Rolling a whitewater canoe

Just starting into whitewater canoeing and figured i should learn to role first. I can roll my mohawk probe 12 up but there is a pretty good amount of water in my boat when i do.

Is the probe 12 just designed this way?

more likely answer

Is there something wrong with my technique?

Realize my technique isn’t perfect but i have rolled it up quickly and there is still a good amount of water in my boat.

Any OC-1 will have water in it after a roll. The better your airbags fit, the less water you will have.

Some guys have gone to electric bilge pumps. Another trick is to paddle over to a rock and sort of lean onto it, pulling your gunwale up and over to drain the water.

Although I rolled both kayaks and
decked c-1s, I don’t bother trying to roll my WW open canoes. I don’t use them in over class 3, and I think that it is often better to exit and get the boat to the bank for dumping.

But if you’re having some early success rolling, more power to you. I think you’ll need 48 to 60 inch air bags, tightly laced in. Get a really good helmet, maybe a Sweet or Shred Ready, because your head may be down nearer the rocks than a decked c-1 paddler’s head would be.

Of course

– Last Updated: Jun-13-11 8:32 AM EST –

you will have water in an open boat, no matter how quickly you roll it up. As the lower gunwale (the one on your paddle side) rotates up out of the water, it scoops water into the hull.

Whitewater open boaters who wish to minimize the amount of water in the boat after rolling will use the largest bags they possibly can, such that the bags are touching the fronts of your knees and even lapping over the feet a bit. They also frequently glue sheets of minicell foam to the sides of the hull in the cockpit area. This reduces the amount of water that the lower gunwale catches and scoops into the boat as it rolls up.

It is often harder to roll a canoe with more flotation, however. A boat low down in the water can be rotated up fairly easily (but will be so full of water as to be unmanageable). A boat floating on the surface, up in the air effectively weighs more because it isn't displacing as much water.

Some open boaters used to prefer to leave a space in front of the pedestal that was not filled with flotation so they could tuck their head and shoulders up into it when they capsized in a longer rapid. It is actually quite possible to breathe from the air trapped in the hull, and the head and shoulders are in a very protected position. This isn't as easy with today's short WW OC-1s, but it might be doable in a 12 foot boat like your Probe depending on thwart placement.

I agree with g2d that rolling is of much less value in an open boat than a decked boat, especially when running drop-pool type rapids. In the past, even if you rolled up, you generally had to paddle to shore to dump the boat out anyway and it wasn't more difficult to just swim the boat to shore and dump it instead. Furthermore, multiple unsuccessful roll attempts can put your head in a much more unprotected position in shallow rapids than just falling out of the boat.

Running longer rapids can be a different story, however. In continuous Class II (or greater) water it can be difficult to swim a boat out of the current into an eddy and one can become exhausted and beat up before successfully doing so. In this situation the combination of a roll and an electric bilge pump can save a lot of grief.

look up mjflores
he’s a canoe expert. He can answer any question you may have or visit you to offer hands-on training.

big bags
If you fill up the canoe with flotation, make sure you leave some means for the water to slosh from side to side. A solid pedestal and full bags will often trap water on one side of the canoe, either making the roll difficult or staying upright difficult once you roll up. A hanging saddle with open space underneath solves the problem. Greg Jankowski in Colorado sells a nice bilge pump system with a battery and solar charger which mounts on top of the air bag.

The Probe 12 is a particularly stable boat once it is full of water, unlike some other models.

PVC pipe
Mount a couple lengths of 3 inch diameter PVC pipe through the pedestal near the hull bottom to function as water transfer tubes.

I’ve heard rumors
Some folks say they can roll an OC and come up with very litle water in the boat. Those same folk claim to roll sometimes to let the water out.

I’ve never seen it.

My Outrage always comes up pretty full. Fortunatly the Outrage paddles pretty well swamped. At least I’ve always managed to get into an eddy to dump her out.

Side flotation should help though it might make rolling harder. An electric bilge pump will certainly help if you don’t mind the extra weight and wires.

Electric Bilge Pumps for Canoes
If you are going to roll an open canoe, it is going to come upright with a lot of water inside the canoe. You need an eletric pump to get the water out fast. You have to be ready for the next drop/ledge, hydraulic, or rapid you will quickly be approaching.

You can get some good ideas on building or buying an Electric Bilge Pump Kit at: