Paddling in confused seas

What is the best way to handle confused seas? By that I mean the waves seem to be coming from every direction, not in normal pattern. Hope you know what I mean. FishHawk

your hips, let the boat do its thing. Keep a blade in the water, either stroking or bracing if need be.

Enjoy the ride. Attitude accounts for a lot.


Stolen quote—
“loose hips make for a great ride”

"let the boat do its thing."
A well designed boat wants to stay upright. The paddler just has to stay out of the way.

The paddler’s job is to give direction and not capsize the boat. As noted keeping a blade in the water is good.

For me to be able
to enjoy myself in rough water I need to have good catact with my feet, lower back, knees and hips. Also being able to brace when needed is an essential skill that developes over time in these conditions. When you are in moderately rough water try practicing turning the blade face down a little to give you a support brace during the paddle stroke. At the end of a paddle stroke when the paddle is near your hip turn the back of paddle down to give yourself a low brace with the paddle. I use these two braces constantly when paddleing in rough water. Practice will make your braces instict.

“Loose hips …save ships”

I see it a little differently

– Last Updated: Aug-24-06 9:18 AM EST –

Keeping loose is important, but I'm not a real coordinated athlete.
Letting the boat just do it's thing to me would result in a full capsize. In really confused seas I have to become very agressive and focused on balancing, bracing, rolling off the waves, using their energy to keep the boat righting. I used to ski a lot and I view it as skiing fast through steep big moguls, choosing a line letting the boat move under you but using agressive paddle work and moving the boat with your body to keep it upright and moving. Forward momentum also gives you an advantage.

The best thing is too practice. There is a spot in San Diego where small swells come from two angles and hit two different angled seawalls, since the swells don't have a lot of juice at this location, you can get a lot of wild random wave action without getting killed. Lot's of us like to take whitewater boats there and surf in to the mess, and get thrown around and paddle out. You need to find a similar spot where you can practice without putting your self at a lot of risk.

Dimensional Shifting
We each chose (often unconsciously) which of the millions of things around us we allow into our immediate consciousness, our reality if you will. Neurotics let too much in, Space cadets let in too little and those people often referred to as “Switched On” appear to have found just the right mix. Since you are asking the question, it’s reasonable to assume you are letting in stuff that intimidates you, pushy jobbily water, stress and tense mental and / or physical postures. You have several choices on how to address the issue:

Learn to ignore it. Confused seas are by definition confused and unorganized, so often there is little real power behind all that noise. Ignore the waves and the bouncing, relax your mind and your body and focus on where you want to go instead of constantly preparing to defend yourself from every little wave and bump. Ignore the fear, it’s only water after all. What’s the worst that could happen? You are paddling within your survival range and with competent mates, right?

Learn to love it. Paddling in lively and confused seas is the sea-kayaking version of skiing’s mogul field. If you go to slow it sucks (and hurts). If you go too fast it’s unnerving / violent but over all too quickly. Choose your speed just right and it’s a wonderfully athletic dance that can become very addictive.

Learn to avoid it. Study up on weather, waves and topography of the submerged stuff. Learn how to predict where and when this kind of thing develops and how long it lasts. Learn to plan your trips according to whether you want to avoid such things or to seek them out for play spots.

In any case have fun and choice your weapons wisely. Cheers.

just relax
sounds so simple. learn a good effortless roll and some directional control with your paddle and the confusion becomes a play partner…only up to your skill level of course.

I rest my feet lightly on the foot pegs or bulkhead and lightly touch the thigh braces…I try to control with subtle changes as the boat is designed superbly to keep the open hole pointed straight up. I DO NOT brace myself in tightly at all and constrict the movement of the boat.

keeping one blade in the water is probably a good idea too…


Very good post
Thank you for shedding the light on the subject.

Loose hips 'n nose over belly button.

– Last Updated: Aug-24-06 11:12 AM EST –

Boat will do fine as long as you let it and do not fall out. Boats do not tip over, people fall out of them by violating the laws of nature.

Keep loose. Practice loose by doing an extreme side to side hulla in your boat while keeping your upper torso straight up and down.

Keep your nose over your belly button and it becomes dang near impossible to fall out.

Have fun!!!!!!!!!!!



Confidence in your boat
It greatly helps to know your boat and have confidence in it.

The more seat time in a boat in varying conditions the greater comfort and confidence you will have when in that boat in conditions.

In my favorite boat in conditions, I am relaxed because we’ve been through it before. I have the experience/memory of the boat taking care of me.

Also focus on your course
The more you focus on holding your course, especially by looking up and forward at a point on the shore, the less you will notice or be impacted by the slippy-sliding feeling of getting moved every which way. It’ll help keep your torso upright and relaxed.

But as above, you do have to let the boat do its job and be in one that will absorb things in a way that allows to to relax. If it’s a good boat and well-matched to the paddler you’ll learn to trust it. But there are cases where a paddler will find over time that they need to move to a boat with a different personality than what they first thought would work for them.

dunno …
i’m too confused to answer this …

Paddle Away From That Sea Wall

We teach ourselves to have…
control when paddling. A good forward stroke, effective sweeps, just the right edge degree to turn, etc. All techniques to achieve and maintain control. And then…

we discover confused seas! Time to relinquish a bit of that precious control. If you try to for that complete control you’ll simply fight the sea, work harder than necessary and perhaps even go for a swim.

The skier/mogul analogy is really very good. Let your boat have a higher degree of dynamic behaviour underneath you. It likes this stuff! Of course, some boats like it better than others.

Confused seas are the ‘funhouse’ of the paddling world. Turn left, get pushed right. The horizon tilts one way, then another. And the more time you spend in the funhouse the more relaxed and flexible you become. Your kayak’s having fun and you will get comfortable enough to share in that fun. Don’t sit in your kayak, wear it.

In confused seas, its very important to maintain an ear-to-ear grin.

In the not-so-distant future I’ll bet you’re back here yammerin’ about how much fun you and your boat are having in these kinds of conditions.

Pleasantly confused waters to ya.


What boat traits like it?

– Last Updated: Aug-24-06 11:40 AM EST –

Without getting into the whole best/advanced boat thing, what traits in a boat make it "like" confused water? I wonder if it is more the paddler being comfy with the boat's traits than certain traits are good or better. I have a boat with a rather rounded, flared hull and stuff just seems to flow beneath so it simply doesn't move about much when hit from the side. Another boat has soft or slightly rounded chine edges with fairly vertical sides and it does get pushed more. One is an "easy" ride and one is a "lively" ride. However, I have found both to ultimately be quite unflapable in confused seas even though they feel very different.

paddler being comfy with the boat’s…

I think that is very much the case. I’ve been in confused seas with all three of my current boats. The boat that unnerves me the most is the one most famous for being great in confused seas.

Different boats for different strokes/folks.

I am working on honing skills across all three boats to try to insure that I don’t feel insecure when confronted with conditions in a boat other than my favorite.

Paddle whitewater
makes the bracing and rolling reflexive.

Yup, white water for skills development
Here’s a thread which includes a few sea kayakers who are looking to ww to hone skills: