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15 Whitewater Rafting Tips: Choosing a Raft, Choosing a Paddle, and Safety

15 Whitewater Rafting Tips: Choosing a Raft, Choosing a Paddle, and Safety

Depending on the class of rapids that you decide to follow, whitewater rafting can be an easy or difficult watersport. That’s why you need to know some beginner tips about it.

But know that such beginner tips don’t have to deal with how to do it correctly. Other equally important tips are those that talk about how to choose the correct whitewater rafting gears.

That being said, this article compiles all of the important tips for you to follow. It will talk about tips on choosing whitewater rafts, whitewater paddle, whitewater safety gears, and whitewater rafting safety tips. All of these are the 15 whitewater rafting tips that you won’t find anywhere else.

Tips on Choosing Whitewater Rafts/Boats for Beginners

Your raft/boat is the key player for whitewater rafting. It’s what will take you to the riffles, runs, pools, and tail out. Well-made rafts/boats provide for peerless maneuverability and allow you to ride easily once again in case you fall off. These are the tips that you should remember when looking for a raft/boat for your first-time whitewater rafting cruise.

1. There Must Be a Rope around It

Always look for the presence of a rope that goes around the edges of the raft/boat for whitewater rafting. The rope is important for two reasons. The first reason is that it allows for easy transport even if the whitewater raft/boat isn’t deflated. The second reason is that it allows you to hang on for dear life in case you fall off.

In connection, a whitewater raft/boat that uses webbing instead of a rope is utterly useless. Webbing is more difficult to grab. Moreover, it makes the raft/boat prone to snagging on large obstacles in the middle of the rapids, such as rocks, trees, etc.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Self-Bailing Flooring

Water gets inside the whitewater raft/boat are you’re traversing the rapids with it. Little by little, these will fill the cockpit. Since your busy maneuvering, scooping the water out of the cockpit would be impossible. That’s why the flooring should have a self-bailing function that prevents the cockpit from getting filled up.

Checking if the whitewater raft/boat has self-bailing flooring is easy. All you have to do is to look for tiny holes that are installed with gaskets. Those tiny holes allow the self-bailing function to operate. What they do is suck the water off of the flooring little by little.

3. Start with Rubber Whitewater Raft/Boat

It’s fine if you want to get a urethane whitewater raft/boat as a beginner rafter. Urethane easily slips against obstacles and is very hardy against them. Urethane does well in highly difficult rapids — those that professionals whitewater rafters challenge.

The problem is, you will not go to difficult rapids for your first whitewater rafting cruise. As a beginner, you’ll go to the easiest ones. For this reason, using a urethane raft/boat is too much since the obstacles are easy to evade and the rapids not that strong to cause damage.

Instead of urethane, go for a rubber whitewater raft/boat. A rubber whitewater raft/boat is a good as your first ride because it’s easy to patch, inflate or deflate, and inexpensive.

4. The Whitewater Raft/Boat Must Have Two-Layer Construction

A two-layer construction ensures that in case it gets punctured, the whitewater raft/boat won’t burst and deflate while you’re riding it. Deflation is something that you don’t want to happen since it puts you at the mercy of the rapids.

So how do you know if a whitewater raft/boat has two-layer construction? That’s easy. Just look into the air valve inlet and inspect if there are two separate chambers. Manufacturers have different methods in making a two-layer whitewater raft/boat — possible combinations are urethane+rubber, rubber+pvc, pvc+urethane.

But know that two-layer construction isn’t the only thing out there. You may also find 3-layer or 4-layer whitewater rafts/boats. However, these are most suited for heavy-duty whitewater locations that are filled with sharp rocks, undercuttings, turbulent eddies, etc.

Tips on Choosing Whitewater Paddle for Beginners

Your paddle can be your best friend or your best enemy in whitewater rafting. It’s what you’ll use to change directions or push against obstacles to do evasive maneuvers. Take choosing the correct whitewater paddle seriously. Your life, as well as your investment, depends on it.

5. Pick a Paddle According to Your Torso Length

It’s paramount that your whitewater paddle should correctly match your torso length. The paddle-torso ratio is important because it determines how comfortable and effortless your strokes will be. So, bear in mind that you shouldn’t pick paddles without inspecting their length.

Take a look at this table that shows you some common torso length and the corresponding paddle length that’s appropriate for them:

  • 22” – 180 cm paddle
  • 24” – 180 – 200 cm paddle
  • 26” – 190 – 200 cm paddle
  • 28” – 200 – 220 cm paddle
  • 30” – 210 – 230 cm paddle
  • 32” – 220 – 240 cm paddle
  • 34” – 230 – 250 cm paddle

But how do you determine your torso length anyway? Don’t panic because you’re all good. Determining your torso length isn’t more difficult than measuring the length of a dog that can’t sit still. All you have to do is get a tape measure, sit on a chair, and start measuring yourself from the hips up to the nose.

6. Avoid Plastic Bladed Paddles

Paddles with plastic blades lead the pack. However, this isn’t because they perform well. In fact, most plastic-bladed paddles are rather flimsy and bend easily when pushing against water or any other object in the rapids. What makes them popular is that they’re very affordable.

Even so, recognize that price shouldn’t compromise performance when it comes to choosing paddles. In other words, you shouldn’t base your decision on affordability only. Other types of paddles are expensive. However, the hefty investment in buying them is justified by the advantages that you’ll reap.

Take fiberglass-bladed paddles, for example. Fiberglass-bladed paddles are light and strong at the same time. They simply won’t back down even if you use them to push against rocks. Moreover, they don’t get scratched or corrode easily.

7. Retractable Feature Isn’t Bad at All

You might want to get a retractable whitewater paddle. A retractable paddle is easy to keep. Moreover, you may adjust it to different lengths for your comfort. Though retractable paddle isn’t necessarily better than non-retractable ones., consider getting them because they’re what most beginners opt to use.

Whitewater Rafting Safety Tips for Beginners

Falling off and smashing, brushing, banging, or smacking on rocks is a very likely scenario in whitewater rafting. Though fatalities aren’t that high, this watersport can, indeed, kill if done carelessly. That’s why before challenging the rapids. Take time to read these whitewater rafting safety tips for beginners first.

8. Take Lessons

Before challenging the rapids, take whitewater rafting lessons first. Whitewater rafting lessons will teach you about the basic maneuvers in balancing, turning, and preventing yourself from fall off of the raft/boat.

Furthermore, lessons will teach you what to do in case something goes wrong. Examples of these are how to climb on the raft/boat by yourself, how to haul other rafters back on the watercraft, and how to correctly abandon the raft/boat in case of damage.

Aside from safety, lessons are integral because some whitewater rafting locations require people to take them. Simply put, it might be impossible for you to try whitewater rafting alone without proper schooling.

9. Start with the Easiest Rapids First

Whitewater rafting is like doing gym workouts — everything looks so easy until you’re the one who’s actually doing it. Don’t get over your head before challenging highly difficult rapids. It’s best to challenge the easy ones to hone your skills.

Whitewater rapids are classified into 6 — class I, class II, class III, and so on. Since you’re a beginner, you should try whitewater rafting in class I or class II rapids first. 

Class I or Class II rapids are equally challenging as class III rapids and higher for beginners. These already have small waves with enough force to tug the raft/boat back and forth. Some even have small dives where you can experience stomach-turning mini-jumps.

10. Don’t Go Solo

Solo whitewater rafting is possible. However, you shouldn’t do it as a beginner. Professionals advise beginners like you to engage in grouped whitewater rafting escapades first to gain experience.

But why go in groups if you can do it alone? Whitewater rafting in groups has a lot of advantages. The first is that it allows you to cut costs for equipment rentals. Second, you’ll get advice from seasoned rafters (in group whitewater rafting, there should be one or 2 professionals guiding newbies). Third is that accidents are less likely to happen when whitewater rafting with people than when whitewater rafting by yourself.

11. Familiarize Yourself with the Characteristics of the Rapids

Whitewater rafting locations, although not all, offer maps that you may download online. Do not overlook the usefulness of these maps. Study them thoroughly, and you’ll know the best maneuver for each specific section of the rapids.

Studying the rapids before challenging them is a very healthy habit. With it, you’ll learn which specific section you’re most likely to topple over, fall off, or slam against rocks. Furthermore, this habit also ensures not only your safety but also the safety of others who are rafting with you.

12. Avoid Becoming Noisy

Whitewater rafting requires a lot of focus. That’s why you shouldn’t pester others by acting as if you’re the leader (there’s the guide who will do this task for you). Just keep doing your thing, and don’t mind other’s business. If someone makes a mistake, let him or her be and wait for the guide to act.

You’re mistaken if you think that issuing orders and being noisy promotes teamwork. In reality, this does more harm than good. The only things that it will accomplish are insulting the whitewater rafting guide, disturbing the concentration of other rafters, and potentially losing your chance of finding great whitewater rafting buddies.

13. Don’t Fight With the Current, Swim with It

Use the rapids to your advantage in case you fall off the whitewater raft/boat. Remember that you’re wearing a life vest, so swimming isn’t that hard.

However, you should remember to swim with the current of the rapids and not against it. Swimming against the current will drain your strength, which you badly need to avoid getting slammed or brushed on rocks.

On the other hand, swimming with the current will make surviving easier. It will allow you to effectively chase after the whitewater raft. It will also help you evade rocks and other obstacles effectively.

Swimming with the current of the rapids isn’t difficult. With your life vest on, the current will help you stay afloat. While doing this, avoid panicking. Breathe calmly and ensure that all of your movements count. Also, avoid snagging your feet and arms on rocks, branches, mounds of underwater stones, etc.

14. Watch Out for Signs of Self-Bailing Failure

The self-bailing feature of the raft fails from time to time. Reasons for this are defective gaskets and dirt that block the drains. Failure of the self-bailing function isn’t a serious problem if you’re not using the raft. However, while you’re in the middle of the rapid and it happens, you’re in for some trouble.

That’s why you should set your eyes on the self-bailing feature of the raft from time to time. Make sure that it continues to produce bubbles because this indicates that the drains are continuing to work properly. Also, notice that the water inside the raft shouldn’t get up to your ankles.

If ever the self-bailing feature does fail, inform others immediately and head toward the bank. Malfunction in the self-bailing feature of the raft will put you and your rafting buddies in mortal danger.

15. Be More Vigilant if It Rains Heavily

Heavy rains cause the rapids to be more turbulent than usual. It will also increase the water levels, thereby making the rapids more difficult to deal with. You don’t need to disembark from the raft if it suddenly rains heavily. However, be sure to more vigilant and recognize when to stop if the current isn’t manageable anymore.

11 Crucial Scuba Diving Tips for Beginners

10 Crucial Scuba Diving Tips for Beginners

When you start scuba diving, it is completely normal to worry about being underwater. Do not bother; everybody starts out as a beginner, and everybody was once scared. After all, you have never lived in the water. This is something absolutely new to you. You need time to get used to the idea of being underwater, to adapt.

The planet is two-thirds covered with water, and it contains millions of different plants and animals under the water. It is just a shame not to go and discover them.

With this sport, you will be able to experience a different world that is out there. To see the beauty of the sea and be a part of the sea life, deep in the ocean are the most magnificent coral formations, exotic and colorful fauna. They are just waiting for you to dive in and discover them.

Even if you are excited about all this, I know you will be a little scared too. To feel weird about going that deep and unknown place.

Scuba diving can seem scary and challenging, but it is actually easy and safe as long as you follow the safety instructions and have good technical knowledge.

Safety comes first. I will list here 10 crucial tips for beginners so you can follow them and be prepared and safe when you go scuba diving.

Scuba Diving Tips for Beginners

1. Make A Plan

The most important thing is to make a good and detailed plan. This would be the first step before going diving. By doing this, you will prevent accidents before they happen. Having more and more information about the place where you will be diving is essential, and this is especially if you are a beginner with little to no experience in diving.

This is important because if you do not do your research, you may panic during the dive, and panicking is one of the worst things you can do while diving. Diving deep in the ocean to discover coral and reefs for sure sounds exciting, but as a beginner at diving, you have to stay in your comfort zone in order to stay safe.

The weather is another thing you have to check before going diving. You have to keep a watchful eye on weather changes and ocean waves before you set out on your adventure. You have to choose the best moment to go underwater. As a beginner, I would recommend you go during the middle part of the day. Then you will have the best visibility.

2. Check Your Equipment Before Diving

Before every dive, you must check your equipment, and I mean check every single detail of it. Your equipment is your partner down there. It is your way of being safe and getting back to the land without hurting yourself.

If something is broken, you have to change it immediately before you even consider going diving. Consider the option of trying your buoyancy control device when you are still on land. Another thing to check is your mask. You need to know if it is leaking or not.

It is crucial to pay close attention to things such as air leaks, jumping pins and broken buckles. Along with these, if there are any other visible signs of damage that can cause unnecessary danger when you go underwater, pay attention to them too.

Lastly, put your diving equipment in your diving bag. Keep it organized and tidy. This will give you quick access to your gear. If there is any space left in your bag, carry spare parts in case of damage.

3. Do Not Dive Alone. Go With Friends

Obviously, diving with friends or a group has its pluses. When you are a beginner, diving with a group means you will have a professional diver with you when you go diving for the first time. He will give you attention when you are underwater and will help you if you need be.

As a beginner, it would be terrifying for you if you had a problem with the computer and there was no one to help you. Diving with a group includes communicating with your fellow divers and exchanging information through signals that are used to communicate whether you are okay or if there is any upcoming danger.

Before you go diving, you all have to learn the signals that you can use when you are underwater. This is the way that all of the divers communicate.

The best part of being underwater with friends is that you will enjoy it even more. The feeling of sharing this fantastic experience with your friend is an unforgettable one.

4. Do Not Panic

While you dive, try to stay calm and not panic, even if everything does not go as planned. No matter what happens, remain calm. It can be a life or death situation if you start panicking. Panic is one of the main reasons for incidents and traumas during diving.

The particular reason for this is when people start panicking, they forget everything. They may forget even the basics they have learned during the course.

When it comes to an underwater crisis, it is crucial to stay calm and positive. If you do not, you may end up making the worst decision. Try to remain calm by holding your breath for a while, closing your eyes, and remembering your course training. You can also practice meditation and some breathing techniques that will help you stay calm.

5. Do Not Ignore Pain Or Discomfort

It’s that simple. If you are not feeling 100%, you don’t go diving. Do not feel like you have to go just because you promised your friends. Better to leave the diving for another day than to hurt yourself. Even if this sport is relatively safe as long as you follow the rules, it is better not to forget that there are always risks when diving. If you do not feel like you can use all of your energy, it’s better to leave it for another day.

6. Your Equipment

Your equipment has to be comfortable for you. This is not like a phone — someone recommended one to you, so you buy it. The equipment has to be comfortable for you, as you will be wearing it. Even if your friend is telling you how much he likes something and how comfortable he feels in it, it does not mean it will be perfect for you too. One of the most important things is the mask. You have to buy a mask that fits your face properly.

8. Relax

At first, it probably will be hard, even with breathing underwater. You will make few attempts, and probably you won’t succeed. When this happens, don’t bail. Stay in the water and try again and again. Until you relax, at first you will be stressed, that is why things won’t work. The moment you relax, everything will fall into place. You will breathe normally, and you won’t even be thinking about getting out of the water.

9. Listen To Your Instructor

During the first days of your course, your instructor will be the most important person in your life. He will give you exact instructions on what to go when you are underwater. Listen to him carefully and remember what he says. I am sure he will try to be as detailed as possible when giving you instructions. That is why it is so important to pay close attention.

10. Do Not Hold Your Breath

Breathe normally, and do not hold your breath. This is rule number one when diving. By breathing normally, you will stay calm. You will be able to control your buoyancy and extend your diving time. It is essential to keep a constant respiration rate. This helps you maintain your oxygen utilization levels and the extent of your diving time.

11. Learn The Signals

Communication underwater is crucial. You cannot talk. That’s why you need signals. The diving community has very easy gestural language that will help you communicate underwater. This includes signs for direction, moods, and health. Learn them and start using them from the very beginning. This way, you will get used to them.

Scuba diving is a perfect activity for the summer, an activity that helps you get a good workout too. And at the same time, it helps you beat the heat. There’s also the added bonus of getting better acquainted with the sea, which is a unique activity that everyone has to experience at least once in their lifetime.

Scuba diving is something you will love, I have no doubt about that. It allows you to explore and discover this beautiful underwater world practically hidden right there under our noses.

We just have to go forth and find it. Try to be responsible and careful when finding and exploring it. Remember and follow our 10 crucial tips for beginners before you go diving. They will help you to enjoy your experience fully, keeping you safe and worry-free.