Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Recreation/Kayaking

South Pacific Division
Skill Level 2
Year of Introduction: Unknown

Qualified Instructor Required



Pathfinders working on this honor must first earn the Swimming - Intermediate honor. Instructions and tips for earning the Swimming - Intermediate honor can be found in the Recreation chapter.

1. Satisfy the examiner that you have knowledge of different types of kayaks (Slalom, river, touring, sea); the uses for each and the equipment necessary for safe kayaking (helmet, life jacket, sprayskirt, bow and stern loops, flotation in kayak).


Kayak Types

Slalom Kayak
These are used in slalom racing. A slalom race takes place on a whitewater course, and the kayaker must maneuver the kayak between several pairs of poles called "gates". Green-colored gates must be entered by paddling downstream, and red-colored gates must be entered by paddling upstream. The minimum length of a slalom kayak is four meters, and the minimum width is 60 cm. Slalom kayaks are usually built out of fiberglass or composite materials. Light weight is a very desirable characteristic in these boats.
River Kayak
These are used for playing in whitewater, or in "rodeo" competitions where the kayaker is judged according to the types of maneuvers made. River kayaks are small kayaks, with lengths from 6 to 12 feet (2 to 3 meters). River kayaks have features to make them easily maneuverable in whitewater, and to resist damage from running into rocks.
Touring Kayak
Touring kayaks are designed for use on lazy rivers, lakes, and bays. They are generally more stable than river kayaks, but not quite as maneuverable. They have more room for cargo than river kayaks, but not as much room as a sea kayak. They are often used for fishing, for day trips, and for overnight trips.
Sea Kayak
A sea kayak is a kayak developed for paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean. Sea kayaks are seaworthy small boats with a covered deck and the ability to incorporate a spraydeck. They trade off the extreme maneuverability of whitewater kayaks for cargo capacity, ease of straight-line paddling, and comfort for long journeys. Sea kayaks are now used around the world for marine journeys from a few hours to many weeks, as they can accommodate one or two (occasionally three) paddlers together with room for camping gear, food, water, and other supplies. The sport of sea kayaking (sometimes called ocean kayaking) combines much of the appeal of hill-walking with a maritime aspect, few access issues and vast areas to enjoy.


A helmet should be worn any time a kayak is taken into whitewater. Whitewater is "white" because of rocks, and have the potential to seriously injure a person. The greatest danger addressed by a helmet is that of striking the head on an underwater obstacle when overturned in fast moving current.
Life jacket
Also called Personal Flotation Devices or PFD's, these are possibly the most essential of safety gear available to a kayaker.
The sprayskirt is a device that prevents water from entering the kayak. It is worn around the waist and the "hem" of the sprayskirt is stretched around the cockpit of the kayak, making it watertight. In the event that the kayak is overturned and the paddler cannot execute an eskimo roll, the sprayskirt must be "popped" from the cockpit. It usually has a strap in the front for this purpose. Once the sprayskirt has been popped, water will rush into the boat, and the paddler may swim out. This maneuver is called a "wet exit." Without the sprayskirt, an eskimo roll is nearly impossible.
Bow and stern loops
These are loops of rope, webbing, or sometimes handles built-in to the ends of the boat. They allow a person to grab the boat - an option sometimes necessary to either grab a kayak (and thus, the paddler) to pull it from danger, or for a swimmer to hang on to (for those times when they kayaker becomes a swimmer) and be towed to safety.
Kayaks without flotation sink when filled with water. Flotation is added to prevent this from happening. A kayak that floats even when filled with water can be retrieved more easily, but more importantly, it can be used as something to hang onto if capsized. Flotation also displaces water, so that if the kayak capsizes, it will not completely fill with water - this would make it quite heavy. A swimmer in whitewater definitely wants to stay away from heavy items freight-training through a rapid, as these can pin a person against a rock or cliff wall, or even cause blunt force trauma. If the capsized kayak remains afloat and does not become so heavy as to become a dangerous projectile, a paddler may attempt to re-enter it.

2. Demonstrate an ability to enter and exit a kayak.


The first step in all of these is to make sure you're wearing a lifejacket. If you're going to paddle in swift water, put on your sprayskirt and helmet too.

a. From a beach


Entry: Place the kayak in the water where it is 5 to 10 cm  deep. At this depth, the kayak will sit on the river (or lake, etc.) bottom when you get into it. You want it to be in deep enough water so that it's easy to shove off, but not so deep that it doesn't sit stable on the floor. Experiment with the best depth for you, because it will depend on the shape of the boat as well as your own weight and the weight of any cargo in the kayak. Place the paddle across the front of the kayak and put one foot in the cockpit. Sit down on the rear of the cockpit and grab the sides of the boat with both hands. Swing the other leg into the cockpit and work your feet down into the bow. Lower your bottom into the seat. If you're using a sprayskirt, hook its hem around the rear portion of the cockpit rim and work it around to the front. Then hook the front of the hem around the front of the cockpit rim. Make sure you've got a good seal all the way around. Finally, scoot the boat into deeper water, grab the paddle, and go.

Exit: Paddle onto the beach until the kayak stops. Place your paddle across the front of the cockpit, pop the sprayskirt (if you're using one) and use your arms to lift your bottom out of the boat. Sit on the rear cockpit rim, lift your knees and extract your legs. Stand up, grab the kayak, and drag it further on shore. Once you remove the weight of your body from the kayak, it will likely begin to float again, so if you don't pull it further onto shore, it may very well float away in the current.

b. From a pier or landing



Put the kayak in the water alongside the pier and lay the paddle on the pier where you will be able to reach it once you're in the boat. Sit on the pier and put your feet in the kayak, then turn your body towards the front of the boat and place both hands on the pier right next to one another. Gently stand in the kayak while dividing your weight between your feet and your hands. Bend the knees and lower yourself into the kayak while still holding on to the dock. Work you knees into the cockpit, let go of the dock, and grab the paddle. If you're using a sprayskirt, attach it to the cockpit.


Paddle alongside the dock, place your paddle on the dock, and pop the sprayskirt. Reach up to the dock and place your hands on it, using them to balance as you gently stand. Shift your weight to your hands as you stand, and sit on the dock.

c. From deep water



This is by far the most difficult way to enter a kayak, and this method is really only used when recovering from a mistake. Swim alongside the kayak and pull your body, stomach down, on top of the kayak. Carefully sit up and grab the gunwhales. Swing your legs around and insert them into the cockpit. Bail as much water out as you can before refastening the sprayskirt.

Exit: If the kayak overturns while you are in it, do not panic. Remember that you can hold your breath for several seconds and that you are not about to drown. Calmly release the sprayskirt and push the kayak off your legs as if you were taking off a pair of pants. Swim to the surface.

If you find yourself in a situation where you think you should exit a perfectly good kayak in deep water on purpose, rethink your situation. You are almost never better off out of the boat. If you decide that you really do want to exit, release the sprayskirt. Place your hands on the cockpit rim and lift your bottom out of the boat. Sit on the rear deck and lift your knees out. Slip your legs into the water and swim.

Alternatively, you could just roll over and do the "wet exit" as described above, though this will cause the kayak to take on water, making it more difficult to re-enter.

3. Demonstrate ability to complete the following strokes


a. Straight forward and backward paddle


Grip the paddle tightly with your control hand (if you are right-handed, this is your right hand). Your other hand should hold the paddle loosely. To take a forward stroke, put the blade on the "control" end of the paddle in the water towards the bow. Pull the control hand towards your hip, push the other hand forward and twist the torso. The idea is to use the large muscles in the torso to power the stroke, not the arms. As you take the stroke, press the foot on your control side into the foot pegs and try to point your feet in the direction you want to the kayak to travel (in reality, which ever way your feet point is the direction you will travel). Draw the paddle to the stern and lift the blade out of the water. You are now ready to take a stroke on the other side of the boat. To do this, cock the wrist of the control hand as if you were accelerating on a motorcycle, and allow the paddle shaft twist in the other hand. Then plant the forward blade in the water and take another stroke, again, using the torso to power the paddle, and pressing the foot into the foot peg. To take a backwards stroke, reverse this process (except that pressing on the foot pegs will not really help).

b. Left and right turn by forward and back paddling


When you first learn to paddle a kayak, turning is easy - and often unintended. To make a turn to the left, take a wide stroke on the right (meaning the blade of the paddle will pass though the water at a distance from the boat), and take a close stroke on the left (meaning the blade of the paddle will pass close to the boat's hull). To turn right, reverse these two strokes.

For a quicker turn, take a wide forward stroke on one side and a wide backward stroke on the other. The kayak will turn in the direction of the backward stroke.

c. Draw (sweep) stroke


In this stroke, the paddle is planted in the water near the bow with the blade of the paddle parallel to the boat's center line (keel line). The paddle is then swept 180° in a wide arc to the stern, where it ends up parallel to the center line again. This is a turning stroke and can be done on either side, forward or reverse.

d. Support stroke


The support stroke is more commonly called a brace. This is done to steady the kayak or to prevent a flip.

To do a low brace, grip the paddle with both hands and raise the elbows. You can imagine that you are gripping the handle of a bicycle pump and getting ready to inflate a tire - the hold is roughly the same, except that the hands are farther apart. Then extend the paddle with the flat portion of the blade lying on the surface of the water and put some weight on it. If the water is moving, you can actually put all of your weight on the blade. The idea is to push down on the water, and it will push back on you, allowing you to right yourself.

A high brace is another support stroke, but executed improperly can lead to injury, usually a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder joint. To do a high brace on the right, cock the right wrist so that the paddle blade rests flat on the water. At the same time, bring the back of the left hand towards the forehead, put some weight on the blade and push off. Do not raise the left hand higher than the forehead, as this is an excellent way to tear your rotator cuff. It is better to just stick with the low brace, reserving the high brace for emergencies.

e. Cross current paddling


Cross current paddling is also called ferrying. This is a method of crossing a river (or a portion of a river). Point the bow of the kayak upstream, but angled slightly so that it points slightly toward the bank you wish to cross to. Then paddle forward against the current. The forward strokes should offset the backward motion caused by the current, but you should achieve motion to the side since the boat is angled. In swift current, you will have to work the paddle to keep the bow pointed in the right direction. The river may try to spin you around, and if it succeeds, you will flush downstream rather than ferry across the current. It's OK if you lose a little ground to the current, but be mindful of river conditions behind you. The idea is to move to the side.

4. Explain the steps involved in Eskimo rolling and demonstrate the proper method of doing this.


Learning the Eskimo roll requires both instruction and practice. The roll itself is the act of uprighting an overturned kayak by use of the paddle and body motion. Typically by lifting the torso towards the surface, flicking the hips to right the kayak halfway up and applying a righting force by means of the paddle while tucking close to the front or back deck.

Several styles of Eskimo roll are in use including the "C-to-C", Sweep, Screw, and Extended Paddle (Pawlata). The roll styles in use vary both regionally and by type of kayak. In the USA, the C-to-C has traditionally been taught in the eastern half of the country while either the older screw or more modern sweep roll have been used in the western half.

The type of roll you should learn is the one that your instructor wants to teach you. It is nearly impossible to learn how to roll without an instructor, and there are few people who know more than a few types of rolls.

There are many kayaking clubs all over the USA and Canada, and they frequently run "rolling clinics" in indoor swimming pools during the winter months. Fees are usually low to cover the use of the pool, and club members often provide instruction for free.

The following web sites have lists of paddling clubs that may be able to help you:

5. Explain how to repair a hole in fiberglass


a. Permanently in a workshop (fiberglassing)


To permanently patch a hole in a kayak using fiberglass you will need the following:

  • Fiberglass cloth, enough to cover the hole.
  • Epoxy Resin
  • Mixing container
  • Paint brush
  • Squeegee (Can be made from a plastic jug).

First, cut the fiberglass (regular scissors work fine) to an appropriate size to cover the hole. The patch should extend at least 2.5 cm  beyond the edges of the hole. Cut another piece to cover the opposite side of the hole (you want to patch both the inside and the outside of the boat). Set the cloth aside and mix the epoxy. Do not whip air into the epoxy mixture. Lay one of the cloth pieces over the hole and apply the epoxy over it with the paint brush. Use the squeegee to press the epoxy into the weave of the cloth. Go over the cloth several times, but be careful to not move the cloth off the hole. Allow the epoxy to set, and repeat the procedure two more times. You will need three coats of epoxy to cover the hole. Once the outside has been patched, turn your attention to the inside, using the same technique. Finally, sand the patch inside an out, starting with 80 grit paper, proceeding to 100 grit, and ending with 220. Finish the patch with spar varnish.

b. Emergency repair on the riverbank (duct tape)


If possible, pull the boat to shore, dry the affected areas as best you can with whatever dry stuff you can come up with, and expose the hole to the sun so it will dry. Duct tape does not stick well to a wet hull, and the sun can dry a kayak surprisingly quickly on a hot day. When the area is dry, apply duct tape over the hole and press it down well - especially around the edges of the tape. Be sure to apply tape to both sides of the hole, that is, the inside of the boat as well as the outside. If you only patch the outside, when water slops into the boat, it will find its way to the underside of the outer duct tape, loosen it, and your patch will come undone.

6. After completing a minimum of 2 training sessions complete either :


a. An overnight kayak trip


b. Two day trips (one including some white water)


See requirement 4 for links to kayaking clubs. Many of these offer training in the spring for a small fee. You can also check with local outfitters for commercial training programs or for information on local clubs. Clubs and outfitters will also be able to advise you on good rivers for an overnight trip or for a day trip including easy whitewater.

Where ever you decide to go for an overnight trip, you'll need to pack as if you were going on backpacking trip. Actually, you will be able to pack a little more than on a backpacking trip, because a kayak can hold more gear than a backpack, and you don't have to carry it full time (there may be portages though, so don't pack too much).

For a day trip, you should have everyone bring a sack lunch. This can be eaten on a calm section of a river or you can stop and eat on the river bank. You should also pack a dry change of clothes in a large zip lock bags or leave dry clothes in a car at the takeout.