Kayak as diving platform

So, first trip out, lasted approximately 5 minutes. The last 2 were spent swimming the kayak back to the shore. Small channel, perfectly calm, 2 people, total of 370 lbs. (500 lb. limit) in a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. The mere act of paddling appears to have caused the capsize. I now have some questions as to why this would be so:

1 - Inflatable kayaks just don’t work for two people?

2 - Bad technique can cause this even with a pro?

3 - Newbie error - happens all the time no matter what type of craft?

4 - This never happens - you two must be klutzes!

I appreciate your input, and I fully expect some humorous responses, but the wife and I are at odds about the cause, so I’m trying to get some expert opinion…just as soon as you can type in between spasms of laughter…

Thank you

Hard to guess, but
1. If you were paddling with feathered blades (blades not aligned with each other) it is possible to plant the blade incorrectly such that your forward stroke actually pulls the kayak over. I have come close a couple of times when I switched from my Greenland paddle to a feathered Euro.

2. In wide kayaks like the inflatables people have a tendancy to start the stroke by leaning out to the side so they clear the side of the kayak. If 2 people lean out at exactly the same time a little too far it can tip a kayak. If there is a lot of rocking of the kayak side to side as you paddle you could be leaning outboard on each stroke.

3. You really are klutzes and you should just put on your scuba gear, tie yourself into the kayak, capsize it and then paddle upside down:)

Better luck next time.


Next time
have someone take video. Even if we can’t help, we might get some cheap entertainment, heh heh.


define 'wide’
define ‘wide’ - I can straddle this one while on dry ground. As a matter of fact it seemed rather narrow once in the water.

No, the paddles, although adjustable, were set in an even/parallel position. It is quite possible that I leaned although my wife insists she wasn’t. But we most certainly started rocking and it was a quick trip from there to the water. Almost instantaneous.

Meanwhile people with canoes and SOT kayaks were launching and landing and no one else seemed to be having any problems staying afloat.

Not sure exactly what model
you have but the Sea Eagle tandem I looked up on the website was listed at 34in wide. For comparison my Impex kayak is 20.5 inches wide. Tandems are always wider than singles, but since you do not sit right in the middle at the widest point the tandem paddles “narrower” than its max width. Still 34 in is generally considered a wide kayak.

Do you know what length paddles you are using? I think people most often paddle with something like 230 cm (others please correct me if that is too long) in tandems. If the paddle is too short it will cause you to lean out more to plant it in the water.

Next time out concentrate on eliminating the rocking by keeping yourself vertical and your shoulders centered in the kayak. Paddle a little bit slower, with shorter strokes and keep the blade just below the surface instead driving it deep down under the surface.


kayak as diving platform
paddles are 240cm

Yes, the Sea Eagle 330, so I guess 34 in. is right.

I’m beginning to wonder if we missed something when we inflated it. It seemed lower in the water than I’m seeing in the pictures on their web site. Also, we got the ‘pro’ package with taller seats, and it felt like I would imagine a SOT would feel. Plus I had a small ice chest behind me and my seat was a bit forward, meaning my knees were bent more. This may have thrown off my balance.

Regardless, I’m thinking some beginner’s classes may be in order. But If kayak’s are that easy to flip then I’m not sure when I can stop worrying about capsizing and start enjoying the trip…oh wellz

Leaning and/or crabbing

– Last Updated: Mar-08-09 8:07 PM EST –

Odds are that somehow you ended up with both paddles in the water kinda stuck in a position that tended to pull the boat over, then leaned that way to fix the problem, then plop. It can happen in any boat, though yeah you supposedly bought some insurance with an inflatable. However, if most of your weight was high you may have negated the policy.

A couple of lessons would be in order for more purposes than paddling in a coordinated fashion - you guys need to learn how to get back into that thing on the water. Sometime or other swimming the boat back to shore is not going to be an option.

My guess is that loading had something to do with it. Two adults with lots of awkward gear in a semi-soft sided boat, spells trouble in my book. Inflatables have some flex to begin with and add the motion of two humans and weird shaped gear shifting around may have caused your downfall.

Good luck with your next outing.


Look at the pictures of the regular and
pro. The pro looks to have much thicker seats, which means you will sit higher in the boat, which means you will raise your center of gravity, which means you will be less stable, and tip over easier. Try it with thinner seat cushions. You want to sit lower in the boat.

Number 4, but I’ll bet you are
nice people!



capsize practice
You need to get right back out and try again. Don’t sit home and overanalyze it. Classes are cool but simply not-capsizing is a pretty basic level of skill that you should be able to teach yourself by trial and error. Still, it doesn’t mean you were klutzes the first time out – it’s just that you tried to do too much all at once.

What you need is a day of Capsize Practice. Now, I hear you saying you feel like experts already, and it may be true that as of right now you have more capsize experience than paddling experience. But you didn’t do it right - here’s how you should do your day of Capsize Practice:

Go someplace with a nice shore that gets deep enough (2-3 feet) pretty quick. Then just go one step at a time, and take baby steps. First just one person in the boat, try getting in, pushing off, paddling 10 feet, coming back and dismounting. Then 2 people, no cooler or other gear, and only one person paddling. Paddle out 10 feet, come back, dismount. Next trip, 2 people, no gear, both paddling – at first, make it a point to always paddle on opposite sides (person in rear observes front paddler position, and puts his/her paddle in the water on the opposite side, changes sides when the front person changes).

Once you get this far, with both of you in the boat and both paddling successfully – now it’s time to PURPOSELY capsize. The point here is to see how close to the edge you can go without capsizing, and the best way to do that is to keep pushing it until you go over – then, next time, pull back just before you reach the point where you capsize. Try things like both paddling on the same side, both leaning, turning fast and leaning in, whatever you can think of. Throughout this part, it’s very important that you communicate well with the other person, to let them know when you’re about to do something that might capsize the boat so you don’t catch them by surprise.

Spend a day like this, learning how to capsize and thus how NOT to capsize, and the rest of your paddling career will be much more enjoyable.

capsize practice
This sounds like a good idea. I had initially thought that only rapids-runners needed to practice such, but we really should be more familiar w/ the craft before we adventure.

And we were definitely paddling on the same side at the same time in order to avoid whacking each other’s paddles. I’m beginning to think that may have been an important factor.

I’m thinking of removing the seats altogether! I felt high while at the same time feeling like the boat was sitting low in the water. Thanks for that insight.

I wouldn’t say ‘lots’ of gear, just the one small soft-sided cooler. However, we somehow missed the part where the front and rear deck covers were excellent spots for tying things down. At least we had it tied off on a line.

Anyone can capsize
The reasons to practice are to learn various ways to self rescue - so you can quickly recover and keep paddling (vs long dangerous swims) and to learn most effective ways to stow your gear so it stays put in waves, or capsizes.

The more people, and the more gear, the more there is to work out and learn.