Weather Cocking

I understand the basic concept of weather cocking but I have an older 16’ Necky kayak without a rudder and it insists on turning sideways into the wind, especially when traveling with the wind. Until I can afford the rudder for it, when traveling with the wind, will loading more weight into the rear of the kayak help with this problem?

Normally the first choices are things like edging and maybe shifting your hold on the paddle to add more leverage/sweep on one side than the other. But if the problem is more severe then experimenting with weight in the stern may help. Some boats may also allow shifting the seat fore or aft a bit.

All boats do
All boats weathercock (even the ones people will post and say don’t. They do just that some kayaks are more emphatic about it than others.

Can’t tell you what ballast will do, but I just took Ben Lawry’s kayak camp/power paddle camp and learned to use wind as an asset.

Edging and your paddle are the keys.

My primary boat doesn’t have a rudder either although it does have a skeg, which I will use. But learning to use direction and edging with the wind really helps minimize the stress caused by weathercockng.

Of course, a rudder is probably the simplist way to treat the symptom but not affect the cause. I’m not big on rudders (although I haven an Epic 16x that has a rudder) since I’m not real coordinated.

Bill G.

now from Charlotte, NC (still searching for salt water and tides. They must be around here somewhere…)

Depends on what direction you want to go
Whatever end you weigh down will tend to turn into the wind. So, if you want to go downwind, you would add stern weight. If you want to go upwind, add bow weight.

Of course, all this is weight shifting is impractical in a fixed cockpit SINK, unless you have a sliding seat such as those available in Mariner kayaks. Plus, the weight shifting tactic for dealing with wind, even if you can do it, stops being effective once the wind changes direction or your course does.

Get an open canoe so you can move your body and gear around easily.

Or a wind neutral kayak such as a Surge or Eddyline Merlin.

Or a rudder.

true about direction

– Last Updated: Jul-14-11 7:32 PM EST –

The only time adding ballast makes sense if for _both_ a severe case that doesn't respond to edging and such _and_ when you will be doing enough miles downwind to make it worth the hassle of shifting or removing the weight when going up wind.

When I do a long crossing with camp gear I tend to shift the balance of my gear to suit the prevailing wind for the direction I'm crossing (which doesn't change much where I paddle), this saves me from using my skeg going downwind.

Ballast in the stern will reduce weather cocking, and if you put enough in may even introduce lea cocking in some boats.

Generally some degree of weather cocking is a desirable handling trait. But not so much that you can’t maintain a heading off the wind.

Play with varying amounts ballast to find what works best for you. You may even find that you won’t need a rudder. An empty bottle to fill with water and stash in the stern is a lot cheaper.

you can also move the seat towards the stern to adjust the trim

Keep in mind - not knowing anything about your kayak, your paddling style, your skill set, making any sort of meaningful suggestion is somewhat difficult.

no they don’t
"All boats weathercock (even the ones people will post and say don’t."

That’s not entirely true.

You could say MOST boats do, but not ALL.

How about a kayak that lee cocks? so bad that I had to cut some of the stern off?

Mind you the kayak was designed to be paddled with a rudder. I don’t care much for rudders… :slight_smile:

my pwn experience

– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 5:44 AM EST –

My usual boat has a much greater tendency to weathercock than the longer boat - it's just diffs between the hull designs. I load that boat heavier in the stern than the other and it does make it behave a bit better. But - it is low volume enough that it can be affected by a fairly minor weight shift. If your boat is pretty big volume for you, it may take a lot of weight to help.
This is also a limited effect. If windy enough the skeg is still used.
And, as above there are times when you want to let the boat weathercock to catch an easy turn.
So I use this and it does help tame the stern, but how much depends a bit on the boat. Our older necky is a neat boat for playing but does love to weathercock.

Sure, but …
Yes, you can load the boat slightly stern-heavy to help counteract weathercocking, as long as you continue in that direction, or the wind doesn’t shift. But as soon as you, say, round a point and change your heading, or double back to your launch point, the boat can become a real handful. So, use this technique cautiously.

You can also provide more windage on the bow section by lashing a deckbag or similar on the foredeck. This will tend to help keep the bow from drifting upwind, with the same cautions as above.

As others have said, leaning the boat and other techniques can help, with the advantage of being applied only when needed.

Here’s an article about weathercocking in kayaks:

Good luck!


Try sweep strokes

– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 1:04 PM EST –

Some boats just weather cock like crazy and the only thing you can do is sweep strokes and rudders. it's a bitch.

I've been paddling for 17 years and have good strokes and leans and all that stuff and I have traded boats with bad weather cocking boats and it sucks. You are always on the defensive and constantly leaning and sweeping. Or you change course like a sail boat and go one way a bit and back. Sometimes you can change hand positions on the paddle so one side is longer than the other and pulling the boat on course.

Get the rudder; especially if the boat is actually turning side-ways for you. Or take a hot melt glue gun and glue on a keel strip towards the back of the boat and sacrifice the maneuverability for peace of mind. A lot of people talk about playful boats and that's fine as long as it has a working skeg when you need it.

another option
I had a 15’ folder that weathercocked badly even in light breeze (Feathercraft Kahuna) until I popped for their $40 rubber strap-on skeg. Made a huge difference in tracking in wind and waves. I was surprised at the impact. Since then I’ve used it on two of my hard boats as well(it clips securely to the deck lines with 4 adjustable straps) with good results. I prefer it to the rudder in moderate conditions since there is much less drag and it can be removed when not needed. Being flexible rubber it just folds out of the way when beaching the boat or when going over obstacles in the water. YRMV

I was heading back…
to the beach and the winds were around 10-15mph and the boat insisted on turning directly sideways into the wind. In fact, I couldn’t stop it from turning even though I was paddling as hard as I could on one side. Once it turned me around, I’d just float sideways for a while until I rested. Then I’d brake and back paddle on the opposite side to swing the front around to get it pointed the right direction and then paddle like crazy on one side until it spun me around again. My little 10’ rec kayak was never this hard to control in the wind.

curious, was the wind coming mainly from the shore rather than blowing clear across the lake? When the wind blows over a greater distance you often get wind waves in higher winds that promote you moving parallel to the waves rather than turning into the wind. This often causes there to be an upper limit on weathercocking.

So paddling only one side (not ideal I know) still makes you turn into the wind? Make sure to edge your boat into the wind mostly by just shifting your weight to the windside butt cheek, though lifting the non-wind side knee helps this. Then shift the paddle in your hand so you have a bit more paddle length on the wind side. This may not help if even doing constant sweeps on one side doesn’t help.

In a pinch, ‘tacking’ like a sailboat may help where you paddle much more down wind for a bit then let the wind turn you side ways or even into the wind, then repeat. Again, not ideal, but it’s good to have alternatives when in a jam.

Have you tried adding some weight to the stern yet. Depending on the answers to the above questions maybe your boat is so poorly balanced that weight in the stern could be okay even when heading into the wind (not common, but who knows).

I was head
towards the beach with the wind almost directly at my back. I’m fairly new to kayaking so at the time it never occured to me to try edging the boat. I have a new Perception Carolina 14’ (with a rudder) coming Monday but if my roomate decides she wants the Necky, we’ll probably go ahead and order the rudder for it.

edging may help

– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 6:49 PM EST –

When the wind is nearly straight behind it takes less to hold the course than if it 'gets away from you' and turns more. So in that case edging and shifting the paddle often help a lot. You often need to constantly keep it on edge a bit rather than get off course then try to correct.

Are there wind wave big enough to really notice? When going straight downwind AND having wind waves then the wind waves have a bigger impact than the wind itself and will tend to make you go parallel to the waves. Such following seas take a bit of practice as whether you are on the peak or trough of the wave when making a correction makes a difference. But some of the same edging techniques used for wind help with waves. Following seas can be fun when you get used to them, but many find them tricky.

If you get access to some good instruction, look for a class on directional control which will teach some of the tricks of the trade.

shift your weight
Try just shifting to one side so that the boat is tilted to turn away from the wind, then paddle normally. Not a total solution but it can help.

Edging should really help
In order to do edging over long periods, you may need to add some extra padding in the hips and under deck.

Rudder-strokes, not sweep strokes
If you are trying to turn downwind, using sweep strokes that start at the bow is counterproductive. Your paddle is locking the bow in the water, and the stern is free to blow downwind, turning you the opposite direction.

Instead, to turn downwind, you want to lock the stern. One way to do that is by doing a forward stroke, and then finishing with a stern rudder stroke (or stern draw, more precisely).

Internet advice on this is really going to be a lot less effective than spending a day taking a class with an instructor, learning different ways to turn your sea kayak. You don’t need a rudder. (or at least, you need lessons first)