Kayaking Waves: Thrilling Adventures on the Ocean

Are you ready to embark on an exhilarating kayaking adventure? Join us as we dive into the world of ocean surf kayaking with Peter Lavigne, a passionate kayaker from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. In this article, Pete shares his invaluable tips and insights that will help you navigate the waves like a pro.

aqua-bound prostaffer pete lavigne

The Essential Skills You Need

Before you paddle out into the ocean surf, it is essential to have a solid foundation of kayaking skills. Being comfortable with wet exits, knowing different rescue techniques, and having the ability to handle your kayak with various paddle strokes and body mechanics are prerequisites for kayaking in the surf. Embrace the fact that you will get wet and experience some thrilling swims along the way. It’s all part of the fun!

The Must-Have Gear

When kayaking in potentially hazardous conditions, proper gear is crucial. Depending on the water temperature, dress for immersion and ensure you have adequate thermal protection. In colder waters, dry suits are highly recommended. Additionally, a properly fitted helmet is essential to protect your head from potential impacts during capsizes. Remember to secure any gear on your kayak or leave it onshore to prevent it from getting washed away by the powerful surf.

kayak in ocean surf

Safety First

Safety should always be a top priority when kayaking in the ocean surf. Before heading out, establish a pre-float safety plan with your group. Clearly communicate expectations and ensure everyone is responsible for looking out for each other. In the event of a capsize, make sure the paddler is safe and can signal their well-being to the rest of the group. Remember, when it comes to safety, it’s better to be overly cautious than regretful.

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Familiarize Yourself with the Surf Area

Knowing the characteristics of the surf area you plan to explore is essential for a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience. Waves form when swell encounters shallow features on the ocean floor or when it reaches the shoreline. Take the time to understand the surf zone and identify potential hazards underwater. Familiarize yourself with how waves break on the shore and choose areas where waves spill gradually rather than dump abruptly. Avoiding hazardous zones is crucial for your safety and enjoyment.

adam uses a low brace

Choose the Right Waves

Not all waves are created equal, and as a sea kayaker, it’s important to select suitable waves for your skill level. Steep waves can be challenging to handle, causing your kayak to dive and potentially leading to unwanted flips or slides. Look for waves that spill onto the beach rather than those that dump abruptly. Waves in the 2-3 foot range are ideal for beginner surf kayakers. Remember, it’s not just about wave height but also wave shape and your ability to handle them.

Plan Your Launch Strategically

Before launching into the waves, carefully choose the best spot to start your kayaking journey. Consider factors such as tide and wind direction, and observe the surf conditions from a vantage point. Opt for the path of least resistance when launching to avoid potential mishaps. Launchings and landings in the surf can be challenging, so commit to your decision, set up quickly, and prepare to experience the thrill of the surf firsthand.

how to kayak ocean surf

Master the Surf Zone

The surf zone is where the waves break, and it can range from mild to wild. Once you’re in the surf, focus on honing your skills and having fun. Practice keeping your bow faced into the waves while maintaining a fixed position. Side surfing, edging, and leaning into wave faces are crucial techniques to learn. Protect your shoulders from over-extension by maintaining proper form and torso rotation. Paddling through the surf zone requires effort and determination, but breaking through the waves is an exhilarating achievement.

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Ride the Waves with Confidence

Catching and riding waves is the highlight of ocean surf kayaking. Before catching a wave, always be aware of your fellow paddlers and create a clear area for surfing. Start with smaller waves and gradually work your way up as you improve your timing and control. Avoid letting your kayak’s bow dive into the water and keep your speed aligned with the wave. Shift your weight back and forth to stay on the wave face and maintain control. It takes practice, but once you catch that perfect wave, the thrill is unbeatable.

how to kayak ocean surf

Safely End Your Ride

As your surf ride comes to an end, be prepared for a broach and side surf. This is where most capsizes occur, so it’s crucial to maintain balance and use appropriate bracing techniques. In the event of a capsize, tuck forward and into the wave to protect your head from potential underwater obstacles. Attempt a roll or perform a wet exit if necessary. When you’re out of the kayak, try to position yourself on the ocean side to avoid being sandwiched between the kayak and the shore. Smile and embrace each swim as a part of your exciting surf adventure.

In Conclusion…

Ocean surf kayaking is an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience that tests your paddling skills and leaves you craving more. Start by building your skills and confidence, ensuring you paddle with like-minded individuals who share your passion. Seek out qualified instructors to accelerate your learning process and enhance your safety. This article provides valuable insights based on our experiences in Saint John, New Brunswick but there is so much more to discover. So grab your kayak and explore the thrilling world of ocean surf!

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If you’re interested in further kayaking adventures or have any questions, reach out to Adam Constantine or Pete Lavigne with River Bay Adventures. They’ll be more than happy to join you for some fun on the water.

how to kayak ocean surf

You can find more inspiration and stunning kayaking photos on our Instagram page.

(Thanks to Pete for sharing his in-depth knowledge and experiences!)

Call or email our Wisconsin-based customer service team with your paddling questions today: 715-755-3405 • UpStreamPaddle

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