Kayaking info

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  • Kayaking info
  • I have decided to get into kayaking and would ideally like my wife to come kayaking with me. She wants to take up kayaking as well but she is a none swimmer or a very weak swimmer at best.

    We won’t ever go sea kayaking and will only be going in lakes and lochs (flat water essentially) and will always be wearing PFD’s. We will also be buying sit-in touring kayaks which I am told are more stable and less prone to turning over.

    So, my question is… Is it very stupid to do this with a none swimmer or just a little stupid?


    Even a non-swimmer will be able to make some progress wearing a PFD. I reckon that, as long as you keep an eye on conditions and distance from shore, you’ll be fine.

    We have a couple of SoTs and regularly play around on them, jumping into the water, knocking each other off. It’s a good way of getting familiar and comfortable in the water and you may find that’s the encouragement she needs to improve her swimming.

    This is my solo SoT

    21/04/2010 by druidh_dubh, on Flickr

    Maybe a SOT might be a better option for her then. Less chance of being trapped inside if you turn over.

    Also, am I correct in thinking PFD’s simply aid floatation whilst you swim? So if your not swimming you will sink?


    A PFD will keep you afloat. The advantage of the PFD over the “Life-jacket” is that you can actually swim in one – there’s lots of freedom of movement. Pretty good fun actually

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    ^ wot druidh says is right.

    Rent them as well for a go on one to try out.

    See if there is a local club – you can often get some good coaching / basics sorted to give you skills, judgement and confidence.

    Oh well that’s good to know. For some reason I always thought that PFD’s aided buoyancy but not to the extent that they would keep you afloat without treading water.

    That will put her mind at rest a little more.

    Premier Icon Esme

    Is there a local canoe club which has an indoor pool session? This would be a good opportunity for you both to try swimming with buoyancy aids (PFD). And a chance to try capsizing in safety and relative comfort.

    Premier Icon kayak23

    Stick near the shore in lakes and lochs. Canals and bimbling rivers will see you well too. Its a fantastic thing to get into.
    A touring boat without a spraydeck will be spot on I think. Wide cockpit and you’d have to be really trying to not get out in an emergency.
    A pfd will be good enough for swimming providing its the correct rating for your/her weight.
    I’d just avoid open water crossings etc if she can’t swim and perhaps look into joining a kayak club to meet folk of a similar disposition.
    For more advice, try ukriversguidebook.co.uk forum. Friendly bunch.


    Oh – I dunno where you are but if it’s near East Central Scotland, let me know and we could arrange for the two of you to have a shot on ours.

    Have you considered a tandem kayak? Very sociable and she might feel more comfortable with your presence/assistance.


    PFDs won’t ensure your head is out of the water should you be unconscious, life jackets do. IIRC that’s the official difference that and looking like an extra from ‘Titanic’ 🙂


    Life Jackets float you on your back with support under the neck to keep the airway open, and will go a long way to keeping an unconscious casualty alive.

    PFD/Bouyancy Aid is just that, helps you to float. For a concious casualty they’re a lot easier to move around in in the water.

    On the original question…all good advice above, also worth finding your local club, get a bit of tuition and a come and try it before spending a load of money!


    maybe a few swimming lessons might be in order. a couple of my mates have had lessons as adults and have been really pleased.

    might give her some confidence if she did go in.

    Premier Icon chrisdw

    I am a white water kayaker and I have a friend who cant swim who regularly paddles grade 5 rivers.

    If you are wearing a buoyancy aid, just make the movements that look like swimming and you will.


    It’s not stupid at all. Take all the precautions one is advised to take – watch the weather, tell someone/or more where you are going, take your mobile phone along, etc, follow the other advice given here and enjoy your paddling!

    One’s never too old to start anything.


    Just get a long rope and put that around her waist
    and stake the other end to the river bank 😉


    “I am a white water kayaker and I have a friend who cant swim who regularly paddles grade 5 rivers.

    If you are wearing a buoyancy aid, just make the movements that look like swimming and you will. “



    my other half can’t really swim, is scared of water and boats but went for sea kayak lessons with the sea kayak mob in oban and loved it. even if there was weeping. but aside from that they were great and she was well keen to do it again.

    since then we’ve mainly been hitting the canadian and she’s had no worries. as for a sit on top – i have a wave ski and if anything it’s more unstable until you get used to it. i have mates who won’t paddle anything else as they have the capsize fear. me, i’d rather be in the boat and can’t understand this at all.

    that said, after a lay off i like a wee lesson to (re)make me aware of the creases in my technique. which are many!

    One of the best kayakers i know cant swim. We’re talking comfortable gd 5 river paddler.


    Swimming is not essential. Being able to confidently exit an upside down sit-in kayak is. Join a club to get some practice. Preferably in a pool. Otherwise get a sit on top.

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