Kayaking Technique Forum

Find advice on all aspects of kayaking and using small boats on big water

Re: Wake wave paranoia- smile and relax

:Please remember to smile and relax. YES YOU CAN DO
: THIS! Your boat is beautifully engineered to deal with big stuff.

: on. As we relax and let the boat nestle and snuggle in among the waves it
: is almost miraculous how we can have big stuff go way above us and we are
: still up! It is like whitewater and your first class 3 rapid. Smile ,
: relax and wiggle those hips to unlock your free oneness with the boat. You
: can do this!

Great comment! He is so right! Consider this... your kayak probably seemed a bit tippy when you first got in the boat. You may have asked why am I buying this tippy boat when I can get a wide canoe or other boat that feels more solid on the water? Now you find the answer.

Your narrow, tippy sea kayak is specifically designed to handle big waves and to be remarkably stable while doing it! All it requires is a little bracing and body action from you... skills easily learned... and the sea kayak will handle the rest. Indeed, the sea kayak is much more stable in waves than the boat that initially seemed very stable on flatwater.

This ability of the boat to feel more stable in waves is referred to as "secondary stability". It is real and not simply marketing hype. It has to do with the changing shape of the hull that is actually under the water as the wave moves under the boat and changes the wetted surface. Sea kayaks hulls generally are designed to have a high degree of secondary stability because their intended use is on oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water prone to wind/wave action.

Learn your basic paddle strokes, braces, and leans and you will soon be handling wakes as if it were born into you. Soon you will find those wakes to be kinda fun.

Sometimes my partner and I like to hang outside the harbor entrances (Diversey Harbor-Chicago or Michigan City-Indiana) before the big cruisers hit no wake and ride those big wakes. I used to love doing it on the Illinois river in my canoe as the big barges and towboats came through. They can really kick it up a notch! And believe me... it is a lot easier to handle a big wake in a sea kayak than in a canoe!

It's all fun and good practice for paddling in real deal big waves. This kind of practice is a lot safer too... since once the wake is gone the sea returns to a relatively calm condition you started in. In genuine heavy seas, big waves are relentless except for differences in the sizes of sets of waves. They just keep coming at ya... and they leave little or no room for error.

Good paddling!