Let’s be honest, for some kayaking for the first time can be intimidating and some have even had bad experiences that render their outlook on the activity to be jaded. Kayaking is a fun, exciting and very safe activity when done correctly and when using the proper equipment.
My group of like minded water enthusiasts recently took someone kayaking for the first time and the result was another kayaking aficionado by the end of the trip. With a little direction, the correct kayak and accessories he had a great time. Most that are turned off from kayaking use a kayak improperly set up for their size or where they are paddling thus resulting in a negative view on all forms of kayaking. In our case we set up our first time paddler in a kayak that was set up for his weight and would handle well in the conditions we set out on. A good first kayak to paddle should be very stable and easy to control; if possible having several different kayaks for them to paddle would be beneficial to teach the differences in hulls, chines and performance.
Another good idea is to start the new kayaker off in shallow water with the smallest chance of being intimidating which will make them very comfortable. A sandy beach works best as you can be out in the water with the new kayaker giving pointers and ensuring and instilling safety while they learn. Make sure the weather is also good making it a more desirable activity rendering a good thought of kayaking for the newcomer.
Help the new kayaker get in and out of the kayak. This may sound silly but for most new kayakers this can be the most stressful part of the process, I’ve had people just sit in the kayak near shore waiting for help out cause they believe they will tip if they try themselves. Teaching techniques you have learned over your years of paddling will come in handy as you pass your tips and tricks to your new kayak buddy. A great way to get stressed occupants into the kayaks cockpit is to sit on the bow of the kayak and let them get in; sitting on the kayak will stable the kayak making it solid to the water instead of being tippy. This will gain the new kayaker more confidence as they will feel more comfortable knowing they can do it.
Once they start to get the hang of it, let them be for a bit. There’s nothing that will work better for a new kayaker than simply enjoying the serenity and the relaxing moments that come along with kayaking. In my first experience with kayaking I fell in love with simply being out on the middle of the water feeling the utmost tranquility doing away with any stressful thoughts. Just remember to be patient, all people learn differently and the art of kayaking may be a bit harder for some than others.