Still in my kayaking honeymoon & growing

Hello fellow paddlers. Not sure if this is a thread wanting advice, a listening ear or a simple mild rant. I hope not to bore anybody with my story. My story is simple. For the last 16 years, I have been wanting a kayak. My first year, dating my girlfriend, now wife, I watched some kayakers at Cocoa beach and a light went on. While in my teens in the early 80’s, I rented a SOT and had fun in the waves back in Puerto Rico. Now in Florida and after watching the paddlers at Cocoa, the paddling bug got strong. The first could of years as a newly wed,money was tight as my career grew. I got laid off while my wife was pregnant and the hopes for a kayak vanished. Then, a few kids later and with a secure job, I started asking for a kayak for birthday, Christmas, father’s day, heck, even for flag day. I knew NOTHING about kayaks. Christmas 2007 came and my wife was acting all excited and suspicious about my gift. It was clear to me that all I have been stressing was a kayak. We went to my parents house to exchange gifts. i was so sure I was getting a a kayak that I actually loaded straps in my truck on my way to my parents. the time came and I get this little box smaller than a shoe box. Not a kayak. An Ipod Touch. A nice gift indeed. But it does not float. That’s it! No more Mr. Nice guy. A few weeks later I purchased a used Necky spike. I have a pond in my back yard and tried it out on a cold Florida morning. Not a stable as I remembered the ocvean kayak back in my teens. After a couple of frustrating outings and close calls, I joined a local club where I was well advised to get a larger boat. So I found a Necky Dolphin. I love this boat. then I was advised to get a sit inside larger, longer boat. I got a Necky Chattham. Nice. Very nice plastic boat. As I learned form some of the finest paddlers and participated in skill classes, I started to realize that a glass boat is kind off the ultimate experience in fine kayaking. By then I was very hooked. Kayaking had taken me by storm and I loved it. I have always been in decent shape with tendencies to be on the heavy side, but with plenty of stamina. It was not long until I thought that I had outgrew my plastic Chatham. the opprtunity came up for a Valley Nordkapp! Formerly known as the H2O, this boat was impressive and beautiful. I read many articles and reviews and it seens this boat would teh a very, very fine addition to my healthy obsession with kayaking. The friend who sold me the boat was extremely gracious on the deal and worked with me making a series of big payments and finalizing the sale in smaller payments. I am eternally grateful for his patience and kindness withnthe details of the sale. From the moment I tested the boat I realized this was a unique and challenging experience. I did a perfect 180 with second of trying it, ( it was a little rough that day) and I can’t roll. Since then, I have paddled this boat about 10 times since April. I have poured my heart out practicing to become a better paddler in hopes to one day be excellent and perhaps even teach what I have learned. I love this boat. I can say that until I am blue in the face. But somehow, my skills and ability to learn have been sabotaged by some kind of mental block and physical un-coordination resembling a 5 year old in his bike moments after removing his training wheels. I thought I was a pretty good paddler and I was nimble, agile and fast learner. But somehow, my skills and coordination are lacking. My ability to learn, take direction and perform are horrible. It’s as if I am cursed to be some kind of American Idol paddler performing for Simon, Paula & Randy while paddling a tree trunk using two big cooking spatulas. Thew worst part is, that I am trully in love with paddling. I can see myself getting buried in a kayak as my procession trailed me in a variety of boats down the Rainbow River. My wife and kids would be in power boats. they don’t share my obsession. I am not exactly frustrated. Truth is my career has me traveling many weeks of the year and my skills and times in the water are limited. Still, I am surrounded by some of the finest and well schooled kayakers. I can’t speak enough about the volunteer trainers. Not only are they amazing kayakers and teachers, they are amazing individuals of character who are devoted to paddling. One of my volunteer teachers arranged special times during the week days to work with me. Amazing people. I love kayaking. There are not enough words to describe how much I love it. If my enthusiasm was translated to skills, I should be paddling in greenland in 35 knots of wind and 4 feet high waves while holding a coffee in one hand and a phone in the other. I guess I am looking for encouraging stories of other individuals who like me may feel like they are all thumbs and cant get to the next level. Am I expecting too much too soon? Is it normal to have some slow learning periods where you feel your skills have regressed? Is it too weird to want to be buried in a kayak? Well, I may know the answer to that question already. Thanks to all who may have read this entire long and boring story and special thanks to those brave and kind enough to respond.

Highest Regards,


Nordie is a beeg jump from the Chatham

– Last Updated: Aug-01-09 9:50 PM EST –

My husband has a Nordkapp LV. Different animal in the same line, but many similarities. While the LV requires a bit more attention than some of the bigger ones, in general the Nordkapps are not adamantly wedded to an upright position unless they are loaded down with expedition gear. Even then they are a lot less interested in protecting the paddler from their own mistakes than many boats you see out there.

Seriously, this is such a high personality boat that it may not be a great idea to have as your only boat, especially if you are early in your learning. We all have bad days, and periods of going backwards - won't talk about what isn't happening with my roll right now after a few years of total reliability on at least one side on any given day. But for learning, you may want to pick up a used plastic easy-on-the-paddler boat like a Tempest. Then transfer skills to the Nordie as you have conditions that are the right level of challenge to advance without it being a high anxiety paddle.

Professional instruction

– Last Updated: Aug-01-09 6:36 AM EST –

Hey Gil, welcome to the club. It is great to see that kind of enthusisasim. You mention that you are spending time with some skilled paddlers in your area. It is very nice of them to take the time to help you. No doubt that you are picking up some tricks from them; most paddlers do that kind of informal, group skills "training". Great way to meet other local paddlers, try some different boats, and maybe learn a little while having some fun. Having said that, however, there is no substitute for taking formal lessons from a professional coach. I would suggest finding a professional instructor who is certified by either the ACA or BCU. This person will not just be a very skilled paddler, passionate about kayaking; he or she will be a highly skilled teacher who has been trained to work with people who have different learning styles and needs. This person will teach kayaking to people like you every day, for years. One day with a quality instructor can literally save you months or even years of struggle on your own. Good luck.

Get training.

– Last Updated: Aug-02-09 8:57 AM EST –

The best thing you can do for your skills is pay for lessons from a trained instructor. Both ACA and BCU coach certifications are often good indicators. Most paddlers I know (self included) regularly work with coaches to learn, and hone skills.

Do you still have your Chatham? It is a much more supportive learning platform than a Nordkapp. If it is a 16, you may find as your skills improve you enjoy it more than the 'kapp. If it is a 17 - it is still a boat which will provide more positive reinforcement when learning skills than the Nordy.

If you still have your Chatham, use it as your learning platform. The Nordkapp is an unforgiving boat. A full size Nordy is designed to be paddled loaded and not the best behaved unladen. Even laden it does not provide the elbow room of a Chatham, Romany, Explorer, Aquanaut, Avocet, Tempest, etc...

I love my Nordkapp LV, but I paddle my Romany a lot more ;-)

As I read your tale of love and woe
my advice is: if you want to continue your love of kayaking, either get rid of the Nordcapp or put it in mothballs unless your future plans are to be in calm water for the rest of your life.

Get a boat that you feel comfortable in and can enjoy paddling and the paddling experience.



Yup a Nordkapp is not a boat for the faint of balance.

I have both LV & H2O and while I love the LV (too light for the now for sale H2O) I acknowledge it isn’t the best boat if accidentally rolling is a fear.

I find secondary is very light to sort of non existent and serious edging is something I am still trying to get a feel for (though as JackL will attest, rolling is no problem).

I suggest that if you want to keep the NK spend some time getting comfortable and learn how to brace and consider learning to roll.

If the boat is keeping you from enjoying paddling then it is probably not the right boat for you right now and try to find something with a bit more gentle profile so you can get back to having a good time.

BTW I paddled a QCC 700X once and tried to roll it. It had amazing secondary stability. This might be a good boat to try. Fast, good in conditions (though different than how a valley feels) and with a very safe feeling secondary to let you learn without scaring the @#$% out of you.

“…learn how to brace and…”
“learn how to brace and consider learning to roll.”

No one should paddle a Nordkapp (of any sort) without decent bracing and rolling skills :wink:

And I don’t think a Nordy is the best boat for someone to start learning such skills.

How much do you weigh?
Do you carry your weight high?

Do you tense up when you get in the kayak?

Can you tip over and brace up?

Trust me there are much more tippy paddle craft than the Nordkapp -it’s a boat meant for paddling in conditions.

The best solution is to get seat time in the boat.

If you are really uncomfortable get a more stable cheapy and learn to paddle it, roll and brace. An old school whitewater boat might cost $200 and you could learn the skills you need in rough water.


– Last Updated: Aug-06-09 2:39 PM EST –

kills just about everything. Reading your post, it appears as if you have yourself in knots about your performance. Gotta think it's translating to the boat.

As to rolling the Nordies, they roll great. It's just that you get to do a little more of it than in something like the Chatham 16 or 17 if you are not comfortable and relaxed. And being confident you can roll makes a huge diff in staying relaxed (in any boat).

There are boats that are more forgiving of technique errors than the Nordies, available in fiberglass and have the same expedition capacity in both volume and ability to handle tough conditions. They includes the relatively boring but gets-'em-home NDSK Explorer, the Valley (faster and less boring) Aquanaut, both of which have tended to be popular coach's boats because they don't take much attention. From observation and second-hand reports, also the Tempest 170. Others in the 16' range, and probably a 17 footer or two that I forgot.

I hadn't thought of the old school WW idea- it's a great idea if the not-upright stuff is where you are having trouble right now. Cheap and great as a trainer.

Please edit your post and add some paragraphs. It is nearly impossible for me to read in one long graph.

you are beating yourself up
although you are fervent - a good thing - if the tension apparent in your post is anything like what you carry out on the water, you are sabotaging yourself. I get torqued up just reading it.

Slow down.

Get someone savvy enough to evaluate how you sit in the boat, how you hold the paddle, how you balance in the boat. If it’s not quite there, they can help you get there.

Get a friendlier boat. There are suggestions here.

Do some casual paddling in easy conditions, forget open water, find a lake or a shallow shoreline. Fall out, play around edging and bracing. Sit on your kayak’s stern deck and hang your legs over the side, and paddle in 3 feet of water.

Are there people who start learning on a Nordkapp? Sure. But not too damn many.

No big deal
Some boats take a lot of seat time and the right conditions for learning them. When the training wheels come off, you tend to lose some skin off your knees.

I agree to use this boat in easy conditions and have a more solid boat when things are going to be rough. That way you have that challenge in drive in front of you, but you aren’t getting discouraged.

And take things slow. I tried out a surf ski that was 18" wide and 20’6" long last weekend. I started out with my legs off the side for stability and slowly built some speed paying close attention to my paddle strokes until I felt stable enough to bring my legs up and in. I took things slow and easy on protected waters. It’s probably take a good part of a summer to get really comfortable with that boat, but the first day I built a little confidence…