Where do you meet?

Monday training nights are at Eastney or Tipner, but for Wednesday evenings and weekends we have many more choices.  Look at the Map, zoom in and click on the pins for more information, zoom out for more distant venues.


What boat should I buy?
Looking back over the last few years some newcomers to the club were sold boats that in retrospect were too 'big and stable' for them, while other members were sold 'advanced' boats they would grow into. In both cases these choices were incorrect.

Whitewater boaters 'wear' their kayaks but you need to be able to wiggle about a bit in a sea kayak to be comfortable on a long trip.  Too much wiggle however means that you'll struggle to control your kayak on occasions when you might need to. 
When starting kayaking it is perfectly normal to be slightly anxious about getting out of your kayak in the event of an unexpected capsize but this is much more about technique than the size of the cockpit and once you have had a little supervised practice you'll be able to slickly exit the smallest of boats. Your sense of balance will also quickly develop and it is amazing how soon that apparently wobbly boat becomes a stable paddling platform.

There are now so many different boats available the first question to ask yourself is what sort of paddling am I want to do. 

Most of us have an 'all round' or 'general purpose' plastic boat which we still enjoy using from time to time, despite later investment in specialist white water or sea kayaks.  These are good boats for learning the basics and are almost indestructible.  What's more, these scratched secondhand boats can often be resold for a similar same price if you decide you just don't like it. 

Before you rush out and buy a boat though we would thoroughly recommend coming to talk to club members about the options available to you.  There may also be the opportunity to try a few out before deciding.

If you prefer to do some research online check out manufacturers reviews or search the UKriversguidebook forum.

Which paddle to use?
After the boat, the paddle is the most essential bit of kit. They come in all sizes and shapes and there is no such things as "one size fits all" and one being sold with a kayak might not be a sound investment. Again, Club members will offer free and impartial advice about the options available to you

Before you buy typically questions you should be asking are:

What length? 205cm to 215cm are normal for sea kayaks. 190cm to 200cm for whitewater.

What type and size blade? There a different blade shapes depending on your paddling style and sizes depending on your level of strength and physical fitness. Too large a paddle blade can cause sore shoulders and strained joints. 

Angle or 'feather'? Two decades ago 90º was the standard. Today 45-60º is typical though sea kayakers typically edge towards a 0-30º feather.

What type of shafts and blade construction? 
Whitewater paddling demands robust materials to stand up to the riggers of the sport but these can be heavy to use when paddling on a longer journey. Materials vary from aluminium on cheaper models which are typically used by centres to full carbon fibre for elite sportsmen and women. 
They can have a straight or cranked shaft which comes in 1 piece or available as splits which are typically 2 piece but are known to exist in 3 or 4 piece variants for travelling. 

Some companies provide a choice of shaft diameter. This is useful if you have small hands.

Price? Expect to pay £100 for a blade of reasonable quality and up to £400 for top of the range models.  

Popular touring paddles are the Celtic Kinetix Touring and the Werner Tybee. We would probably recommend a 2 piece split blade as your first purchase as it could always be carried as an emergency spare should you upgrade to a carbon fibre model later.


What clothes should I wear?
When cycling it pays to be slightly under-dressed as you soon warm up, canoeing is the opposite, what feels hot on the beach may only just be adequate once on the water.  Having said that, your lower half inside the boat is protected most of the time. We aim to stay dry on most trips and though well designed specialist clothing helps you do this it can be expensive.

If you are coming to the training sessions on a Monday night to develop your skills you should expect to get wet at some point whether accidental or purposefully during essential safety training.  An old wetsuit that allows you to move your arms freely coupled with an old cagoule to keep the wind off is ideal.  If you have not got a wetsuit, shorts and a top are OK. 

Cotton feels wet and cold but modern 'tech' and fleecy type fabrics dry quickly and some are warm when wet, wear a couple of layers.  Kayaking cags have a strange cut which is very large around the shoulders for freedom of movement and tighter around the waist to keep the water out and not get in the way when swimming.  If you don't have something suitable, contact the club ahead of time as most of us have an old one you could borrow.

Shoes are essential, never bare feet.  You need something on your feet like an old pair of trainers or neoprene booties, the shore can have broken glass or rough surfaces. 

Most kayakers where a hat of some sort all year: wide brimmed for the sun or a woolly or fleece hat in winter. 

Buoyancy aid?

They are compulsory for all Club activities.  If you are in the water you do not want to be worrying about swimming, you need to be floating with both hands free. Although the Club has some old ones you can borrow you will soon want to buy your own. 

Models with many pockets are good for expeditions and longer trips but can be bulky and get in the way during practice sessions, when surfing or in whitewater. Getting one that fits is the most important thing, there is nothing worse than a loose and potentially dangerous buoyancy aid which rides up around your neck.


Kayaking is an enjoyable and exciting sport.  The Club intends to make the sport as safe as possible. However, participation can only be on the basis that there is recognition that there are risks associated with any water based activity, particularly on the open sea.  Membership of the club provides a framework and support to reduce these risks to an acceptable level.

Learning to kayak

More information about how to start kayaking.

Subpages (1): Learn to kayak