By Larry S. Kang

Don’t be misled! Kayaking can actually be a very enjoyable experience. The gentle breeze, the beautiful scenery, and the fascinating wildlife all make kayaking the perfect escape from your boring desk job. But just in case you don’t think life is hard enough, here are five simple ways to make even a fun activity like kayaking into a horrible and painful experience.

1. Don’t check tides

Who cares what the moon does? And the sun too, for that matter. Ignore the tide charts and you may be surprised at how strongly the water pulls you to exactly where you don’t want to go. In addition, when the tide falls, you may end up with your kayak stuck in mud while you decide whether you want to drag it out while slogging knee-deep through the muck or just abandon it completely. You might be better off ignoring the tides if you are going kayaking in open waters, but if you are paddling in sloughs or near straits, ignoring the tides and tidal currents is a quick path to kayaking misery.

2. Dress inappropriately

However careful you are when paddling, you will get wet. Therefore, if you want to be miserable, find the heaviest and most absorbent fabric to wear, like cotton or denim. This will make sure that when you do get wet, you will also stay wet (and stay cold) for longer. You can also get that lovely clammy feeling that doesn’t go away until your next hot shower.

3. Forget the weather

Kayaking in the rain, cold, or wind is another sure way to have a miserable paddling experience. While some more adventurous types will gladly go kayaking in the rain and cold, they still need to be aware of the weather and be prepared for it. Failing to check the weather forecast and come prepared for the elements can not only make you physically uncomfortable, but can also be outright dangerous. Just imagine trying to get back to shore in thick fog.

4. Lose your paddle

One of the most important pieces of equipment, aside from your kayak, is your paddle. If you want to be miserable while kayaking, just throw your paddle into the ocean! It’s very simple and will be sure to make you miserable as you either try to flag someone down to help you, wait and feel guilty while a friend tows you back to shore, or frantically try to paddle back with your hands. If you really want to suffer, make sure you don’t bring a spare paddle or use a paddle leash.

5. Cross in front of boats

This is likely to make you either feel hated, scared, or seriously injured, all of which fall under the broad category of “miserable”. The worst outcome is that you and your kayak can get run over by whichever boat you are trying to cross in front of. Even if you don’t get hit, you are likely to seriously annoy whoever is driving the boat, who will have to stop or turn quickly to avoid hitting you.

All kayakers have made their share of mistakes – but don’t worry, even if you screw up at some point and have a miserable kayaking trip. As long as you survive, there is always another opportunity to have a great one.

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