To begin paddling, rest comfortably on the seat, keeping the boat stable. Grip onto the paddle with hands over and thumbs under. In general, you should have a relaxed grip on the paddle. The torso is your source of power, so you should be winding it to help you stroke, preventing strain of your arms, back, and shoulders.
A basic forward stroke requires you stroke deeply and evenly. You begin by winding your torso, placing the blade parallel to the foot. The paddle comes out of the water when your hand reaches your hip, and you unwind your torso, repeating the process on the other side.
There are several ways to turn. The most basic is to use the paddle as a rudder and drag it close to the kayak. The boat turns toward the same side of the blade. However, this technique loses a lot of forward momentum. To keep that momentum while turning, a sweep stroke is effective. You alternate the forward stroke on one side with a sweep stroke on the other. You sweep the paddle wide on one side of the kayak until it touches the stern, or the back of the boat. Continuing this pattern creates a wide arc turn.
REI demonstrates basic techniques, including the forward stroke and turning, in the above video.
There you have it - the kayaking basics to get you started. What are you waiting for? Relish the end of summer with a kayaking adventure.
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