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Frequently Asked Questions

What Level Am I?

 

One of our frequently asked questions is what level am I and which course or guided trip is right for me? Our mission is to give paddlers a clear pathway to help them develop their skills, whether in canoes, kayaks or sea kayaks, so opening the doors to exciting paddling adventures around our beautiful UK rivers and coastlines. Let’s help you decide. 

INTRODUCTION Any of our guided trips or courses label INTRODUCTION are ideal for new paddlers. You might have been on one of our guided family or adult social trips with New Forest Activities or paddled a number of years ago. You do not need any experience, but must be fairly fit and comfortable swimming up to 50m or floating (with a flotation device) in deep water. Trips will take place in sheltered environments on flat water with distances up to 8kms. 

INTROMEDIATE trips and courses are designed for paddlers moving on from an INTRODUCTION level. You should have done a capsize drill or be comfortable with a capsize; don’t worry you don`t need to know how to roll a kayak! You should be ready to learn support strokes and to perform different rescues. Paddling will be planned for calm waters, light wind with small chop and surf. Distances covered will be around 10 to 15kms. 

INTERMEDIATE events are designed for paddlers with a year or twos consistent paddling under their belts, or club paddlers. Guided trips and coaching will take place in more exposed coastal areas and with distances around 18 – 20km with opportunities for skills development in rock gardens and caves. Force 3 winds, tidal steams of 1knt and surf up to 1m. You don`t need to know how to roll but should be either learning or ready to learn and have support strokes to keep you stable in moderate conditions. You should be able to perform a deep water rescue effectively and ready to learn a variety of towing and rescue techniques. You’ll probably have a few items of kit you’ve bought yourself. 

ADVANCED ONE coaching sessions and trips are for paddlers with 3+ years of consistent paddling under their belts, club paddlers or those fast tracking to leadership qualifications. Guided trips and coaching will take place in more exposed coastal areas and may involve open water crossings with distances covered in a day of around 20km+. There may be opportunities for skills development and leadership and environments might include Force 4+, tidal flow 2+knts and surf up to 1.5m. You will need to know how to roll in calm waters, have a variety of rescues and be comfortable and familiar with towing. You should have support strokes to keep you stable in moderate conditions and be able to perform a deep water rescue effectively. 

Our guided trips for sea kayaking will be labelled at the appropriate level on the calendar so you can make sure the trip your booking is most likely to meet your skills levels and we’ll look forward to seeing you on the water.

To Come Paddling, Do I Need To Learn To Roll?

 

Something that we come across quite often when talking to people who are thinking about paddling or new to the sport is the idea that they have to first learn how to roll.  

Whilst a roll is a really useful skill to have, and whether you’re having fun on the sea, or in white water environments, it will be a tool to add to your toolkit of rescue techniques.  The short answer is no you don’t; it’s a skill to master after you’ve mastered a few others!

Staying upright is what most paddlers aim to do and you’ll naturally improve the ‘more time you spend in a boat’.  You need to improve your awareness between your body, the boat and your blade (paddle).  Your coach will introduce techniques such as support strokes, for stability and with time and practice, you’ll be able to increase your range of motion, and the environments that you paddle. 

A wet exit; is literally the ability to fall out of a kayak or canoe and IS something to be learned!  “What do I do with my spray deck?”, “what about the paddle?”, “what happens once I come up?” are frequently asked.  Getting comfortable being in a boat underwater and a wet exiting is your first step to kayak rolling!

Getting back in your boat will either be down to you (self rescue) or shared with a friend (assisted) and a slick assisted rescue (under 60s) will be an ESSENTIAL recovery skill. It’s one you’ll want to have a go at by the end of your first or second coaching session. 

Remember; even a ‘bombproof’ kayak roll can fail or even be impossible to try so an ESSENTIAL back up is your assisted rescue.  

So do you need to learn to roll?  Not for a while yet! 

How Do I Choose Which Sea Day?

 

Our mission is to give paddlers a clear pathway to help them develop their skills, so opening the doors to exciting paddling adventures around our beautiful UK coastlines.

On our Discover sea days we’ll look to choose some great sheltered locations along the coast to provide you with a fun, confidence boosting experience! Discover sea days are made for paddlers new to the world of sit in sea kayaking.  If you’ve been on one of our Introductions to Sea Kayaking or have paddled ‘on and off’ for a few years, or even been on organised trips elsewhere this is probably the sea day for you.  You should have done a capsize drill or be comfortable with a capsize; don’t worry you don`t need to know how to roll! You should be ready to learn support strokes and to perform different rescues.  

Our Explore days are designed for paddlers with a year or twos consistent paddling under their belts, or club paddlers. Explore days will paddle in more exposed coastal areas and with distances around 15 – 20km with opportunities for rock gardening and cave exploration.  You don`t need to know how to roll but should be either learning or ready to learn and have support strokes to keep you stable in moderate conditions. You should be able to perform a deep water rescue effectively and ready to learn a variety of towing and rescue techniques and you’ll probably have a few items of kit you’ve bought yourself.   

What Will I Need To Bring? 

Whenever we head out for a paddle it’s so important that we wear the most suitable clothing for the weather on the day and we take the right equipment. Equally, we don’t want to be weighing ourselves down with extra kit.  

So, what do we need?  Let’s go through the kit and equipment you’ll want for your session;  what you need to bring and what we’ll provide.

WHAT YOU’LL BRING!

Swimming Costumes: Things to think about are how easy are they to get out of for rest stops and toilet breaks, and how much bulk do you want under a wetsuit?

Towels & Change of Clothes: There’s no doubt that if you’re in a boat you’re likely to get wet; how wet can range from either soggy sleeves and trousers, to entirely wet.  Make sure to pack a towel and spare change of clothes for after your session.

Base layers:  Rash vests or dry wick sports layers are brilliant for this. Made of a synthetic material they wick away the moisture from your skin to keep you warm, even when wet. Merino wool is the ultimate and will keep you warm even when wet!   For chilly days, (even in the summer) also think about a fleece to layer up with.

Footwear: Something sturdy you can scramble about on the riverbanks with, as well as, rocks and coastlines, but importantly, not too big and bulky and no super long laces that can get stuck in the boat. Wetsuit boots are a good start. We lose lots of heat to the ground so thicker soles are better in the winter.

Any Medication & Medical Form: Please make sure you bring your ‘incident’ medication such as inhalers, epipens or preferred tablets.  It might make the difference as to whether you can join the session or not!   A spare hat and gloves to keep you warm, and an extra fleece in case you get cold over lunch or after a swim.

Food and Water: Even if you’re out for a couple of hours, a bottle of water and a chocolate bar can make the difference to the last bit of energy on the trip home. Hot drinks in flasks in cold weather are a great way to help keep you warm especially if you have a swim.  

WHAT WE PROVIDE!

Boats: Whether a canoe, touring kayak, sit on top or sea kayak, unless you’re bringing your own, we’ll supply you with one.

Spraydecks: Most of our spray decks are Nylon which suits a beginner. Neoprene one are used by our Intermediate paddlers. NOTE: These are not applicable to canoes!

Buoyancy AiD: A BA; a key piece of safety kit whilst you’re on our sessions. Not only is it useful when swimming about in the water, but it helps keep you buoyant for self rescues and peer rescues, as well as keeping you warm. 

Cagoule: A windproof and splashproof jacket for watersports; your coach should advise if you need one… or even take it along just in case!

Wetsuit:  We provide ‘long-john’ style suits to keep the warmth in the core of the body, and stop friction and rubbing under the arm or around the neck for a more comfortable trip.

Head wear:  Definitely worn for white water and freestyle kayaking, we’ll store them in the boats when sea and touring and use them during rescue training or in caves and whilst rockhopping.