Follow up on skills set thread

I went to the local lake and worked on a suggestion by Celia. Basically it involves getting on top of the kayak and crawling around on it. The idea is to develope the sense of balance.

The short version is I need a lot of work.

The overall results for this first effort was that I was able to get to the cockpit and get my butt in the seat but lost it while trying to get my legs in and over I would go. After nearly an hour of this I went for a paddle to give my clothes time to dry and I noticed immediately that I felt much less tippy in the kayak than I had on earlier paddling days. Also controlling the kayak with subtle leans improved(see the contant turn thread)

A tip of my hat to Celia for suggesting the training exercise.

Glad to hear
The other nice use of this kind of practice is, when it is a really hot day, you can get wet in a lake that may otherwise be no swimming in the name of kayaking. You are practicing kayaking skills…

When you get to where you can get out of the cockpit, slide to the bow, touch it with your hand, then turn around on your belly and come back to plop back into the cockpit, you’ll find most self-rescues get a whole lot easier. Meanwhile you’ll figure out what to do with your skirt to avoid it getting caught on stuff, and entertain folks on the beach.

If you put one leg in while dropping your butt in, you’ve done the hard part.

Ryan L.

Use your paddle …
slapping the paddle on the water gives a lot of support … learn about braces and you can brace while you skootch into the kayak.

Eric jacksons “Rolling and Bracing” video is really good for teaching you techniques for staying upright.

EJ dvd
is on my list to get. I wasn’t using my paddle while doing this exercise. I’m thinking I will continue spending some time each trip to the lake working without the paddle and then working with the paddle as I learn how to brace. I think that will be a good combination for now.

Is this
a simultaneous thing with leg and butt, or does the leg go in first followed by the butt? I think at one point I manged to get my butt in first then got one leg in(left) and then capsized while trying to get the right leg in. Did not have the paddle with me so maybe having the paddle and knowing how to use it would have made a difference.

is a very valuable skill. The tricky bit is to learn to go deep enough to really need that brace, like would happen in a real capsize. Working alone, most people stop before they really hit that point because they underestimate how far over they can take the boat before it is really unstable.

If you are doing this alone, you need to work this one from both sides - going for a brace and being willing to fall beyond the point that the boat will hold you - to have a brace that will actually be a lifesaver. If you can find someone to work with, that can help because they can stabilize the boat close to that tip point so you have a chance to really feel how far over it is.

I’ve seen
hints of that point in a few of the video clips I have watched on Youtube and other site. I’m still experimenting with how much the kayak can be leaned over without actually capsizing. Even at the timid point I am right now it is pretty amazing how far over the boat can go.

Currently I am working on all this alone as I live in a rural area with very few kayakers around. The one I have seen and talked with is into the play boating and maybe some whitewater stuff if any of the regional rivers get enough flow, which what most of the folks I have run into at all are doing. Their eyes kind of glaze over in disbelief when they hear I have a 17’ kayak.

I am hoping to find an instructor/coach but have had much less than desirable experiences with instructors

when I first learned scuba diving and flying small planes. This has left me leary of just heading out to the nearest instructor.


– Last Updated: Jun-10-12 8:48 PM EST –

Butt in and legs out is a pretty stable position. However, when going to put one leg in, I find that the most unstable part. Once one leg is in putting the other leg in is easy. Thats how I get in my boat at launch. You will get more comfortable.

When praticing a cowboy self rescue or a variation of a rear deck reentry I put one leg and butt in simultaneously. The paddle is of no use to me during that type of reentry.

I feel like I should edit to mention that the rear deck on my boat is high and the cockpit is tight. So for me a reentry from the back deck is tough because my center of gravity is already a few inches higher. Plus the tight cockpit makes it very difficult to impossible to get a leg in if both are out with my butt down, and a sculling brace wouldn't help because I need a hand to pull my foot under the deck.

I'm not sure of your boat specs or flexibility but if I was you I would just get comfortable with as much stuff as you can.

Also, I was thinking about your route, couldn't you head up the Cumberland instead of the Tennessee and then lock through at Barkley and take the canal to Kentucky lake? That would avoid the far busier lock.

Ryan L.

1 Like

Simple bracing practice
One of the things I really enjoy doing in a kayak is build up some speed, put out a lean to the side with a low brace, leaning as far over as I can (which is a remarkable amount, actually). It gives me both the feel for the tipping point and the feel for how much power you can produce with the paddle.

High braces are a different story because you kind of need a wave for these, but if you are practicing same, be certain to KEEP the ELBOWS LOW (well below the shoulders) so that you don’t put undue pressure on the shoulders and risk dislocations.


I have seen
video clips of people doing exactly what you are talking about and it is indeed amazing to me how far over the boat goes, which indicates to me how much support is being provided by the paddle. At this point in time I guess I’m just not ready to trust it yet.

Try the WW folks
You may have to press, but a brace is a brace is a brace. The length of the boat makes no difference.

Unfortunately some short boat folks figure anyone in a long boat is a barcalounger paddler - wrong. They also often get surprisingly confused by the length of the boat, thinking that makes it wildly different. It isn’t - all you are ever moving is the boat around your hips, and if anything a well fitting sea kayak is narrower and easier than a lot of WW boats. I wish I had a video of the WW kid who hand rolled my NDK 17’8" sea kayak on his first try - he was shocked even after I told him he could. He’d just hand rolled a really cranky older style playboat, basically a box. I knew if he could do that the Explorer would be easy.

Sculling Brace

– Last Updated: Jun-10-12 7:10 PM EST –

I am going to suggest a different type of brace to use while pulling your legs in the boat. It is called a sculling brace. Here is the first video that I found googling the term. If you look around youtube you'll find more goodies I'm sure. In this one he mentions that this is an "advanced" brace. Don't let that intimidate you. It is "advanced" like cursive writing is an "advanced" penmanship technique over printing; as you practice you'll develop a feel for it. You can also practice in about knee deep water. Straddle the boat then drop your butt in the seat, your feet will now be off the bottom, you'll be in that same position you described. Now use the sculling brace to stabilize yourself as you pull one leg in at a time. Good luck and enjoy the journey.

I tried

– Last Updated: Jun-10-12 10:25 PM EST –

the sculling brace this evening long with the high brace before moving on to capsizing and doing wet exits and re-entry. I found I was able to hold the boat at its tipping point with the sculling brace at leasst for a little bit of time. I need a lot more practice on the braces.

thing I did find the tipping point this evening. It goes over just as the coaming gets to the water surface. I sent a few minutes getting close to that point and correcting with hip/leg movement. Then a practiced a few high braces when getting close to the tipping point just to the feel for it. Then I tipped it past that point and used the brace to right myself.

I know I’m getting it wrong though as I used mostly arm strength and didn’t effectivley get the hip movement into play. Going to take plenty of practice to get the coordination of the movemnets correct.

Comment on the video
I just looked at it. If you notice, Ken Whiting is keep both of his elbows close to his torso. Some of the others aren’t. That matters hugely. It is also why the resting position, so to speak, is actually lower for the high brace than the low brace. But don’t worry about that right now - without guidance you can do a hell of a job on yourself trying the low brace with bad form.

My other note is the upper hand. Whiting refers to it correctly, that the point of this exercise is to learn how the blade will itself tend to want to stay at the surface if you can feel it well (and it is a dihedral blade which most are). But it is harder to see that the upper hand isn’t doing anything because most of these folks still have that hand somewhat closed. When I drill this brace from sitting to retrain it, I actually leave my upper hand completely open so it can’t mess me up.

As to the brace overall, it only is needed when you are on your way to a capsize. If you maintain a good balance and loose hips with good body awareness in the boat, theoretically you reduce your need of the brace. So keep climbing around on the boat, for that and to make self-rescues less physically difficult. It isn’t uncommon for people to manage a first self-rescue, fall over again from water in the boat or the waves that capsized them in the first place and be trouble because by then they are too tiered for a second try.

you say you keep your upper hand open that is indicating to me that the lower hand is actually rotating or transitioning the blade?

I haven’t, and won’t, give up on the crawling around on the kayak or trying to get from the water up on to the kayak. Even with as little experience and knowledge as I have I can see that good balance and control on top of the kayak is key to good self rescue technique.

hip work
One of my favorite exercises for hip/balance work:

While sitting in the boat, hold the paddle just in front of your shoulders, elbows down, loose grip. Using hips & legs, lift the edge of the boat while keeping the paddle shaft parallel with the water. Repeat on the other side. With practice you can rock the hull to fairly steep angles while your upper body floats above it.

You can extend that paddle shaft to the side as needed, but keep the shaft horizontal and your arms and grip loose.

If music helps you feel loose, reggae works well for thus.

No wave required.
Lean, throw your head down into the water, high brace up. It’s very good practice for recovering from tips.

Hold that edge, too
Rocking back and forth is easy, so once you’re comfortable doing that, hold one side steady, then go neutral, and then switch to and hold the other side’s edge.

When that is easy, work on holding smaller increments of edge. You don’t always need a humongous degree of edge.

When that too is easy, leave the paddle parallel and floating alongside your kayak while you do the edging exercises. You will be surprised at how little of a touch you need on it to stay edged or to recover from the start of tipping over. It is similar to walking on a log bridge with and without a rail for reassurance. It is easier to walk on a narrow log bridge with a rail even if you never touch the railing. Do this practice in very shallow water next to shore, to eliminate capsizing fears.

LeeG gave me good advice about 10 years ago: Paddle the kayak while sitting on the rear deck just behind the coaming. Legs dangle in the water but don’t try to use them to grip the kayak like a bronco; stay loose.