PaddleWise Discussion on Rolling
Okay, I can't believe we didn't have a section on rolling. In my opinion a roll is one of the critical components
of being a kayaker. It's the best way to stay with your equipment should you ever be in difficult conditions.
What difficult conditions are will be different for every paddler.
Some kayaks are extremely difficult to roll. If you can't roll your kayak, and your kayak does not have flotation,
stay within swimming distance of shore. From personal experience swimming distance in cold water, for me, is 15 meters,
a couple of kilometers/miles in "warm" water.
Properly outfitted almost any boat is rollable. A properly outfitted boat is a boat you can stay in when upside down
and your body is able to control the boat. Folding kayaks are rollable.
Learning to roll isn't that hard. It's like a choreographed dance step. Once you learn it it's easy. Every person
is different with regard to how they learn to roll. I learned from the diagrams in a book. There are several good books
and videos on learning how. Finding an instructor is worthwhile.
Michael Daly is keeping a list of known rolls. He has 94 "assisted" rolls, and 22 unassisted rolls listed as of January 3, 2005.
I like to think that "everyone" with a rollable boat can find one on that list that works for them.
From: "Doug Lloyd"
Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Rolling in surf
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004
TomL. posted (snip):
>The reason I posed the question was that I was involved in a rather
humbling incident yesterday...I often paddle out between two long jetties,
and mostly don't really know what the seas will be like until I get beyond
the ends of them. This time, I found myself diving up and over 7 foot steep
swells, close trains with some other mixed currents...I decided to head back
into the harbor...The tide was ebbing out and (as mentioned) the rollers
were sternwise. I had trouble keeping a strait bow and broached just enough,
so that when I attempted a low brace on my port side, I slowly went over.
Should have been good enough on that brace, but executed it poorly. I'm
still very intermediate in skill...<
Thank you for sharing this tale with us. Sounds like you are nearing the
"roll-or-drown" stage of your kayaking life. I've come to the point where I
realize that wet-exiting often means you are in for a world of pain. Had
this occurred in a remote setting, out-going tide, dead-radio zone with no
help, the outcome could have been tragic. I reply with extreme respect.
I'd suggest more surf time in your kayak to work on reflexetive bracing and
rolling, and taking a more firm psychological grasp of the situation and be
willing to will yourself upright mentally. You do not want to come out of
the kayak. Period. Do what you have to, to stay in, no matter how the lungs
are screaming. However, capsize and subsequent exits do happen, even to the
very best (as with Leone off the coast of Iceland recently). Avoid
conditions where bracing/rolling skills are not up to the prevalent
conditions; to do this, you need to develop more marine hazard awareness,
spend more time in the cockpit with your _boat of choice_ and log some
serious hours pushing the envelope in measured degrees, and perhaps scouting
out conditions before entering the water.
Spend less time at the pool practicing things like sculling for support and
deep brace recovery; rather, experiment and practice these skill development
times in real-world conditions on a safe lee-shore environment on
increasingly rougher conditions if you are serious about progressing the way
you sound like you wish to proceed.
Make sure you understand, appreciate, and anticipate/adjust for any
perceived or real lack of predictability with your particular kayak hull
design/shape (both loaded and empty) in jobbly seas and other marine
hydraulics. There are some subtle differences in rough or following seas
(with current as an added dimension) between "V" hulled/hard-chined kayaks
and those with semi-round bilge hulled kayaks. With the latter, you make the
kayak work for you. With the former, you must normally work with the dynamic
stability balance point of the kayak. These are my own observations.
During this phase of your skills progression and comfort level parameters,
there are safety and rescue devices worth considering that could benefit
immensely, but careful mitigation of dangerous risk scenarios combined with
an expeditiously aggressive but thoughtful experience through to more
advanced levels of kayak skill might pay better dividends than investing in
items like the Roll-Aid, sponsons, etc., or adding long painter lines.
Finding a willing partner (or two) can be particularly beneficial during any
seriously pursued advancing in the intermediate stage.
Having said all this, I still feel kayakers need to work on their sculling
technique. On my recent Nootka Sound trip, I left the group a number of
times to seek out rough conditions (they were hard to find, so I made my
own), and I lost count of the number of times a successful scull favoured a
quick recovery without committing to a full roll (a full roll not being
recommended in long surge channels, atop breaking reefs, or immersed in
full-rebounding cliff water tight with near-shore boomers, etc.).
Of course, a scull-for support followed by a recovery brace doesn't always
work out. One evening, I headed across the mouth of the Sound out to
Maquinna Point. I raced a trawler at over five knots )my speed) in open
waters off the lighthouse, in order to bisect his trajectory, then crossed
in front of his bow (I could see the captain in the window and he was
non-pulsed and wasn't the type to be a stickler for correct marine
navigation in my opinion). A quick sweep turn placed me parallel to his
significant bow wake. I sculled over to the side, my right ear in the water,
sculling heartily to try my skills in the combined, co-mingled seas. The
first wave (superimposed on the two-foot chop and added meter swell) swept
over my head and the second bow wave dislodged my glasses (I thought) as one
eye saw tinted glass and the other clear as the trough passed. Fearing loss
of my $800.00 titanium glasses, I went to a deep water scull as the third
bow wave hit. Attempting a full recovery in the jobbly seas (included
reflection off the lightstation land mass), I got my off-hand too high up
and blew the scull. I made a full inversion, set-up my roll (with a bit of
the usual adrenalin - especially after the added four-minute race to cross
the bow), and did a screw roll back up, slowly so as not to dislodge the
glasses further. On inspection, the glasses were still on just fine, but the
first bow wave had broken the sunglass clip-ons in half (!), bending them
over so one lens was at 90 degrees. My heart went into deep arrhythmia, so I
headed for a rest on shore after waving off the vessel. I'll be back with
better sunglasses next time.
And that's the attitude, isn't it? Gonna push yourself and your kayak? You
better have impeccable gear, lots of cockpit time in the kayak that works
for you, reliable skills, and preferably, a very good roll.
>I know that it only takes one bad incident to negate all the good trips
In terms of respect by other paddlers, a true hard-core paddler doesn't give
a hoot. In terms of family, well, that's a family matter. In terms of the
literal truth of your statement, well, yes indeed. Not coming back does tend
to dampen further pursuits. Pardon the pun.