commitment to safety

I would really like to learn to roll my kayak, unfortunately, pools sessions are out of the question because the boat’s 15.6 ft long. A friend once took me out to a lake with his WW boat, but there was a great deal of chop that day, and his boat was really not a good fit for me,(too big) and all I got was bruised up. Was wondering if it might be worthwhile to find a place to rent a small boat more my size and try again. I live in the boonies with no good size towns around (Dallas is 2 hours away) so logistics make it hard as well. Any suggestions?

Where There Is A Will…
Get some immersion gear. Get one of the good DVDs on rolling and review with your friend. Head back to the lake with your friend and go to it.

I committed to learning the roll very early on. Taught myself to roll in the fall of my first year by practicing at a lake well into November and then doing pool practice to ingrain what I learned at the lake (easier for me since I worked at a place that had an indoor pool). I have pretty good body awareness so was able to do it on my own. But, it helps to have a spotter to tell you what you are doing and to help right your kayak if fail in rolling. Saves time from wet exiting and having to drain the kayak after each failed roll.


Above from Sing a start - a good video can go a long way. But you still need to find a boat that’ll work for you as a learner. A poorly fitting boat is more than counter-productive at first.

Questions - how big are you? Height, weight. Someone here may be able to suggest an old school WW boat that you could pick up very cheap off of places like Craig’s list to use for this purpose. Then you could try to hook up again with your friend to at least spot you.

What make and model is your present 15’ plus boat? Depending on the fit and how you were thinking when you picked it up, it may not be a boat that’ll be much “rollable” for you until you get a pretty solid roll down anyway. So - a possible reason not to worry about trying to get it into a rolling session anyway.

Have you posted on boards like this one to find out if there are any organized groups of paddlers around you that run ad hoc sessions during the season? Many clubs, even pretty informal ones, do skills sessions. Obviously the level of help could be variable, but if you also look at a good video and have a failry easy rolling boat that could be enough.

If you can make the hike into Dallas
The Colony Aquatic Center has indoor roll classes every Friday night during the winter months and they normally have plenty of assorted sizes of demo boats that you can use free of charge. Go to for more info.

If It’s Any Consolation
I will be traveling over 2 hours for an hour’s worth of pool time with Turner and Cheri in a couple of weeks. I know I’m a worst case scenario when it comes to rolling.

Godd luck…Lou

choice…they will get you to roll and this silliness of no roll for years of effort will be over.

Glad to hear this.

Best Wishes


Say Hi for me…you have chosen well

Your boat will fit in the pool
I took my 14.5’ boat to the pool, and I’ve seen folks with longer boats there. Don’t hesitate to take it.

Above, somebody mentioned finding somebody to work with in the pool. That is excellent advice. An hour is a long time to do rolls in the pool, and it is a PITA if you need to wet exit and drain the boat after every missed roll. Between you and the spotter, you only need one boat, so if you have somebody to work with, you can take turns spotting. BTW, the spotter not only watches you, but if you miss the roll, they help right you and the boat without you popping the skirt.

I also suggest wearing a diver’s face mask for a few reasons. First of all, the chlorine tears me up, and the mask reduces exposure of eyeballs and nasal passages. Second, when you are spotting, you can see what is happing from under water. Lastly, if you watch your paddle blade through the whole roll, it encourages you to keep your head in the water. Lifting the head too soon is, I think, the number one roll-killing mistake, so wear the mask and stare at your blade through the whole maneuver.

Oh, and your spotter, if they have a smaller boat and you’d be more comfortable in a smaller boat, use their boat. Join and post to your local club to recruit your rolling-session work mate.