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New Member FAQs

I am a complete beginner - can I join the VSKC?

We welcome new members, however, the VSKC is not suitable for absolute beginners - new members are expected to know something of sea kayaking, have access to a sea kayak, be able to swim, and be ready to explore the fantastic adventures and opportunities that sea kayaking offers. 

If you are a complete beginner then there are a number of good sea kayak courses around Victoria that can get you up to speed with the basics and will enable you to join the VSKC and enjoy the many benefits that membership offers. 

If you are interested in joining the VSKC or if you have any questions, please contact our Membership Officer

What kayak should I buy?

Don't fret too much about your first kayak. Almost any sea kayak, plastic or fibreglass, that meets the safety requirements will do initially.  A couple of things to consider:   

  • If you have the choice go for a snug fitting, lower volume boat instead of a  large boat. A large boat may appear more stable but it will be harder to control in wind and waves
  • Skeg or rudder?  Both are fine. But if you are serious about learning the fine art of boat control you need to be able to retract the rudder so avoid designs with a fixed rudder
  • Any cheap used kayak is fine to learn on. If in doubt, invest into a high-end paddle first.
Check out Section 10.1 of the VSKC Trip Guidelines about sea kayak set up.

What paddle should I buy?

If you're starting out, get a higher-end paddle with Euro blades (not a Greenland 'stick' or a wing paddle):

  • Overall length should be between 200 and 210 cm (not more)
  • Weight less than 900g
  • A blade size of 650cm is sufficient - avoid oversized blades
  • A 2-piece paddle is fine as you can adjust the blade offset
  • For a 1-piece paddle  consider a blade offset of zero (most versatile and gentle on your wrists)

What other gear do I need?

Check out the VSKC Boat Set Up Guide and Section 10 of the VSKC Trip Guidelines covering equipment including sea kayaks, safety and communication, clothing, and PFDs.

I just want to paddle. Do I have to be graded?

Yes - the entry-level Sea Kayak Basics grade is mandatory. You can obtain Sea Kayak Basics on the first day you paddle with us  at the VSKC monthly paddle at Canadian Bay, run on the last Sunday of the month.  That will give you access to a lot of VSKC trips and training sessions.

I'm a very experienced paddler. Can I go straight for one of the top-end grades?

Yes. If you have the skills, the knowledge and experience - sure!  Just check the Paddle Australia Assessment Guidelines and decide whether you are up to it. Have a chat with a VSKC instructor or assessor if you're unsure.

Why all that training and grading business?

In one word: Safety.

As a club member participating in a paddle you want have confidence in your trip leader.  As a trip leader you want to be confident in the skills and capabilities of your group.  Sea kayaking has risks.  When we paddle as a group we can manage a wide range of situations as long as we don't venture into something that is outside our capabilities.  We need to match the risks to to the capabilities of the group. Training and grading helps us to do that.

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