Eddy clearing on the Westfield

Thirteen-years ago a well-known local paddler died in a tragic boating accident – the only death of an experienced local paddler that I am aware of in my time paddling. Each year his friends organize a memorial paddle for him on his home river – the Westfield in western MA. It’s a nice section of the river – Knightville Dam to Huntington, its dam-controlled so there is always water and there is always a HUGE crowd. It is the bumper-boats of whitewater paddling, and I always make it if I can.

The main feature on this section of the river is the Gorge Drop - a 3-foot ledge to the right of a large jumble of rocks. The easiest line is just to the right of the rocks. From there you can either catch the eddy behind the rocks, or ride the haystack waves downstream. I usually try to catch the eddy so I can climb up on the rocks and get some pictures of other folks coming through. This me going through:

Running the Gorge Drop - Erik

As I came over the crest this time I saw three kayakers sitting in the eddy below waiting to surf the wave at the bottom of the shoot. My line was set, so in I went. I bumped into two of them, and pushed one out the other side. Open boaters call that eddy clearing, and I did a pretty good job. They were OK with it, and I quickly got out of their way to take some pictures.

You can see those pictures here:

Fun day, great community - just wish the get together was for a different purpose.

1 Like

Wow… you pulled a “big boy” move… LOL! When the river is running fast and well, I think folks gave a bit more latitude for eddy catching… “Yeah, we can squeeze another in here…”


I saw some wide-open eyes when they realized I was coming in. :wink:

Its actually an easy move as long as the boat is leaning the right way - the wave at the bottom pushes you right into the eddy.