Few things are as thrilling as kayaking river rapids. Modern kayaks allow today's kayaker to not only get through rapids, but to also play in them. With knowledge and skill, the kayaker can use the power of the river to his advantage and have a lot of fun. As with all activities, the first step is being able to perform the basics. This article will introduce you to some basic techniques to safely kayak river rapids. Remember to always follow these two rules. First, be safe. Second, have fun.
Tips & Warnings
Practice doing an assisted rescue. Have your buddy paddle his kayak to yours when you are upside down so the two kayaks form a "T." Reach up, grab the deck of your buddy's kayak and pull yourself upright.
To swim in fast-moving water, keep feet together, arms crossed over your chest and stay feet first. Never separate you feet. Do not attempt to stand up in swift water. Wait for a section of calm, slow moving water.
If it becomes necessary to use the throw bag, hold the rope in one hand, throw the bag over and past the person while yelling "Rope". The person in the water needs to grab the rope not the bag.
Become familiar with the river before you head out for the first time. Look at maps, talk with other kayakers, read guides and check release schedules if the river is dam controlled.
Select the put-in upriver of the first rapids to allow warm-up time.
The take-out should be in a slow section of river to prevent missing it. Scout the take-out from the river bank before beginning the trip.
Always wear a PFD.
Always wear a helmet if you are using a sit inside kayak. You will flip over in moving water and there are rocks underwater.
Never paddle alone.
Be able to do a wet exit. This is when you get out of the kayak after flipping over. You need to be able to exit the kayak when hanging upside down underwater.
Safety has to be paramount at all times. People do get injured and sometimes die when kayaking rapids. Never minimize the risk especially on milder runs.
Stay clear of trees that have fallen across the river. These are called strainers because they catch things going down river including kayakers who do not stay clear. If you get caught the water will push you toward the bottom and the tree will hold you underwater.
Article Written By Mark Quest
Mark Quest began his writing career in 2009, contributing to various online publications. He attended Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, focusing on the sciences.