turning a kayak by leaning

Yea - that make sense to me
I have done this in open boat all my life - so long that I don’t really think about it anymore. So it can be hard to explain.

That last paragraph is a key point

– Last Updated: Mar-24-12 3:17 PM EST –

There is no need for a two-step lean, one in one direction and one in the other as mentioned above. When your boat is along for the ride in whatever current carries it, there's no sideways component of water velocity relative to the boat when crosswise to that current.

If you think ONLY in terms of what the interaction between boat and water will be immediately after entering a zone having current of a different velocity, the process is simple. There's no need to complicate your thoughts with worrying about about which way the main river is going, or which way the eddy is going, so "uptream" and "downstream" are irrelevant. All that matters is which way will the boat be "trying to go" relative to the water that supports it once it enters this new zone having different water velocity. If you think about it that way, the direction of lean (based on the relative velocity of the water, compared to that of your boat, once your boat is in the zone of different current) is always the same.

As another way of looking at this, if you were walking on a conveyor belt, and you faced to the right and suddenly stepped off in that direction onto the floor, you'd fall to your left because "relative to you", the floor was moving left to right. Now, if you step back onto the conveyor belt from that spot, you'd again fall to your left because "relative to you", the conveyor belt was moving from left to right. It made no difference which was moving, the floor or conveyor belt. All that mattered was which way it was moving relative to you at the moment when you first made contact with the new surface. In each of those cases, you'd need to place that first footstep well to the left, rather than straight below you, to prevent falling, and this is all you are doing when you tilt your boat the proper way - you are putting the bottom of the boat directly in-line with the overall g-force resulting from the boat's change in velocity as it enters a different current. With the conveyor-belt example, it makes no difference whether you tumble due to suddenly stopping or because you were already stopped but "someone jerked a rug out from under you". The principle is the same and the method to prevent falling is the same. You can use the same reasoning to stay upright when stepping from a fast conveyor to a slow one (that'd be the same as paddling into a weak eddy having slow current in the same direction as the main flow). Thus, whether entering an eddy or your right, or exiting that same eddy back into the main flow, you still lean the boat to your right (or turn it so the bottom of the hull faces the water that will be moving sideways past your boat for those first couple of seconds of the manuever.)

This is SO MUCH simpler than the description might make it sound. I probably shouldn't have tried.

So what I tend to think about
when I eddy out for example is just to plant my paddle hard in the eddy and lean on it. The rest just happens. How about that for simplicity?

Head position

– Last Updated: Mar-24-12 4:22 PM EST –

Keep head on centerline of cockpit - use "hips"

So don’t lean
on the brace in the eddy?

This is kind of what I meant…
when I said that everyone tends to find their own way of thinking about this. Opposing the push of the water by how I set an edge is easiest for me to think about because it works in all situations - WW as well as surf. I’ve known people coming from WW who had gotten the upstream downstream thing in their heads and had trouble initially transferring to surf because of a tendency (which I share) to think of the beach as downstream. So they dropped the edge closer to shore and immediately had a chance to test their combat roll. But if I think of using the edge to oppose the push of the water, the correct (beach side) edge comes up automatically.

As to how much opposition is involved - I tend to hit our few WW moments coming from long boats, so my reactions start out a day in long boat time. As a result by the time I spot the eddy, get the edge set and paddling to the thing, there is usually a great deal of opposing involved to make the one I wanted rather than the one next down. :slight_smile:

Depends on the velocity of the water
This confusion may be due to a mix of experience. If there is sufficient velocity in the water it can be a very supportive surface, hence you’ll see people in WW and surfing way out over the side of the boat. On the front of some waves you may not be able to keep the boat from capsizing without throwing your torso out beyond the boat onto the wave face, especially if the wave is big and paddler is small.

But at the more extreme executions this is a maneuver favored for a closed deck boat with a skirt, because you well may be at an angle extreme enough to have water coming into anything that is open cockpit. So you may not see as much of this until you get to bigger water, and/or craft set up for more precise performance.

If the water is strong enough to support you there’s nothing wrong with using it, as long as you are not so strung out that you couldn’t recover with a good brace should the support of the water suddenly disappear. That said, class 1 is usually not that strong - so there may still be more weight centered in the boat than you realize.

i’m really just talking
about class one to practice getting used to this kayaking thing. I paddle 3 and 4 regularly in open boat. My sense is there is more trouble associated with not leaning on the paddle enough than the other way around. I think you need to be aggressive in strong water. You need to control the situation as opposed to letting the situation control you.

I don’t think there is a disagreement here. Or I am missing something.

the guy asked how to turn…

– Last Updated: Mar-24-12 8:25 PM EST –

he didn't ask why or for a physics lesson. it's simple, stupid. see the quotations marks up there? yeah...you can think of it that way..you push this way, the boat goes that way...getting away from the pushing foot.

the op asks a direct, simple question...a direct simple answer is good. basic question, basic answer.

if you give the student the keys to the stroke and let them figure it out, it's a pretty good lesson. as they progress, they'll sort out what's going on.

...or you can talk about physics and differential flows cause who doesn't enjoy that chat?

you do what i typed, the boat turns. done.

It’s pretty automatic if you do that, and that process makes you lean “the right direction” too.

That’s sometimes the result when …

– Last Updated: Mar-25-12 12:52 AM EST –

... people think and write in different ways - misunderstandings are bound to happen. By my way of thinking, I prefer to write exactly what I mean and to choose words that will not carry an incorrect meaning if someone interprets them literally. Sometimes it takes a lot more words to say something that can be interpreted in the intended way but no other, but in lucky cases it takes fewer words. If someone does not understand what I wrote, instead of calling them "stupid" I figure I should have found a way to write more clearly and usually try again (I save the "stupid" remarks for extreme cases of intentionally ignoring key points). Because accurate writing is my my preference, I tend to be fooled by the writings of those who don't view their own words the same way. Also, when learning a new skill, I prefer to understand how and why it works instead of being told to blindly follow particular rules as a shortcut to actual teaching. If someone seems to be stating a reason that is clearly wrong, I'll often try to make the real reason clear. Put those two traits together, and when I read that the boat moves in the direction it is pushed with your foot, I figured it meant exactly that, a statement of cause and effect. Note that I wasn't the only person to think that's what you said and to offer a way of demonstrating otherwise. In any case, if that's what you had really meant to say, it'd hardly have been the first time someone stated cause and effect wrongly, and not knowing the first thing about you, I had no reason to doubt what appeared to be your intended meaning.

By the way, the "physics lesson" about how a boat turns when leaned comprised about two sentences of what I wrote, and perhaps just one additional sentence would have finished the job, so I'm surprised you find the prospect of that style of explanation so taxing. All the rest of what I wrote was an attempt to shed some light on what appeared to be your mistaken understanding of the "how and why", which is a much bigger task than simply explaining why a boat that is tilted to one side will carve a turn (it's also something that would be totally unnecessary if starting a lesson from scratch about how to lean and turn).

My Experience - Sea Kayak
None of the boats I ever owned would turn just by leaning.

If you want to maintain your speed, sweep on your left and lean the boat left to make the boat go right. Vice versa to go left.

If maintaining speed isn’t important and you want to turn quickly, lay your paddle flat on the water’s surface to your right, lean right onto the paddle (brace) and your boat will go right. Vice versa to go left.

You evidently didn’t read my answer
to him above.

I am not sure why all these other posts are under mine, but it appears that people also don’t know the proper procedure for posting a reply.

Jack L

Turning Explanation
Guideboatguy, your posting of Mar-25-12 12:01 AM is spot on. Couldn’t agree more

I prefer sea kayaks with a pronounced chine (like a Chesapeake Light Craft Patuxent 17.5 or my Arctic Hawk) because I can make course corrections with an off-side lean without paddle input.

I’m not talking about a 180 degree U-turn necessarily but both those boats will make a distinct yaw to the opposite side when heeled with the paddle out of the water.

I Would Like That
but nope. None of my boats would turn squat without the paddle.

When you eddy out
Lean the boat like it’s a bicycle making the turn.

Don’t worry about “why” at first. It will make sense later.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Same here
I have only limited experience (WS Tsunami 165 and WS Zephyr 160). If I have headway in flatwater and I do nothing other than put it on edge I get hardly any reaction from the boat. If I put it on edge and then give one firm sweep on one side or the other the hull turns in the direction you would expect based on the sweep without any additional paddle input.

A drawing to explain
I have an article on leaned turns here:


the illustration explains the theory.