River running DVD?

-- Last Updated: Jul-01-09 11:32 AM EST --

Just curious if you can recommend some online resources or videos/DVD with good instruction and tips on river running?

I've read some WW books (like the "animated manual of intermediate and advanced whitewater technique" by William Nealy) and watched the Kayaker's Toolbox DVD. Both very good I thought (though the DVD can be perhaps shortened by a considerable amount if they skipped some of the jokes (like flushing the minituarized kayak in the toilet for a "first descent")).

What I'm looking for - tips on reading the water and how to approach and to deal with obstacles.

Why? Lately, I find it a lot more entertaining to navigate the rapids below Great Falls/Mather Gorge than the flat sections of the Potomac. The advice in the above mentioned resources has been spot on, but it is always nice to look at several sources... I've taken a class or two as well but more classess are not likley this year due to $$$ constraints, so looking for the next best thing. My paddling buddies have been very helpful too, but our schedules intersect only so often...

On the same note, if you have not tried a nimble-ish sea kayak in rapids and river waves (for those of us who do not have tidal races at hand), it is a lot of fun and very educational! At least for me, well worth a few new scratches on the boat every time I go out... Gives me a new dimension to deal with - the moving water (moving in all directions and sometimes in several at the same time along the length of the boat). And thinking ahead when planning to attain or float down when there are "scary things" in the way -;)

2 sources


“Whitewater Self Defense” is a good title to purchase.


No connections to any of them

kent ford’s stuff…
along with the Jackson videos, check out Kent Ford’s river running videos from Heliconia Press. Corran Addison also has some good videos but they tend to be more geared toward intermediate/advanced river runners.

your best bet…
…would be to paddle with people who will show you and tell you and point things out.

the Monocacy Canoe Club has some terrific, helpful paddlers.

long boat or ww boat?
It sounds like you’re looking for tips on playing in waves and rapids with your sea kayak? If that’s the case I wonder how useful WW instructional videos will be? Some of the sea kayak instructional videos must deal with tide races. It’s such a popular part of kayaking (at least around here and in the UK) that I’d think it would be covered somewhere in the dozens of kayaking videos.

As a quiet aside - I’m not sure what your rapids are like, but it sounds like you’re teaching yourself alone in these rapids sometimes. Some might question the wisdom of putting yourself in novel conditions in moving water without a buddy to help you out when things go wrong. Maybe these rapids are pretty tame, and it’s not such an issue. I don’t know. At a minimum, put on a hard hat, and best of all, do it with a friend.


– Last Updated: Jul-01-09 1:21 PM EST –

Not going alone - there is always someone else there, and usually the issue is over crowding at the more popular spots... Both WW and sea kayak. Reading the water and planning/implementing a path is equally important regardless of craft and probably even more important for a long boat that can't respond as swiftly as the short WW boats can...

When trying things for a first time, I was lucky to have a few Class II or II+ rapids (depending on river level) settling down to class I and then pretty much flat within a matter of a few hundred feet, with no bad obstacles to endanger you and that dump you right on a safe beach if things go wrong...

I absolutely agree that planning and instruction is a huge help for sea kayaking in fast-water. I’ve had some up here, and it was a blast, and has helped me explore other tide races with my paddling friends.

I wasn’t questioning the usefullness of getting instruction, I was just questioning the type. How applicable is 8’ WW boat instruction to someone in a 17’ sea kayak? I’m not enough of a WW paddler to really know the answer to that. But it seems there are a number of differences in the lines you pick, and the way you maneuver them in the two types of boats.

Having instruction that is geared towards your type of boat in fast water would be ideal. There are a number of classes like that up here where we have plenty of tide races. I don’t know if someone has put that instruction in a video though.