How to Pedal Kayak on the Ocean

Whether you’re a newcomer or a professional, taking a pedal kayak on the ocean can be a pretty tempting adventure for any kayaker looking to improve their technique or explore the sport.

For many years, paddle kayaks have been the go-to option for most kayakers out there. However, as the sport evolved, pedal kayaks became more and more popular among kayakers, especially among people who prefer going out onto the ocean.

Today, we’ll be discussing all the reasons why you may want to consider a pedal kayak on the ocean for your next adventure.

Also, we’ll be guiding you through the process to make sure you’re taking your pedal kayak onto the ocean as safely as possible.

Why take a Pedal Kayak on the Ocean?

Once you’ve got your heart set on taking your kayaking skills to the next level, it usually means it’s time for you to try and conquer the ocean!

Making such a decision brings up another choice that you’ll need to settle before putting yourself out there: what type of kayak is best for ocean kayaking?

On one hand, we have traditional paddle kayaks with their long history of use, and on the other hand, there are the more recent pedal kayaks offering extra convenience and reliability.

Well, when it comes to venturing into the open water, pedal kayaks definitely got us sold and here’s why:

No Hands Experience

One of the most enjoyable aspects of a pedal kayak is the fact that you don’t need paddles to move it around.

The way that pedal drive kayaks work is very similar to how you typically ride a bike: the kayaks are equipped with rotational pedals that go around like bicycle pedals.

This mechanism of driving eliminates the need for the constant use of hands since you’ll be using your legs instead, meaning you’ll be able to have your hands free for whatever activities you want to do, such as fishing or photography.

You won’t have to stop moving forward through the waves while performing those actions because your legs will be doing all the work, leaving your hands for most of the time when you’re not occasionally adjusting the rudder towards your desired direction. This ability to constantly keep moving helps make sure you are stable and won’t capsize.

Better Control

Taking your kayak out into the open water is a great way to boost your skill level. However, this comes at the cost of having to encounter harsher and bigger waves that won’t be as nice as gentle tides closer to the shore.

To be able to successfully tackle such heavy tides, you need to have as much control as possible over your kayak, along with enough power to push through the rough seas.

Let’s say you choose a paddle kayak for this mission. Then you’d have to be extremely experienced in this type of drive so you can apply the correct techniques and make sure you can paddle efficiently through high waves.

This can be quite a challenge for beginner kayakers since learning such techniques takes a long time, and even then, it remains a complicated task to overcome rough water.

As for pedal kayaks, the mission is significantly easier due to the fact that pedaling is much simpler to learn and master. This will give you better control over your kayak since your legs will take limited hits compared to your hands and arms.

Also, because your hands will be free, you can hold onto the kayak with a tighter grip to better brace yourself against big waves and achieve a smoother ride.

Improved Endurance

We’ve already established the fact that pedal kayaks don’t rely on your hands or arms for steering. Instead, the drive system is operated through your legs and feet, maximizing its convenience and leaving your hands free to use around the kayak.

But did you know that pedal kayaks depend on some of the largest muscles in your body? Yes, the human body has several of its largest muscles located in its lower half, mainly the legs and thighs.

Basically, this means that most people are naturally stronger when they’re using the muscles of their legs when compared to the muscles of the upper body. This translates into more power during pedaling as well as higher endurance, enabling you to ride for extended periods.

This can also be great news for kayakers suffering from upper-body injuries since pedaling doesn’t put any strain on the neck, shoulders, and arms, so the impact over these areas will be minimal, allowing them to actually practice our beloved sport without worrying about pulling a bad muscle or revisiting an old injury.

More Speed

Between paddle kayaks and pedal ones, the latter type is known for delivering a much faster performance since your legs will most likely work better than your arms, offering more power for a longer amount of time.

Speed is highly sought after by kayakers looking to venture out onto the ocean because you’ll often find yourself in a situation where you need to cover a large distance in little time.

That being said, it’s important to know that the speed of any pedal kayak varies according to many factors, including how much gear you have onboard, the shape of the hull, as well as the materials used in building your kayak.

Also, your pedaling skills will surely affect how fast you can go with your kayak.

Higher Stability

Last but not least, a pedal kayak will offer you higher stability simply because of its construction.

Pedal kayaks have additional drive mechanisms installed in their hulls, which explains why they’re designed to be wider and heavier than traditional kayaks.

However, this can be quite an advantage when you’re out in the open water of the oceans as you’ll benefit from the extra stability provided by the wider build of a pedal kayak when facing h32eavy waves.

How to Safely Take a Pedal Kayak on the ocean?

Peace in a cave
Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash

Now that you have a better idea of why pedal kayaks are the superior option when it comes to adventures of open water, it’s time for us to help you do it safely with tips and advice on taking your pedal kayak on the ocean.

From sharks, waves, and currents, all the way to lighting, ships, and hyperthermia, ocean kayaking can get pretty dangerous, so make sure you stick to the following guidelines to stay safe:

Know Your Weather

The first thing you want to do is to study the weather forecast for the days you plan on taking your kayak onto the ocean.

It’s very crucial that you know what type of weather you’re up against so you can prepare yourself accordingly with suitable gear and clothes. This also allows you to prepare for any changes that may occur regarding the weather conditions.

Additionally, be sure to follow up on water temperature wherever you’re going to be kayaking so you can wear proper clothing. For example, if you’re out in cold water, you’ll want to dress in warm, water repellant clothes that keep you warm and cozy while protecting you from hypothermia. I

If the weather is hot and the sun is high, you’re probably better off wearing a long-sleeved shirt to block sun rays and prevent sunburn.

Know Your Waves

Besides the weather and water temperature, you should also be aware of the kind of waves you’ll be facing on certain days when you plan to do ocean kayaking. You’ll find some days where waves are just too harsh and high to take on – there’s nothing wrong in knowing when to stop.

If you’re going to encounter waves over 3 feet high, then you may want to consider skipping that day and waiting for a calmer one, especially if you’re not very experienced.

However, if you still want to test out your skills and decide to go through with it, then we recommend that you carefully study the wave pattern beforehand so you can know the best time to make a break for it.

Typically, the rough waves come in sets of 6 or 8 then it gets more peaceful for a while, which is exactly when you should venture out.

Wear a Personal Flotation Device

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Kayaking can get pretty dangerous, especially in the ocean, so you need to take every measure possible to stay safe out in the open water.

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to keep you safe when you kayak on the ocean is to wear a personal flotation device, a life jacket. You may not think about it, and many people don’t, but the ocean is never to be underestimated – anything can happen is the motto when it comes to ocean kayaking, so wearing a life jacket is really the least you can do.

A life jacket will help keep you afloat and keep your head above the water level. It can also act as extra insulation in cold water to make you warmer.

Coast Guard restrictions dictate that all kayaks should carry life jackets on board, and while sometimes you may not be required to put it on, it’s highly recommended that you wear one that fits you well for as long as you’re out battling waves.

Learn to Deal With Capsizing

Capsizing is not unheard of in the world of kayaking. In fact, kayakers who often take their pedal kayak on the ocean should expect to face capsizing at some point in their adventures, and so, they need to be ready for such a situation.

Of course, capsizing is something almost all beginners fear, but what will help you overcome the initial shock and survive a capsize is adequate practice.

You want to seek an expert and ask them to teach you how to properly wet-exit, right, and get back into your pedal kayak. Practice your moves in calm water until you master them and feel confident enough to test them out in the event of a real capsize in the ocean.

Tie all Loose Ends on Your Pedal Kayak

This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised by the number of kayakers, mostly beginners, who forget to double-check on points where water can possibly get on the kayak, which may lead to serious consequences out in the sea.

So make sure to tightly screw in the drain plug and shut all the hatches securely to prevent your pedal kayak from taking on water and risking your safety.

Launch Your Pedal Kayak out of the Surf Zone

Another aspect you want to take into account when handling a pedal kayak in the surf zone is that you can’t actively pedal it in shallow water, it just doesn’t really work out.

Why? Well, that’s mainly because the propeller is located on the underside of the kayak where it needs enough water space to effectively rotate and provide you with the required momentum to move forward.

Additionally, it may not be a very smooth ride to pedal right from the surf zone due to waves directly hitting the beach, also known as shore break.

Your best bet is to pull the kayak into the sea by the front grip until you’re about waist-deep in water. This way you can lift the front side of your kayak when a wave closes in, so it passes from underneath the rest of the boat.

Once you’re at your point, wait for a calm break of the waves to easily get on the kayak and pedal your way out of the surf zone as quickly as possible to avoid attacks from big waves.

Inform a Backup

Finally, it’s rather important that you tell someone the details of your ocean kayaking adventure in case anything happens and you can’t return back.

This includes the place you’re going, the activities you’ll be doing with your pedal kayak, the number of hours or days you estimate to be gone for, as well as the number and, if possible, the names of people accompanying you.

Obviously, you should then stick to the plan and call in if there’s any change.

Final Thoughts

Ocean kayaking is a super exciting experience for any kayaker, and choosing a pedal kayak to take onto the ocean can make it that much more enjoyable. If you want to learn more about the best kinds of pedal kayaks, check out our reviews of the best pedal kayaks!

Not only do they offer better control and more speed, but pedal kayaks also provide higher endurance to extend your fun longer!

That being said, without proper safety measures, things can take a dangerous turn, leading to unfortunate accidents. So make sure you closely follow safety instructions when taking your kayak on the ocean.

See you on the water!

Article Author
Robert Walker has been a Kayak enthusiast for over a decade. He's owned several different Kayak's, but only recently got into Pedal Kayaks in the last few years. This website is Robert's way of sharing his passion for Pedal Kayak's with the world.