Teaching oneself to WW and playboat

hey all, anyone on here knows that all of my expierence in paddling is on sea ( by far) and lakes and ponds. Working paddling in newfoundland gave me the bulk of my expierence. I now live on the interior of British Columbia and wish to pursue whitewater kayaking / playboating and river running.

I know the best way to learn is to have an instructor or ww school in the vicinity, but there isnot. A few ww paddlers in the area, none of which I know yet. So, I’ve purchased a couple of books and and dvds, obtained the list of advisable websites. Thankfully I work in a paddle shop and have lots of reliable information sources (reps from companies), not to mention this website.

But what are the opinions on this? I imagine I can begin to teach myself flatwater playboating skills? I will be heading to Ottawa for paddling ‘education’ in september and october (early october), but do not want to be a total ww virgin (with a direct interest in playboating or freestyle).

Any advice , or people with expierence of teaching themselves river skills?

I taught myself for the most part to Sea Kayak and it wasn’t until after several years did I take any courses (which were still very beneficial). But, since river paddling is a foreign science to me…I figure, I’d best ask.

Thanks all


I taught myself and thought I was doing
fine but the instructor course opened my eyes to a totally new world. There is too much to remember when you get to the water and you don’t always see your own mistake. Have someone video you then watch it. Best advice: Find a good instructor.

There are some here who can help
But you really should post this question on boatertalk.com. Chances are you can be put in touch with other paddlers who will be happy to help you out. Everyone there is a WW paddler and there are members from all over the world.

Another whitewater site
Is Northeast Paddlers Messgae Board:


It is filled with ww paddlers. It is where I go, online, to learn of things whitewater.

But the best learning is on the water with good coaches.

Check out Whitewater Kayak Association
of BC website (aka WKABC), maybe post something to hook up with others. In terms of teaching oneself, yea i am sure it can be done as long as you are patient, safety concsious or however that is spelled and willing to swim. Good idea about the lessons. I would think that there must be some private companies around to teach, here on the island there are a few.

Liquid Skills in Ontario is my destination in september and october after a visit home to Newfoundland for some Sea Kayaking, then off to Ottawa for my River Skills and playboating education for a steady three weeks (five days a week of learning and paddling - doign severl different courses with them). In the meantime, running some rivers and learning to play will be a great introduction for me, so I am not a WW virgin when arriving in Ottawa.

Thanks for the help

WW paddling
is a very social affair. You need a vehicle at both ends for shuttling so you need to have someone else with you, nevermind the safety reasons. Generally here in NPMB.com land(northeast), people find others who will show them the line down a new run, and share techniques and “spot” etc… in the flatwater stretches before and during a run. I enjoy finding better canoeists than me(not hard to do) and learning from them. Find yourself a local message board or hang out at the local “park and play” or ww takeout spot and find some people to hook up with.

location, location, location

– Last Updated: May-26-07 6:53 AM EST –

I think you can work on some WW skills in *relative* safety if you choose the right location. You want to find isolated features with no significant hazards downstream. If you can look downstream and be comfortable with the prospect of swimming it alone, that's a good sign.

Skills you can work on:

Ferries and back ferries: All you need is current. Can you paddle across to a selected point? Learning the ferry angles needed for different current speeds and to hold up the upstream edge is a fundamental skill. Being able to do it backwards will help you safely avoid obstacles.

Eddy entry and exit: Learning to cross eddy lines will teach you about the edge control needed to deal with abrupt changes in current direction and velocity.

Surfing: Once you're comfortable getting in and out of eddies, you can start trying to ride small waves. Make sure you can tell the difference between a wave and a hole.....

You can learn a lot in moving water that has very few obstacles. None of this is any different than what sea kayakers do in areas of strong currents or tides.

As for playboating, anything that gets you used to unusual attitudes is helpful. I just started working on pivot turns: