a suitable kayak for the ocean. Also, make sure to pick a longer kayak, which ensures stability. Plus, ensuring that your kayak has sufficient air is also an essential safety precaution. The kayak should have enough air to not submerge into the larger waves and sink. These measures are to protect you and the kayak as well. 

Suppose you are kayaking on a calm body of water like a lake. If it suddenly gets windy, make sure to turn around soon before the water turns choppy. Choppy water can be dangerous to navigate through, especially for beginners. 

Tips to remember

If you are just starting out in kayaking, you can use many beginner tips. We listed some of the most important ones that you can use.

Pick the right kayak

Make sure to choose a strong enough kayak to handle the waves. 

Baby steps

Remember that you are just starting out. You do not have to go all the way just yet. It is better to go easy at first before gradually moving towards challenges. So try it out in calm waters and practice. Take some time to get used to the techniques and how to move. Later on, you can move on to waves with more power. 

Go for a calm body of water at first. For instance, ponds with no powerboat traffic are the perfect choice for beginner kayakers.

Check if your kayak has enough air

Your kayak should have sufficient air in it. If not, the boat might sink, putting both you and the boat in danger. To prevent mishaps, remember to check if the kayak has enough air before each ride. 

Stop when it gets windy

Suppose you are in calm waters. Suddenly, you notice that it is starting to get windy. At that point, you can predict that the waves will be rougher. What should you do then? It is best to turn around as soon as possible.

Read the manual

We encourage you to do your research when choosing the right kayak for yourself. It should be the right length, designed to handle the waves that you wish to try it on. Overall, the kayak you pick should suit you well. You can always ask to get assistance from the store when choosing the right one for you. Apart from that, make sure to read the instruction manual to get a better idea about how the kayak handles waves.

Bring a whistle

Do not forget to bring your whistle. It is the best way to call for help. Remember that the distress signal is three long blasts.

How to Handle Waves

How well you can handle a wave depends on several factors. They are as follows:

The type of kayak and its length

How good is the kayak’s edging ability?

How good of an edge can depend on the kayak’s size. Plus, if a rudder is included, it will help make sharp turns.

How can you pick a kayak for big waves? 

There are a few essential factors you have to consider when picking a kayak for yourself. We listed them below for you.

  • It should be the right size for your body. 
  • Make sure that the kayak has enough air in it.
  • Get assistance from the store, expert kayakers, and reviews when deciding on a kayak.

How do you turn back when there are big waves?

Earlier, we mentioned that you should turn around when you notice it starts to get windy and the waves get rougher. So how do you turn it around? Here, you can use your paddle to prevent the forward motion by slicing through the waves from the low pressure/port side towards the low pressure/starboard side. Then, you can turn the kayak in the same direction you came from. From that point on, you can proceed forward again.

Wrapping up

There you go! Now you know how big waves a kayak can handle. Other than that, you’ve got the chance to learn a lot about kayaking, including safety precautions and beginner’s tips. You also now know how to choose the perfect kayak for yourself. Now, you are ready to go on a kayaking adventure. Remember to start out in calmer water bodies before eventually moving on to handle bigger waves. Even if you are excited to take on new challenges, as a beginner, you should be cautious when kayaking in rough water bodies.

As you keep practicing, you will see that there are no hidden tricks to mastering the waves. All you need is a good sense of awareness and to know how to control the kayak artfully. Keep practicing the tips, and you will be a pro who can handle the big waves in no time.

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