The Ten Commandments of Sea Kayaking

by ERIC SOARES 
 
What is most important in adventure sea kayaking?  For fun and convenience, I’ve ordered my list, beginning with the most essential and progressing from there. Here are my Ten Commandments of Sea Kayaking:
 
1-Thou shalt not turn thy back on the sea.
Give the sea the reverence it is due. Make the sea a lifelong study, so you understand it well. From afar and near scout the sea to discover what is happening that day. Assess your capabilities as they relate to the observed sea conditions.  Learn to navigate at sea and respect the creatures that dwell in the sea.
 
2-Thou shalt paddle a seaworthy boat.
Find the right boat and paddle for you.
Paddle many kayaks until you find or build the one that is best for you. It may be that you need a different boat on a different day. Appreciate all boats, for each has its strengths and weaknesses.  And try many paddles until you find or build one that works for you. Your paddle and boat are your best friends on the water.
 
3-Thou shalt wear protective gear.
On this cold, rainy winter's day in surf and rocks, wear a full wetsuit, gloves, booties, helmet, and PFD.
Humans are not sea creatures and need to be protected when exposed to water, air and sun. Wear apparel that will keep you warm and safe in the water.  If paddling in surf and rocks, don helmets and consider padding your body with armor.
 
4-Thou shalt not kayak where thou canst not swim.
Remember, sea kayaking is an in-water sport, not an on-water sport, so be able to swim comfortably in the place you plan to paddle.
Since extreme sea kayaking is an in-water activity, and you may end up out of your boat, be sure you can swim like an otter in the water.  You don’t want to fear the very environment you have sought.
 
5-Thou shalt learn all paddling techniques.
In a safe environment, go out and practice all paddling skills, including rolling.
Starting with the most basic paddling strokes, in increments learn and practice them all until you gain proficiency and power.  There are many ways to learn to paddle, but it is imperative that one can go in any direction at will, including down and back up.  So master the roll, sweeps, pries, sculls, draws, J-strokes, braces, and ninja strokes.
 
6-Thou shalt master the marine environment.
Kayaking in sea caves on exposed coastlines is the last and most mysterious place to learn to paddle in.
Anyone can paddle in a small warm pond.  A master kayaker can paddle anywhere. So, over the years, learn to feel at ease while miles from shore, in cold water, in strong wind, in big seas, at night.  Then learn to paddle in surf, rocks, and caves. Then, no matter the place, no matter the conditions, you likely will be able to paddle in the sea that day.
 
7-Thou shalt not smite thy fellow boater.
When in ocean rock gardens, position yourself to minimize collision with rocks and boaters.
Do not cause harm to others in the water—avoid swimmers, surfers, and congested boat traffic areas.  Do not let yourself be struck by other kayakers, toppling icebergs, or flotsam in surf.  Do not crash head first onto a rock or the sea bottom.
 
8-Thou shalt save others.
Practice every kind of rescue scenario, even swimmer-to-swimmer rescues.
Practice rescuing yourself and others from water predicaments.  Within your capabilities, assist anyone who needs help on the water.
 
9-Thou shalt go on quests.
By yourself and with others, explore the sea and seek adventure there.  Paddle every nook and cranny of a complex rock garden, and embark upon long journeys to distant shores.
 
10-Thou shalt teach what thou hast learned.
Please teach others what you know
Teach others to kayak.  Pass on your unique take on the water world.  We all benefit when knowledge and experience is shared.  Tell your story.