White water kayaking?

Inland paddling
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on the rocks
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White water kayaking?

Post by on the rocks »

So back in tier 3 and still no sea trips for a while. Maybe I could buy a white water kayak and gear for use locally? How difficult is WW to learn for an over 60 sea kayaker with a usually solid roll? How fickle are the conditions? What is the ratio of fun to pain? How transferrable are the skills?

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Jim
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Re: White water kayaking?

Post by Jim »

"White water" covers quite a range, grade 1 essentially isn't whitewater, grade 3 and above you don't really just pick up on your own, most people will at least want to be in a group for safety reasons, and for safety reasons the group should be aware of how to help each other out in WW situations...

There is a huge amount of inland paddling that can be done that isn't even white water and can be done in your sea kayak. Paddling a relatively fast flowing river but without rocky shallows/drops/rapids would be a great place to start learning about the current. Easy rivers (grade 1 and 2) with deep water wave trains are pretty straightforward, and in some ways reminiscent of the sea, but you need to read up on the character of the river you intend to go on, not all grade 2 is deep with waves, it could be rocky or more commonly broken up with shingle rapids which can be very shallow and tricky to find a route down without scraping. You also need to watch out for overhanging trees - on a Spey trip in the summer (open canoe) I came to the conclusion that geography text books needed rewriting to the effect that "the deep water is always on the outside of bends, unless there are more trees overhanging on the inside of a bend, in which case the deep water will be where the overhanging trees are".

If you are paddling any kind of moving water, more than worrying about new paddling skills (there is plenty of cross over and I'm sure you could pick up most things that might differ - I've done so many different kinds of paddling for so long I don't even notice if they are different), you need to learn about reading the river, in particular you want to learn to spot submerged rocks or similar obstacles which if you hit and get spun sideways your boat can get well and truly stuck on with tonnes of water piling against the upstream side making it difficult even to get out of the boat. Depending on the flow you might not get many chances to learn that by trial and error, especially if you go out on your own.

Reading that back it seems quite scary, but I'm just trying to be realistic about the dangers for teaching yourself solo on rocky white water. I have absolutely no problem with paddling moving water solo, although I haven't been feeling so good the last few weeks so my session rate has dropped off, I normally paddle 3-5 times per week on my own on the tidal section of a fast flowing river. I normally use a wild water racing kayak because it is light (you start to appreciate that when you lift it on and off the car daily) but I could just as easily use my sea kayak. I sometimes use my open canoe, or slalom kayaks or slalom or WWR C1s, always solo on that stretch of river. There are no real obstructions on my section (a couple of obvious trees stuck in shallow areas which I keep well clear of), no drops or rocks, but I do tend to paddle at HW to maximise the depth (because shallow water is slow) and to avoid a muddy put in / take out.

So in summary, there is plenty of potential for inland paddling on flowing rivers (as well as lochs/canals/slow rivers) without going to what I would really call whitewater, which would be perfectly viable for someone with the experience you describe, and for a lot of it you don't necessarily need a new boat.

on the rocks
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Re: White water kayaking?

Post by on the rocks »

Thank Jim, I've paddled my sea kayak on rivers which is ok exercise but not too exciting. in WW I'm really looking for a similar involvement to that what I enjoy learning sea kayaking skills on Anglesey's tide races. For safety and a little coaching I have the benefit of a WW focused local club. Purpose of the post was more re the commitment vs reward in time and money

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Re: White water kayaking?

Post by jmmoxon »

If you've been playing in tide races, should be no problem.
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Re: White water kayaking?

Post by Jim »

Seems I misudnerstood slightly!

You are asking a group of primarily WW paddlers, of course we think it is worth the commitment of time and money! :)

You will probably find you transfer some WW skills to playing in tide races, so even if you get fed up after a few months and sell the WW boat, it will have been worthwhile.

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