All that flatwater rolling practice

…definitely paid off! In 2 days of sea-kayak surfing, I capsized twice and rolled up easily both times. Same for another day when I backpaddled off a standing wave and into some verrrry interesting messy water, where I stared a bit too long at some swirls and got thrown over–that one was on my left side, and I nailed it, too.

I have to say that the flatwater practice included no-setup rolls, switching sides underwater, sculling up, doing rolls on 4 sides relative to wind waves, capsizing after getting some speed up, balance braces and boat flopovers and rightings from that position, etc. And it was all well worth doing. If my experience is representative, it IS useful to try to perfect body movement and coordination in calm water. If nothing else, the experience of capsizing becomes so normal that you don’t panic even in the moving water with the paddle catawompus. You have a familiar series of motions to focus on instead of freaking out.

So if you, too, live far away from the sea, don’t give up hope of being able to make the transition to rougher water. Baby steps are better than no steps!

I Believe That’s Called…


flat water practice
With the practice you describe, you are way more prepared than any paddler who just occasionally does some rolls in rough water from a set up position.


It sounds like your doing it right. Building muscle memory and confidence goes a long ways.

I do all of the things that you do
on flat water as well. Another thing to try is to pass the paddle from one hand to another over the hull after capsizing which forces you to reorient the blade angle properly before attempting to roll.

Another thing I found helpful is to roll on alternate sides continuously until you become too exhausted or dizzy to continue, or you start to miss rolls. If you do this enough you almost enter a trance-like state in which the roll is carried out through pure muscle memory without any thought involved, and you will lose all notion of an “onside” and “offside” roll.

Where were paddling Pat?

And it’s lots of fun in hot weather
Jay, you were right!

Alternating sides
I do alternate right side and left side, though I’ve never done it to exhaustion. Thanks for the suggestion…another thing to try.

Mid-coast Maine

– Last Updated: Jul-19-10 1:38 AM EST –

The surfing was at Popham Beach state park. Really nice place.

Did a lot of "firsts" these two weeks, including first session of navigation using dead reckoning. I did my homework before going to Maine (reading books and practicing with map and compass), and that paid off, too. Had great coaching and fellow students, and I am most grateful to have had this opportunity to learn and/or apply so many skills, and in such beautiful settings. Learning-intensive trips are my favorite kind. Fourteen days in a row of training, and I was still eager to paddle today (after a day of sitting on airplanes or at airports).

And we did see the puffins! I also finally got to meet Celia and Jim, plus a couple of other nice folks who paddle with them. Good people, all.

You trained hard and it came back to you fourfold Glad your trip was fabulous.

Thanks for sharing your
experience and knowledge. I am just learning and we talk about simulating different types of circumstances and haven’t really done it yet…same with rescues. Thanks, it reminds me again why all of this is so important.

Glad to have finally met you
We got some fun stuff on the second day with John C too. Some day we’ll shave out the time to get to Popham - I keep hearing good things about it.

with John?
Were you on the Sheepscot with John C. on Wednesday? I ran into him on the water yesterday and he said it was pretty huge!

I was on Sullivan Falls on that same Wednesday, and the Ebb tide was the biggest I’ve ever seen through there by far!

Sounds like you had an awesome time!


: )
now vertical paddle rolls (EJ’s B&R), half paddle (split), norsaq, hand, straightjacket (still working toward this)

Sorry to have missed your EC trip, glad you got to paddle with the others

~stuck in NC without a kayak :frowning:

Sounds like a good time …
Puffins too no less.

John Carmody plus 4 of us students were at Sheepscot, but the day was Thursday, not Wednesday. You shoulda seen all the WW boaters that showed up for the delayed ebb tide. Since I had never been there before, I have no reference point for comparison, but I noticed while watching the shortboat guys in the standing waves that sometimes I could barely see the top of their helmets!

Wednesday a group of us including Celia and Jim went out of East Boothbay area and did some fun practice at the Thread of Life, among other stuff.

I had a fantastic two weeks; still can’t believe I did 14 days of training. John’s great!

Thank you, too, Suz
Even though the water and air were so warm that I used it only one day, the new drysuit was waiting for me when I arrived in Maine. It fits well, and I look forward to being able to pee without having to unzip and ungasket. Dry feet in Gore-tex socks were comfy, too!

BTW, did you lose a Yakima crossbar endcap? I found one in John’s driveway and he thought it might be yours.

You gotta get to Popham Beach
That was sooooooo much fun I’m now spoiled for life. If I lived near a place like that, I’d go as much as possible. The speed, rhythm, and motion are addictive, and I love feeling the sensations still as I go to sleep.

I have been ruined!

It’s a good feeling
I’d seen others post “Got my first combat roll” in here before and wondered when I’d get mine. Had the biggest grin on my face when I came up from that first one!

Keeping your eye on the prize
I learned to roll strictly for practical reasons (safety). Wasn’t exactly thrilled while learning it, but I stuck with it.

Later on, it became fun for its own sake, and that’s when things got more interesting. I actually kind of forgot that it was done for the bigger goal of being able to more safely paddle in rough water.

Actually being out there and using the roll reminded me in the best way what its ultimate purpose was. It really does make all those thousands of practice rolls worth every second of time I spent on them.

I think the process and rewards may be similar for the navigation work. That effort will probably pay off many times over (and may save my life), so I’m willing to learn and practice more. And I can apply it to hiking, too!