Kayak Roll Question

I recently bought my first sea kayak, OT Cayuga 16, with a “light duty” spray skirt that I’m not sure is designed for rolling. I’ve capsized the boat, with and without the spray skirt to get a feel for its stability and to practice wet exists, and have also practiced self rescue with and without a paddle float.


  1. Is a sea kayak easier to roll with water in the cockpit, lowering the center of gravity?
  2. Does wearing a PFD make rolling more difficult or easier?

1. Yes, it likely will roll easier, but will be much less stable when righted.

2. Depends. I don’t roll without a pfd so take this with a grain of salt. The pfd helps my heavy body get to the surface before I initiate the roll. Some people are naturally buoyant and may do just as well without a pfd, or find that the pfd hinders their movement.



Rolling w/ full boat

That’s spot on advice I hadn’t seen before. I’ve often felt that (for many/most people) a first rolling class ought to be just wet exits and hanging underwater - for 1 to 2 hours, if need be. Unfortunately, most people who I’ve helped learn to roll don’t want to do this. Some don’t seem to even want to get wet. Go figure!


don’t rush the learning process
or the ‘comfort process’.

For the advice on the NOC website, it is very solid advice. Be aware that they are referring to whitewater kayaks that sit much lower in the water when the cockpit (the entire kayak) is flooded. One comment on that post was that it worked better when the kayak was completely flooded. If your kayak has bulkheads then it may sit higher and the exercise might not be as effective for you. Don’t let that discourage your - just understand those differences could be why it feels less effective for you.

Wearing a PFD or not… do you wear a PFD when you paddle? If so then you should wear a PFD when you learn to roll.

Have you tried this?
I did in a pool and wasn’t able to get my boat completely full. There was always an air bubble and trying to get that out only resulted in tipping over.

Wetzool, Angstrom, Paddlemore…

for the immediate advice and information.


yes I always wear a PFD but if it was easier to roll without one, then having accomplished that I would progress to the roll with PFD. Assuming there’s no significant difference, I’ll start with PFD and once I can do that I’ll try it without to see what difference there is.

Thanks again, all.


yes, thanks
I actually get only about half full or less. The previous comment about water in the cockpit making it far less stable trying to right it would be very applicable with a full cockpit.


Another website

– Last Updated: May-25-08 10:48 AM EST –

Don't know if you found Atlantic Kayak Tours website/rolling

Lots of good info there

let me try that link again… this website down't allow HTML



– Last Updated: May-25-08 11:17 AM EST –

a kayak is easier to roll with water in the cockpit but less stable after you roll up. An wearing a pfd doesn't make any noticible difference in the ability to roll---but it is always good practice to wear one to avoid drowning if you miss your roll and have to do a wet exit. and BTW an old town cyuaga strikes me as being more difficult to roll than other kayaks because it's high backed seat inhibits your ability to lay back.