How windy is too windy for Kayaking?

windy for Kayaking

Kayaking can be a great way to bust the stress and spend some time away from the chaotic urban life. However, you also need to think of the weather conditions before venturing into a lake or river for enjoying kayaking. In particular, you have to assess the wind speed and learn about an upcoming storm or similar weather hazards. Doing a bit of homework and staying updated on weather will save you from many hazards.

Kayaking can be quite dangerous when the wind is too strong. Under 15mph, kayaking is usually safe. Anything over 20 mph is risky and challenging. All of this depends on the kayakers, their paddling skills, the depth of the water they are in, and other variables.

Why Kayaking In High Wind Can Be Problematic?

High wind speed can cause many problems for kayakers. The amateurs can find it hard to maintain balance on water. The risk of falling in water and getting drowned is there too. If a kayaker is paddling in a large river or ocean, strong gusts of wind can take him or her away from the shoreline and that can be troublesome. 

Should You Go Kayaking When It Is Quite Windy?

This depends on 2 factors- namely your skill level in kayaking and wind speed and direction. If you are new to kayaking, you should choose a day when the wind speed is negligible as this will give you enhanced control over the kayak. The Intermediate and advanced kayakers however can cope with low to moderate gusts of wind. Try to kayak in the direction of the wind or else you will get fatigued soon enough. It makes sense to refrain from kayaking in lakes or rivers on days a storm is expected. 

So, What Is Deemed Safe Wind Speed For Kayaking?

A lot of kayakers, including the veteran ones adhere to the Beaufort Wind Scale. It was invented by Sir Frances Beaufort back in 1805. If the wind speed is below 8-12 mph, it is deemed safe for kayaking. The Beaufort Wind Scale regards this as gentle breeze. Wind speed above 18 miles per hour is deemed ideal only for intermediate to advanced kayakers. When the wind speed touches or exceeds 20 mph, it is quite risky for kayaking. 

How Do You Actually Kayak In Windy Conditions?

If the wind speed is not too high and you have moderate to expert skill in kayaking, it is worth trying. You have to check the direction of the wind. The headwind and tailwind come with their shares of drawbacks and advantages, as you will see. Paddling against the wind can make you fatigued soon while a tailwind helps you sail faster. However, it also takes you away from the shoreline and you find it tiring to return to the shoreline. To kayaking minus woes on a windy day, you may make use of a feathered paddle. 

Tips For Kayaking Safely While Evading The Wind

Weather conditions can be unpredictable at times and wind speed can increase or go down unexpectedly, at times. Still, you can use the below-listed tips to ensure you enjoy kayaking safely, at all times. 

  • You should always check the weather updates before venturing out for kayaking. 
  • If you decide to kayak on a day weather change is expected, inform people before venturing out. 
  • It makes sense to carry a communication device with you when you go for kayaking. Keep the contact number of the Coast Guard and local cops with you.
  • To stay safe from wind speed induced effects while kayaking, choose enclosed water bodies like artificial lakes. The presence of trees and surrounding buildings help in reducing wind speed. On the contrary, in rivers and oceans you have to cope with full gust of wind. 
  • You may also make use of weather apps to stay updated. 
  • You need to wear suitable clothing to safeguard your skin from harsh and chilling gusts of wind while kayaking. 

What To Do When Wind Speed Suddenly Goes Up When You Are Kayaking?

Despite all the precautions taken, sometimes kayakers are taken aback by unexpected changes in weather conditions. When you are in mid-water, a sudden surge in wind speed may take you by surprise. 

When that happens, the first thing you need to do is staying calm. Panicking will only worsen the situation. Try to change the stroke cadence to take advantage of the wound. Based on your position in the water body, paddling tailwind or headwind can be useful. Try maintaining a low profile posture on the kayak. 

In such a situation, you should utilise your common sense to escape the situation. Try calling your friends for assistance, if you can. If you are in a large river, look for alternate routes than the shoreline. Try finding a small island nearby, if available. Then you can wait until the wind speed goes down to an extent. 

Posted by
Arthur G. Moore

Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.

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