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Sea-kayaking the Safe Way with Kids

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

Although we had done plenty of kayaking trips across the middle of some deep and cold lochs, I had the idea in my head that sea-kayaking with a tot and a 9-year-old on an inflatable kayak would be a perilous endeavour best avoided. So when my friend and fellow Babble moderator Yvonne invited us to Barassie Beach, it sounded riskier to my mind than the deep shores of Loch Lomond or Loch Ard (Spoiler: it isn't!)

Barassie Beach lies to the north of Troon harbour and its wide, sandy expanse and gentle foreshore make it a great destination for kayaking and windsurfing. Yvonne made sure to check that the wind was onshore, the most important thing for a safe sea-kayaking trip, but what also made it surprisingly safe was how shallow, for a relatively long way out to sea, the water is at Barassie. The other surprise was how absolutely deserted the beach was..apparently the crowds flock to the much more heavily populated beach further up at Troon, so we basically had the whole gorgeous sandy bay to ourselves on a reasonably warm day in the middle of July!

I've already written at length about my inflatable kayak on another post, so in terms of kit, I will just specify the wetsuits and life jackets that the kids wore. Little man Xan was in a Sterns Infant Buoyancy Aid, a really excellent life jacket that he has worn since his first kayak trip at 4 months old. At the time of this sea-kayak trip he was only wearing his swimming pool-grade fleecy suit with an underlayer of a sunsuit by the same company However it is worth bearing in mind that he wasn't submerged in the water at any point and I DON'T recommend this as a wetsuit for any situation where your toddler is actually going to go into an outdoor body of water. His dad has since bought him a proper 3mm neoprene wetsuit, as his tiny body will finally fit into one! My older daughter, Miho, was in a Helly Hansen life jacket that she had given to her, and details of which I can no longer find for sale as it is an older model. For the record however, I have just updated her to a TWF Kids 100N. Her wetsuit, a Shorty by Crane, was a kind donation from Yvonne (did I mention, I have fabulous friends?!) and suited her perfectly for the fairly (relatively) warm sea temperature!

The only other equipment we found useful was a sunshade half-tent for the kids...I can't recommend these highly enough; they have been invaluable on so many hot days at rock climbing crags or on the beach...but do get one that has as little enclosed space as possible, as they heat up like a tent on a hot day...so the first picture rather than the second:

Blue shade: recommended (link above, in paragraph):

Orange shade: NOT recommended...heats up like the 7th layer of HELL in direct sunlight!

Onto the actual kayaking: I was amazed at how un-perilous it was! The wind was onshore the whole time (fairly sure this is essential!) and the water was extremely shallow for a long way out. Provided we checked at all times that we were no higher than my daughter's waist level (she is quite short for a 9-year-old!), it felt really safe and really fun! Whilst Xani's swimming pool-grade "wetsuit"wasn't suitable for him to be submerged, his sister enjoyed swimming next to the kayak and the depth of the water also contributed to it being warm. Her little friend Jamie was an excellent companion and she enjoyed huddling up in towels and chatting about Minecraft with him as much as she enjoyed being on the boat. All in all, a fantastic afternoon and a huge thanks to Yvonne for finding this glorious, deserted beach and for making this day out with the kids such a success!

I took loads of photos on the beach and none at all whilst paddling two kids in a kayak, but that is pretty much always the way when handing a boat with kids!

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