I hope that others will find this information useful or at least mildly interesting (not the part about my height and weight:).
I’m 43 YO, weigh 210 lbs, am 6’1" tall, and own a Necky Zoar Sport; a 14’ boat. I’ve had the boat for many years but only started paddling regularly this summer.
A few months ago, I was given a skirt for this boat. I took my 12 YO daughter to Sand harbor (I live at Lake Tahoe) and told her that if I start banging on the bottom of the boat, to come lift my head out of the water. My first wet exit with a skirt had the tiniest chance of going wrong. It turned out to be no big deal although that clean mountain water sure burned my sinuses. Ouch.
I started practicing braces and even tilting the boat past 90 degrees while in the shallows with my paddle or hand on the bottom.
I bought a nose plug.
And now for the interesting part. Last week, I tried to roll and made it. My paddle touched the bottom so I backed further off shore but then couldn’t do it again. I thought it was a fluke. Last night, after paddling for three miles to Thunderbird Lodge and back in the swells and chop, I got back to the protected part of the harbor and make sure that I won’t touch the bottom with the paddle. I did about 7 rolls on the right and 3 or 4 on the left. Wow.
What I think might be useful for other people to know is:
- I visualized rolling in my head many times over the last month or two.
- I practiced edging and leaning the boat while in the shallows to understand how it felt.
- I practiced bracing with the intent to see how far I could go and get back up. Many times, I did a wet exit and didn’t attempt a roll after inverting. I tried various body positions when bracing and leaning to better understand how that affected my balance and the boat stability.
- I used a nose plug. Sorry. I could not manage a single roll without it. I have this tendency to exhale through my nose when hitting the water and even though I can get inverted the first time and hold my breath, any failed roll where I take a breath results in my exhaling too much when going back under.
So if there is anyone reading this who is not sure about rolling and is waiting to take a lesson; just work hard and go for it. It might work out and there is no reason not to seriously try it at least a few times before getting help. And get a nose plug if needed. I may not be a “real” kayaker yet because of the nose plug (that’s a joke) but I’m much closer to rolling after and accidental flipping than I was before.
I also recommend taking lessons. I will eventually get some instructions because I know that there are things that you can only learn from someone else. I found this out after skiing at an advanced level for years then taking an advanced lesson. I think my technique improved by 300% that day on the slopes. I’m sure that my crappy first-time roll will improve just as much when I get around to getting some instruction.
Oh, and kayakers on the internet seem to be, for the most part, friendly and helpful compared to people at some other sports related sites. I’m happy to finally have something interesting to post.