Best way to go down a (small) drop?

Another WW question. (yeah, this is turning into a WW year for me)

What’s the best (fun) way to do small drops, like dropping a small ledge of 2’-3’?

That is, instead of just drift over it with the current, which is what I’ve been doing. But wonder if there’s a “proper” way of doing it.

Do you try to speed up before the drop? Do you put in a big stroke at the edge? …

Talking about a river play boat here.

How I do it
First, what I don’t do. I don’t raise my paddle up above my head and let the current do what it will with me. It is always best to be in control. As I approach the drop I paddle hard to gain momentum and take a last hard stroke at the edge of the drop. Then I put my paddle into position to take a stroke just before I hit the foam at the bottom. That is, I rotate my torso the same way I would in preparation for a forward stroke but with a slightly lower angle. That last stroke will act like a brace to keep you from flipping and will propel you through the foam and keep you higher up in the water.

If you want to get fancier, do a boof. :slight_smile:

Don’t just drift with the current

– Last Updated: Jul-20-11 6:00 PM EST –

If you drift over some drops that don't have a lot of water flowing over the ledge that creates the drop, you may be prone to hang up on the brink. When this happens is is not uncommon for the water flowing past the stern to grab ahold of it. Since the bow is relatively tethered at the brink, the result is that the boat is suddenly turned sidewise at the lip so that you either go over the drop sidewise (which might put you into an unintentional sidesurf) or worse, tumble over the drop downstream.

If the ledge has a large volume of water flowing over it, there may be a significant hydraulic or hole at the base of even a modest drop. If so, you want some downstream momentum to punch through that.

As you clear the edge you may want to lean back a little, if the drop is relatively shallow and lacks a hydraulic, so as to avoid banging the nose of your boat. On the other hand, if there is a sizable hole, you will want to be leaning forward and ready to plant your blade in the green water beyond the foam pile so as to take a strong forward stroke to dig yourself out of the hydraulic.

A boof is when you deliberately drive the nose of your boat up and over a shallow part of the rock ledge toward one side of the drop, or even drive the nose and bow of your boat up and over a dry rock with the bow angled toward the rock you are boofing. This might be done so as to drop into an eddy behind the boof rock that might otherwise be hard to catch. It is also frequently done on more powerful drops so as to miss the meat of the hole at the base of the drop.

For now you will probably want to go over most drops perpendicular to the ledge creating the drop. This does not necessarily mean that you will want your boat facing directly downstream. Many drops are created by oblique ledges.

Really depends
A 2-3 foot drop can mean a lot of different things. A 3 ft drop with a low head dam and a lof of water can make one heck of a hydrolic. The most fun thing there may be to walk around it.

A 3 ft drop on a creeking run might have a very strong flow and a very narrow line. That will tend to grab the back of a playboat and squirt you out. To avoid that, you paddle hard and lean forward during the drop – or get a bigger boat.

A typical 2 to 3 foot drop is often pretty straightforward. If you have the momentum, you’ll punch through and be on your way. If you want to sidesurf the thing, drop in sideways with little momentum and get your sculling brace going.

If it has a surf wave, you might find a tongue and slide into the hole facing upstream – or just drop over backwards. If you want to stop and play, the key is to slow yourself before the drop or learn how to drop in from the side – assuming there is a side.

Just rememebr that even a short drop can make a fairly sticky hole. If you are out with a group of playboaters and everyone takes a pass, there is probably a reason. I know a nice 18 inch drop on the Locust that has a sticky hole and undercut rock close together. We go over it fast and we move on.

And what is just downstream of the drop makes a big difference to me on how aggressive I would be. If you have a big, deep pool play and swim if need be. If you have a Class V waterfall 30 feet away, run the rapid and get to the bank.

biggest error I’ve seen
among my kayaker friends is 1) they lean back when landing, like they want to stern squirt. 2) they don’t paddle out of the hole quick enough. Made for some messy situations.

Easy remedy…lean forward and paddle.

Backwards and capsized upside-down
has always worked for me!(-)

As more or less mentioned above by others here, the defining key to safely negotiate any size unfamiliar drop, is to lay on the paddle going in, over, and out of it. Near home, I’ll only “roller coaster ride” ledges I’m well familiar with, that I’ve done a number of times. “Little” two-footers in new places can sometimes be the most deceiving–Just watch any number of Youtube videos showing lackadaisical brewheads in canoes losing both their balance and coolers.

sideways and then try to surf it

… or swim

Keep paddling
Drifting with the current is passive. You need to take more control.

like this one at 1:10

– Last Updated: Jul-21-11 9:02 PM EST –

albeit a canoe....

fortunately a canoe, which allowed Tommy to tuck up.

Paddle like hell and pray.
Or cartwheel down a drop.

Its been a while since I was super active in white water but a 3 years ago when i was dabbling a bit in it again, i was watching videos of the “new” moves and watched boats do cartwheels down high flow drops.

It was mindblowing but have been told you can’t learn to cartwheel over 40 so I guess I just have to watch it happen.

The key elements i remember

1 pick your line carefully

2 paddle hard

3 keep paddle when you landed to not get sucked back into the hydraulic below.