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Going kayaking in Ocean City? Five tips to paddle smart

A group of men posing for a photo while on their stand up paddleboards

If you’re someone who likes to over-prepare for every new outdoor expedition you embark on, we don’t blame you. There are plenty of first-time paddlers who are hesitant at first on the open water, even if the water is as calm as Ocean City’s Isle of Wight Bay. Here are five tips courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the American Canoe Association for safety-conscious paddlers. Keep them in mind when you book your kayak rental, but don’t be too nervous — our highly-trained staff at Odyssea will be more than happy to answer any questions you have and guide you to an enjoyable and safe kayaking experience.


  1. Wear your life jacket! The DNR not only recommends that you don a life jacket before you launch your kayak, but they also say that you should expect to capsize. Chances are you won’t; but if you start the trip prepared for the worst and expecting to have to swim, you’ll be ready if your vessel does overturn.

    According to Maryland law, every recreational vessel, including kayaks and canoes, must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board. Make sure yours fits correctly and, if you’re not wearing it, that it’s readily accessible in the case of an emergency.


  1. Know the rules and regulations of the waters you’re paddling on. DNR has a Rules of the Road guide that’s exceptionally helpful to first-time and amateur paddlers, but the staff at Odyssea Watersports will also teach you the basics of kayaking and answer any questions you may have. 


  1. Brush up on this safety checklist to assuage any fears you have about being on the water. You’ll find that, when paddling out from Odyssea’s private beach, many of these precautions you won’t need to worry about. We run our kayaks until sunset, so you typically won’t be dealing with low-light conditions. We also have a handle on the weather forecast each day to ensure that you won’t get caught in a storm. Ocean City’s bays are also exceedingly calm — you won’t get caught in any rapids here!


  1. Tip number four is that you familiarize yourself with cold water safety, but because our rentals are seasonal and only run until Sept. 30, you won’t typically need to concern yourself with cold water immersion. Still, it is important to know how to survive cold water immersion if you ever go boating by yourself during a time of year when the water is much colder. 


  1. If you find that you love kayaking at Odyssea and want to keep paddling even when you’re not in Ocean City, take an on-water course! The American Canoe Association offers paddling education courses that can expand your water safety knowledge and your paddling skill level, so that you’re much better prepared to do it on your own. But even if you do acquire your own kayak and fully learn the ways of the water… We hope to see you again on our private beach next summer!