I have a couple questions regarding paddling thru class I rapids. I realize it may be tough to give definite answers to what I’m going to ask but any input would be welcome. There are 3 of us who have been paddling rec boats{13’ dagger catalyst/ 13’ perception america} on small calm rivers for about two years. We have been in wind caused 18" to 24" waves and done a river with lots of riffles due to small rock gardens, all with no problems. My first question then is— is class I rapids just a small step up and something we should have no problems with, or is classI enough of a jump in difficulty as to require a learning period with flipping/getting wet before it can be handled? I am assuming the boats we have will do fine on this small of rapids and it will just be a matter of skill; which I realize is subjective to you who have never paddled with us. Does class I mean more wave action than the riffles, does it mean more rocks to maneuver around, or is it a combination? I have seen small rapids from the road for example, some I thought I could handle and some not but was never sure how to classify them. Finally, can anyone suggest a river with some classI water near me in northwest Illinois that would be a good place to ‘get my feet wet’ so to speak?

Class 1
Your boats are fine for Class I.

The key is are you comfortable in moving water and can you control your boat to go, or stop, as you want. Waves can be as ripples / small ledges, exposed or submerged rocks. You should be able to guide your boat between rocks and stay in the downstream V.

sounds like

– Last Updated: Apr-29-06 4:31 PM EST –

you should be fine if you've done 18-24 inch waves. Class one is just enough to keep from being bored. Oftentimes I find, waves look bigger from the land than they actually are, however I paddle a big fat honkin' canoe the size of the QEII. However,if you haven't done this stretch of river and they say class 1, take at least a quick look at the stretch you'll be running. Also remember rainfall or dam releases can turn a one into a three in many cases.Also the class one I run is too shallow to worry about rolling skills or lack thereof. The river at class 1 is less than 2' deep, at class 3 it's usually about 3' higher.

Boat control should be a matter
of course. Every paddler need to learn boat control whether in rapids or not. Boat control is what makes the difference between a paddler and someone who just floats down the river.

You should be able to sweep, back paddle, ferry and lean effectively in any kind of water. I practice these strokes and maneuvers (and others) just for the fun of it.

No problemo

– Last Updated: Apr-29-06 6:14 PM EST –

Class 1 is one step above flat water... beginner stuff...big riffles.

If you've been paddling on a regular basis for two years in moving water, you'll be fine.


One point…
…take the classes. You are probably leaning the wrong way for white water when you turn.

I have run class 1 in a 17’ sea kayak
and a rec kayak. Both were a blast.Class 1 is shallow and you can do a lot of rock dodging. On one memorable run down a little, but long, chute a 6’ wide rock was suddenly right in front of me. Rec kayaks do not spin so I rammed that rock hard enough to throw the boat backwards.Unfortunately , I braced before impact. I felt like I had been in a car wreck for a couple of days.

We have one…
…place in Ohio called the chutes where two

dam controlled creeks come together. It’s a nice

ride with 1000 CFS through the chutes. Some have

called it a 3, I’d say more of a 2+.

I’d love to take my 17 ft touring boat through them.

One of the outfitters on Georgia’s Broad
River uses rec kayaks for their totally naive and unguided customers. The Broad has a number of relatively technical class 2 rapids, with drops up to 5’ and some boat-filling chutes. Most of the customers do just fine because the boats are stable and fairly predictable. Even if customers get crossways, the boats normally get them through trouble.

The one thing that makes me nervous is that these rec kayaks have very little floatation. We came down in our WW tandem to find a rec kayaker semi-pinned in the runout from one of the 5’ sliding drops. The boat had filled and was caught by the current against a rock. Of course the customer, and his buddy who was trying to help, had no idea what to do. I waded over, helped extricate the guy from the rec boat, and then dumped the 80 or so gallons from the boat.

Tripping over a rock, filling, and pinning are possible even in a class 1 rapid. Consider getting bow and stern floatation bags and devising a way to keep them in the boat. You may need to drill fastening points into the hull, above the waterline. These bags will both support the hull and help keep the hull bouyant when it is partly full of water.

rroberts will blow them up for you.

rroberts will…
…be happy to.

I have 5 extra pounds of C4 I’ve been wanting to use up.

Homeland Security’s sniffer dog is
slowly nearing Harveysburg.

Additional question
Sounds like its time to find some classI water to try. Has anyone done the short strech of the Baraboo river in Wisconsin listed in Svob’s paddling book? He calls it a 4mile stretch with lots of riffles and some classI + rapids. This is the closest water I find in my paddle books that lists classI without bigger stuff thrown in.i am wondering also if this river stays runnable all year?

Real class I rapids
From American Whitewater:

Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

Sounds to me like you have been doing class I already and more. You can do class I in almost any kind of boat. You can do it in an inner tube.