Women Who Kayak By: Natalie Manrique

Essentials, Accessories, Storage, Planning and Creature Comforts

Ladies who enjoy kayaking face many challenges. There are a myriad of things to consider; like choosing the proper kayak to suit our individual needs, experience level, planning, loading and transporting, safety (including skin protection), proper outfitting and accessories.

I feel choosing the right kayak is very important for us ladies. Seating is a major thing to consider. Some prefer to have seating position options, such as high, low, forward, etc. Some of us like to sit low and feel cradled. Either way, make sure your back is comfortable when choosing your kayak. We may also face challenges of loading, transporting and launching. To assist with this, there are plenty of accessories like truck bed extenders, trailers, carts, boat rollers and wheel-in-keel features.

Then, we have the age-old issue of using the restroom. As a female kayaker and avid angler, I’ve found and discovered several tips, tricks, options and accessories to make a paddling trip much more pleasurable and a lot less stressful or frustrating. For example, I have found when paddling my Feelfree Lure, Moken 2 or BigFish, I can remove the sonar pod/prop pod and have the stability of the kayak to turn around, cover myself with a towel or meander to a secluded area and use the open space within the kayak that houses the box and utilize it as the restroom without having to get in the water. It has literally saved me from busted toes and sinking in mud. But, for those who don’t paddle one of these crafts, make sure you have the proper footwear. (Oh darn, another pair of shoes!).

Proper paddling technique is very important. This can lead to discomfort and even pain if not done correctly. Proper paddling technique involves your core and even your legs. It’s also an excellent work out. After all, we are in this to enjoy our beautiful aquatic gems.

Here at Pure Florida Watersports we offer an intro to kayaking classes and safety. This includes what to do if you fall in. Knowing what to do and how to do it can prove to be a true life saver. Self-rescue varies from kayak to kayak. So, if you have one and are a novice or plan to get one, it’s important to know how to maneuver yourself with your kayak in order to get back in safely. Fortunately, the Kayaks we sell are incredibly stable. Many times, you’ll go in before the kayak flips. However, anything can happen, and you must be prepared and confident with your capabilities. In the event the kayak does flip, I certainly urge you to utilize rod tethers to strap down your milk crate, tackleboxes and dry bags.

A PFD (personal flotation device) is a must when kayaking. I have found a couple of incredible options that are especially tailored to a woman’s physique. The Astral line of women’s PFDs are my absolute favorite. They have a flat back for comfort, vented back, plenty of pockets and good support. Also, NRS carries a great alternative. There are so many styles, brands, materials and options for us now, we just simply have to use them–no excuses.

One of the most essential accessories that I utilize while kayak angling is a milk crate equipped with rod holders. This allows me to keep everything at an arm’s reach, and even my boxes of lures are safe and organized.  I arrange my rods in the rod holders where the opposite side of my casting arm has my spare rod, the middle has my net and the casting side is open. This allows me to side cast in tight areas without hitting my own gear. I also keep in the crate, additional line, leader, etc., that I don’t want to have in my way, but may need to use in a special circumstance. YakGear makes a very useful new product called the Yaksak. It can be hung on the inner side of your kayak next to you, or even hung from your seat if it is in a higher position. There’s a water-resistant pocket where you can store your keys, phone, etc., as well as, outer pouches where I like to keep my tools, such as pliers, extra lures and tackle. So, in the event of a tip, your gear and personal belongings are safe.  Even though there are all kinds of gizmos to attach to your kayak, I find that “less is more” when it comes to accessorizing your kayak. You definitely don’t want all your stuff to get entangled in the line when you hook into that big fish that wants to do laps around your kayak. Finding the right place to mount a cup holder and a good place to set up your fish finder is certainly ideal.

On a kayak, your shoulders, top of your legs, feet and hands are the first to get burned.  I always wear a hat, polarized sunglasses, a good SPF shirt, a neck gaiter, gloves, leggings with an SPF, as well as, some good quality water shoes. Also, don’t forget about lip protection–many brands of chap stick offer SPF.

Unfortunately, things happen all too often when people just simply aren’t informed of the laws, regulations, as well as, the multitude of products to keep us safe while paddling. It’s a good idea to have a buddy system (when possible) and a float plan. Let someone know when and where you’re going and when you should be back. Keep a safety kit with you, including a radio and GPS. Practice safe judgement, especially in high winds and busy channels. Be aware of boats and make sure you’re visible to them. It gives us a great excuse to dress brightly.

All in all, it seems like a lot of things to consider when planning an aquatic excursion. But honestly, it becomes second nature once you’ve done it a couple of times. Planning becomes easier, paddling becomes more of an adventure and, in turn, you start to find your inner peace. No more fretting, worrying, forgetting something or any of that. Just breathe and take in all the wonders that surround us. Good vibes and tight lines–always!

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