Weathercocking question

It does vary
I don’t see where anyone said variation between boats, design ethics etc didn’t exist. I can name kayak manufacturers in whose boats I expect to overall see more weathercocking than in others. It’s been a while since I’ve been surprised. :slight_smile:

If you look at the hulls of the kayaks that tend to weathercock more than others, it is usually easy to see aspects of the hull that might contribute. This is extreme, but put a CD Squall, at least an older one, next to a Necky Elaho drop-skeg or older Looksha. Differences will jump out at you. I am not a designer so I’d hesitate to try to name them, but you’ll see a quite different approach in balancing the bow and the stern areas between these boats. Line up boats with sufficient contrast and there is little question that if the boat has to give up its hold front or back it’s the back that will go (assuming the skeg is up).

I stand by what I said above - if a boat is going to bias one way or another, I want it to weathercock. Leecocking can get tricky especially in waves.

Guideboats and their kin, as well as canoes, may need to be designed with a less accepting approach towards weathercocking because they have more windage. In reasonable conditions it usually requires simple solutions to get a low profile kayak to sort itself out and go straight. This could be a whole different matter with something that gives the amount of boat tot he wind in a canoe or larger craft.

Kinda missed the point there.
I tried to point out the evidence regarding the root cause of weathercocking. Also, symmetrical canoes and guide-boats are symmetrical because they are easy to build that way, not because they are “designed” to be less-accepting of weathercocking. All below-water attributes being the same, they would weathercock more than necessary, since the bow and stern have equal windage. Reducing wind-catching area at the stern (as is the case with practically all kayaks as well as cruising-style canoes) would reduce weathercocking, rather than increase it, so there’s no design aspect of symmetrical boats with the idea of making them weathercock less. Even though it’s just an accident, they weathercock more.

It’s not hard to find articles describing the effect of differential pressure at the bow and stern being related to travel speed, and what the effects are. My post was my attempt to provide evidence for those effects which anyone can observe if they pay attention.

OK - y’r right
I read it to at least include something else than what you just said. I do find it interesting that the weathercocking thing seems to come up here less with canoes than with kayaks though. I wonder if much of it is that many canoes are paddled tandem, so there is someone up there to handle it, and that kayaks are more commonly paddled solo so it shows up.

Kayakers probably deal with more wind

– Last Updated: May-31-12 2:40 PM EST –

... than canoers do, at least on average. You are right that weathercocking is pretty easy to deal with in a tandem canoe so it might hardly be noticed. Besides, the kind of wind that makes weathercocking really bothersome might keep most canoers on shore. Solo canoers are less likely to go out into the open water where kayaks are the best tool for the job, and where one must paddle a long distance in a particular direction while fighting wind. On rivers or other near-shore paddling, fighting the wind tends to be more of an ever-changing situation, where there's a brief struggle to control the boat and then things are tolerable for a while.

For what it's worth, if I didn't also row a guide-boat on big lakes when the wind blows hard (conditions I really can't handle in a solo canoe), I'm not sure I'd have ever "put two and two together" to see that weathercocking and the need for tailoring paddle position according forward speed when making a canoe go sideways are related to the same fundamental process.

Paddling on Empty in Wind
Boats are designed to handle WEIGHT, i.e. transport.

When people paddle them empty they aren’t using

them at the optimal designed “load” and stuff happens

  • like weathercocking

laden kayak
I agree that a loaded kayak will handle differently, usually tracks better, and is also more stable, but on long trips I have had expedition kayaks laden down with gear to the point that the black seam was almost underwater, and they still weathercocked strongly.

Greg Stamer

Question about edging into the wind
I often hear or read that edging into the wind helps a lot with weather cocking, and I do use this technique on occasion, but it doesn’t work well for me. I can edge on one side for perhaps 15 minutes before it becomes uncomfortable, and doing it for several hours is simply awful. My feeling is that edging work just fine for day paddles and playing in the waves, but on long multiple day trips I still want a rudder or a skeg.

Any suggestions?

I Suggest You Are Right
Some years back I foolishly dragged my boat up on a pebbly beach… and jammed a pebble up into the skeg box / housing. I didn’t know immediately what I had done… didn’t know the fix… and didn’t have the tool for a fix. I had to paddle quite a few miles back to the take out in a brisk crosswind with no skeg. Yeah, using a nice lean and sweep strokes I made it back just fine… but it was much more tiring. It was fun and challenging at first but that didn’t last. Skeg good.

Hang a knee vs sit off-center
Good point. I cover that in a blog post at .

Here’s the excerpt:

“To edge the kayak it’s often advised that you “hang a knee” (lift the opposite knee). For example, if the wind is coming from your left, you lift your right knee and hip (putting more pressure on your left butt cheek) and edge the kayak to the left. While this works, due to the active use of your hips/legs to edge the kayak, it makes it difficult to pump your legs for power, and can become uncomfortable if held for long periods.

Greenland competition veteran Pavia Lumholt (Qajaq Nuuk/Qajaq Kobenhavn), taught me a simpler technique; to just shift your butt laterally, a very small amount in the seat to windward, to lean the hull. This technique doesn’t inhibit your leg drive and is much more comfortable. Please note that this may not work if you use thick hip pads at the sides of the seat. Greenland-style paddlers don’t usually use thick hip pads, because they prevent you from getting your body weight low to the water during techniques such as side-sculling, static braces and rolling”.

Greg Stamer

Many Thanks
I’m curious why the OP is asking about this. Her profile suggests she wants to take her kayaking to a more serious level. I’m guessing she’s in the market for a new boat and she doesn’t want it to weathercock like her present boat. Or… she bought a new boat with no skeg and she doesn’t like the weathercocking.

Hey, play9, am I on to something?

Thanks Greg!
I like that explanation a lot and will try the moving to one side option, though perhaps I’ll have more hip room and success after the next 50 pounds are lost. :slight_smile:

Here is a comparison kayak and canoe
We had to get up and out on the water by six am today to avoid the 40 mph winds predicted to hit Deer Isle ME this afternoon.

We traveled in one kayak and one solo canoe ( a Placid RapidFire) both loaded, though with all the water and food gone, somewhat more lightly than on our trip out from Stonington to Isle Au Haut.

Right away in the RF, I noticed weathercocking with the uncovered canoe with fifteen mile an hour winds. Winds from the E and our course N past the village of Isle Au Haut where I put the spray cover on… Much better. Then a major open water crossing from Burnt Island to Wreck. RF wanted to weathercock much more…again N course and ENE wind… I just stopped fighting and ferried. The kayak had similar issues but to a lesser degree.

A couple of other mile plus open water crossings and then we were headed W into Webb Cove with a N wind now up to 25 mph… I can only surmise because there is more boat exposed to the wind in the canoe that it was more of a fight to avoid a broach in the canoe.

Another issue may have been tidal currents…which are variable depending on the between island passage taken and were about .5 to 2 mph. The canoe being shorter than the kayak may have been more influenced to respond to the currents.

You are onto something
And since you are a former Hoosier, I will tell you my story! :wink:

Right now I paddle a Search sit atop kayak but I want to upgrade to a sit inside kayak and I want to learn some skills. I recently demo’d some boats and I liked the Prijon Motion which fits me well, but when I was paddling it, it headed straight into the wind. Then I tried a Current Storm which did the same thing but I also think that was to big for me. I just want to find a boat that will go straight without putting forth extreme effort.

Where in Indiana did you live? I am in Lawrenceburg which is in the extreme SE corner of the state very near Ohio and Kentucky.

Open-water current

– Last Updated: Jun-04-12 2:13 AM EST –

I'm leary of trying to explain a topic that involves frame of reference. I've tried SO many times here, and only a couple people ever got it - the ones who've dealt with the topic before. So, no explainatory details at this time, but the fact remains, there is no way to detect or feel the effect of steady current while in open water, away from stationary landmarks. Yes, wind and current interact, but to a person in a boat, comparing the situation with and without current is no different than changing the velocity of the wind. The only way to detect a broad, steady current is by means of fixed landmarks or with a GPS. In fact, several people here have illustrated this very fact by relating tales of "making steady progress", only to look at the GPS and see that they were going much more sideways than forward, or even slowly backward, even though watching the water streaming by, showed normal straight-line progress *through the water*. This is a favorite topic in entry-level physics classes: demonstrating that no amount of maneuvering by a boat on open water will reveal the presence of current. On a grander scale, this occurs for the same reason that we walk or drive from place to place without realizing that the ground we stand on is moving at hundreds of miles per hour from west to east. THAT movement only becomes a factor for things like rockets above the atmosphere on a trajectory from one continent to another, which are independent of the moving surface below, but we on the ground (like boats floating on an ocean current) are oblivious, noticing only our movement relative to the medium which supports us.

A very easy demonstration of this is to drop a trail of "floating breadcrumbs" behind your boat. This has actually been done in full-scale experiments for illustrative purposes. No matter the current speed or direction, the pattern of the bread-crumb trail resulting from a certain set of maneuvers will be exactly the same. Viewed from space, the whole pattern is moving with the current, but viewed from the boat that laid the trail, the pattern ends up being the same shape and ALSO in the same location and orientation relative to the boat's final position no matter what the current speed or direction. If you don't "get it", then you've got to see it demonstrated. Frame of reference problems make people's minds stumble.

one problem
Because of rapidly changing tides interaction with the bottom ( the tide rises or falls 13 feet in 6.25 hours) the current is neither steady or in a fixed direction. In fact at any given time its tough to get a read on the tidal current at a given exact location.

I get your point. But you did not get mine…as the current direction changes (this includes boils and whirlpools) the canoe may have been more responsive to the subtle turns and twists than the kayak. Also on wave crests it seemed to spin much more.

It would have been tough to try and GPS the movement re vectors. There was considerable lateral movenemt. Seas were not ten feet tall… though it seemed like it as my partner would disappear sometimes.

I Lived in New Albany

– Last Updated: Jun-04-12 4:15 PM EST –

Almost Louisville, Kentucky.

Demo some boats with retractable skegs. A skeg properly used makes that weathercocking problem go away for the most part. Some folks prefer rudders.

The sudden crossing lines of differential current is a different matter. I figured since weathercocking is usually thought of as a fairly constant thing as the wind blows, that your introduction of current into the discussion was along similar lines. It’s often done that way when people write about the effect on the boat, but often erroneously as well.

straight without effort…

– Last Updated: Jun-04-12 8:33 AM EST –

No one, except maybe Superman, can make a boat go straight that doesn't want to by muscling it for very long. At some point you'll be too tired to manage it. Enter skill sets like shifting your weight and proper use of skeg, or rudder. Done right these should not be so tiring, at least in the wind speeds most of us will stay on the water for.

So don't get too upset about weather cocking right now - it is going to happen until you know better how to paddle and will be fixed as you learn. It's not a reason to get or walk away from a boat. In fact, the stiffer boats can be hairier to make turn when you need them to, taking a deeper edge, which requires more risk to your balance than making a wandering boat go straight via weight shift and skeg/rudder.

Your effort…
this time was worth it. I got it. I had learned this concept when I learned to fly small planes and your explanation here reminded me of that. Thanks!

Another way to compensate
Extend the paddle to one side so that it creates a longer lever on one side of the boat. If weathercocking makes your bow point left and you want to go straight, the long side should be on your left.