The kayak is similar to its relative the canoe in many respects. Both are used for water transportation and have a long history dating back thousands of years, The kayak differs from the canoe in that it have more top over and typically seats only one person. The kayak’s origins are also different and can be traced back primarily to Canada and Alaska.
First and foremost, anyone who is drawn to kayaking needs to be able to swim and be comfortable in and on the water. Beginners are strongly advised to learn how to navigate and paddle a kayak on calm water first. Pros suggest renting several kayaks to find out what works best before buying a kayak – it is an investment. It is worth noting that there are schools that teach novices all they need to know about safe and proper kayaking techniques. Another point worth making is that kayaking build upper body strength. As more paddling is done, upper body strength is increased and paddling becomes more effortless.
The new kayaker’s first few trips should be on still water such as a lake or calm river. It is always best to kayak with at least one other kayaker and to always wear a safety helmet and a personal floatation device (PFD). Once the kayaker becomes proficient on calm water, it is time to advance to new and more challenging kayaking environments like whitewater kayaking.
Where to kayak? Almost any facility or body of water that accommodates a canoe works for a kayak. There are recommended waters to paddle on in every state. There are also organizations that conduct guided group kayaking trips. These are great venues for learning to navigate whitewater.
One of the most recognized kayaking facilities in the United States is the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte, North Carolina. The facility was opened in 2006 and is home to the U.S. National Kayaking Team. It is considered to be one of the premier outdoor recreation centers. The center is particularly noteworthy because the whitewater is manmade from the nearby Catawba River.