Making the transition to moving water

Hello, hopefully this isn’t too long.

Been paddling for about 3 years I suppose - mostly flatwater on an 11’ rec boat, some light touring in a Tsunami. Done a couple class 1 rivers in the rec boat, and have had a lot of fun, but quickly realized it’s limitations.

At paddlefest in Cincinnati last weekend I picked up a used Perception Stikine - I have been thinking about a shorter boat for the local rivers and this seemed like the perfect boat. I’m a bigger guy, 240 5’11" and I felt pretty comfortable sitting in it and I bought it on the spot. I put it in the water at my friends livery on a class 1, and immediately felt like I had never paddled before! It was so tippy! I actually got a little scared but proceeded to paddle up through a flat spot to a very small rapid. Every time the boat turned I got the wobbles… and I even flipped while entering a very VERY mild current :slight_smile:

I’m not going to let it discourage me - as a matter of fact I got back in it last night and spent some time on a beach just tooling around, flipping out of it, etc, practicing edges and trying to get myself out of tipping situations.

I guess I’m looking for advice on other ways I can practice on my own before I hit a river. I know I need to get roll instruction - I am going to do that as soon as my schedule allows. Do bigger guys face any challenges learning how to roll? Is it easier? Hey, I was always told that fat floats :slight_smile:

I know this is really general… just looking for any words of encouragement or advice that will help get me on my way. I know that seat time is the most important thing and I’m more than willing to spend a few hours on the lake… just want to spend my time wisely.

Thanks in advance!

I’m a “bigger” guy and we nave to
adjust the specs for us. The maximum weight spec does not take into account heavy paddlers. The only boat maker I know that gives max paddler weight and max total weight is Prijon. All the weight plopped in the cockpit changes the hydrodynamics.

WW boats paddle differently
As someone who has paddled WW for over 10 years and this Summer have been working hard at improving my sea kayaking skills I have to say that the two disciplines are a lot more different than I thought from past experience. Seat time and on river instruction are what you need.

Bingo to Disco…
…where in Ohio are you?

the two sports are quite different and paddling techniques aren’t the same, particularly when it

comes to leaning.

Get advice on your outfitting. If you
are fitted with just the right kind of knee, hip, foot and back contact, the boat will seem less wobbly.

At least
you probably can go in a straight line unlike the real beginners, probably. :slight_smile:

Encouragement: it will become better/easier. That you are fooling around in shallow water as practice shows that you’ll be up on the river in no time.

What can you do? Well, read lots of stuff about ww kayaking (on the 'net or in books). Find a club with like-minded fellows. Get the occasional professional class (though they get very expensive soon compared to the rest of it…). Find more advanced playspots (eddies, harmless river waves (meaning where not much can go wrong), etc.).

If your place is suffering winters, then by all means try to find a club that does winter sessions in the pool - I learned most of my rolling/bracing technique there during a winter (and it didn’t cost anything on top of the club fee).

roll lesson!
I’m in Cincinnati. Good news - I’m going to a roll lesson in a pool up in Miamisburg next week! Didn’t know it was happening until today. I’m not expecting to come out of it a proficient roller, but I’ll be that much closer at least. I’m pretty excited! Nervous too, I feel like I did when I was 5 going to my first swim lesson :slight_smile:

I live in Harveysburg…
…by Caesar’s Creek Lake (CCL).

CCL is warm and a great place to practice.

I’m out of town this weekend, but send me some email.

nothing to
be nervous about, we’ve all been there, including whomever your instructor turns out to be. :^)

IMHO, the Stikine may be small for your weight. That translates to “grabby” edges. I was 175lbs when I started boating, and I’ve been up to 230lbs, I have first hand experience with weight difference affecting ones boating. I would look for a Pyrana H3 or Micro 240 or…kayaks for the man sized man.

Good for you!

– Last Updated: Jul-11-07 6:25 PM EST –

It's great that you're trying something new. The wobbles and directional control will improve with seat time.

The first thing to do is to adjust the outfitting to make sure that you're snug in the boat.

Things you can do on flat water:
Work on your forward stroke -- slight forward lean, plant way out forward by your toes, keep the blade close to the boat, don't pull past your hip.

Sweep strokes -- work on making big arcs from bow to stern(and reverse) using torso rotation. Think about twisting your feet away/towards from the paddle instead of pulling the paddle through the water.

Edge control -- work on paddling in a straight line while holding the boat on one edge and then the other. Try paddling in a circle while holding the boat on the inside edge.
To add a bit of blade control, try paddling in a circle on the inside edge while only taking paddle strokes on the inside.

Braces -- I've seen a lot of beginners fall over putting out one hand to brace while holding their paddle in the air with the other. Start working on safe bracing techniques so they start to become instictive.

Most of the capsizes I see in beginner class happen when peeling out of an eddy into the current. Edge control -- showing your seat to the current -- will usually correct that tendency, but you can also use a skimming low brace for extra stability while leaning downstream. One instructor teaches it this way: Start back in the eddy to get some speed, take a few strokes, and take your last stroke on the downstream side as you cross the eddy line. Lean downstream, bringing the paddle back on the downstream side in a skimming low brace/reverse sweep. When you finish the reverse sweep and are headed downstream, the paddle will be ready to be planted for a forward stroke on the downstream side. This is something you can practice on flatwater. The brace should just skim the surface -- there if you need it, but slowing you as little as possible. The lean is the most important part.

Another reason people capsize when peeling out is that they let their body be pitched backwards when the main current grabs and accelerates the boat. Leaning back is a weak, unstable position. Keep a good agressive forward lean.

Most capsizes in current happen when you let the upcurrent edge drop, the current grabs the deck edge, and you capsize upcurrent. Anticipation, edge control, and experience will help. Gaining the confidence to relax and let the boat move under you will also make things seem less turbulent.

Remember that when you go into an eddy, the current in the eddy is moving upstream. Think of going in or out of an eddy as stepping on a moving sidewalk going in the opposite direction.

As for rolling, boat size, body size, shape, and flexibility will affect what style of roll works best for you, but there's no reason that a big guy can't roll well. Being at the top of the weight range for that boat may actually make it easier for you to roll.

When you go to your class, bring a noseclip, or a diving mask if you have one. It's a lot easier to relax and concentrate if you can see and don't have water up your nose.

You sound like you'd enjoy this book:

Don't be intimidated by the title -- it's a great introduction to reading moving water, paddling rivers, and river safety.

I agree with this
And, for what it’s worth lots of big guys tend to muscle their rolls. stay tight with the technique. Instruction early on will be very helpful in developing good habits. The longer you wait the more undoing you may have to do. Have fun!


wow, some great responses!
Thank you all!

rroberts- I’ll be in contact… never paddled CC! But I love Cowan… probably go there 4-5 times a year. Wow, Harveysburg… must be rough to have to walk all the way to the lake :wink:

sternsquirt- I’m afraid you might be right. I had a hunch that I was flirting with the suggested weight limit a little too closely. I thought of it even more yesterday when I was testing my edges in shallow enough water that I could touch the bottom… water was coming in much earlier than I thought it would. Perhaps it’ll be a good boat to learn on till I can scratch up enough cash for a bigger boat and sell the Stikine. I guess option B would be stop drinking beer, which would mean to stop brewing beer too… hmmm…

angstrom- wow, thanks for taking the time to explain all that. That is some great advice. I think I know why I flipped on that lame eddy-out - it was definitely from leaning back. I started noticing yesterday in the “pool” how much more stable it was when I really sat up. I didn’t have my backband set up correctly… again, this is all pretty new! My Tsunami’s seat is like a la-z-boy compared to this shoestring across my lower back :slight_smile:

Everyone else who posted, I really appreciate it. I think I’m gonna go watch my Tellulah DVD for the 10th time. Keep 'em coming!

It’s not as common to fall over going into an eddy, but it’s usually more entertaining for the folks watching…:wink:

Since the current flow in the eddy is upstream, lean upstream(downcurrent) as you cross the eddyline going in.

Sometimes the river has a sense of humor. As long as you can laugh about it you’ll be fine.