Tracking Advice

-- Last Updated: Jul-14-07 9:20 AM EST --

I recently purchased a Prijon Cruiser. Although I am a new kayaker I don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize the boat is not tracking properly and is constantly turning to the right in clam waters, and on a windless day.
If left to itself, the boat will do a complete 180 turn and then go down stream backwards It will then track correctly facing backwards the opposite way. It is a constant struggle to fight to keep the boat from tracking to the right, and has taken all the fun out of the sport for me. I dont think it's my stroke as I get the boat pointing straight ahead, stop paddling, let it drift, and it immediately goes to the right.
Is there anyway I can trim this boat?

Lots of possibilities
The Cruiser has a huge cockpit and chances are you are sitting more to one side than the other. Or your stroke is different on one side from the other. Have someone watch you paddle.

Couple of things come to mind…
First, you can flip it over, get behind or in front of the boat, and look down the length of the boat for any curve along the keel. It should be straight as an arrow. If you have a curve, you have a defective boat.

If your keel is straight, then you might look to the motor … er, thats you. You mentioned you’re a beginner. Your stroke is a likely cause for the boat consistently tracking in one direction. Kinda like a golf swing … we blame the club, but it’s really our swing.

Not familiar with your boat. Do you have a rudder? I went through the same thing when I went from a boat with a rudder to a skeg boat … the rudder can mask an incorrect stroke.

As a beginner myself, I’ve been working on my stoke this year quite a bit. Couple of things. First, its a torse rotation… smooth and even. If you’re using your shoulder muscles, you may be stronger one side vs the other, which can cause the boat to track one way. It’s also lead to very sore shoulders or worse … trust me. Try to keep your arms straight, slightly bent, plant the paddle by your foot, and rotate your torso. Take the paddle out by your hips. Repeat on the other side. Take it slow, and try to plant and remove the paddle in the same places. Watch your paddle as it glides through the water. Is it going along the side of the boat, or are you sweeping? You could be doing a little sweep on one side vs the other.

Might try getting a book or taking a lesson.

Have you let someone
else try to paddle it and see if it does the same thing to them. It could be your paddle stroke and sometimes it’s hard to tell in a good tracking kayak. I was surprised how much I fine tuned my paddling stroke when I started paddling a maneuverable sea kayak. This was the best thing I have done to really gain a feel for my paddling stroke. If you know someone who has a maneuverable kayak that you can borrow it will let develop a more sensitive paddle stroke.

Try sitting a tad more to the right
Also do you keep some gear stored on the left that might be making you off balance.

My wife won a a new kayak in a drawing at a race about five years ago, and it would not track straight. I am not sure where it is now, but it has been handed on from person to person, and no one could ever figure why?

It was obvious to us why it was donated by the manufacturer!



Same problem with first boat
Dealer said that that I just needed to work on my paddling skills. I snapped a chalk line along the keel and saw that it was more than an inch and a half out of line. Then snapped a photo and sent it to Perception. They sent a new boat that week.[Never have quite trusted that dealer since]. John

Same problem with my Manitou 13
except it always turned left. I contacted Necky via email and really did not get anywhere. I called up my outfitter and he contacted his Necky rep. They replaced my boat within the week, because there was some boats that came out of the mold early and the hulls were out of shape. The one thing I noticed with my kayak when it sat on the ground, was if I tilted as far as it would go to the port side, it would roll all the way back to the starboard. Even sat cocked in the water to starboard with no one in it. The new kayak stays to the side I tilt it to. I was also a beginner paddle and thought it was my stroke, but I do not find myself always correcting to the right with the new kayak. So…it may not be your stroke.


Welcome to kayaking.

– Last Updated: Jul-15-07 10:34 AM EST –

We have all heard this many times and know from experience.
I had problems with my kayak also when I started paddling.
Be patient. Spend more time in the kayak and you two will work out all of the problems.
It is surprising how much sitting just off center will control the craft and then there is the problem that the left and right strokes need to be exactly identical. Repeating the word "Exactly" is hard to do.
Patience and practice my friend...patience & practice.


My vote is for a tweaked boat
Ususally when someone has this drastic a reaction it’s been my experience that the boat is tweaked. Even very beginner paddlers typically go pretty straight, especially in rec type boats which are designed to do so to compensate for beginners.

Laser, chaulk line etc., but look at the upper deck as well. Run a line from bow to stern…does it center in the cockpit area? Look at the yak from front and rear. Is the entry or keel twisted slightly?

All poly yak manufacturers have made blems. Every poly boat is unique and no two are truly identical if you get super techy. It’s the nature of the manufacturing process. The tool comes out of an oven and into a cooling station…after some set time the tool is opened and the warm boat extracted from the tool. It then goes to further cooling in a jig where it may be pressurized a bit with air etc. The boat is shrinking as it cools. Sometimes things can get tweaked in this extraction / cooling process, especially with less experienced operators.

Check the boat closely.

Check the hull
I am not familiar with that particular boat, but my parents purchased a couple of Wilderness Systems Pungos and one of them had the same problem of turning to one side. As it turns out, the hull was defective. If you flipped the boat over, there was a definite curve in the hull.