Posts Tagged ‘paddling’

Sometimes it is necessary to take a class after we buy a new piece of gear to add to our kayak kit.

A good friend and student of mine recently purchased a new paddle.  He was surprised to discover that after paddling with it that he had less control over his boat in heavy winds.  He paddles a Titan by Atlantis Kayaks normally with an old Scotland made Lendal Kinetik 215 cm paddle.  His new paddle is a Werner Cyprus 215 cm paddle.

forward stroke werner cyprus

I know from experience that both paddles are designed to enter the water at a high angle.  The Cyprus is lighter in weight and has a more aggressive concave spoon shape than his Lendal.  His Lendal is about 10 years old.

This past weekend I discovered a few things about his paddling.  He was accustom to a strong purchase when he paddled with his Scottish Lendal.  And he was trying to get the same feel from his Cyprus.  Consequently he was over powering the paddle and finishing each stroke in a stern rudder position.

After an hour of practicing he is back to taking short strokes and is loving the quick catch and firm purchase of his new Cyprus.  Granted he still says that he misses the strong grip that his Kinetik has in the water.


wind_monsterJeff Cooper of H2Outfiffers shared with me a simple analogy to explain weather cocking. A common definition of weather cocking is that “a boat moving forward points into strong winds”. 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’s 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.



National Safe Boating week is May 16-27, 2009

National Safe Boating week is May 16-27, 2009

People who use the water call the vests that they wear by many names.  Some of the names for these water vests are: personal flotation device, buoyancy aid, and life jacket.  They all work like a seat belt and they are useless if they are not properly on.  In an emergency there is no time to put it on.

This week is National Safe Boating Week.

“Wear It” is the slogan for this year’s campaign to promote safe and responsible boating.  There are several life jacket options available.  Today’s buoyancy aids are comfortable and lightweight (Life Jacket Information).

On the right is a link to the Wear It Florida site. “This site is likely to be the most exiting and innovative effort aimed at saving lives on Florida’s waterways.  Florida has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in the annual number of boating deaths. Most of the people who die on Florida’s water lost their lives as a result of drowning.”

“Several trends come to the surface when you look at boating accident statistics. It is easy to identify the most likely victims: they are men over 30 years of age who have plenty of boating experience, who know how to swim, and who are in boats less than 20 feet long in fairly calm weather conditions. They usually go overboard unexpectedly for any variety of reasons, and in most cases they swim for a while until they become exhausted. Unfortunately, these incidents are much more common than most people would imagine.”

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