Kayaking Technique Forum

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Please accept my apologies
In Response To: Re: Lake Paddling Conditions ()

David,

Please excuse the tone of my first post. I meant no offense even though it must have sounded like a flame.

Of course you are right that water conditions do vary and that oceans often have regular swells. Your comment that you generally avoid confused seas explains things more clearly for me. While lake water is lower density than the sea, it has not been my experience that the difference is noticeable from the cockpit of a kayak. Neither have I noticed that the two behave differently, except when I accidently drink some.

I learned to paddle in a CD Extreme that, like your Navigator, will never be nominated for Manouverable Boat of the Year. But one major advantage to these narrow boats is that they are less affected by wave action. I'm not talking about swells here but the little, choppy, "looks like it's steep enough to toss you over" confused seas. As people progress from stabilizing themselves with their hips to stabilizing with the proper use of the paddle, the difficulty of these "confused seas" disappears. This is whay I meant by loosening the hips, letting the boat react to the water by twisting and turning and the paddler only reacts to what little lateral translational movement occurs.

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While your comments about ballast are technically correct, I repeat that I know of no-one that uses ballast because, as Shawn elluded, it can hurt as much as help. Once capsized the ballast becomes a real liability. If it is solidly attached such that it will not shift when the boat is up-ended, then it will hinder a rescue. If the ballast is left loose, then it can shift the balance of the boat and cause a capsize.

Very few boats are designed such that they can only be paddled while loaded or with the use of ballast. My CD, was considered by many to be such a boat. I even considered using ballast myself, but chose to learn to handle the boat in it's unloaded and very tippy natural state instead. Becasue of this I was forced to develop my boat handling skills in a quite accelerated fashion.

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It sounds like this is not a great place to take novices, but if you must, then put them in older style WW boats or not overly beamy sea kayaks and teach them to ignore the seas and just feel themselves balancing over their boat *AND* teach them how to low brace right away. Successful rough water kayakers don't try to read the seas for each wave that comes their way. Instead the technique is that same as for flat water, we paddle balancing our upper body over our hips with some minor bracing applied as neccessary. I they learn to stop using the boat for balance then the difference between flat water and confused seas disappears.

Textured water only really affects wide/stable boats, narrow/tippy boats are immune to the wave action. Lastly, if you remember to show them how each stroke has some measure of a bracing component, then all they have to do is learn to balance the bracing and propulsive component of their strokes. This and balancing over their boats rather than with their boats should do the trick.

Good Luck