Up thru rapids is doable

Start in a calm stretch of river and go upstream a few yards. Lean downstream as you turn downstream. (Sideways in a strong current the flow wants to slide under your boat so fast that you tip upstream.) Go back to the calm place, have a drink and enjoy what you did. Then go further up and realize the big bubbly waves are your friend.

Waves under your boat perpendicular to your boat are like rolling upstream on rollers. The air bubbles under you help lift you up and over the current. It is so much fun and much easier than you would ever expect. But here is here is the fine print. Always dress to swim, including a neoprene balacava hat under your helmet to keep your visor and shades from falling off.

I wear a pfd and you might ask the local rescue squad or fire dept if they would like to have a ww rescue session. Twice they launched boats to rescue me. Once while surfing on the St Lawrence river in nov. Water and air were about 40 so I wore kokatat drysuit. In the trough of a wave I could not see land. On top the wind blew the paddle out of my hand. Swimming for the boat and paddle was tough in a pfd. The fire dept zodiac rescued me just before I got back in boat.

In tortola on a carib cruise, I rented a kayak from a shack with a coke sign. About 2 hours later I was looking at a mile of shacks, all with a coke sign. The key is to do U turns to remember where is your motel or rental place.

These guys are so good…


Other tips are it helps if you can sprint at 6 or 7 mph on flatwater to get up thru the flatwater after the rapids at 2 mph. All winter I work out. Run 8 miles in 65 minutes or do 1100 calories in 65 minutes on precor elliptical or concept 2 or kayak pro kayak simulator. Empty your tank today and you have a bigger tank tomorrow.

The seda glider is a great boat for up thru rapids but no rocker makes it tough to turn. The eft is good but the nose is too light to stay in the water when it hits a wave. The van dusen mohican is fabulous to go straight up thru foot high waves but I am not handy at turning without thigh braces. The west side t-bolt with rear bulkhead and small out of way thigh braces is fabulous for 2 ft waves.

Busting thru surf to get out into the calm water is excellent. You must a wear a helmet to avoid cuts from sea shells. I wear shoes with extra long laces tied up around the ankle to keep mud or ww sucking them off. Good luck!

Forgot to say not to stand up in ww
And some water going over a rock goes down and back upstream. The rock under Niagara falls in undercut so the falls are going back upstream. Maybe you have surfed a wave in a ww raft or kayak. This surfing action helps suck you upstream. But only when the river bottom is rough. A smooth river bottom makes for smooth high friction current that could force you to slide back and turn downstream while sideways. A duffet is a cool where you spear the top of a wafe to spin around fast

Erhhh… Did you make this up?
“The air bubbles under you help lift you up and over the current”

Anyone who’s been on white water know that bubbles REDUCE the buoyancy of your boat, thus, making your braces and paddle strokes LESS effective. They certainly do NOT lift you up (if anything, they pull you down!)

Perhaps you meant something entirely different (a situation where “foamy” water is an indication that there might be something in the water flow to help you upstream, but in a completely different way than what you say; and I’m not going to explain here)…

I saw a documentary about air in waves
The idea is to have fun in the waves. To see waves as our national element. Half way thru the 70 in the T-bolt, I did swim because the wing blade went into air in the whirlpool of a center post of a bridge. Do you have you tube videos of you going up thru rapids? I did this post to encourage people to do what they thought was too tough.

I missed the real rapids by a week and the water was too shallow to really paddle with the graphite wing. Whacking 400 bucks worth of graphite is an ugly sound. The water is much higher now and it should be easier! Please join me in encouraging others to bust thru surf or up thru ww rapids!

forgot to paste- sorry


Sure - here (videos)
Here I have some videos of me paddling upriver:


and one in a surf-ski:


(you can see more on my channel)

These are not teaching videos - lots of errors and learning involved. The key to attaining upriver is to use the river features (not just waves, but mainly eddies, rocks, holes, etc.) to help you up stream. It is impossible to paddle up the current in many sections where you could zig-zag your way through eddy-hopping upstream.

Forgot to mention - Yes! Tons of fun!
Thanks for posting yours - I’ve seen it before. Looks pretty shallow there…

Watched the video and had a few thoughts.

  1. Basically you just paddled like hell up stream through some ripples, I guess some could classify those as rapids, but not in the whitewater sense. Not to diminish the difficulty, the water was moving fast and I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

  2. If you’re racing or looking for a workout and had the conditiong then the old adage “the quickest distance between two points is a stratight line” would apply." Keep paddling like hell and don’t stop!

  3. Most boaters I know would use the eddies to their advantage and ferry back and forth across the river and then paddle up stream in the eddies. Granted the water may be too shallow in spots, but my guess there are others who would agree with my definition of the proper way to attain up river if you wern’t racing. Surf Ski’s aren’t really set up to put on edge and ferry, correct? They are open water speed/surf boats. I’m not seeing much edging happening or you’d be in the drink.

  4. Looks like a nice surf-ski and wing paddle. Not sure why you’d want to take those two things on a boney river, but you’re brave. Again if you’re racing and those are your gear of choice, go for it. I own boats I have no problem bouncing down rivers and I own composite boats that I wouldn’t take down a river. To each their own.

  5. Glad you made it up river, but with a canoe or even a different decked kayak you’d see a very different method to attain up a river.

Wish me luck
It is so fun to bust thru big waves below the power dam here in Ogdensburg, ny, but in this town if you swim, the cops will arrive. Then my wife will be mad. But I am buying a new batery for the video camera. The waves here below the dam seem much easier than gloucester, mass harbor after doing blackburn challenge on 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Life is about trying something big once in awhile. The waves on my video were so wimpy. Congratulations to Kocho for real ww videos

Good Luck! Roll/Remount?

– Last Updated: Apr-15-14 11:46 AM EST –

Before going into "big" stuff, I'd say it is important to perfect your quick self rescue skills: roll (for sit-in kayak) or remount for surf ski. You don't want to spend more than a very short time in the water. I realize it might not be life-threatening to let the tide push you out of the wave zone, then rescue in the calmer water there, but by-standers might not see it this way and could report you. I'd say, limit yourself to places where you can roll-up or remount pretty much immediately.

I've taken swims too, that's normal, but if a swim triggers a rescue effort by the coast guard/police, the situation should be avoided and a different venue considered. Or use a less demanding craft - the EFT/whatever you are paddling in that video is both tippy and not as easy to roll back up (or reenter, should you swim) as a more stable kayak would be. I know from paddling a Rapier 18 that I could roll it most of the times, but some times my rolls would fail and I would have to reenter with a paddle float (no biggie, but takes time and I had lost a paddle float in training situations - then what? walk to shore or be rescued (or die?). In the same (and more difficult) situations a kayak like WS Zephyr would not give me any issue at all (i.e., it was much less likely to flip in the first place and when it did, rolling back up was effortless).

Same with surf skis - use a V8 or something like that vs. a V14 in the rough. A swim is OK, but if the remount gives you trouble, either change the boat or the venue...