Kayaking Technique Forum

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Re: Wake wave paranoia
In Response To: Wake wave paranoia ()

: As a rookie kayaker, what is the best way to handle a set of 4 - 6 breaking
: 3' waves? Bow on is difficult, since my boat has a tendency to be pushed
: off center after the first wave or two. What is the proper technique - bow
: on or sideways, and roll into them?

I too sometimes find myself among big boats, but I've never encountered a 3' breaking wave from any boat except in shallow water. If this is the case, being cognizant of the boat traffic in your area and moving out to a bit deeper water when you see a large draft vessel approach might be all that is needed. As long as you can encounter the wave without it starting to break, a low brace is often all you need to provide a measure of reassurance.

A boat on plane actually creates very little wake. I find it funny how a lot of boat pilots will slow down as a courtesy when they pass a kayaker, and actually create a much larger wake than if they had kept it on plane.

: I also need some advice on how to rapidly turn a relatively long boat
: (17'6") like my Coho. My old canoeing techniques, like sweep strokes,
: bow rudders, and stern rudders just seem to stall the boat out without
: creating a rapid enough turn rate. I'm guessing this is a technique
: problem - any suggestions?

You want to turn your boat on the crest of each wake. As the wave passes under your cockpit you will find it turns pretty easily with a sweep stroke. Finding the right moment for your sweep just takes a little practice. Trying to turn in the trough will likely not help at all. You may also want to modify your sweep stroke to include some bracing element by tilting the blade to provide some support as you sweep.

On flat water tilt the boat (not your body) towards the side you sweep on. Again, add a little bracing element to your sweep for reassuring support. Depending on your boat, you may find edging your boat *away* from your sweep may actually cause it to turn easier. You may also find you prefer one method to the other. Try both and refine the one you feel most comfortable with, or get the best results with.

For sharp fast turns, (to the right in this example) I will sweep on my left to start the boat turning, while beginning to edge my boat to the right. I'll use my left knee to bring the boat on edge, but also will grab my coaming and paddle with my left hand to edge the boat even more. My right hand on the paddle holds the blade flat and skimming above the surface of the water on my right ready to provide a low brace if it is needed.

Bow rudders also provide quick turning if performed correctly. There are several ways to do this, but my prefered method for a right turn is: Sweep on the left to start the boat turning (very important). I then edge my boat to the left and plant the blade on the right for the bow rudder. The reason for edging the opposite way is if the blade grabs is will pull your boat back level, and not over. But again, edge your boat on both sides and pick the method that works best for you.

And finally, my favorite low brace exercise: Sit on your rear deck, with your feet hanging over the sides. Try to paddle around without capsizing (you will, so make sure you are dressed for the water). Use a low brace to keep you upright. Once you master this, put your feet in your seat and try again. When you sit back in your seat, you will notice you have a whole new level of confidence and balance that you didn't have before...

Woody