Weight and Balance Pt 2!

… I’m still having issues… :slight_smile:

the annoying thing is I have past a certain point I think.

(recap… 19 stone (255lb?!) and 6"2 paddler having eral stability issues in Sea Kayaks! :-))

When people first get in a boat they have that intial unbalance and not really sure what they should be doing but it soon passes and they are paddling happy… at times I feel this and can start to concentrate on the session rather than staying upright…

But my weight in the kayak I’m in (NDK Explorer) seems to really work against me to the point that mastering balance in teh wasit and torso seems like a mamoth job.

We had a paddle in moderate swells the other day… no breakers just big waves passing under the boat. First timers where paddling through with no problems at all… where as I was really fighting to stay up right…

With an average weight paddler of between 10 to 14 stone in a 22 inch wide kayak feeling very stable what would a 19 stone bloke have to be in to feel what they are?

I do appreciate practice and time on the water is the key but I’m having to overcome problems and rather “make do” with the kayak I’m in… but its not designed to effectively carry my weight all in the cockpit…

I’ve had loads of advice and help but its hard to accept even the most expert of advice when it comes from someone 6 stone lighter than you as they can’t really appreciate the situation without wearing a 6 stone weight jacket.

I just want to see a big paddler, my size, that is a comfortable paddler in varied conditions…

I’m gonna have to get a dingy arent I ?! :frowning:

Hopefully this won’t come off as unduly harsh- internet communication can be problematic.

Anyway, at the risk of taking a “tough love” approach, I think you are looking for excuses. You have a couple of choices- you can either improve in the boat you have, or you can go get a wider, much more stable boat. As far as the second option goes, there are loads of choices- many boats are 28" wide or wider, with very forgiving hull shapes. You should be able to sell a nice boat like an NDK Explorer very easily.

The first option is a lot harder. I’m not sure I really buy this idea that being a “big guy” makes stability a problem. At 6’2" 245 you likely have at least some “thickness” about the waist, which is going to be pretty low down and if anything likely contributing to stability. If I’m incorrect in this assumption, you must just be built like a tree, hugely strong, and you just need to work on your balance skills. If your weight is mostly around your gut and butt, you need to get in shape- that’ll do wonders for your paddling.

As far as balance goes- it just takes time. You have to spend time in the boat, in textured water, and you have to commit to learning the paddle technique that is really the key to stability in any boat. A good roll or self recovery skills also helps a lot- if you aren’t afraid of falling out of your boat, you won’t be afraid to lean and brace and push the envelope a little bit.

There are very few “boat problems” that a bit of hard work won’t solve.


I can take tough…
.love… and again its appreciated… all advice is.

I make my assumptions from sitting in the water and trying to learn and watch what others are doing.

Example: Sunday gone I went out (as above post) a very thin girl was also along for the session. She was very nervous and scared of tipping. Within 10 minutes of being on the water she was looked very confident and able to paddle across the shore in choppyish conditions.

With me in the same boat sat side by side with this girl I am about almost a foot taller, I have a 38 inch waist and around a 53 give or take an inch chest. My shoulders are wider than the boat (I’m just stating the differences between us).

She is I would say no more than 10 stone (140lbs).

If my weight moves in the boat it has a dramatic effect on the stability where as she has to really purposefully shift weight with force to get the same reaction.

So the above is obvious I know and my “condition” just means I need to work harder at balance and hip movements but there must be a poit at which you say the equipment isn’t suitable for the person.

As someone said before… a 255lb person can ride a race bicycle with half inch tyres but he will never make it look pretty or be competive as its just not designed for his size.

This is what I’m trying to understand with Kayaks I guess.

I kinda think I’m fairly well balanced (this kayaking is proving differently), I ride sports bikes on and off track, mountain bike, lift weights, fly power kites…

You could be right though… it may just be excuses… thats why I’m looking for other “big guys” to gimme a slap and tell me its all in my head :slight_smile:

the NDK isn’t mine… :slight_smile:


– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 10:42 AM EST –

53 inches is a darn good sized chest, especially sticking that far above the cockpit. If I recall correctly, when you posted earlier a couple of folks had some suggestions about starting out in a boat that was a little proportionately bigger on you to make it easier to get comfortable. You may want to take a look at that thread and mull over those suggestions.

On a completely different path, maybe it would be useful in your case to start working with someone on a roll now rather than waiting for some other skills to come fully on line. My thought is that, if you are more comfortable with the idea of capsizing in the first place, it may make it a lot easier to do what you need to be more quiet in the boat.

The worst that happens is that you get wet a bunch more, better that you start to get a more adept feel for how the boat moves, best yet you are one of those people who can get a roll without too much fuss and you no longer need fear a capsize.

Note that many would consider this to be an awfully unorthodox approach, including the instructors that you may be working with right now.

tough love

– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 10:45 AM EST –

We've been here before, you're in a too skinny of a kayak. Period. You could shoe-horn your size 12 foot in a size ten pump all you want and it won't change the fact it's not a good fit. No manner of wishing will make it otherwise.

If just getting used to a tippy kayak was a matter of adjustment and seat time the "average" 5'10" 175lb person will be paddling 19" wide kayaks because it's obvious that skinnier and faster is better, well, it just is!

That surf-ski racers sometimes pick boats with lower cg cockpit positions for rough conditions should be a clue that tippy,tippy,tippy, isn't better, better,better.

For some reason I think you're in England, anywho if there was ever a kayak for your size it would be a Mariner Max.

I’m about your size
I’m 6’1" and 260 lbs. I am definitely top heavy, which contributes to instability. Practice can definitely help.

Try some flatwater exercises like sitting on the back deck of your kayak and paddling like that. It will really get you used to using your paddle to brace.

Also, I doubt whether at your size you could possibly fit in an Explorer properly. I know I couldn’t even lower into the cockpit of an Explorer because of my thighs. While I can fit into an HV Explorer, the thigh braces are still not useful because they are designed for someone with smaller legs. Perhaps an improperly fitting cockpit is making it harder for you to transfer your muscle energy to the boat efficiently, so it is harder for you to make the subtle adjustments necessary for balance.

this idea of big guys
how could you not think being in too tippy of a kayak is a problem, especially for someone who’s starting out.

It’s obvious as night and day, if a person is constantly strugging to stay upright and they don’t know how to roll it’s like a beginner getting into a tippy surf-ski,what’s the purpose?

Paddle more
Years ago a friend told me a poor excuse is to blame the equipment.

Maybe the boat isn’t the best suited for you which gives you two choices.

  1. Paddle
  2. Change boat

    Being a renegade I do what they say can’t be done so get in the boat and paddle. Butt time will make you a paddler.

    PS. skip the stone thing and buy a set of bathroom


the Explorer isn’t what you would call an amazing fit. I have done two wet exists and gashed my right leg twice… quite deep… they were panicky exists as they were my first, but still a tight fit.

I find that sat in the cock pit I can’t push my legs together and raise my knees through the cockpit and the thigh braces are snug wether I’m relaxed or not…actually hip/waist fit feels very good… not too tight but not slopping around.

I’m sorry for bringing this up again… main reason for new thread was that the other was archived and I wanted to update as to how I’m getting on… I am determined.

I have tried other plastic kayaks and found I was trading one skill for another. Wider plastic boat was easier to sit still in but secondary stability seemed to be very misleading where as the NDK’s were twitchy and tippy but alot more savable at the last minute and felt like they were “in” the water rather than ontop of the water.

Again these are all novice observations.

I’ve got into the habit now of staying put when capsizing and waiting on rescue to pull myself right either holding breath if their close or leanign back and geting head out for breath… so no more cut up leg! :slight_smile:

I am booked in for a 4 week pool course starting next tuesday which I’m looking forward too… I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

makes sense
if you’re in a kayak so tippy that rotation to the capsize angle is easy. I’m sure anyone can be put into a kayak where it’s so tippy that rolling skills are a base level skill.

The questions is why do it when most folks learn a range of paddling skills in wave conditions where every stroke doesn’t have a bracing component. Where the ability to rotate your torso around to the side in order to put the blade in the aft quarter isn’t an immediate invitation to capsize. Where the ability to rotate your torso to one side for draw strokes doesn’t require constant bracing. Why put someone in those conditions ?

That just ain’t…
… right though.

I’m not blaming the equipment… I’m trying to work out what is best for me and my size. Kayaking is meant to be fun and thats the reason I’m sticking with it. I really can see the goal and look forward to the benefits of feeling comfortable… but suggesting that I’m just thinking of excuses or blaming equipment sucks mate.

When the secretary at work needs the fridge moving she doesn’t try herself or just buy a new fridge thats delivered to the spot she wants… just asks me to move… becuase I have the right equipment to move it… my size. Her size is the wrong equipment…I ain’t blaming her for that though.

leg gashing
happens when you pull knees up. You go in feet, knees, butt. You come out butt, knees, feet. Your feet can’t come out before your knees. Doesn’t work.

I taught for five years, I don’t get everyones admonition to paddle more as the cg issues would be the same as many “average” folks strapping a 20lb weight on their back. I don’t see “average” folks let along “average” beginning folks paddling 19"or20" kayaks.

you’re getting what you’re asking for
I think you need to make a decision instead of asking a question that requires ignoring your experience.

1.am I in too tippy of a kayak? (sure feels tippy)

2.tell me to suck it up.

"thats why I’m looking for other “big guys” to gimme a slap and tell me its all in my head :slight_smile:


if you get a chance
try a Gulfstream or a Sirocco–the plastic model of the same boat

built by a fat guy

for a fat guy

or the big Capella

Fit in the boat

– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 2:35 PM EST –

Saw the gash in legs part - frankly, when I was starting out, I'd have had a lot more trouble than you describe with a cockpit that fit tightly enough it required good technique to do a wet exit without hurting myself. It took me a couple of years before I could deal with that. From an admittedly poorly informed distance, it just seems that right now you should be in a boat with a looser fit so that you can attend to learning to paddle rather than worrying about this stuff.

Also, if you are constantly on the thigh braces or darned close to it even relaxed, there are a number of very good coaches out there who would suggest that you need a boat with a taller deck to do a proper forward stroke. For many coaches like Ben Lawry, a good forward stroke requires that the paddler be able to elevate their knees a bit to be able to pedal their feet and enhance rotation right thru the hips. Again I am just guessing, but it isn't sounding like you have the room in the Explorer to do that.

An Explorer HV will give you a bit more deck height, but it is exactly same hull and same size cockpit. So the hull's response to your volume will be the same, and if you are too tight to be able to rotate your full torso it won't help.

I am not suggesting that you get into something with the width of the nearly-rec boats like some paddle, but I really wonder how you'd feel in something like a CD Gulfstream.

Re your observations above about the plastic boats, you are talking about a real jump in performance from the ones that you were in before to something like an Explorer or a Gulfstream. Good sea kayaks, in a crude generalization, overall have more of a tendency to have a clear secondary (or at least range of increasing stability) where you have a shot at recovering it. Once the mid-length 24 and 26 inch mid-length boats start to go over, they can be much harder to stop.

I am not sure the Explorer isn't fine longer term by the way, but it just is sounding like it may not be the best learning boat for you.

Do you have an issue with ruffling feathers if you switch to a different boat for the moment?

Cheers dude…
… can feel the love.

Chunky quality please! :slight_smile:

Agree … but

– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 11:37 AM EST –

You already have the kayak. My comment was that if the kayak isn't the correct one for your weight then you either keep paddling and practicing until you master it or simply sell it and get a different one.

My kayak may not be the best one for the things we do but we do it anyhow. You can master it..."if" you are willing to spend the time. No matter which boat you purchase it will take time to become a proficient paddler.

Happy paddling.

Happy paddlin'

Sounds like it’s a loaner
Post above indicates to me that the Explorer is not his own boat. In that case, it shouldn’t be a huge deal to ask for a different one.