Paddling your way to relaxation
This is one in a series of staff writer Graham Jaehnig’s personal experiences as a
There are many different types of kayaks for as many different types of ways to use them. For instance, there is recreational kayaking, sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, just to name a few. Whitewater and sea kayaking both require knowledge of advanced and specialized paddle strokes and paddling techniques.
Strokes and techniques include things with names like sideslips, J Leans for edging, high and low braces, bow rudders, cross-bow rudders, double shift stern rudders, and the list seems endless.
But for the majority of people, particularly those of us who are growing older, just want a quiet, relaxing kayaking outing on a flat surface for an hour or two after work, or an occasional day trip up and down a quiet, slow-moving river. For most of us just starting out in kayaking, we hope to enjoy seeing beautiful scenery, beautiful wildlife and fluffy clouds floating lazily above the deep green canopy of the flora and fauna. This what recreational kayaking is all about. And for that, we only need our recreational kayaks to do four basic things: Go forward in a relatively straight line, go backward in a relatively straight line, and turn to the right or left without leaning so far over that the cockpit starts taking on water — and on occasion to go sideways to get near a dock or skirt around an underwater object like a log or a boulder. Getting our kayaks to perform these three basic tasks, we only need to learn five basic strokes.
• Forward stroke
• Reverse stroke
• Forward sweep
• Reverse sweep
• Draw stroke
What is so nice about just having to learn these five, is that with the exception of the draw stroke, is that we really only need to know two of them, because the reverse stroke and the reverse sweep are just their forward counterpart strokes performed backward.
As paddling.com states, the forward stroke is the most basic, and is also the one you will use the most. The webpage explains the forward stroke as follows:
Grip your paddle loosely with your hands about shoulder width apart and if your paddle has scooped blades, hold it so the scoop side is facing you. Now reach one paddle blade toward your feet and place it in the water, twist your body to get that reach and then twist back to pull the blade to your hips. That way you used your core muscles and not just your arms.
Don’t pull too far, anything past the hips is wasted motion. So take the blade out when it reaches your hips and repeat the stroke on the opposite side of the kayak. That’s it, you’re paddling.
When you want to stop or slow down place a paddle blade in the water and push gently forward, away from your body, slowing the kayak. If you’re going fast, you might need to alternate sides to keep the boat on a straight line as it slows down.
Backing up is the same as the forward stroke but in reverse. Place your blade at your hips and push away from the body.
Most of the people I know, including those who have sent me emails regarding this kayaking series,
Paddle.com is a websites that has an endless list of available educational resources, including instructional videos, designed to instruct, encourage, entertain and educate paddlers. To learn more about the above paddling strokes visit the paddle.com webpage https://paddling.com/learn/basic-kayak-strokes