Yes, you can use an ocean kayak for scuba diving. Ocean kayaks are perfectly adapted for scuba diving both in terms of design, handling, and safety. They can carry 350 lbs of gear.
They are narrow and long in design, a feature that enables them to move fast and in a straight line even when hit by a big wave. They also have a skirt around that allows you to keep the water out of the kayak with ease.
They are also made of tough material that enables them to handle challenging elements in the ocean. Ropes rimming, on the other hand, allows you to hold on to the kayak when the kayak capsizes. All these features make them ideal for scuba diving.
Every ocean kayak brand has its own limitations when it comes to how much gear it can hold. But on average, an ocean kayak has a gear limit of 350 pounds. A Tandem kayak has a gear limit of between 500-600 pounds while a sit on top kayak has a weight capacity of 300-400 pounds.
It is important to know how much weight your ocean kayak can hold before heading out to the ocean. It is also important to stick by your kayak’s weight limit to avoid tipping over while in the sea.
Now hiring a private boat to take you to new diving spots can be pricey. Also, a powerboat will not take you to diving sites located under cliffs. You’ll get to explore healthy reefs that have not endured much diving pressure. Also, you can spend your time above water, taking a nap in a Kayak floating gently on seawater. For divers, that’s the most comfortable sleeping mattress possible.
To do Kayak diving, one needs to be a seasoned diver. They should have enough experience of putting on the diving gear and taking it off. Your first few dives underwater cannot be on your own. It’s risky and irresponsible.
What Kayak diving ensures is that you can decide your schedule. You don’t have to rush into anything. If you don’t feel like spending much time inside the water and instead want to enjoy the serene landscape of the site, you’re free to that. If you feel like spending more time underwater, you can just come up, change the tank, and go back in.
Prepare for it well. Check out the forecasts, get a grip of the tide conditions, select a safe entry and exit and points, and chalk out a foolproof dive plan. Also, you should figure out the dive site in advance instead of improvising after going offshore.
Your first few Kayak diving trips should be with seasoned divers. They’ll teach you the ropes and prepare you for the solo trip. They’ll tell you all the rookie mistakes that they might’ve committed so that you don’t end up repeating them.
You don’t always need to learn from your own mistakes when there is a chance of learning from others. If you’re lucky, and they trust you enough, seasoned divers might even share the locations of a few secret reefs with you.
Whenever you decide to embark on your first solo trip, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Pick a sturdy Kayak
The diving gear is heavy. So the Kayak you pick should be stable enough to hold its weight. A light Kayak will flip if you try to maneuver it while it’s carrying a lot of weight. If your Kayak is more of a recreational one, take one for rent, but don’t take the chance of going for a diving trip on a light Kayak. Another risk is that it might flip when you try to get back in after the dive.
Use high capacity tanks
What’s the point of putting in monumental effort to paddle and reach an exquisite diving site and not being able to spend enough time underwater. It’ll be a cardinal sin to come out before you want to. Carry an extra tank so that you can get in again. All the effort put into paddling, preparation, and figuring out the site would seem worth it if you’re able to make two dives on a single trip.
Strap all the gear to the Kayak
Irrespective of how sturdy the Kayak is, there is always a chance of flipping over. So all of your diving gear should be strapped to the Kayak instead of lying stray. So that in the scenario of a high tide flipping you over, all of your equipment is secured.
Suit up inside the water
Instead of suiting up inside the water, which might make the Kayak lose balance, put on your gear after getting into the water. Roll over the BCD and the tank one by one out of the Kayak and then put it on. It’s easier to put on heavy gear when you’re inside the water as the weight seems to be lesser than it is. While exiting, remove your BCD, and clip it to the Kayak again. Once you’re in the Kayak, you can roll back the BCD and tank inside the Kayak.
Make sure you’re fit before you plan a solo trip
You got to be in prime physical shape to pull off a solo dive after paddling to reach the dive site. If you have any breathing issues, work on them before taking the trip. If you’re recovering from an injury, recover before you take the trip. You can’t afford to get incapacitated on a solo trip to an obscure location. Better yet, bring a friend so someone can rescue you.
Keep your GPS on
Carry a GPS device and make sure it’s functional before you take the trip. Someone on shore should know your coordinates at all times so that in case you don’t come back within the stipulated time, they know where to find you. You have to be adventurous and responsible at the same time. There is no serene sight in the world worth risking your life. Tell someone where you are going.