Archive for the ‘Misinformation’ Category

wind_monsterJeff Cooper of H2Outfiffers shared with me a simple analogy to explain weather cocking. A common definition of weather cocking is that ‚Äúa boat moving forward points into strong winds‚ÄĚ. I have heard some people say that wind pulls the front of a kayak. I have never felt wind pull me. Then I have heard that wind pushes the back of the kayak, and a lower volume stern will decrease its surface area. Wind pushing the back of a boat is an interesting idea when the paddler is of average size.¬† On a sailboat, wind pushes the sail, and a person in a kayak is more apt to catch the wind than their stern due to their increased surface area.¬† Unless the surface area of the stern is greater than the paddler’s torso. All of these aforementioned ideas can make a person‚Äôs head spin.

Thankfully, there is the picture of an icebreaker that can make weather cocking easily understood.




The front of an icebreaker is static. Behind the ship is a smooth waterway. The back of the boat glides free and this is where boaters steer their craft. Forward motion of all sea going vessels produces this effect. Wind always has the most push against the tallest and most exposed surface. The body is what wind pushes. The stern of the kayak slips downwind due to the push on the paddler. The person moving the kayak forward is the cause that produces the effect of the back of the kayak to slip downwind.

Another way to think of weather cocking is to have you and a friend work together to illustrate an experiment.  Hold your arm out strait.  Have a friend gently push your arm at the elbow moving it three inches.  Then hold your arm out strait again.  Have the same friend gently push your arm at the wrist moving it three inches.  When your arm is pushed at the elbow (the center of the arm) you wrist moves father than it did when pushed at the elbow.  The same thing happens in a kayak.


To compensate for this natural action use a: rudder, skeg, stern draw, combined with edging (j lean)  and have short forward stroke.

There are the other variables that can increase the appearance of weather cocking: current, flowing seas, hull design, paddler’s weight, how gear is balanced within the hull, the length of the paddler’s paddle, and the length of the paddler’s forward stroke.¬† All of these variables can¬†increase the appearance of weather cocking.¬† And we will explore each variable in future posts.¬† When you find the perfect combination you have a better chance of paddling a sea kayak with no weathercocking effects in most sea conditions.



Sometimes when I go paddling, I think to myself why this activity is so intimidating to land lovers. I suppose the answer exists within the fear of rolling.

A Throwing stick roll.

Paddling is like learning to walk. A person starts to move slowly and then they learn to protect themselves from falling by sticking their hands out. When a kayaker feels like they are about to flip they hold onto their paddle and use a brace technique to slap the water. The brace keeps a paddler from rolling upside down and it is a move that people on the water use more frequently than a roll.

It is a fact that a kayak roll is the fastest type of self-rescue when playing on a whitewater river or in the surf when a kayak brace fails. It requires little upper body strength to develop a safe capsize recovery by using the hips to upright the kayak. Nevertheless, most people paddle in flowing seas, protected bays, inlet waters, or on rivers. And in these environments an unplanned capsize rare.

The learning of how to brace a kayak is the key to overcoming the intimidation of rolling. If a kayaker knows how to brace, they will rarely have to roll.


If you get a chance to talk to a person from where kayaking originated from most will agree that rolling is a sign that they screwed up. Arctic water immersion will kill you. Then there are the paddlers who have the skills to run white water rivers. They do not want to have their head come in contact with a strainer, hole, feature, or rock. Spending the evening in an emergency room with a concussion or smashed face is not a good way to end a day on a river. It is the brace combined with a hip snap that keeps kayakers playing between degrees of wetness without the worry of full immersion.


ballance brace

Then there is the flip side…Rodeo, Freestyle, and Greenland Competitions. This stuff is cool and has its place in the sport of kayaking. Those who have the skill to compete can be a great resource to learn from on how to read the water, how to brace, and be safer on the water because of the time they have spent in it.

It just comes down to the fundamentals. A person is always safer if they do not flip. And an unplanned successful roll is a sign that a brace failed.

To learn more about how to brace look into taking the following classes from an ACA (American Canoe Association) or BCU Certified Kayak Instructor.

ACA Essentials of Kayak Touring, Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes & Rescues, Greenland Traditional Skills Endorsement

BCU Three Star

Another reason not to roll…


Silver River Florida

Kayaking Notes

Posted: November 5, 2008 by kayakkev in Entertainment, Florida Kayaking, Misinformation

I was recently asked to describe my version of counting waves when launching your yak from a high surf beach.  When I started kayaking 4 years ago I read a lot of books on the sport and never quite understood what was meant about counting waves.  Then one day working on Clearwater Beach (Florida), it came to light.  All waves come in on a regular pattern and if you watch the beach where the water comes in right before it recedes back, you can see them.  I call them small, medium, and large.  The pattern can change often, even several times a day, but when you are launching, what you count will work till you are floating.

Recently working water support for a local triathlon, we had a storm brewing off shore (in shore for that matter) with a good surf pounding the beach.  2 of us launched the other yakers as the waves came in which is when I started my counting.  2 big, 4 small… okay here comes the first small, I would push them out and tell them to paddle enough to get past the beach self.  Okay next, 2 big, go!  When it was only the 2 of us left on the beach, Dary asked if I needed help to get out, and I was counting 4, 1, 2 here’s my wave see ya!  And I was punching through with minimal water splash till I could be floating to get my skirt on the cockpit.