Preparing for your BC Sea Kayaking Adventure

British Columbia Sea Kayaking

Preparing to Sea Kayak in BC

Type of Kayak | Seat & Paddle | Misc Items | Safety Equipment
Clothing | Planning | Navigating

Sea Kayaking Companies in British Columbia

Preparing for your Journey

You will find that BC's coastal waters are filled with interesting marine wildlife. The shoreline, though rugged in spots, is very inviting with opportunities to enjoy the many sandy beaches and natural hot springs, to visit the quaint fishing villages and ancient aboriginal sites. There are countless different sea kayaking excursions you can take, they vary from short day trips to lengthy two week jaunts. They also differ in the degree of difficulty from the novice to the very experienced kayaker.

Before venturing out into the water, there are some simple things every kayaker should know and follow. They include, understanding the sea condition, paying attention to weather forecasts, to comprehend and be able to handle the equipment and to know your limitations.

The first and most important thing you should do if you plan to sea kayak, is to take a course from a qualified instructor, learn all you can about this recreational sport, be aware of the hazards and practice your techniques, self rescues and assisted rescues. Something else you should do, is join a sea kayaking club. To learn all about the conditions of a region, talk to kayak equipment dealers in that part of the country. Safety should always be the main concern.

Type of Kayak:

The importance of having the right kayak that suits your wants and needs cannot be over stated, your equipment can make all the difference in the world. There is a difference between river and sea kayaks. The boat, that is going to take you out on the sea, will have to stand up to the severity of the weather, waves, hazardous rockbound beaches and landing sites and it must be able to carry your gear. If you want speed from your boat, then the narrow or special purpose single seater is the kayak to purchase. Should stability and load capacity be more important, you want a general touring designed single or double kayak.

On open waters, the narrower or special purpose kayak tips easier, meaning the paddler must be prepared for rolling but it does give you speed. The general touring types are shorter than the narrow ones, with more storage room and stability, they tend to be the more popular choice. There are a number of designs that do a cross over with features from the two different types. Still another design is the collapsible kayak, which has its pros and cons. Great if you are an apartment dweller or short of shortage space, but can be more difficult to maintain and will need to be assembled every time you want to use it. Less expensive than the collapsible kayaks are inflatable ones.

Seat and Paddle:

The type of seat you have on your kayak is a personal preference, so shop around and find the one that suits your needs. When choosing the type of paddle you need, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as the length which is a personal preference. You can purchase wooden or synthetic paddles, the choice is yours. Other points to be considered are whether you want a feathered or an unfeathered paddle and the blade shape of your paddle depends what type of paddling you will be doing.

Necessary Miscellaneous Items:

Other items that should be considered are rudders and skegs, built-in buoyancy, bulkheads and hatches, spray skirts and spray decks, waterproof storage container and every boat should carry a repair kit. This kit should contain essentials like patching deck material, an assortment of nuts, bolts, clamps, rivets and screws, a tool kit that consists of needle-nosed pliers ,a screw driver, hack saw, waterproof glue, copper wire, and duct tape.

Safety Equipment:

Safety equipment is a must! Everyone in a boat must have a life jacket or a personal floating devise (PFD), this is the law. Pumps and bailers are also necessary. Each boat should be equipped with flares, lights and reflectors. Other safety items include a waterproof flashlight, for weather forecasts you need a transistor radio, for contacting ship or shore and other persons in your group carry a VHF radio, for which you will need a license. Have tow line, rigged and ready for use. Carry a safety helmet for rough seas. Essential are drogues and sea chutes, some people also carry anchors.


The type of clothing you wear when paddling makes a big difference. Your outer garments should be waterproof and windproof, such as a drysuit or a wetsuit, your inside layers should be light clothing of wool or polypropylene. Footwear can be rubber boots or wet suit booties. For cooler, rainy weather you will need pogies or gloves.


Every last detail should be planned, before you start out on your sea kayaking trip. Whether paddling with a small group or a larger one, pre-trip daily planning should be a must. That way everyone knows where to go and where to meet, should the group be separately for any reason. Learn all you can about the waters you plan to paddle and discuss your trip, listen to weather forecasts, pay heed to the winds and be completely aware of your sea kayaking experience and knowledge. Practice your rescue techniques, do them over and over, until they become second nature. When trouble hits on the water, fast thinking can save your life or that of a companion. There are a number of different rescue methods, you should know and practice each and everyone.


All sea kayakers should have at least basic navigational skills, should know how to read charts and how to handle and read a compass. You should wear a diver's watch to calculate distances at sea. A radio direction finder (RDF) can be very useful and when in open water a sextant can be a necessity. You should also be versed at reading the sea, pay attention to ocean waves, the swells, the breakers, waves and wind speed, tides and currents. Learn all you can about sea kayaking and remember the hazards. Be safe, have fun!

Book a Sea Kayaking Adventure

The following BC Adventure Network members invite you to adventure with them:

Vancouver Island
Spirit of the West Adventures: We offer sea kayaking tours to the Johnstone Strait & the largest pods of killer whales on the BC coast – Desolation Sound, Quadra Island, & Campbell River - & guided excursions to explore ancient native villages. Set a course for a one of a kind wilderness... more


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Preparing for your BC Sea Kayaking Adventure