I have taken my kids out in the river a few times with a two person kayak…we have to cross the river to get over to a beach they like…but boats and jet-skis are up and down alot. I get nervous getting threw the wake. if something did go wrong can I have a list of things I should know to do??? I know this may sound dumb but am new and teaching myself…well the net helps. Advice pls

My mom gets nervous about that too.
She doesn’t like crossing waterways if she can even hear a boat. Just have to steer into the wake, perpendiculat to it and you’ll probably even enjoy “sufing” the wakes. It can get to be difficult to cross on holidays and sunny days and since she’s new to all this boats make her nervous. We usually try to take her to shallow areas where she can watch the fish jump and the oysters spit and take her time. Stick together and you’ll be fine. It helps to have bright clothing, boats etc or even a mirror to flash at the boaters if they still don’t see you. There are some rude boaters out there but there are a lot of really decent folks too.

If you as a parent are nervous

– Last Updated: May-29-06 9:53 PM EST –

... maybe your inner voice is telling you something. Maybe you should try to get some more experince on your own indpendent of the kids. Also, when it comes to rescue, it's hard to get that kind of experience without lessons.

While it may not really be a big deal if you could actually see it. Just hearing you tell it, I don't know if anyone would be comfortable giving you an emergency checklist and sending you on your way with the kids.

It can be hard to find the time to get out to get experience and push yourself a little without the kids. But,if you explain to your wife how important it is for you to get out more so you can learn more, it may help you to get kitchen passes.

Not to be a prude, but if you are responsible for a couple of kids as well as yourself it seems that finding a lesson or two to learn basic rescue and paddling skills is not optional. It’s minimum prep.

Can you find a paddle shop or outfitter around you and pay them for some time to get you and your passengers into a safer situation?


– Last Updated: May-29-06 9:58 PM EST –

Of course, everyone including yourself is wearing a life jacket, of the correct size, and wearing it SNUGLY.

How old are the children?

If the waves are really big, taking them at a 45 degree angle might be easier. However, make sure you don't broach.

What would you do if the boat flipped?

If you're really worried, my concern would be that maybe you're not experienced enough to be ferrying little ones in such conditions? Go with your gut feeling, it's usually right (if its warning you, that is).

And, maybe under these conditions it would pay to invest in some lessons.

A few thoughts…
I live five blocks from two large marinas on a big river, and I spent a few summers bobbing around in cabin cruiser wakes on purpose. Here’s what I learned the hard way:

When in doubt, point the boat straight at the wake. 90°, dead nuts on. This is usually foolproof if you are skirted, have the discipline to sit up straight and take it in the teeth, and are prepared to be thoroughly soaked. Under those circumstances, it is also quite fun. Not skirted… you’ll almost certainly remain vertical, BUT you could ship a considerable quantity of water, if the bow punches through the wave instead of riding over it. Hull design and proximity to the wave (and, I suspect, the amount of aeration in the wave) figure here. Stating the obvious, the closer you are to where the wake started, ie, the boat’s track, the sharper, taller, and frothier it will be. You’ll pitch up at a higher angle than you would if you took it fifty yards later.

If you haven’t got the time to turn straight at the wake, remember that (1) just about anything is better than taking the waves broadside, on the beam, and (2) the boat is safer and stabler when you have paddles in the water and are driving it than when you have paddles up and are just bobbing around, waiting for someone to read you the laws of physics.

Running away from the wake, keeping it dead astern and paddling like stink, can be a smart move if you are far enough away from it to begin with… it will subside and smoothen as it travels. However, I’ve never liked taking a big, fresh, pointy wave from dead astern- can’t see it. Getting smacked in the back of the head by a green wall of water than runs up over the stern is not fun. In kayaks, avoid surprises.

Try timing your scoots across the river between yachts… bob around a safe distance from the main traffic lanes, gauge the speeds and distances, choose your moment, and put the boots to it- just like jaywalking a busy city boulevard. Some days, it’ll look like the Normandy landings and you may have to wait a while to get a clear, non-turbulent run across.

Last point- You said kids, so I’m presuming you’ve got more than two people in the boat? If that’s the case, a skirt’s out of the question, I guess. In my opinion, choosing to go deliberately through nerve-inducing boat wakes in an open kayak full of chilluns is, ah, stretching the boat’s performance envelope just a bit… especially if they’re little kids, self-loading baggage and not paddlers.

I never intentionally went wake-bobbing in a kayak without a skirt. Still wouldn’t.

I am a single mom…
Everything I do except work I pretty much do me and my children. I don’t think where I am learning is a crazy spot I am just asking because I think of the worst that could happen and I know if I tipped over we would all be ok as there are other ppl over on the beach who would see and my children have pfd’s on and the current is not strong…all that said I still get nervous and would like to know some helpful hints…

sorry I figured you for a dad

– Last Updated: May-29-06 10:20 PM EST –

That's pretty cool that you get your kids out with you. Under the circumstances you describe, I'd say it's most important to be ready to wave your paddle back and forth over your head to get the attention of any oncoming boaters. I'd try it by yourself in water where you can't stand so you know you can do it. I'd also dump with the kids so everone knows the drill so no one gets worked up. Probably good to stay with the yak for greater visibility. Make sure the kayak has flotation to keep it up and everyone can hang on so they don't get separated. It's hard to picture how far you have to go to get back on shore. Also don't know if the kids can propel themselves adequately to readily get to shore under their own power.

Make sure you have a good loud whistle. You say there are people on shore who would help. Without going into the fact that you may not know who these people are and whether you can/should rely on them, canoe and kayak mishaps can look deceivingly serene to an observer. Often there is nothing that really tells a casual observer that there is a real problem or emergency going on. Have a whistle so you can clearly communicate that something is going on and you need assistance.

You might want to
perform a ‘what if’ scenario.

Get the kids out on a nice day with as little traffic as possible. Start your crossing and then capsize the boat. Prep the kids beforehand and let them do a swim in for practice and adventure. Learn to swim while towing the boat.

Trial runs can be fun, informative, and revealing.

Having a spotter is a good safety measure.

Pleasant waters to you and yours.


– Last Updated: May-29-06 11:41 PM EST –

It would be lots safer if the kids completed a swimming course or two. I know it may sound like a lot to do before paddling away for X-minutes, but if they're not comfortable in deeper water, a capsize has a potential to become pretty traumatic for a younger person.
Some kind of paddling lessons, especially for a tandem crews, are necessary...beforehand, otherwise someone will be nervous and stiff...balance-wise, resulting in a tippy situation.
...and you don't want to find this out for the first time as you're out in the middle of the river...
Paddling accidents happen to the parties who to some degree "just Wing-It"...thinking "It's not that far, what could happen..."

What kind of kayak?
If you’re going to take kids out, you should be prepared to deal with a capsize sooner or later. Tandem sit-on-tops are relatively easy to deal with after a capsize, tandem recreational kayaks (open cockpit) less so. Can you and your kids right the boat, empty it (if necessary), and re-enter if you did capsize? If so, a capsize isn’t necessarily a big deal and can be part of the fun for the kids. If not, what’s your plan for getting boat and kids to shore in the event of a capsize?

FWIW, I spent quite a bit of time with as many as four or five kids in an Ocean Kayak Cabo tandem sit-on-top, but a tandem rec boat with kids would scare me in anything but flat, warm water close to shore. Among other things, even if you’re prepared to deal with wakes yourself, kids can do interesting things like leaning on the down-wave gunwale for support when the boat starts to tip, with predictable results.

Can the kids swim ??
Can they swim with out PFD’s?

If not then I wouldn’t even attempt to do a crossing with them where there are a lot of boat wakes and I was nervous.

If they can swim and will enjoy the dunking (if it happened) then go for it and don’t worry.

Just about all new paddlers fear boat wakes until they have experience and build up their skills and confidence, and it would be much better for you to find another way to that beach until you have reached that stage.



Boat Wake
Hade my first experience with the wake of large boats on the Hudson River yesterday. I was nervous, but with good instruction, got to love it. Good Luck with this and I think it’s great that you are doing so much with your kids.

I Spent 4 Hours
out in on ICW two week ends ago with my eleven year old getting him used to boat wakes. We started out rafting the two boats together so that he could see how stable that was and progressed through low bracing, sculling, paddling, and then just riding over them.

I wanted to have him practice a couple of wet exits and rescues and had him help one of the wakes tip him over. He had a good time and likely played on more boat wakes that afternoon than he will see on several typical days.

Happy Paddling,


tested capsizing with my kids
I posted on paddlers place discussion forum earlier today about our antics with our first time tipping our kayaks to get the “real” feel and it wasnt as easy as we thought! I believe its a must to do with your children - and practice. the title on page 1 or 2 of paddlers discussion is titled “First time “in” the water with kayaks” if you want to read about someone elses perspective!

Do be watchful of boats, though. You
never know whether a responsible person is at the helm. My wife told me she heard on the news in the car about a 13 yr old and his buddy plowing along in a power boat, hit a 6 yr old snorkeling by his family’s boat, then hit the boat. Dead 6 yr old, the boys ran in the power boat, but were caught at the pier by their home. Now, hopefully, the kid will spend a few years in a juvey facility. Of course, in Texas, its against regulations to let a 13 year old run a power boat over, I believe, 10 hp, and they may have done it without permission, but responsible parents keep the keys to big boats in their pocket or locked up and don’t let kids under age drive their boats.