Nathan Pettigrew — How to become a marine kayaker
Want to be a marine kayaker like our Nathan? Here are his top tips.
The right clothing is a must. On a hot day, I wear a thin, long-sleeved, UV-resistant top that allows wind to pass easily through the fibres for cool, unrestricted paddling. A hat and sunglasses are also essential, as is a good dose of sunscreen. On cold wintery days, I layer up with a merino shirt underneath a windproof kayak jacket. Gloves are handy, too, for warmth. But there’s one piece of kit you must invest in and wear at all times: a personal flotation device (PFD). I would never go out without one. If things turn bad, it will be the one thing that brings you home.
For short trips around the harbour, Itake snacks and water. For longer trips, I often take a cooker and meals that are prepacked in sealed bags. I’ve been known to throw a nice piece of steak and some potatoes in a cooler-bag and enjoy a nice fry-up on a quiet beach somewhere after a long morning of paddling! On multi-day trips, I take food packed with protein and energy. But it’s imperative for any kayaking session, no matter how short or long, to take lots of water. Your body will quickly shut down without it.
Before you venture out for the first time, skill up. Find out how to deal with different scenarios should things turn bad. How do you get back into a kayak on the water? Practise your technique until it becomes habit. There are kayaking clubs around to help with this sort of thing. Invest in an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon). If needs be, you simply push a button and the coastguard will come to your exact location. I take a VHF radio and GPS, too. Pumps and paddle floats are other key items because, quite simply, your life is worth the investment.
AT THE READY!
I need my essentials to be within easy reach. My kayak has two large storage hatches, and two smaller, day hatches for water, snacks and camera gear. The bigger hatches are used for cooking equipment, a tent for multi-day trips, sleeping bags and food. It is quite surprising, when packed correctly, just how much you can cram into a kayak! In the bigger hatches, everything should be put in a dry bag to protect your gear from water, and any rubbing that may occur.
Use a waterproof camera, or a camera with housing to prevent it from being destroyed by salt water. Small action cameras are great, but some take wide-angle photos and offer no zoom function, so subjects can look further away than they really are. Smartphones take incredible photos and offer a pretty good zoom. This helps if you are near marine life that you can’t get too close to. (Make sure you research all the DOC rules and regulations to protect our marine life.) Take your time, keep the horizon level, and learn about light and how it affects your shot. For a steadier shot, lock your arms on your kayak, using them like a tripod.
Kayaking has changed my life. I now work with people and organisations beyond my wildest dreams (like UNO. Magazine!). I can’t stress enough the safety knowledge required for being on the water, but once you have gained enough skills, get out and utilise our beautiful ocean and waterways, and get back in touch with nature. I doubt you’ll regret it. If you have any questions, or I can help in any way, get in contact with me on Facebook. And, be good to the ocean!
‘THE OCEAN is my go-to place for clearing thoughts, working out, and allowing the positive ions to completely saturate me and enhance my general wellbeing. I always come off the water smiling from ear to ear; seeing sharks, orcas and seals is just a bonus.’