Water dripping on my head

I love paddling my 17’ kayak but I have water dripping from my paddle on my head all the time. I have tried several different strokes and still get wet. What can I do to avoid this? Or is this always part of paddling?



Dripping is, but on head?

– Last Updated: Dec-18-13 6:15 PM EST –

Are you always paddling into the wind, or is the exit from the water pulling a lot of water up with it? If it is the latter, the paddle should not be coming out of the water in a location and at an angle where that is a regular event unless wind blown. Shoulders and arms when things are messy maybe, [added later - or in the face] but not [added later - on top of your] head.

Have you had any work on your strokes, or had someone look at what you are doing?

In the meantime, hats are good.

vintage suggestion
The Inuit use rags wrapped around the paddle shaft, about in the position where most conventional paddles have the rubber drip rings. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History here in Pittburgh has a Polar World exhibit with several original kayaks and paddles in the collection and ALL the paddles have strips of cotton cloth wrapped in this way. The placement is clearly too far off the loom to be there for cushioning the hands so I presume it is for controlling water runoff. I’ve yet to try it myself (I use a Greenland paddle most of the time and dripping and flying water spray is a constant with it) so I can’t testify to how well the rags works, but I have to think they would tend to dampen the tendency of drippage to spin off. Easy and cheap enough to try the technique, though.

I always wear a hat of some kind when paddling, so I don’t notice spray onto my head much.

I regularly drip water on my head.
I just wear a hat.

Dripping on your head? somethings wrong
On hot summer nights, after the sun is gone, I sometimes take off my hat and it always surprises me how much water hits my head. I use a Greenland paddle, and there is always water dripping from the paddle and stray drops do hit my head, especially if there’s a HEAD wind.

So, if you mean you are getting splashes of water or drops blown onto you, I think that is normal. But if you mean you have water dripping on your head, something is wrong with your stroke and you should seek training in the forward stroke.

Another thing to try is using a single blade, especially if your kayak has a rudder. My kayak doesn’t have a rudder so I have to use “sit and switch” to make the kayak go sort of straight. Even with switching sides, I stay very dry. With a rudder, you can reduce the amount of switching you do, so you should stay nice and dry. Hint: you need a short, single-blade paddle for use in a kayak. It will feel odd at first, but single blading a kayak can propel it at nearly the same speed as double blading, and you stay dry.


The only way I get water on my head
is with high angle draws and pries…At the apex of your stroke where is your top hand?

Wind of course produces splash but my head doesn’t get wet normally till I fall out.

Is it possible that your paddle is too long for you? A too-long paddle will generally cause you to bring up a lot of water and use a higher angled stroke than needed. Might be something to consider.

It doesn’t sound normal to me
Try paddling with a low angle stroke.

Also you didn’t say if you are using a feathered paddle.

If you are using a 60 degree feather, try a 45.

And lastly possibly your cadence might be too high.

When I am racing, with a fast cadence, I get a lot of water on my back from my wing paddle and a fast cadence.

Jack L

Hands in front?
To the OP - when you paddle do you have your hands in front of your torso? Do you rotate your upper body with each stroke?

Two solutions: get a single blade canoe
and stop paddling in the rain.

The “wing” stroke?
While paddling today I thought about your post and it occurred to me that if you drag the paddle too far back and too close to the boat, it might have to go closer to you/above you after you take it out of the water. So you might get dripped on. If the paddle exits the water nicely (i.e., by the hip and away from the boat) it does not drip on me (it does throw a few drops forward of my toes, not on my head).

So, see if changing your technique helps. Nice paddles when used correctly should not lift much water anyway.

I also think that drip rings increase dripping as they drag water up that might otherwise slide off the paddle away from you.

Unless I’m paddling really fast/powerfully sprinting and lifting plenty of water with my wing paddle, I don’t get many drips on my head if there is no wind. However, with just a bit of wind, and I do get plenty, so I usually wear a hat.

review your release of the paddle
I think that you should have someone video your forward stroke. My belief is that you are incorrectly releasing your paddle from the water in a manner that is lifting and throwing the water.

Try releasing the blade at the hip (think releasing the blade at the knee and you should get out by the hip). When releasing the blade, think about bringing your knuckles straight up. Think silent and stealthlike. Knuckles higher than the elbow and as the releasing blade comes out of the water, it shouldn’t be lifting any water but come out clean.

Do NOT roll your knuckles forward or twist the shaft at all (like a motorcycle throttle) - both will cause you to lift water. Lifting water and going to far back will cause you to have more dripping water.

I ditched the drip rings years ago
OP should try the opposite of whatever situation he has now: If there are drip rings, remove them; if not, put some on. Whatever helps reduce the dripping on head.

But that’s not the sole reason, as others have amply illustrated.

Seems strange
I paddle with a greenland paddle and sometimes with a euro. I don’t get water on my head. So its your paddle stroke. I would sure like to see this paddle stroke in action. Maybe try shooting a video of yourself paddling along. Then others can see how it looks.I do both a low angle stroke and a high angle depending on how fast I want to go. Neither gets my head wet.Boy I wouldn’t want a wet head in this cold, yikes.

arm positioning
Your arms should be almost straight and your torso turns with the stroke that ends at the hip (unless turning or correcting headway). Try placing your arms straight and while making the paddling strokes, pushing on the foot rests on the same side as the power stroke. Turn your body with the stroke as if trying to ring a bell attached to your chest. Lots of power in this stroke. If paddling a western style paddle, then the angle can vary up to your eye level but keep the angle much lower for greenland style paddling. I read if your knuckles do not hit the deck every now and then, then you are paddling too high an angle. I rarely punch my upper hand out above my chest level once underway. I paddle a Greenland stick most of the time but will paddle a western blade in skinny waters. As someone above has already mentioned, have someone view your paddling style from the side as they may be able to better advise. It is good to have you onboard in the paddling arena and you probably did well getting the 17 footer. Best wishes.

I wonder if we all get taken
in with a little joke here? OP has disappeared.

Curious— Why would a longer paddle
cause one to paddle more high angle? Certainly hasn’t worked that way with me. I can use my 296 cm ww paddles in my touring kayak, high angle. If I go to a 215 or a 240, I tend to reduce the angle.

Drowned at sea, or stuck in mall traffic

Soggy head syndrome.

I have this problem with my wing paddle but not with my euro paddle. I get drips from my euro paddle but not on my head. It does not depend on the wind. In this picture you can see the arc of the drips leading to my head. This was the end of the 44 km Red River Paddle Challenge. My hat
had blown off into the river and is under the bungy in front of me and I am rather bedraggled by this time.