Rolling and real sea kayakers

Turning on edge?
It must take forever to learn how to turn on edge without a roll. I can’t say mine is all that great, but because of a solid roll, I can push the limits in practice.

until you lose your paddle.

do any of you ski?
Well it’s like trying to explain to a beginner skier that you must learn to parallel ski (telemarkers aside) to be able to enjoy yourself on a steep slope.

But if you are content with the bunny slope you probably will see no reason to learn the “show off” skill of zooming down the slope at “neckbreaking” speed…

It’s all relative.

Happy to paddle calm smooth waters? maybe the rolling is just a show off thing.

Planning to do some sea kayaking in ocean swell with surf? I think you better learn to roll soon or you will swim a lot.

Furthermore, swimming in cold waters causes “significant shrinking” :slight_smile:

silly logic
first off the term “real sea kayaker” has no relevance. The logic that you won’t need a roll once you learn it simply means you are paddling in less challenging conditions, not that the skill eliminates the need for its use. The skill doesn’t define conditions where the skill is needed.

learn to roll if you want to paddle
cold, deep water. In warm waters, you can fool around doing a wide variety of re-enters and not be under duress. But man, drop down to under 50 degree water temp and bad things happen to your body really fast! I’ve only needed my roll twice in the past two years. Once in a really ripping tide race and the other on a glassy day when I was helping another paddler attach a spray skirt and got too liberal leaning over my boat edge. But at 55 years old I practice my roll a lot since I’ve learned I just can’t take much immersion time in cold waters. That roll will “pay off” when I get slapped over some day.

TOLD ya I’d get some licks.

– Last Updated: Dec-02-08 6:35 PM EST –

A REAL kayaker rolls up with his spare.

(insert smiley face here)

When I see good rock garden skills…
… part of me still questions the navigation skills! :wink:

Great reading here!
But it’s all been said! And I agree with every bit. The only people who think of it as, “showing off,” are the non-rollers. Cooling off ih the summer, taking on a greater challenge, and just the fun of rolling! All great reasons. I can only add one new item here. I have been completely blown out of the water by a manatee, and my wife has been torpedo’d twice. Just something to laugh about, with a good solid roll. Only way to get that is to practice. Besides, it’s a whole sport in itself! And here in Daytona, we can do it all year! Ken…

Using the term “real” and then using some elitist rules about who is “real” and who is not “real” is asinine.

I can roll my “sea” kayak so am I a real sea kayaker?

Am I a “real” rock climber if I climb rocks but don’t place protection on lead?

Am I a “real” pilot even if I only fly fix-gear single engine planes?

Am I a real computer programmer if I only program in C++ and not in assembly language?

I suggest having a discussion about the benefits of being able to do a roll without using the word “real” anywhere. I find the use of that term juvenile and immature at best.


P.S. I am not a “real” sea kayaker although I can roll fairly well. I am a pilot,a rock climber, and a computer programmer. I’m not sure if I’m “real” in those things because I tend not to read the rule books that tell me if I’m “real” or not.

A good post thus far …
and still civil.

I happen to agree with LeeG on the use of the term “real sea kayaker”. Most of the time I’m not on a sea, only rivers and lakes - some rather large and, at times, with significant conditions. I use a sea kayak because it is fun and efficient, and occasionally I make it to the sea, or a large bay that is salt water. So, sometimes I am a sea kayaker, but most of the time I’m just a kayaker in a sea kayak. When I am a kayaker on the sea I wear a helmet.

I also really like to show-off, so I roll to annoy all my friends and taunt all those who cannot roll. Wow, is this great fun or what! Well, I’m sure some think that is exactly what I am doing (show-off), but who cares what they think - I am rolling only for myself. I practice nearly every time I go kayaking because, hey, you never know. I don’t like to come out of my boat unless I’m practicing other re-entry skills or intentionally swimming. I’ll even practice rolling in a foot of water or less and that has paid dividends.

I’ve have very few unintentional capsizes, but have been knocked over on lakes by confused waves caused by significant motor boat traffic, capsized to avoid collisions with other boats, been trashed by small waves while surfing and just plain lost it while pushing extremes in skills development (not to mention being rammed by my fellow pod paddlers - they’re so disrespectful!). It takes some pretty good conditions to knock me off guard now, but knowing I have a fairly good roll lets me push the envelope.

Regarding skills development and rolling, I agree with others who say it is much easier to improve all of you skills if you know you have a roll and don’t have to exit the boat. Repeated wet exits and re-entry are tiring and shorten the time I can focus on other skills development.

I learned to roll early in my kayaking days - long before I could control my boat paddling forwards, reverse, and sideways and way before I could recover from a brace or scull. It sure helped me improved these skills though, because I could just roll up and annoy everyone around me rather tahn self rescue or ask for assistance.

I sometimes teach rolling and I’ve seen some people learn to roll in a single class and others struggle for a long time or just give up. It was not difficult to me to learn to roll, but I can understand why many have trouble learning. I learn something from every student and that, hopefully, will help me to be a better instructor. What I don’t get is why some folks don’t even want to try. I’m a firm believer that I’m just between my last swim and my next. I want my next swim to a be a long time in the future and that is my motivation for practicing my roll. That, and being a show-off.



(un)real sea kayaker

WHO CARES. I learned to roll very easily, I’m a waterbaby. My wife has been sea kayaking for years(in conditions, multiday trips, surf, etc…) but has yet to learn to roll.

Bottom line: We both have fun and both are safe and enjoy our time on the water TOGETHER…

Neither of us have any “stars” or ACA certs beyond “quick start.” But, then again, neither of us ask to see each others’ certs before we paddle together.

Choose what makes you happy, don’t let others tell you what is supposed to make you happy.

essential rescue skill, other benefits
Rolling is an essential skill for this clumsy old man. In addition, it is a good test of boat outfitting, flexibility, and range of motion. For me to roll a boat I have to be wearing it, not just sitting in it. When I get a new boat I add padding here and there to make it snug so that it moves when I move, but not so tight it restricts my range of motion. I would like to believe this helps with paddling efficiency too - no flopping around in the boat = no wasted energy. Also, I must stretch daily to maintain the flexibility to roll, which also adds to my range of motion, which also helps paddling efficiency. I feel like if I can roll a kayak, then me and the boat can handle just about any conditions. If I can’t, then I have some work to do and I’ll be mighty careful where I go.

I don’t understand all this
There is no doubt that rolling is a skill that has lots of benefits. So why would someone not learn to roll on principle? It costs too much for lessons? It is too much effort? It is contrary to my image as someone who defies conventional wisdom and has done so publically? Who knows? But if someone said, “I cannot roll and learning has been really difficult for me. So I am compensating by learning skills that will keep me as safe as possible without rolling” I would say “Ok, that is your choice and I cannot tell you how to manage your risk.” But I would still suggest that it is to most paddler’s advantage to learn to roll.

Something that bothers me…
My sister’s friend rents and sells kayaks, gives lessons and leads trips. She does not know how to roll and contends that she doesn’t need that skill. My sister, therefore, refuses to learn. (Gosh, I hope that she doesn’t read this)

Her contention is that she will never put herself in a situation where it would be needed, but how the heck can you predict that unless you paddle in a bathtub!

different situations…

– Last Updated: Dec-02-08 8:01 PM EST –

I'll get my wife out with me once a year or so on some flat water (also mostly shallow enough to stand). She hasn't even got to the point of wanting lessons for basic re-entry, but given the conditions and me being VERY close to help it hasn't been a problem. While I keep hoping she might get the bug to learn skills so she can join me in the open ocean I won't hold my breath. Her taking lessons to help with a couple easy outings a year doesn't make sense to her and I can understand that. She knows that if she wants to get more active in the sport she'll need to add some skills.

While for me it's all fun and I want to be capable in rough conditions.

Never need a roll? With good bracing you would never need to roll, except if you do white water? Would a seven knot ebb through Deception Pass then be white water? I was there about 10 days ago and ended up capsized in a whirlpool. If I didn’t have a roll I guess I would’ve had to count on the kindness of strangers to haul me out of the water and shoehorn me in my boat.

Sarcasm aside, I am tired of the dogged insistence that sea kayakers only roll to show off! I will continue to maintain that it’s a fundamental skill. Do you not bother to learn how to brace because you never intend to put yourself in the position to need that skill? All it takes is capsizing once in in rough water to demonstrate the necessity of this skill.

unless you paddle in a bathtub

– Last Updated: Dec-03-08 7:00 PM EST –

I've been at a small lake when a microburst hit that tore limbs from trees and propelled large objects. Anyone who was on the water would have been capsized - yet this was normally a placid little lake.

I know there are a lot of paddlers out there who can't roll, I just don't understand why anyone who paddles, other than in their own bathtub or pool, would not perceive rolling as a useful skill.

Fake Seakayaker…
is what I am. But I am a real roller. :slight_smile:

Another PNet winter type thread in the making.


"Real Sea Kayaker"
A “Really” stupid term. Everyone has different abilities, likes and dislikes, and of course is entitled to their own opinions. Rolling has saved my boat and my ass a few times, but it doesn’t make me any more of a kayaker than someone who does not possess that ability. Enjoy the water and all the experiences, wether you are on, in or under the water.

"Real Sea Kayaker" ? Enjoy yourself in your kayak.

Rolling is fun and can add a great safety benefit to the sport, but you can paddle safely for a lifetime without knowing how to roll. Many people who learn how to roll begin to think they are invincible and get into trouble going into waters beyond their abilities. Good judgement out-weighs rolling.