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Kayaking Tips from Hilton Head Outfitters

May 2nd 2017

The lagoon at Palmetto Dunes is a vibrant ecosystem filled with places to explore and things to discover. One of the best ways to do this is by paddling its calm waters and getting out there on your own to see what adventures you can find.

Even if you’re not an experienced paddler, the experts at Hilton Head Outfitters will help you to feel safe and relaxed when you rent a canoe or kayak and shove off to explore. Here are some of our kayaking tips to improve your experience whether this is your first time kayaking or you’re a paddling pro.

We’ve already talked about dressing for outdoor activity here at Hilton Head Outfitters, and it’s important to think about what you’re wearing when you set out on a kayaking excursion, too. The general creed for paddlers is to “dress for the water, not the weather,” meaning to think of the temperature of the water you’ll be kayaking more than the temperature of the air. Layers are best for keeping you protected from the sun and elements, and quick-dry clothing will also keep you comfortable. What shoes should you wear kayaking? A pair of sturdy, strap-on sandals will do, or, if you have a pair, water shoes are another excellent option.

The best conditions for kayaking—especially if you are a beginner—are calm, protected water with little wind and few motorized boats, making the Palmetto Dunes Lagoon the ideal place for a peaceful paddle and an introduction to kayaking.

HOW TO SIT

You may be getting used to a laidback Lowcountry lifestyle on your Palmetto Dunes vacation, but the best thing to do when kayaking is to sit up straight. The small of your back should be snug against your seat back, and you should be sitting comfortably upright, maybe even slightly forward. Try to keep a bend in your knees at all times, bracing your feet against the base of your seat and keeping your legs in contact with either side of the cockpit, which can help your stability, too.

THE STROKE

The art of kayaking well is to find the perfect balance between yourself, your boat, and your paddle. The kayaking stroke is deceptive; it’s a full-body movement that relies more heavily on your torso and core than the strength of your arms.

The thing that sets the kayak apart from other boats is also the thing that makes its stroke so unique: the paddle. Unlike canoeing, your kayak paddle has two blades for propelling you through the water. Despite what you might think, the key to a good and efficient kayak stroke isn’t in the arms, it’s in the waist. Your goal is to use torso rotation to pull your paddle through the water deeply and evenly. We’ve broken down the kayak stroke into three basic steps. It should go something like this:

  1. Place the blade of one end of your paddle into the water at the front of your kayak, next to your feet.
  2. Keeping a firm grip of your paddle at both ends, rotate your torso towards the paddle blade that’s in the water, pulling it back towards you and the rear of your kayak.
  3. Rotate until your hand reaches your hip, lift the blade out of the water and then dip the opposite end in the water by your feet and repeat by rotating your torso in the other direction.

It may take some time to build up the core strength to paddle in strong waters or at a fast speed, but while you’re in the calm waters of Palmetto Dunes we think you’ll find that once you find your rhythm you’ll be gliding through the lagoon with ease. Remember that sitting up straight helps with your torso rotation, and to keep your shoulders relaxed.

TURNING

The easiest way to turn your kayak is to hold your paddle close to it, dipping the blade in the water and letting it drag on the side of the boat you want to turn. (Place it by your right hip to turn right, and by your left hip to veer left).

GETTING IN AND OUT OF YOUR KAYAK

Our staff at Hilton Head Outfitters is available to disembark safely, Here are a few tips for getting into and out of your kayak with ease: Keep your weight low and centered. It is especially helpful if you place your paddle across the top of the boat and glide it along as you get yourself situated. This way you’re helping to steady the boat while keeping your center of gravity low.

SAFETY TIPS

Your safety is our top priority at Hilton Head Outfitters, which is why every person going out in a boat will be fitted with a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket. Please wear your PFD at all times while out on the water. Speaking of water,it’s important to stay hydrated so take a water bottle with you whenever you plan on being active outdoors.

Now you’re ready for a pleasurable paddle on the Palmetto Dunes lagoon! It’s a great way to see all of the Hilton Head wildlife we have at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort and is a perfect outdoor activity for a beautiful South Carolina day. Still have questions? Our staff is happy to help. Call us at 1-866-380-1783 or visit us online at hiltonheadoutitters.com. Don’t forget to share photos of your kayaking adventure with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Happy paddling!

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