Carolina 14.5 Feels Tippy

Within 5 minutes of my maiden voyage, I flipped her over. The second time out I didn’t flip but it still felt very tippy at times, even in calm water. Other than the fact that I’m a green newbie and have never been in a kayak before is there anything else, besides time and good technique, I can do? Thanks.

It usually will help to weigh it down a little. Most boats get more stable with more weight in them.

Feeling tippy
Sit up straight, and don’t lean over the side; keep your center of gravity straight up and down.


– Last Updated: Apr-23-07 2:36 PM EST –

I know it's hard at first, but you need to remember that it's impossible for a kayak to be perfectly upright. It's going to tip a bit in response to the water and your movements -- that's perfectly normal. Beginners usually stiffen up when that happens, which makes things worse. You need to learn to be loose at the hips to let the boat move under you while you stay centered above it.

Try this: sitting in the boat, hold your paddle loosely just in front of your shoulders with the shaft parallel to the water. Now try gently rocking the boat with your hips and legs while keeping your shoulders and the paddle level. With practice you'll get comfortable rocking the boat more, or holding it up on an edge. I do this as a warmup every time I go paddle.

"Loose hips save ships"

Learning to brace will also give you more confidence, which will help you to relax.

There's lots of good paddling information in the GuideLines section on this site, or here:

Sheesh …
The fact that you capsized your first time out, and DIDN’T capsize the next time, should tell you something:

You’re getting better!

As angstrom points out, the foundation for most all paddling skills lies in loose hips, so work on that first. Then browse this site and others, read books, take a class (gee, maybe even two), and join a club that offers instruction Learn about braces, leans, strokes, and all the other stuff you can spend a lifetime mastering.

But for now, congratulate yourself that you’ve already increased your skill level a hundredfold! Continue at this rate and you’ll soon be kicking all our *sses …

That kayak is specd to be 24.5 inches wide and capacity of 400 pounds, so it is doubtful that you picked a kayak that is too tippy for you.

I haven’t been paddling that long myself, and it isn’t unusual to be swimming at first, especially putting in or out. You may soon be wishing you bought a less stable kayak, believe it or not.

A lesson, or at least a good instructional DVD would be great. A lot of things in this sport are totally anti-intuitive. For example, when you feel you are tipping over, you need to get your head down for a brace rather than arching up, which puts you in the water. Try a lesson, but even without one you should soon be fine. Be conservative about where and when you paddle at first - for safety.

I’ve got a similar boat
a Carolina 13.5. Don’t fight the boat. It knows how to stay on top of the water. Let it (and your hips and butt) ride the waves; stay very loose through the lower torso so that while your upper body stays nice and upright, your lower body just goes with the motion of the water.

(I know I’m repeating, but sometimes different imagery helps.)

As Already Said, Relax…
unless you’re in really big waves, the boat will want to stay upright. It’s the paddler that will usually over turn it. If you’re tense, expecially in the upper body, your center of gravity actually rises up. Stay loose in the hips and let it swivel while your body stays relative upright (and RELAXED).

Leaning the boat with body and blade is not a bad. Indeed, it’s a sign of progression in terms of skills and comfort. For now, if you are tense, ask why… Is the water cold? Are you dressed for a bit of a swim? That sitting in the back of the mind will make you tense. If the water is warm enough and/or you’re dressed for it (and have PFD on), then give your permission to fall over. It’s okay. Everyone goes through the phase. Get that out of your mind, relax, paddle and have fun. Indeed, you may want to play with the stability of the boat near shore. Keep your upper body upright and relaxes and then deliberately move your hips side to side (by pushing up one knee and then the other). Speed it, speed it down. Keep pushing it to see how far it goes before you fall over. The falling over is actually essential in letting your body understand the limits of heel (or lean) of the boat. This deliberate flipping is a good thing and part of developing an understanding of your boat.


A couple of thoughts
1. Before you even paddle away from the shore,sit in the boat in just a few inches of water, (just so it is floating). Now gently rock yourself back and forth, using your hips. Do it very gently, and just use your paddle to keep yourself up right. Forget about paddling away.

Work on that until you get a sense that the boat won’t tip over.

When you finally reach the point where you can rock it back and forth without using the paddle to brace yourself, then start to paddle away from shore. Each time you feel that you might tip, instead of going into panic mode, just take a hard forward stroke on the side that is leaning and watch how it uprights you.

Play around with this until you realize that you were the one tipping the boat over and with a little work on your part you’ll catch on and join the gang.



Can’t add much except…
I paddle the same boat, and I’ve experienced the same thing, every other boat I’ve paddled has had the same comfort curve associated with it…Jack L. said it…sit in the boat, gently rock side to side, get used to the feel, know what’s normal and what’s not…so you don’t over react and dump yourself…

Deliberate flipping,
that really is a genius idea, and rocking the hips back and forth to learn the “feel” of the boat is what I keep reading and hearing. I purchased the “Ultimate Guide to Kayaking”, and Ken Whiting mentions the exercise of hip-rocking to develop balance by keeping the center of balance over the boat. Kinda like snow-skiing, got to keep the butt over the heels to stay standing.

Perhaps including deliberate flipping in a “training regimen” would do a lot to help newcomers like myself, and folks who “don’t roll” for fear of getting wet. Great suggestions…Thanks…

Just relax
The Carolina is a very stable boat. I have one, but rarely paddle it anymore. I’ve got skinnier boats now, and the Carolina feels like a barge in comparison.

It’s like riding a bicycle. As others said, just relax and sit up straight.