I am going on my first off lake paddle this Saturday in the Hudson. With the holiday weekend it will have more boat traffic and rough water than I have ever paddled before. Should I add some ballast to my RM Capella? I weigh about 165 pounds. If so, what is the best way to do this so the ballast is secure and stable?

I’ve heard about people using heavy chains

for ballast to stabilize surf ski for beginners.

But typical surf ski is only 17" wide.

I have never ballasted
If I felt the need I would ballast with a three eight pound water bags in the day hatch and use dry bags to hold them in place tightly.

Need more? Id add another 24 pounds to the front compartment and pack it close to the cockpit and so it would not move if I invert.

Braces and dynamic balance is best. Imagine your head is suspended fron something above you. Relax Keep you shoulders level and let your hips go where they want, (often good advice :slight_smile: )

you’re smart
to be concerned about the increased boat traffic, but don’t let that stop you from having a wonderful day on the Hudson, which is a true pleasure to paddle. Two things to watch out for…more boat traffic means more chop. If you’re used to paddling on a lake it will feel very different, but it’s also great fun. The other is that holiday weekends means a wicked combination of alcohol and motor boats on the river. On the 4th I go out to watch the fireworks on the river, but stay close to shore and very alert. As far as ballast, I’m curious enough about the subject to open a new topic. Have fun…Lyn

Good point about the drinking
I am going on a tour that includes a river crossing near the Bear Mountain Bridge. I was out on the river for the first time last Friday. It was a blast but we did not do much paddling as it was a clinic, not a tour.

My only kayak experience is in nearby lakes with electric only limits so I never was out in that kind of chop before. I know everyone will be out on Saturday. Is ballasting a good idea? I’m still not sure.

I’d skip ballast
Whatever you do don’t ballast with anything heavier than water. If you don’t feel comfortable in your boat balance wise, then what happens if you upset and there are heavy chains in the boat? I had a friend that put 50 pounds of cracked corn in his boat to stabilize it. Can you imagine trying to rescue the boat with this in it?

I would ballast with stuff you need, yourself, and some gear, but then I’d learn to feel comfortable in your boat in all circumstances. Skip the ballast, it’s wasted weight that perfoms no good on the water except making your boat heavier, slower to maneuver, and giving it less freeboard.


Thanks for all the great replies.
Its not that I am scared of rough water. I never had the experience. I am very comfortable in my boat but that has been in pretty tame circumstances . Worst I have seen is 20-25 mph wind with 1 foot chop spaced very close together. I want to have the best experience possible and give myself and my boat any advantage (if possible).

Ballast can be helpful.
Many boats are designed to perform best when loaded. If you do it right ballast helps stabilize an empty boat, making it a lot easier to paddle. If you do use ballast keep it low and toward the center of the boat. I went to my local diving shop and got two 6 pound diving weights which were lead pellets in a mesh bag. I slid them under my seat and secured them there. There is no noticeable difference in speed but the secondary stability is improved.

If someone is light in their boat, ballast can help bring it to its design displacement. Look at the stability curves in the reviews in Sea Kayaker magazine – adding a load significantly increases stability in most boats.

A couple of dry bags full of water is an easy, relatively safe way to add ballast. make sure that whatever you use is secured to stay low and centered.