learning to whitewater

Man do I love that down river …

I have entered the mild ones for years, but this year finally entered one with a long class III, and five others that were I-II.

I had always just steered through the rapids, but now just discovered the excitement and fun of paddling my butt off through them.

I especially enjoy the ones that are on time and you have the opportunity to do both the canoe and kayak.

We just bought a used Penobscot 16 just for the down river races and can hardly wait till spring to race it.



first, get your flatwater skills DIALED
really get into understanding boat control, and aggressive strokes. sprint with your boat and then do turning strokes. master your technique.

then take a course and you will fare so much better. and as others mentioned, you will need to enjoy swimming and tipping to some extent. learn as much as you can about river morphology from books and videos and you will be farther ahead. and as someone else said, know why you are attracted to ww and what you think you may want to do there. though it will evolve with time… good luck and have fun!

Working on it.

just do it
I guess I belong to the “just do it” school. The year was 1975, I was young and curious, and my older brother propositions me – telling me his wife scared the crap out of herself last time out and refuses to go any more. Would I like to come?

I can summarize my whitewater experience in seven easy lessons:

Lesson one: intentionally tip over and learn how to get out of the boat (this was a hardshell kayak). I recall asking my brother: “What?” followed by “Why?”

Lesson two: was follow me, do as I do, and it worked – much better than a classroom zzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lesson three: it’s more fun in someone else’s boat

Lesson four: Learn to read the map and don’t put in at the wrong place – which is why I can boast about successfully doing a series of class III rapids in an open canoe not designed for serious whitewater ("what the heck, we can’t go back …)

Lesson five: go back to being a class I/flatwater paddler as the ww stuff is much too stressful if you don’t need the adrenaline rush or the testosterone hit.

Lesson six: avoid taking a refresher course on Lesson #4.

Lesson seven: all of the above means nothing if you can’t swim, are unfamiliar with boats, and you’re stupid.

And then, there’s something about that smell of a rapid that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and makes me want to … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh

also just
jumped in and did it. Have a local 12 mile stretch class 2-3 in season. Went to take a shuttle with my then 8 year old, and shop owner refused to take me up to top of the run. Because I agreed with him, he understood I respected the river and his judgement(I guess) and took me to the top. I used to teach life saving , canoeing and boating safety. Only had moderate ww experience. We capsized twice, after second tip it wasn’t fun anymore. Got back to the truck and heading home with the heater on my son says,“gee dad, despite tipping twice, that was a lot of fun.” Well, I guess we were hooked.Learned to kneel and wedge my knees to force canoe to stay upright. Bought some float bags and have scoops tied to the thwarts. Look for the “v” in the current and head for that. Main reason we used to capsize was from going over rocks. Watch the water constantly.We have gone from a 2:1 capsize/trip ratio to I believe .4 now. Self taught… Whitewater is a whole new game, and it’s a blast. No alcohol, pay attention, react fast, and yell “yee-hah.”