kayak pulling to the right

I am a relatively new kayaker and I recently bought a 14’ Perception Caroina. I rented one for a day before purchasing mine to make sure I liked it. I really like the boat, but I find that when I’m paddling, the boat always pulls to the right. This happened with both the boat I rented and it happens with mine, so it must be something I am doing. I’ve paid attention to how I am paddling, how I’m sitting, how my legs and feet are inside the kayak and I can’t figure out why it is doing this. Any suggestions?

Can you tell when the rightward
shift is occuring? During your leftside paddle stroke, or while the paddle is on recovery? Is the boat leaning slightly to the left during recovery? How many strokes does it take before the rightward swerve is noticeable?

As you gain experience, you’ll be actively steering, even on a stroke by stroke basis, by small changes in your stroke on one side or the other, and by leaning away from your desired turn. Some people want a rudder to mess with for this sort of thing, but rudders are for larger, broader movement issues.

Ensure that the distance of each hand is nearly the same from the edge of your hand to the paddle blade. Another suggestion is to not have one leg bent a lot more than the other as this will shift your weight and allow the boat to turn more than you want. Drawing one leg up into a bend and leaning it toward the outside of inside of your boat is what some paddlers do when making slight corrections to their direction.

Depending on the width of the seat and that of your butt, be sure to sit in the center of the seat.

Guess how I know some of these things? Been there done that in my early days of kayaking. :slight_smile:

If you get the opportunity, try kayaking lessons or seek our experienced paddlers and avoid some of the mistakes others have made.

Paddling.net has some great videos to link into on this site.

Best of luck in your future kayaking adventures. May you learn to enjoy it as much as many others do.

Are you doing this?
Any of these common things can make his happen -

Getting the blade into the water more forward on one side than the other, likely the left if you are right-handed; pulling it further back towards the back of the boat on one side than the other; paddling with more strength and power on one side than the other…

Also, how tall are you? If you are particularly short you might be reaching awkwardly to get that paddle into the water.

You should probably start by just shortening your stroke to see if that helps. Figure that if the bow of the boat is 0 degrees and the stern is 180 degrees, only have the paddle in the water from 45 to 135 degrees. A lot of newer paddlers keep the paddle in the water too far back.

Another Suggestion
I had the same problem when I started and still have it some days. I try to check all the things people here have suggested as well as checking where I am planting each stroke. Some days one arm seems to be stronger than the other. Some days it is just the breeze or the current. Sometimes I figure it out sometimes not. If not, I just slide my paddle (hand position) a little to one side until the problem goes away. The more I paddle the less I have to off set my paddle. Not a big thing. Don’t worry about it a lot and don’t let it get in the way of enjoying a paddle.

pulling to side
Often the main cause if pushing on one side as is desired, but pulling on the opposite side. And, on the pulling hand you generally bring the blade back too far.

Right handed?

– Last Updated: Nov-07-11 9:11 AM EST –

Lets face it, we go through life doing everything favoring one hand. Is it any surprise that one side is pulling more that the other? In a while it will straighten out as you gradually develop a decent paddle stroke. It happened to me too. Put a new paddler leftee in the same boat and it will pull to the left. It never seems to happen to women because men are animals and want to pull like crazy trying to speed around. Once you calm down the just paddle easy, it will all straighten out without thinking about it. Then you'll be able to paddle hard with total equilibrium.

Practice turning
Another suggestion is to practice turning. Sometimes the best way to figure out what causes your kayak to turn is to figure out and practice what causes your kayak to turn. Sounds pretty silly now that I typed it. But when I first started kayaking and was paddling downstream in my whitewater kayak, sitting around for a while trying to figure how to turn the boat quickly, how to involve my paddle, arms, torso and legs in the process, was really what got me paddling a straight line in my Dagger Outburst. In my sea kayak, I would also line the point of my bow up with a distant tree or building or whatever, and concentrate on what was causing the subtle turns in one direction or the other. But really gettin groovy with the whole maneuvering process helped me personally the most with straight-line directional control.

If I Wuz You
I’d eliminate a couple things first.

  1. Make sure you haven’t been paddling a couple of warped boats. On a calm day paddle up to a good speed and glide. Does the boat veer right even if you start a glide after paddling on the right? If you stroke on the right side your boat should veer left. If it swings back right your boat is likely warped and you need to get your money back.

  2. Many kayaks weathercock. Make sure you aren’t always turning into the wind. If your boat always veers right regardless of wind you can eliminate weathercocking.

  3. If you’ve eliminated the boat and wind then it’s likely you. My suggestion would be to get on a good sized body of water; pick a distant landmark and paddle towards it without taking your eyes off that spot. Don’t look at anything but that landmark.

Kudzu is right
It isn’t unusual to find a poly boat that has taken a “set” after it comes out of the mold and cools. My first kayak in 1991 was an Aquaterra Chinook that consistently turned to the right. The dealer told me that I just needed to learn good paddling technique. I finally turned the boat over, snapped a chalk line down the keel which showed that the boat was about 1 1/2 inches our of line at the stern. I sent a photo to Aquaterra and they sent me a new boat. Straight keel and a better color, too.

easy fix.
All the above are true as well.

Make sure you are looking up when you are paddling. New paddlers often look down to one side.

Ryan L.

When I had this problem it turned out
to be a huge dimple in the hull. The dimple occured by pulling too hard on the straps when cartopping. I know it was that because I’m an experienced paddler and checked everything else out. I propped the boat up and kept stepping in it until the dimple came out and my problem ended. The Carolina will dimple.

you’re probably born to paddle
a canoe. My best ww paddle bud, paddles kayaks, but his stroke favors one side, even though he goes straight. Kind of drops one shoulder. We call him an “honorary canoeist”. Got more pronounced when he separated his shoulder after an incident on some cl.4.

Split possibilities (3 categories)

– Last Updated: Nov-08-11 2:42 PM EST –

1. First, the easiest to identify: Things about the equipment that might cause a pull:

* Warped boat (not symmetrical laterally)
* Severe dent on one side of the hull
* Lopsided weight-loading of any gear you carry in the boat
* Bulky objects on top of the deck that could promote either weathercocking or leacocking--big object on rear deck acts like a sail that makes the wind push the stern downwind and therefore the bow upwind (weathercocking)--big object on front deck makes the wind push the bow downwind (leacocking)

2. Next-easiest to identify: Things about the conditions that might cause a pull:

* Wind direction consistent with the pull. If you paddle in both directions, you can quickly test this out.
* Presence of any current differentials, even slight ones

3. Probably need an observer to identify: Things about you that might cause a pull:

* Sitting lopsidedly, even slightly. Some boats are more sensitive to this than others.
* Pushing with one leg on the pegs harder than the other
* Pushing or pulling with one side (upper body) harder than the other
* Rotating more on one side than the other
* Physical limitations such as tightness of muscles or joints on one side, which can lead to any of the above
* Blade entering or exiting water differently on one side
* Blade going deeper into water on one side
* Paddle moving out sideways more on one side

And you could also have combinations of any of the above categories and items within them.

BTW, I found that if I don't warm up well, one side tends to be a little tighter than the other resulting in less rotation on that side. So always warm up well and be extra-vigilant about good technique in the first 15 minutes or so. Ironically, this is one situation where (after you figure out what's going on) it is BETTER to paddle alone for a while; people who are there to chat tend to distract from this kind of focus, AND they tend to veer into you causing you to worry more about avoiding them instead of working on your forward stroke.

Also, if you find something and correct it, make sure you don't incorrectly compensate for the original problem and cause a different one! Been there, done that. This is where a knowledgeable instructor can be helpful: You will probably need to consult with him or her more than once, to check on your progress toward good technique. It is well worth the cost. Chances are, you have several of the third category going on, and maybe some of the other stuff above it.

Good luck, and keep working on it.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I have a brand-new Wilderness Systems Zephyr 15.5 that seems to carve to the right.

I’ll have to check this and hope it’s not a warped hull. I have let it coast on calm flat water and seems to just make a giant C shape.

Sigh* I’ll test it again but hate to have to send this back.

This question was posted in 2011…

@PhotoMax said:
This question was posted in 2011…

This happens disturbingly often. It’s usually the responder’s first post - as it is in this case.

Wow eight years of left turns. .
…or right turns

Has it been long enough to come full circle?

Liam’s post is nonsense and is some sort of malicious interference and it almost certainly originated far outside the states