Paddling stability tips

when the time comes
I will be asking for advice from the knowledgeable folks here. I sort of wish I’d known about this site before I did purchase my boat.

I am approaching this from the standpoint of learning in steps as I did bicycling. My first bike was a couple hundred dollar Schwinn and I kept growing from there. I had to learn to appreciate the characteristics of each new bike and in doing so I knew I wanted a better one. I currently have a full on racing bike and am pretty much done unless I get a windfall of mounds of cash.

I have to think kayaking will be similar in that respect. If I don’t understand why I need something I’ll not know what I have when I have it.

this is a great forum and I really appreciate all the responses. There is no substitute for the experience of like minded people.

Likely you were doing the tipping
And the boat was following.

You should be keeping your weight centered in the boat and rotating your torso to get the paddle motion. It sounds like you were throwing your whole body around somewhat stiffly. Balancing in a boat is literally a flexible thing.

Force of the paddle too

– Last Updated: Apr-28-14 11:59 PM EST –

Any part of the paddle stroke where the blade is tilted as viewed from the side will impart a tipping force. The type that's usually most pronounced is carrying the stroke too far back, so that power face of the blade is angled upward. One way to view that action is that the paddle is trying to "lift" the water. The boat's reaction to that is to lean toward the paddle side, because that side gets pulled downward.

Same thing can happen at the beginning of the stroke (with the direction of boat-roll (lean) being opposite), but poor form at the end of the stroke is more common.

The upper and the lower
body should operate and balance separately. While you want your head centered in the boat your hips should remain loose.

Fear stiffens you. Perhaps you should wait for warmer water.

Looking at the pictures of the boat
It looks like it has an elevated seat, in a 26 inch 8 ft boat I suspect it is going to rock back and forth a lot. It looks a bit like a kids tugboat tub toy to me.

I would take it back to the store.

If you want to find an inexpensive small boat you could find a used old school whitewater boat for $250 - 300 like an RPM or a jive or similar, and learn how to paddle, and have a boat that would be useable for moving water. Often for boats like that the seller will throw in the skirt and old paddle.

A toy it probably is
250 -300 is beyond my ability to afford right now. I had saved for months to get this as it is. I certainly have a better idea of what to look for now.

I didn’t want to spend a lot on the initial outlay in case I didn’t like the sport and wasted my time and money and left with a boat I’d not use.

I definitely will keep your, and everyone’s advise about white water boats in mind. I will start looking and getting an idea of costs this fall should I find this to my liking.

I’m aware that the type of boat itself can cause joy or regret but I have to work within my budget. I dearly love canoeing so this is a next step.

I noticed that
compounding the problem was I am totally unfamiliar with how a kayak behaves. I was expecting canoe-like stability. Probably not gonna happen. lol.

The times I did focus on being loose I was able to make some headway and stay straight and upright.

Paralysis by analysis…
Don’t over-think it, jump in it and spend time paddling. Sure, you may not be a master of all the strokes but who really cares? The boat may not be a perfect fit, but who cares?

You will know when it is time to upgrade and start looking. The more time you spend paddling the more comfortable you will feel. As you progress you will learn what you are looking for in your next boat.

I’ve read about paddle strokes
and watched a few youtube videos but never put it together once I got on the water.

My takeaway here is to keep centered in the boat and let the paddle enter the water with the blade almost vertical and the stroke shouldn’t go much past my waist, is this accurate? Not forgetting to be loose and flexible.

Seems like the paddle stroke is short compared to canoeing strokes.

Reading these posts has made me see some of my errors in form, I was reaching to the front for the beginning of the stroke which is where most of my problem was.

upper body should remain quiet, as in not leaning back and forth?

Good ideas
but right now instruction isn’t really an option. There is only one kayak instruction that I am aware of in my vicinity and it is out of my budget, same with dvds for now. I would like to do it some point though.


– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 1:19 PM EST –

Don't know what you paid, but you will have a hard time selling it for more than half what it costs new when you get bored from it. Like with used bikes... So, consider a return for a refund to the store, if possible, and buy something used for the same money or a bit more - that, if you buy at an average price, you will be able to resell for about what you paid for it.

But, if it's yours to keep, enjoy it. It is good that it is a bit tippy - will teach you balance faster than a more stable version. Add foot pegs as without them you will tire fast and the boat will be uncomfortable. Could just stuff a big piece of styrofoam shaped to fit and far enough that when you put your feet flat against it, you get a bit of bend in your knees. Your feet should be pointing a bit forward (not straight up to the sky when they rest on the foot rest).

I would disagree about starting with an old school whitewater boat if your goals are flat water paddling. The abovementioned old school boats (Dagger RPM, Perception Pirouette, etc.) are rather slow and annoying to paddle on flat water - as soon as you stop paddling they turn sharply/spin out. Yes, they will quickly teach you a balanced stroke and you can learn rolling in them, but you won't be going anywhere far fast. Would you buy a BMX bike for road trips? Same with WW kayaks and flat water... I'd suggest, save-up for something like Venture Easky 15 ( They come on sale used for around 500 on craigslist where I live.

Cost was the reason

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 7:52 PM EST –

Buy now means cheaper, wait of course shoot for more boat. Whether to wait or not was as yet unclear when I posted my suggestion.

And there are a couple of us locally who have shown up in an old school boat for a group evening paddle, by the way. It is fast enough to stay with the beginner/rental/quite slow group, and a lot easier to bring up small creeks to see heron rookeries than a longer boat. (Also a lot easier to load at the end of the paddle when getting to food and beer after.)

“Fast” is relative

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 9:22 PM EST –

Speaking for the only old-school whitewater kayak I've seen in action, "slow" compared to sea kayaks paddled by people with a tight schedule to keep is not the same as "slow" in comparison to the travel speed of a typical group of casual paddlers.

I spent a couple of days paddling with p-net's ChuckIL a few years ago. I had a solo canoe (admittedly, not a particularly fast one) and he had a Perception Dancer. In typical group settings I never have trouble keeping up with the kayakers unless there's a strong headwind. We had some really strong wind, and I had to work hard to keep up with Chuck. When there was little wind, he had no trouble at all keeping up with me.

Last year I did a river trip with PJC (Pat) and my friend Rena, and Rena was using a borrowed Perception Dancer. Pat and I frequently have to "hold back" to avoid leaving the weaker paddlers behind, but even though Rena is not a particularly strong paddler, she kept up with Pat and I with no problems at all.

On the other hand, I've paddled with a very good whitewater kayaker when he was using a modern whitewater kayak, and it was all he could do to keep up with the rest of us even when we kept the pace quite pokey. Even at that snail's pace, his boat was as noisy and splashy as could be. The Perception Dancer is sleek and quiet by comparison, and at typical cruising speeds of a casual group, keeping it moving looks to be every bit as effortless as with a short touring kayak. You are correct though, that the moment one stops paddling, the boat starts to turn. It glides fairly well though if you keep it pointed in the direction you want to go. Still, I'd say you are right about such a boat being less than ideal for strictly flatwater use. I think the main idea was that you can get such a boat pretty cheap (if you can find one).

If you paddle a lot
this year I predict much of the trouble you are having will disappear and by the end of this season you will feel very relaxed and comfortable in that kayak. You need seat time. In the end that is the key. Enjoy.

To some extent this discussion reminds me of the person learning to play golf who become paralyzed by over thinking every minute aspect of the golf swing. If you get a good video or two and spend time in the seat you will get there this year and your kayak will feel very stable and secure.

Paddle clubs
Are there any paddle clubs in your area? It might be worth check if there any and if the do any local rec. trips. Ours in Lansing, Michigan has a wide range with many that are good for beginners. Going out with more experienced paddles on an easy trip can help you gain experience and pick up tips.

Only one club
I know of in Jackson. They do tours on some of the local lakes. I don’t think the cost is too prohibitive for going with but they do give lessons and they are pricey. What makes that hard for me is I work midnights so after 12:00 noon is like 10 or 11 pm for people with a life. lol.