bow rudder and real sea kayakers

Those pointless tirades regarding usefulness of a particular maneuver are so inspiring, I decided to start my own.

To kick things off - bow rudder is one of the most useless strokes in real sea kayaking. “Real Sea Kayaking” for the purpose of this thread is defined as paddling in “real sea” - that is not in rock gardens, tidal races, shore break, reef break or anything even approximating more interesting conditions. That statement is supported by observation that none of the big water paddlers use bow rudders.

well you are right about one thing
this is pointless.


Bow skeg definately better NM

So to fit the picture we have to go to…
Adriatic Sea, the Sargasso Sea, Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, the North sea, the Caspian , and the Red sea, etc

The Atlantic, Pacific and all other oceans don’t count.

I am a lowly “ocean kayaker”!



Real Sea?
All the conditions you listed is what really constitutes “real sea”. Where would you paddle in a sea that has no reef, surf, point breaks, etc.

Are you also eliminating waves over 1 foot high?

a real sea is the one that is constantly changing.

Whether or not you use the bow rudder is up to you.

Bow rudder
The bow rudder is just another neat trick to know, but isn’t always used. About the only time I use it is when approaching a dock or when close in maneuvering to some object in the water.

touche NM

assuming this isn’t sarcasm
a bow rudder is quite useful when you are trying to paddle just a few degrees off of a heavy wind and high seas and your boat keeps lee cocking or worse gets pinned by the wind and wont turn into it—

a few years ago down around Stonington that happened to me–couldn’t for the life of me make the boat turn into that 30+ knot breeze–didn’t even think of the bow rudder stroke–tried a forward sweep on the leeward side and a reverse sweep on the windward side(which is absolutly the wrong thing to do–slows the boat down and causes the wind to stall out the steerage way–also has a tendancy in some boats to raise the bow just a bit–causing it to get caught in the wind.)

Talked to some friends, instructors and did some reading–all recommended the bow ruddering stroke on the windward side—next time I was caught in that situation, last year, I tried it and it worked fine. Another solution to this problem is to have a boat with a rudder—but I have this testosterone problem and rudders are conta indicated for me.

You rang?

What sarcasm?
I assumed that sarcasm and unrestrained opinions are reserved for the B&B :wink:

SeaKayaker magazine published article on maneuvering in the wind, bow rudder was suggested to turn into wind. And it works as advertised.

As i said…pointless
just another tool in the toolbox with many people not having a clue how to do it and worse when to use it.


What’s a bow rudder?
I’ve only seen rudders on the sterns of boats :slight_smile:

Surreal Kayakers
blur the boundaries between sea and sky

to turn into wind…
One of the many valuable things Leon Somme noted in a BB&B session at Downeast this past September is to use your paddle forward of midship (e.g. bow rudder) to turn into the wind and at or aft of midship (low brace, stern rudder, etc…) to turn downwind. This observation was so obvious (doing such allows the wind to turn your boat in the direction you wish) that a number of us felt like we derserved a dope slap :wink:

My Nordkapp LV respondes so wonderfully to bow rudder that I’ve come to use this stroke more than ever :wink:

I would like a reference
I have several books on kayaking, yet none of them have any indication of this stroke or how to do it.

I am looking for some reference (ideally a web link or a book title) that will show me how to do a bow rudder stroke. Any guidance would be appreciated.


Bow rudder works great…
to wind through the mangroves, use it all the time in my “seakayak”.

You will know when you need it in open sea conditions if you are a real sea kayaker. Wilsoj pointed out its usefullness - in certain severe conditions it is the only stroke that will turn your boat upwind. Without it in your quiver your’re $cr#w#d.



(un)real sea kayaker

I find myself using the bow rudder
a lot. As I said just another tool in the arsenal and as wilsoj said sometimes it may be the only way to get back upwind.

when I go out with the Outer Island it sure makes life easier.


Here ya go


then you do find it useful

– Last Updated: Dec-04-08 3:27 PM EST –

assuming of course you sometimes turn into the wind--your OP said that it was a useless stroke--hence I either thought you were being facetious or were really serious---hard to tell on the internet.