UK: +44 (0)1479 420 020
US: 1-866-740-3890
National Geographic - Best Adventure Travel Companies

Sea Kayaking Tips: How to Stay Dry on Your First Paddle

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by Alex Kendall


You have chosen an absolutely spectacular way to journey around the magnificent Scottish countryside.

Wilderness Guide, Ross Dempster shares his top Sea Kayaking Tips: How to Stay Dry on Your First Paddle.

The kayak was invented and utilised first by the Inuit and Aleut tribes of Arctic North America, it is a way of journeying steeped in history and as you take every paddle stroke you cannot help but imagine the first people that discovered the sheer pleasure that can be gained from propelling your boat through a sea scape.

Related Sea Kayaking Content

But if this is your first trip in a kayak or if you have not sat in one for a while it can be quite an intimidating prospect… what if I capsize? What if I get wet? What if I can’t paddle in a straight line?

These are all perfectly rational questions, here is the good news – your Wilderness Scotland Guide can help you with all these! But if you simply can’t wait here are some handy hints/ top tips to put your adventurous mind to ease.


Imagine trying to swim, cycle or even walk with every muscle in your body tensed up. It wouldn’t work very well right? Unsurprisingly it is the same with sea kayaking, as soon as you tense up in your boat every movement becomes laboured and twitchy. By allowing your muscles to relax your movements become a lot more fluid, this helps you manoeuvre your kayak smoothly and this in turn makes the whole activity more enjoyable!

Keep Centred Sea Kayaking Tips: How to Stay Dry on Your First Paddle

What is big, heavy and sits on top of your neck? That’s right, your head! It is amazing how many people forget about their head when kayaking, it weighs loads and has a big bearing on your centre of balance. If you start looking over the edge of your kayak for fish it shouldn’t come as a big surprise if you become somewhat unstable!

Instead think of a line drawn along the centre of the boat from bow to stern. By keeping your head on this line your centre of gravity is going to be directly under the boat and makes for a nice balanced time. By thinking of your body in two halves, with your hips as a pivot point, your bottom half can soak up any lumpy water whilst your upper body remains centred over the middle of the boat. It’s a bit like belly dancing on water.

Core is the Key

As I mentioned before sea kayaking is a smooth and fluid activity. It’s easy to think that a kayak stroke is all in your arms – this couldn’t be further from the truth! If you rely on your relatively small arm muscles you will get tired quickly and you will find things like balance and technique hard.

Instead concentrate on using your larger core muscles, by rotating your trunk you will find out that you can keep going for a lot longer. This can take a wee while to master but by using the following 3 tips it will get you dancing across the water in no time.

  1. Instead of pulling with your bottom hand, concentrate on pushing the paddle away from you with your top hand. This will stop you pulling the paddle through the water with your bicep.
  2. Push with your feet. If you press with your foot at the same time as paddling (i.e. if the right blade is in the water push with your right foot) it encourages you to wind up your core muscles.
  3. Keep the grip on your paddle relaxed. This stops you from forcing the blade through the water and means that your muscles stay open.

Sea Kayaking Tips: How to Stay Dry on Your First Paddle

These tips should put you in good stead for your trip but if by chance you end up exiting the craft before the intended egress point do not panic, we are all only between swims. The good news is that your Wilderness Scotland guide is fully trained and has plenty of experience for reuniting people with their boats!

Now you have read our tips how about embarking on one of our unforgettable beginner friendly sea kayaking trips?


About the author

Alex Kendall

Mountain running fanatic, Alex has adventured all over the planet.

Read more articles by Alex | View Alex's Profile

Popular Categories....

walking Road Cycling Sea Kayaking Mountain Biking How To Video