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Stories about boating techniques.

Paddling at Deception Pass

This year after the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington with Chesapeake Light Craft, I volunteered to drive the Ford Flex back to Annapolis towing the Outrigger Junior on the trailer, caravaning with Joey Sch

Paddling from the Narrow River to Scarborough Beach in Rhode Island

I recently purchase a GoPro video camera. I get tired of the standard angles most paddling videos incorporate so I want to work on getting unusual perspectives.

Autumn Gales Rough Water Sea Kayaking Event

Petrel Play at Wiccompessit

Blaine Skillings photo

For the past few years, my friends Greg Paquin and Paula Reigel (Owners of Kayak Waveology) have organized the Autumn Gales rough water sea kayaking symposium in my home waters of Fishers Island Sound. Greg is a BCU coach and he brings in other coaches from locally and abroad. This year he had Nigel Dennis, Peter Jones, and Harry Whalen from the UK as well as Carl Ladd from Rhode Island as well as local guides such as my friend Carl Tjerandsen. I was invited in the local guide capacity.

The KayakForum is being Upgraded

KayakForum Screen Shot

 I have recently been going through the process of upgrading the software for the KayakForum. For those who are not familiar with it, the forum is an open discussion board devoted to the design, building and use of kayaks and other small boats.

New England Intermediate Rough Water Symposium

Jun 11 2010 12:00 pm
Jun 13 2010 4:00 pm

A hand made wooden kayak is not truly finished until you have put your first scratch in it. The New England Rough Water Symposium is a chance to see to it that your boat is well and fully complete along with few scratches to prove it. While "rough water" may sound scary, this is a good event for a wide range of paddlers from the novice through experienced paddlers. It will give you a chance to learn from top paddler how to use your boat to full effect.

More Paddling Videos

ConnYak the local paddling club is having their annual slide show tonight, so I put together a couple videos from last summer's paddling.

The first shows the trip out to Ironbound Island from Gouldsboro, ME and shows the group paddling along Stave Island and Ironbound:

Kayak Steering Strokes

"If you want to turn left, paddle more on the right." This is usually the advice provided to a first time paddler. And often it is all the instructions they will ever receive on the subject of maneuvering a kayak. Next to doing a simple forward stroke, efficient steering strokes are probably the most used skill by any kayaker on the water. It is unfortunate that so little time is spent on the subject. The problem with the "paddle more on the other side" technique is that with a lot of kayaks paddling more will just make you go faster with out actually doing much to turn the boat.

Small Boat and Kayak Navigation

Most of time in small boat like a kayak navigation is done by sight. In other words, you see where you want to go, point the boat that direction and go. This is not to down play the need for a good chart and a compass. These are critical tools on any small boat, but much of the time you don't need to be steering a compass course and once you are familiar with an area you don't need to consult a chart before every decision.

Kayak Stability

For those who prefer French, André Rose has translated this.

What could be easier than stability? Just make the boat wide and it will be stable … right? Yet, there are kayaks out there from 20" to 32" wide, all of which the manufacturers say are stable. After all, what manufacturer is going to say, "you need to be born in a kayak to keep this sucker upright"? How can they all get away with this? And what is "secondary stability" anyway? I know from personal experience that this question will provoke a discussion that can go on for days.

Kayaking Technique

Relative to many boats a kayak is small, unstable, and rather slow. In a lot of ways these attributes can make kayaks unsafe. To a larger degree than most boats the safety of the person on the boat is dependent on the skill and judgement of the paddler. Where some boats will keep their passengers alive despite the errors and faults of the passenger, a kayak does little to overcome the failings of the paddler. While it is possible to design boats that are inherently safer, and there are things that you can do to make a kayak as safe as possible, trying to make a kayak that you would call truly safe would result in a boat that is no longer truly a kayak.