Is it me or does wind suck! I’m a novice and just bought my first kayak and everytime I’ve been out this spring I’ve had to fight the wind. It sorta takes the serenity out of being out on the water. At what wind speeds do you guys decide not to paddle in? Should I wait for more ideal conditions to break out the new boat…or am I just being a wimp? I love this sport, and even welcome the challenge of kayaking in wind and chop, but sometimes I just want to go out and enjoy being on the water.

Windy day
I remember my first kayak was a ’ tandem kayak’ that the salesman assured me could be paddled alone. And then there was that one windy day, where I decided to take the kayak out alone ( as i was told I could) Anyway, to make a long story short, I went out, the wind blew me whichever way it was blowing, then the fun part was trying to turn the boat around in the wind. The problem with the tandem boat is that the seat is so far back, that trying to turn into the wind, the whole front end of the boat acts as a sail. And was basically impossible to redirect ( it was very windy). Anyway, there was an island with tall grasses , i was able to duck behind the grasses( which blocked the wind) and then turn the boat in the proper direction, which was now paddling against the wind. And the problem with paddling against the wind, was that I couldnt take a break, because if i stopped paddling, the wind would blow me back to where i started. My arms were killing me, but i was able to eventually make it back to shore.

Bottom line for me, I like relaxing too, so if it is too windy, I stay in very sheltered waters, or just dont go out at all. For me personally, its not worth it. Others love the challenge, and god bless them. SInce then, I have purchased a coventional kayak ( one person) and have not had the same problem since.

It’s you but don’t worry

– Last Updated: May-19-08 7:50 PM EST –

the wind is really your friend and will make you a great paddler. Don't fight it because Mother Naure doesn't loose. Enjoy it, smile and paddle harder. You can't win so just try and break even which should be you satisfaction.

Paddlin against the wind is free strength and boat control training. Mistakes are easily noticed so concentrate and paddle on.

Paddlin' on

No. The wind blows.
Paddling in the wind sucks.

word of advise
If the wind isn’t in your face, you are going the wrong way. The wind is just part of the experience. In time you will learn to enjoy it or you will quit paddling.

Buck uo there Buckaroo…
Stoicism in the face of adversity will make you Stouthearted…

once there…get a map and the local weather report…travel upwind by car, and downwind by boat…or seek sheltered Inlets and Bays in which to play…

The wind will build your character ; )

Jon’s rule about wind and paddling

– Last Updated: May-21-08 8:59 AM EST –

"When you start out in a strong headwind--15--20 knots, as soon as you turn around to go downwind for an easy and fun ride, the wind will die, then reverse direction so you can paddle into it all day"

There is no set rule about paddling into wind--a lot depends on fetch (distance the wind blows unimpeded across open water) and wave height. Yesterday I paddled in winds gusting to 25 mph--over a 2 mile fetch. It's always a bitch paddling into a stong wind but I was out for a work out--the ride home was downwind and enjoyable.

The secret to paddling into the wind is not to worry about keeping your balance--going into a headwind it is not a problem---just concentrate on your paddle strokes and make sure your blade is in the water with each stroke. You might want to go with a low angle stroke more than a high angle one to keep the wind from grabbing at the paddle and you may want to feather your blades(adjust then so they are 45 decrees from each other) for the same reason.

The key to paddling down wind is to concentrate more on steering and keeping your balance---don't worry about making strong strokes the wind will do the work for you. The most useful stroke for downwind is a ruddering brace, at least for me. It allows me to keep my bow down wind, avoiding weathercocking(broaching sideways to the wind and waves) and gives me balance.

Paddling into a crosswind with beam seas the key is paddle placement---make sure your blade is in the water before completing your stroke. Otherwise you might be paddling air and can overturn the boat. And be ready for a quick brace if hit sideways by a breaking wave.

Paddling in wind will eventually be fun but does take some getting used to. And as far as limits go, once the wind reaches 30 knots I tend to stay on the beach although I have been out a few times in wind that high---mostly by accident(wind was unpredicted) and a couple of times for training purposes but not far from the beach. When the wind reaches 20 knots I still go out and enjoy myself but I'm carefull where I go. One thing you want to avoid is to be blown towards the open ocean by a strong offshore wind(blowing from the land to the sea) If the winds are onshore I don't worry about it as much. When I first started paddling I got nervous with even mild winds. Now it has to be pretty strong before I start to worry.

Oh and BTW the calmest part of the day when the winds are the mildest are the early morning before 10 am and after 6pm in the evening. The reason for that is wind, in the absence of a storm system, is caused by the land heating during the day, the hot air rising and being replaced by colder air rushing in from the ocean or a large lake.

I often curse the wind in early spring, but it’s a good workout and it makes the first windy race of the year a breeze :slight_smile: I never know when the wind will kick up and catch me by surprise, so I never complain about training in it. I draw the line around 20 mph, especially if it’s shifting erratically, it can grab the paddle. Upwind or downwind are fairly manageable, but a 20+ mph cross wind is tricky for me. I can roll, but I don’t practice rolling in the wind and waves, so I try to be conscious of where the wind will take me if I end up in the water. I have thigh braces that help with stability, without them I probably would get wet. Best way for me to deal with wind is to smile and enjoy the surfing.

Flat H2o paddling sucks
Wind and whitecaps rule.

I wait for windy days
Paddling in the wind and chop is a lot of fun as long as the wind is not super strong. I live on a lake and when the wind comes up I always go out. I also hope motor boats go by so I can bounce around in their wake. Sometimes I take my sea kayak out and sometimes I take a WW boat out depending on my mood. Relax and go with the flow. You will learn lots and have a great time.

I like windy days
It’s fun, becomes more of a workout paddling into the wind and running downwind is a joy.

Besides, my paddling days would be cut in half if I worried about the wind.


Take a lesson

– Last Updated: May-19-08 9:03 PM EST –

I like paddling in wind because it makes me fine-tune my technique and paddle more efficiently. Proper paddling technique can make all the difference in the world. Take a lesson; it's not intuitive. The best time is now before you develop "coping" (i.e. inefficient) techniques and have to unlearn them. There are plenty of good instructors in your area. Lots and lots and lots. Take advantage of it.

When you paddle with good technique, you stop fighting the boat and the conditions. The boat becomes an extension of your body and you learn to work with the wind and the water. For me, there is nothing more satisfying and exhilarating than having mastery of your boat and your body out on the water. Have you ever seen sea ducks on rough water in the winter? They're totally at home flying, floating or diving. I think kayaking is the closest we can get to that state of being. But - you have to work at it!!

A suggestion
No one has said it yet, so I will. Greenland paddles are much easier to use on a windy day. After you’ve used one for a while, you probably won’t look back, I know I haven’t. Storm paddles (shorter GPs) are even better, I guess, although I’ve never used one.

Myself, I curse the wind, even as I paddle against it. It’s a little known fact that kayaks act as a localized low-pressure area, in effect a ‘potential flow sink’, and therefore actively attract the wind towards themselves as they move about the water which is why the wind is continuously in your face…

what took so long?
i figured the GP army would have been on this 10 posts ago…

I think the GP Navy makes more sense, don’t you? yuk, yuk.

Seriously, the main reason I use GPs is due to numerous wrist injuries over the years - the GP doesn’t aggravate them as much as a Euro paddle. The low wind resistance is an added benefit for me. That and I can make my own paddle for $25.

It’s You
Maybe you should find something to do indoors. Some kind of kayak video game.


– Last Updated: May-20-08 6:17 AM EST –

are better in the wind due to their being the size of an overgrown toothpick :) But they are better in the wind and are easier to roll with---but as you know take some practice to learn how to use.

And as far as being cheap I have a paddling buddy that makes his own GPs---He bought a 350 dollar graphite EP last year which he now uses as a spare while he practices with his five dollar GP--go figure

Wind Strategies
If it’s very windy I’ll paddle a small river with steep hills on the sides. That keeps you out of the wind until the valley lines up with the wind direction. Since most rivers I know twist and turn I mostly stay out of the wind.

On lakes you can sometimes get out of the wind by hugging the lee shore. If the wind is blowing from the west and you are on the western shore you should get some protection.

If your boat is too big the wind will have it’s way with you. When I paddle my 16’ tandem canoe alone with no load I’m at the mercy of every breeze. If I load it up with 50-100 lbs of gear/ballast the wind can’t touch me. In a kayak you probably need much less. I like gallon milk jugs filled with lake water if I’m not carrying enough gear.

Paddling into the wind trim just a bit bow heavy. Paddling away from the wind trim bow light.

“Lee Shore” vs "In The Lee"
The lee shore is actually the shore the wind is blowing toward. Not a good place to be. The weather shore is what you want. Then you will be in the lee of the wind.

By the way, one of my paddling gurus (Joe S.) told me to use an extended paddle stroke to turn in the wind. You just paddle with one side longer than the other. Works great. Just maintain your grip as you slide your hands along the shaft.