having dificulty doing eddy turns

I want to highly recomend Bill Masons path of the paddle video and book and thank you to whoever I read the recomendation from on this site. I went through the whitewater solofor the first time in my 16ft prsopector this weekend and the difference from last year was dramatic. It seemed easy to read the river and slip through the deep spots. I had almost no trouble finding my way and putting my canoe where I wanted it to go. The biggest thing I did have trouble with was eddy turns. Bill made it looks so easy but every time I tried I ended up too far downstream and across the eddy into the current on the other side. I was trying it in places where if I messed up it wouldn’t matter but wondered if anyone had any tips.

how was your trim?
If the bow was riding very high, you would tend to not get the turning action from the differential current. If the bow is not in the water, it can not “grab” the water in the eddie while the stern remains in the main current, you would tend to just wash on past.

If your trim was pretty good, aim for the back of the rock, almost like you are going to hit it and it will work.

Have fun, learning eddie turns is a blast.

Aim high
I help with a beginning WW kayak class, and the most common problem I see getting into eddies is folks underestimating their downstream movement and ferry angle and so entering too low. I aim above the top of the eddy. If you see that you’re going to be high as you approach it’s easy to drop down a bit, but if you start low it’s almost impossible to work your way back up.

Big Eddy’s or Lean Hard
I have the same problem soloing my 16’ Explorer. By the time you are across the eddy line your bow is out the far side and getting pulled down stream.

It’s easier in bigger 16’ boat sized eddys!

For smaller eddys you have to realy lean the boat hard over to get it to spin. You also want to skin the rock with your bow. If you hit the rock you are only just barely high.

It helps to have a plan B (C, D, E…) for when you blow through the eddy.

Don’t forget the magic words…“Yeah, I meant to do that!”

Have fun,


Speed, angle, initiation, lean

Practice carving turns into eddies by getting the

Boat going faster than river, approach the eddy line at as close to 90 degree angle as possible, when the pivot point of the canoe crosses the eddy line initiate the turn from the stern with a pry on the onside or a draw for an offside turn, then lean the canoe farther into the turn than you think necessary while the bow paddler plants a static draw on the turn side.

Think of leaning a bicycle when you come around a sharp turn at high speed.

The hard lean will loosen the bow enough to bring it out of the current on the other side of the eddy and point it back into the eddy. If you drift downstream after getting into the eddy it may be because you initiated too early and caused a stern slide instead of a carving turn.

There may be someone in your canoe club who can show you the technique.

Good luck and have fun.

river and boat speed
differential is the key…dont forget that there is merit in backpaddling if you need time to set up the correct angle.

I always aim for the upstream side of the rock and remember that once in the eddy the support of the brace will vanish.

There is no bow paddler here and the technique cannot be bullied. Its all about angle. 90 degrees is too much at least for me in my boat.

Dont be afraid to miss, pick a safe situation and remember everyone has had this experience at one time.

depends on which part of the eddy
you want to wind up in. If you aim for the rock and then drift downstream like most paddlers do then you will wind up near the bottom of the eddy anyway.

If you cross the eddy line at a point lower down and initiate the carving turn from a 90 degree angle then your speed will carry you through the turn with still enough speed to coast to the top of the eddy.

If there isn’t a bow paddler then the solo paddler can plant a duffek (static draw or cross draw) which can then slice into a forward stroke, (or cross forward stroke if its an offside eddy turn) to continue speed if you want to be higher in the eddy. In most cases if the SAIL is correct you will not need the duffek, the boat momentum through the carving turn and the upstream current in the eddy will carry you to the rock without added strokes.

Its important that the duffek be planted only after the boat pivot point crosses the eddy line, and after the initiation and lean. If you plant the duffek before crossing the eddy line it will act like a leeboard and help push you downstream and you miss the eddy completely.

The advantage of entering the eddy lower down and at 90 degrees is that you have room to accelerate and to build speed to cross back over the eddy line on your peel out or if you want to slide onto a surfing wave.

If your bow is up near the rock when you decide to peel out then you have no way to accelerate to get back out into the current without first drifting backwards in the eddy then stopping the backwards momentum and then using hard forward strokes so you can launch into the current.

If you are at the rock and in the eddy and you push your bow back into the current without any boat speed then it will just push you back into the eddy, or you do a peel out without boat control which means you’re at the mercy of the current.

All the books for many years have shown diagrams of entering the eddy at a 45 degree angle. More recent techniques show that angle to be less effective than a 90-degree approach angle.

If you cross the eddy line at a 45 degree angle then your speed is still heading downstream and you will cross the eddy and wind up back in the current on the other side and still headed downstream. However, if you plan to do an S-turn ferry across the river then the 45 angle is appropriate.

Eddy turns from a 45 degree angle require a very short turning radius in order to stay in the eddy and that can’t be a carving turn. It has to be a stern skid which kills your speed and loses your ability to stay in the eddy. You wind up either crossing the eddy on the other side or coasting backwards into the current below the eddy.

A 90 degree approach angle allows a carving turn without sliding the stern and enables you to stay in the eddy and in control of your angle and speed so that you can initiate your next manuver from a point of power instead of a point of having to do numerous recovery strokes before you can initiate the next move.

Incidentally, we have been talking about a carving turn into an eddy. If you are doing a ferry eddy turn or a drifting eddy turn then a different technique is needed and that is another thread.

I recommend the video Drilltime: Solo Playboating II for a complete treatise on eddy turns. Also Tom Foster’s Surf Every Wave Catch Every Eddy video has good coverage, too.

A different thread

Not trying to put you on the spot. I just want to nudge you back towards the original question, about eddy turns soloing a 16’ Prospector. That’s a big honkin’ moderately rockered tripping canoe, NOT a highly rockered playboat or even a moderately rockered solo. I have an idea that carving in the big boat won’t be easy and that OC1 playboating technique will have limited value when applied to a tripping canoe. I know there’s a huge difference with what works between my Outrage and solo Explorer.


Yeah, but with a long-enough paddle
and an aggressive reach, I could get my 17’ Tripper into the same rock-wide eddies that I manage with my 15’ whitewater boat. Admittedly it takes experience and some “horsing” to get a big tripping boat to do what a small whitewater boat will do, but in some ways I would rather teach a newbie to do eddy turns in a 16’ Prospector than in an 11 foot Zephyr. With a short WW boat, the problem is more driving it along vectors successfully. When it crosses the eddy line, bang, you’re in, or you’re in the water! With the longer, less turny boat, you have to learn the planning and execution.

I was referring to large tandems
I paddle 16 footers too, and the same strokes work whether the boat is 8 feet or 18 feet. Speed, angle, initiation and lean are fundamental to a successful eddy turn, period. The only difference is the size of the eddy and what part of the eddy you want to wind up in. Probably none of us can put a 16’ boat behind a 3’ rock, but plenty of the posters on the forum can put a 16’ boat into a 16’ eddy with change to spare.

hit it!
Or, if you want to know exactly where your boat is relative to the rock, go ahead and hit it!

Erring on the side of actually letting your bow clip the rock can be good practice, and under some circumstances can even be a good way to ensure you catch an eddy.


wider angle and different strokes
If you’re shooting the big boat through the eddy, maybe you are going too fast and/or have too much turning to do…

If it’s plain speed that’s driving out the other side, back off on your approach (or try scarier eddies with a severe current differential).

Otherwise, make sure you’re coming in wide so that the boat only needs to turn 90 degrees. If you come in on a narrow angle, you may just be asking too much of a narrow eddy and a long boat.

Another thing to play with is whether you get your turning power from a bow stroke (like a bow draw) or a stern stroke (like a low-brace back sweep). What works will depend on all the other factors too (angle, speed, tilt, current differential), but get a feel for using bow strokes and stern strokes.


put a 16’ foot canoe behind a 3’ rock?
I’ve seen Tommy do it standing up.

It’s easier standing up
Nothing like being able to put all of your weight on one chine and still stay centered over the boat.


eddy turns
Part of the trouble is boat choice. You’re paddling a tandem canoe at a standing heel, so it wants to turn left. Further, cross strokes are lost to you - you can’t see the water on the offside of the boat, much less reach it!

[Block the thing at an approximation of that heel on your garage floor, then trace around the hull with a 2" long chalk. Banana to offside.

Anyway, I diverge. The fact that the hull wants to carve an offside turn requires excessive correction to make it go straight. To do the usual, onside, eddy turn requires massive onside stern correction, or J, which robs you of the forward power needed to blow across that eddy fence and tuck behind the rock.

Since you are kneeling aft of center on a 16 foot hull, bow draws are pretty much lost, so you need gobs of forward speed, aiming just behind the rock at a closing angle to the rock/stump/whatever.

Drive the boat center acoss the eddyline befor crankling a heroic reverse sweeping low brace to turn the craft upstream into the eddy.

Of course, this all happens more easily in a proper solo canoe, preferably with some rocker, because you can power across that eddyline with crodd forward strokes.

Thanks for all the advice.
The wind was blowing very hard that day and I was constantly moving forward and backward in the canoe to try to keep the trim right so I think on a calm day I’ll try to pay more attention to my trim and correct me if I"m wrong I was leaning into the eddy doing a cross bow draw kneeling as close to center as I could. I was taking the rock as close to the canoe side as I could and planting the the cross bow draw in the eddy but I think I must that must be my weakness beacause by the time I’d drawn the bow around to try a forward sweep the canoe was back in the current. Wife and weather willing I’ll try again this weekend. Thanks again.

Trimming for wind, Trimming for current
The wind will throw another curve at you, especialy in a big unloaded boat. Sometimes the best trim for the wind is opposite the best trim for the water.

It sounds like you have the general idea. The only thing I’d say besides practice, practice practice is lean, lean, lean.

And, as Tom Foster will tell you, “don’t forget to smile!”


Yeah, there may be small eddies that one
can’t get a Tripper into, but if so, it’s because the banks or river wood are in the way, or the water in the eddy is depressed. My Tripper had enough rocker that it would spin on the eddy even though both ends were out in the current.

Stronger eddies=easier
Something else I don’t think anybody mentioned is that the stronger the dynamics of that eddy (current speed differences), the easier your boat will want to spin right in behind the rock. When I throw my boat into a nice strong eddy, I worry about angle, boat speed and postion and mostly use my paddle for bracing in case of some boat twitch. Find a strong eddy and drive it in there hard! Nothing better!

There’s lots to consider, and keep trying, but also… there are limits to the size of eddy you can catch on your offside when paddling a 16’ tandem boat solo.