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  Tips for Noob in a Sea Kayak?
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-27-12 12:28 AM (EST)
   Category: Kayaking Technique 

I picked up my first kayak (an Old Town Heron 9XT) on Labor Day. I've been using the heck out of it and having a great time. But I wanted to do more. I knew I wanted a sea kayak.

I did a lot of reading online. Read lots of reviews. Decided I probably wanted a Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, but figured I would demo a bunch of them over the coming months and get one sometime early next year. Then I was browsing Craigslist today.

Long story short... I brought home a couple year old Tempest 165, a Werner all carbon paddle, a TON of gear including a wet suit, winter boots, waterproof pants, dry top, several under shirts, two pair of gloves, two spray skirts, a cockpit cover, deck bag, paddle float, bilge pump, and bunch of other stuff... for $600.

Now I have this fancy new (to me) kayak sitting outside begging to be used tomorrow after work. I fit in it perfectly. I Googled around and did all the measurements and I'm a perfect fit for this thing... 5'8, 175 lbs, 29" inseam.

So... given that my only kayak experience so far has been three weeks of paddling a little rec boat around, what should I pay attention to when I climb into this thing tomorrow?

I'll be doing this on the Willamette River here in Salem, Oregon. There's a nice.. dang, I wish I knew what it was called... slough? That doesn't quite fit because it's not that shallow, more like a reverse peninsula.. that's about a mile long by a couple hundred yards wide. It's separated from the river by a narrow little bit of water only about 18" deep by 10-12' wide that prevents anything with a motor, or bigger than an inflatable raft, from getting through. So it's perfect for paddling.

I have no desire to try to roll this thing until I take the rolling class, which won't be for at least a few weeks or more. I'm already signed up for Kayaking Essentials on the 6th, then Rescues on the 14th, and a more advanced Essentials class (this time with Nigel Foster) at the end of October. So after that, I'll do Rolls, and then take the Sea Paddling class, also with Nigel.

But in the meantime... any tips? Or should I just leave the thing alone and keep paddling the Rec boat until I've had training? If I go out, I'll gear up all the way in case I get wet, since the river water is probably in the high 50's now given the cooler weather we've been having.



 Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:

Dry Tops

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Bug Shelters

Paddling Gloves

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Messages in this Topic


  Posted by: rjd9999 on Sep-27-12 3:44 AM (EST)
Before you start, watch some videos on self-rescues so that you have an idea what to expect. There are lots of these available, so look and learn. Do some web searches as there is a decent bit of information about the river online, such as this:

Once you reach the water, put on your immersion gear and go into the water. If you can stand the temperature, then that's as bad as it will get all day.

The Williamette isn't a fast moving body of water when it reaches Portland, and I've paddled that in canoes before. Here, there may be wakes from the occasional ship or tug of which you might wish to be aware. Turn into any such turbulence and take it bow on (since you are a novice, I'm not going to recommend trying to surf). If you are on another part of the river, I can't comment on the conditions. I can say that when you paddle beside on of the large ships, you get a real perspective of not only their size and power, but also just how insignificant you are to one of them.

If you are planning a solo paddle, the following applies:

Stay close to shore - no further than you wish to swim. This may put a crimp in your style, but taking chances before you are familiar with the risks and learn what it is like to paddle this body of water is ill-advised. Bring a well protected cell phone or other signalling gear and leave a float plan with the local authorities (sheriff, coast guard, park rangers or whatever)

If you are paddling with a partner, both of you review and practice rescues. Yeah, it may not be necessary, but it is always better to have the training and not use it than the other way around.

I'd consider asking locally (perhaps the local shop) if there are any tours/groups going out and ask if you could accompany same. I've done this before and had some fairly memorable experiences. If this happens, take advantage of the situation and practice some rescues.

  The 165 is Plenty Stable
  Posted by: Kudzu on Sep-27-12 4:59 AM (EST)
By all means start enjoying and getting accustomed to your new ride.
  Maybe do a couple wet exits
  Posted by: pblanc on Sep-27-12 7:02 AM (EST)
If you are planning to only do some paddling in a very protected waterway the chances of a capsize are probably pretty low. However, if your only kayaking thus far has been in a pumpkin seed boat you should be aware that you are losing 7 inches of width going from your Old Town the the Tempest, and 7 inches makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to initial stability.

Also, your rec boat has no skirt and a great big cockpit opening, so that if you ever tipped over in it, you probably pretty much just fell out of it, like a canoe. Exiting a narrow sea kayak with a spray skirt on requires a little more thought. It can be done very quickly, but it is not automatic. You have to tuck, release the skirt, and slide the boat off your legs. I have seen some pretty level-headed folks, even strong swimmers with life saving experience become a little freaked the first time they went over in a kayak.

Best would be if you can find an experienced boater to join you, dress up with some towels and dry clothes in a nearby vehicle, and practice a wet exit or two.

If the water seems to cold for that, I would probably just paddle your boat without the spray skirt and stick close to shore as advised until you take your roll class.
  WEAR your PFD
  Posted by: jaybabina on Sep-27-12 7:26 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-27-12 7:33 AM EST --

A wet exit and learning to rescue yourself is NO 1. Learn the paddle float reentry for starters. Join a club where you can learn all kinds of things for free and have a good time doing it.

You can take lessons too if you have the money.

  Wet exits and neo deck skirts
  Posted by: Celia on Sep-27-12 8:23 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-27-12 8:55 AM EST --

If the skirts have a neoprene deck, you need to practice capsizing and pulling them off before taking the boat into anything. (Grab loop always always out.) You can't knee a neoprene deck skirt off, it'll just stretch. Most people will recommend this is best done the first time with someone standing there who can pull the skirt if there is a surprise.

Or just paddle without the skirt until you can set up the first practice with company.

If the grab loop is underneath there are emergency ways to get a neo skirt off, but they aren't handy for when you are first getting your reflexes down. Remember that if the water is murky or it is getting dark out, you will have to manage everything by feel alone.

If you get by this one, make sure you have a wind blocking layer over the wet suit stuff. A wet wet suit in chilly air or wind is a fast trip to hypothermia, the stuff only keeps you warm when you are in the water. But it sounds like you have the layers.

If you have a way to get by the wet exit thing, why not take it out. The Tempest is pretty forgiving of mistakes.

Great deal, by the way!

  Cracking deal!
  Posted by: edzep on Sep-27-12 8:50 AM (EST)
I always get a bill of sale on used boats. It's extra important when I'm getting a great deal.
  A great utility often overlooked
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Sep-27-12 9:02 AM (EST)
Animated Kayak Tutorial

Click on ""british flag" for english version when loaded

Watch, rewind, play again, freeze frame, repeat.

A great way to learn a lot of info and
burn it into your brain.
  Just go paddle the thing
  Posted by: magooch on Sep-27-12 10:13 AM (EST)
It ain't rocket science. By all means, watch some videos, talk with and paddle with some experienced paddlers, but in the end it's all about spending a lot of time in the saddle.
  Thanks, Willi
  Posted by: shirlann on Oct-08-12 10:37 AM (EST)
Wish I'd had that tutorial when I began many years ago.
I don't really like teaching others to kayak as sometimes I'm unable to make a good 'word' picture, and a few folks don't quite get it but I will definately pass this site on to others.
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-27-12 10:09 AM (EST)
Awesome tips, thank you!!

Yeah I've paddled this section before, but in the wide, stable rec boat. I'm a strong swimmer, but the temp of the water concerns me. Good tip for getting geared up and going in, I may have to do that.

I was thinking about "practicing" in the yard before going out. I have two spray skirts... one is a lightweight summer one, the other is a neopreme. I figured I'd bring the lightweight one. I saw one of the self-rescue videos about how to get the skirt off, and thought I would try setting all that up in the yard, tipping the thing over, and try it.

I have yet to make any kayaking hookups here locally, except for one local group I'm going out with on Saturday. We're paddling from Independence to Salem (12 miles).. should be fun. I'm debating which boat to bring. Probably the rec boat, I dunno.

Thanks again!

  Hip Ups - yeah its spelled correctly
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Sep-27-12 10:31 AM (EST)
Dry Land training for those core muscles
- reactionary muscle memory

  Higher-Back Seat
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-27-12 8:06 PM (EST)
Rather than start a new thread...

I'm here after work, and I've decided to go out and try the new kayak tomorrow since I have the day off. Today I've been cleaning it up, experimenting with the spray skirt, with getting and out, etc.

One thing I noticed... the seat is NOT at all comfortable. The bottom is fine; it's the back support, or rather, the total lack thereof. It's uncomfortable to sit in because I have nothing to support my back. At least my rec boat has a higher seat back, which while not great, is 1000x better than this.

I know these things aren't supposed to have "high back" seats since you're supposed to be able to lean backwards against the rear deck, but isn't there something else I can do to get the seat back up a few more inches?

  Not supposed to be leaning into back
  Posted by: Celia on Sep-28-12 7:00 AM (EST)
The seat is fine. The paddler needs adjustment, which you will get in the classes you have coming up shortly.

Unfortunately for your current comfort range, the folks you will be working with are likely to disabuse you of any notion about actually using a seat back for support. For a good forward stroke, you are supposed to erect and rotating from the hips up, thru the torso. Rotation is point blank not possible if you are leaning back against the kind of seat you had in the other boat. Core muscles etc.

What you should have in that boat is a back band, set lower to support you at the top of your pelvis.

There are things that you may eventually find you want to do about thigh and leg angle - everyone has slightly different places where you need to tweak the seat and thigh braces - but for a proper stroke you need to replace the reliance on a high seat back with reliance on core muscles.
  As Celia said
  Posted by: pblanc on Sep-28-12 7:59 AM (EST)
you want to develop the habit of sitting with your torso upright maintaining some curvature (lordosis) in your lower back. That might not come naturally at first so I would stick with the stock outfitting first. Keep your initial outings short and focus on good posture. People tend to slouch more as they become fatigued.

That said, I know a number of individuals who could never get comfortable with the low seated position of a kayak and had persistent back pain. Those who still paddle have canoes now. Hopefully you won't be one of those.

If after a good trial use of your existing outfitting, you might consider padding your seat with a thin layer of foam to either cant your pelvis slightly forward or back. Stock molded seats cannot accommodate everybody's anatomy. If you do this, keep the foam thin so as to raise your center of gravity only minimally.
  Back bands
  Posted by: magooch on Sep-28-12 12:54 PM (EST)
Some kayaks come with woefully inadequately supported back bands, but no worries, they can easily be fixed with the addition of or merely changing to a firmer--usually larger bungy cords for the fine adjustments.

The back band is not there as a back rest, but that doesn't mean it is just a useless decoration. You do need firm support in your lower back, so any modifications should be done with that goal in mind.
  Back support
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-28-12 10:28 PM (EST)
Yes, exactly!! I know you're supposed to sit upright when paddling, and I do that even in my Rec boat, but the backrest in that one is vastly more supportive. The one in the Tempest is just pathetic.

I went out today for my first paddle in that boat. Wow, what a total difference! Definitely "tippy" compared to the rec boat, but I didn't capsize. I went without the spray skirt (it was in one of the compartments in case I needed it). The wet suit was a bit hot.. I need a shorty version. But anyway... I could "rock" the boat with my hips, and I worked to keep my upper and lower body separate. I sat upright as best I could against that pathetic back band thing.

What was getting me, though, is my legs were cramping up. I have the footrests set so my legs are splayed and pressed up against the knee pads, and I fit just fine between the hip pads. I'd try to press myself against the back band. But no matter how I set the footrests, my legs would cramp up after a few minutes. I would have to stop paddling, remove my feet from the foot rests, and stretch them out. That'd help for a little bit, but every 10-15 min, I found myself on shore having to get out and walk around a little bit. The problem is that there's just no "free" movement space for my legs in there, and I guess that's how it's supposed to be. Maybe in time I'll get used to it, or maybe I'm tensing up, I dunno.

Anyway.. I decided to paddle up-river from the boat launch, towards a dark red boat house on the right. The last time I tried ti in the rec boat, I got turned back once I hit the strong river current in that area. This time, I put the skeg down, and paddled through it. It still pushed me to the side a bit. I actually hadn't planned on visiting the boat house, but the current had other ideas. As I approached it, I did almost get dumped when I hit a nasty reflecting current off the boat house's wall. I then went around to the back side of the boat house and got out on its little dock and rested for a bit and had more water.

By the time I got back to the boat ramp, I was absolutely beat! Either I'm trying too hard (tensing up -- likely), or I'm even more out of shape than I thought (also likely). I'm very glad I have the class next weekend. I need to figure out how to properly setup this thing so it fits me properly.

Thanks a bunch to everybody for the helpful replies!! I'm having a blast at this new activity.

  re: back band
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-29-12 5:12 AM (EST)
Lots of ppl replace the stock back band on their boats. There is nothing sacred about 'em AFAIK.

As long as the new one isn't so stiff that it prevents torso rotation, or is so high that it makes it hard to get back in the boat when self-rescuing (or prevents a layback roll)...
  My thoughts-
  Posted by: rpg51 on Sep-29-12 7:22 AM (EST)
I am new to all this too (kayaks that is). My experience was similar to yours at first and I am happy to report that after time in the saddle all the same discomfort you are describing with my back and my legs has disappeared. I feel very comfortable in my WS Zephyr which I feel sure has the exact same seat and back band as your Tempest. I do have a couple of suggestions for you to consider. Your seat should have an adjustable under thigh support. If you adjust that to supply a bit of upward support for your thighs that might help with your legs. Also, at first anyway, consider adjusting the foot pegs so that your knee area contacts the top pads when you put press a bit on the foot pegs with your toes but also so that if you relax your foot you can comfortably drop your knee off that contact point. The back band issue is something that just takes a bit of time. I have mine adjusted now so that when I am seated in the boat with my legs on the pegs in proper paddling position the band just brushes my lower back/hip area - definitely not real tight. When I am actively paddling the back band is lightly contacting me. When I rest a bit I can relax into it. I do not have a strong abdominal area or strong back muscles but still after some time I find this set up very comfortable. I can paddle for hours on end in comfort. I am prone to back pain, but even I am finding this truly comfortable. A hight back seat will interfere with your development of good paddling technique and limit your skills development in my opinion. But you could install one if you decide you just can't work with the back band. Everyone is different so your set up might end up slightly different than mine. But I encourage you to be patient. Your perceptions about what is comfortable will change fairly quickly as you get time in the seat.

Also, I encourage you to stay away from current at the start. Paddle flat water for a while near shore and then after you gain some comfort level - venture into the current.

  Posted by: edzep on Sep-29-12 7:07 AM (EST)
You may find that using the leg lifters helps with the cramping. Some of us have found that they help with keeping our feet from getting numb.

I like the backband well enough that I went out of my way to get one for my home built boat. Have you loosened the rear straps, so that when you pull the main straps, the back band actually comes forward as it tightens?
  Posted by: Kudzu on Sep-29-12 7:22 AM (EST)
Yes. I put an old compressed foam block under my calves/ankles. Keeps the heels off the hull. Very comfortable.
  Posted by: Kudzu on Sep-29-12 7:20 AM (EST)
Have you made adjustments to your seat and backband? I have a T165 and I really like the thigh adjustments pulled up pretty tight. When I first started I liked the backband pulled up tight also. I guess my body has gotten used to kayaking. I paddled with a backband strap broken for a long while and didn't even notice.

Cinch up those adjustment straps and spend some time paddling. I bet those comfort issues will go away.
  Fixes for the pain and current
  Posted by: Celia on Sep-29-12 10:52 AM (EST)
First, the back band usually takes some tensioning to get it right for a given person. And the back band itself may need replacement to give proper support - Immersion Research and, if they can be found, Bomber Gear both makes back bands that people like. Or you can take a look at some of the cutomizable options in minicell available from places like Redfish. I would caution you to wait on that one though until you have time in the boat - once you've shaved off minicell it is hard to put it back.

The backband should give you solid support at the top of the pelvis/into the lower lumbar vertebra. If it is not doing that, you need to attend to the backband. If it is doing so, you need to attend to the rest of your positioning.

I am sure that you feel like you are sitting upright. But getting mostly upright and really being in a position for torso rotation are two different things. Once you get the hang of the later it'll help your back in a bunch of ways.

The Tempest has very kind stability. You will get used to it and learn to relax fairly quickly.

As to the knee pad thing - they aren't knee pads. They are supposed to be hitting you at the thighs, behind the knees, unless you want to do some damage to your joints. If you were actively pressing you knees up into the thigh braces it would be surprising if you didn't hurt. It increases the tension too much, and is a pretty nasty position for your legs and hips.

Most new paddlers lock themselves in too tight. All you need to do is to be able to reach the control surfaces (thigh braces, foot pegs and butt) when you need to manage the boat, not be locked in all the time.

One thing you will likely learn is to get the boat on edge by shifting your butt over to one side or the other rather than locking into the braces. It works as well, is if anything more stable and is a lot less taxing.

There should always be space for you to pull your legs out and let them relax - otherwise it will never be comfortable. But that means that you are just sitting in the boat without exerting any control, and that is probably not something you are comfortable doing right now.

You may need to do stuff like flatten out the seat pan a bit, change the angle and/or get some foam under your thighs to help extend the support of the seat. But I suggest that you get thru your classes before getting involved in that level of tweaking.

Skegs are not always your friend in current by the way, because they give the water more boat to push. Note that WW boats don't have any such thing. Your first recourse should always be a good edge, which you probably are not comfortable going for right now. It is something else you will be learning.

  Awesome tips!
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-29-12 11:58 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-30-12 12:28 AM EST --

Thank you folks so much for the tips! This is really great.

Regarding cramping up.. is it possible that this boat is too small for me? I was doing some comparing on websites and this boat has a 12" deck height. The Perception Essence 17 has a 16" deck height. MUCH more space. It might have more room to relax a little bit. And I found a used one too... am talking with the owner about working a trade for some other stuff I have for it.

I did try adjusting the seat bottom. I liked it up as far as it'd go, but then I couldn't get out without lowering it. That worried me that I wouldn't be able to make a wet exit if needed.

The thigh braces definitely need adjustment then. I have them all the way forward so they're just behind my knee. I guess I need to move them back quite a bit.

I went on a 12-mile paddle today in my Rec boat, which has tons more room. Near the end of the trip, my right leg was cramping up pretty bad too (in the sciatic nerve area) and the only thing that helped at all was to straighten it out, and even try to lean back and stretch it out. The best solution would be to stop, get out, and walk around, but that wasn't possible given this stretch of river. But it worries me that this issue will be much worse in the tiny cockpit of the Tempest. I can't help but feel like OJ trying on that glove. :)



  No, Not Too Small
  Posted by: Kudzu on Sep-30-12 4:48 AM (EST)
You are THE height and weight for the 165. The trick to making it feel better; make entry and exit better, is to move the seat back one bolt hole... about 2 inches. I have a very long, lean friend (6'5" maybe?) who paddles and enjoys his 165 with the seat moved back. You can pay a shop to do it or do it yourself.

I moved the seat back in mine. Also moved the seat back in my Alchemy.
  More comments
  Posted by: Celia on Sep-30-12 8:42 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-30-12 8:44 AM EST --

Do not invest in another boat until you have gotten work in those classes to learn how to use this one. As others have said, it should fit fine once you understand how it is supposed to work.
Kudzu's suggestion to move the seat back is a good first start, though that needs to be done with regard to the correct location for the thigh braces.

As to the adjustments you are considering -
Raising the seat in its entirety is not what people really meant. The adjustment that you may want to add at some point, but not today, is to fill in the lowest part of the seat with minicell or change its angle so it is flatter. This in not the same as raising it up.

A 16 inch tall deck is a very tall deck - way taller than should make a proper fit for you especially once you get the thigh braces over your thighs rather than your knees. If you got by the first round of lessons in it you would find a need to get another boat when you got to trying to roll it. You are buying yourself a terrific backache if the deck is too tall. We know someone who finds the Tempest 165 to be quite comfortable and is at least four inches taller than you. You are just at a point where you don't fully understand fit because you don't understand how to use the control surfaces of the boat. You can't separate the two from each other.

AS others have said, you have found a great deal on a very good boat to get you started in sea kayaking. The Tempest will support your learning what you need to know and be a boat to keep around for guests if you want to go to something more specialized later. Get some advice on fitting it out when you get into that class.

  Seat Adjustment
  Posted by: old_user on Sep-30-12 1:13 PM (EST)
How exactly does the seat move back? I can do it, but from what I can see, it's attached at the top of the kayak just outside of the coaming, two screws on each side. Are you saying to move it back and only use one hole on each side, or is there another adjustment elsewhere?

  Posted by: Kudzu on Sep-30-12 2:16 PM (EST)
If your boat is like mine, you remove the seat; measure the distance between the bolt holes and saw about that much off the back of the seat base. You're right. You re-attach with just two bolts. You put the other bolts back just to plug the holes. Be careful to run the bolts through the seat adjustment straps.

I really think the folks at WS should make this fore - aft adjustment easier. Maybe leave off all that excess seat base.
  I moved my T165 seat, too
  Posted by: edzep on Sep-30-12 2:43 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-30-12 3:13 PM EST --

I believe the rear of the seat pan only needs to be trimmed if moving the seat rearward in the composite boats. Not a problem in the RM models.

I moved my seat back about 1 inch. I'd consider this the "default" adjustment. After removing the seat (WS does have a video for this - Youtube, I think), you'll note there is enough room about 1 inch forward of the forward mounting hole in the seat pan, to make another hole. You also have to make a new hole 1 inch further forward for the rear hole. You end up with 2 sets of mounting holes on each side of the seat pan, and 4 machine screws still holding your seat in place.

edit 1: Here's the video. Note that this begins with the high seat back that comes with some (all?) Tsunamis, and which could probably be fitted to your Tempest, and which you MUST avoid, at least for a good while of working with your back band:

edit 2: I have noted that you would NOT be able to put in the high back, after all. The seat pan is molded differently. As the video shows, you can put a back band in a boat that came with a high back, but, you can't go the other way, unless you have a model with a seat pan designed for a high back.

  More on moving the seat
  Posted by: Celia on Sep-30-12 2:51 PM (EST)
Just an FYI - that is how I moved the seat in my Vela. The only thing you may to add is getting creative with minicell to stop the seat from moving around on you in wet exits, something that can't happen with both bolt holes in use.

If you are less lazy than me you can even bother to glue them in rather than just having to cut new ones once in a while when they fall out. :-)
  It'll take awhile
  Posted by: LeeG on Oct-01-12 9:51 AM (EST)
to learn how to relax while strengthening postural muscles AND increasing core flexibility. Stretch beforehand, get out and stretch before leg numbness or cramping develops. Besides learning a cowboy self-rescue here's a basic stretch you should be doing on the water until it becomes automatic. Sit upright in the kayak and twist your torso to the right so your left blade is pressed against the right side of the kayak. Hold that position for a few deep breathes then reverse and put your right blade on the left side. This will twist your gut considerably but once you're able to do it comfortably on the water you'll be able to do a basic sweep stroke reliably.
  Posted by: sternsquirt on Oct-01-12 8:28 PM (EST)
  Kayak Kockpit Komparo
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-01-12 9:39 PM (EST)
So... that Perception Essence 17... I ended up getting it. The trade deal turned out to be too good to pass up, and so I figured I can now compare both kayaks and pick the one that works best. Then I'll sell the other one.

Tonight, I pulled them out and put them side by side and sat in both. I fiddled with the various adjustments on both. And then I took photos, which you can see here:

Note I'm calling it the Kayak Kockpit Komparo (or KKK), so don't go being offended. :)

Anyway... first I sat in the red one (the Perception) and got it all setup to how it was comfy. It's missing the thigh pads and the PO doesn't have them, so I'll have to get some. However, I only need about 1/2 to 3/4" at the bottom and maybe an inch on top, so we're pretty close.

The thigh pads... I still have no idea how the hell these things are supposed to be positioned, but I've moved them back in both cases. They're hitting me about midway between my hip and knee now (roughly).

Getting into the orange one (the Tempest) is still a huge pain in the butt... or more accurately, legs. When I get in, then get my legs in place, my legs almost immediately start to cramp up due to the position of my legs and my feet. Even changing the positions of the pedals, it doesn't help.

Whoever said to move the seat back has a good point. Look closely at the photos and you can see how much closer the seat is on the orange one, and both seats are in their stock positions. BUT.. I'm not convinced that moving the seat on the Tempest is going to be the fix. The taper of the front of the cockpit (kockpit?) is like the tip of an egg, whereas on the red one, it's more like the bottom of the egg. So there really isn't enough room to get in and out. I'm pretty convinced at this point that, had I capsized the orange one the other day, I would have had a heck of a time getting out.

These two boats are kind of at extreme opposites in size. So the answer just might be a Tempest 170. I'd have to see one in person and sit in it to know more, but the slight change in width and extra inch in deck height could be the answer.

Now I'm really eager to get to class this coming weekend and see what their boats are like, for an even better comparison.

  PS on the cockpit shape
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-02-12 10:35 AM (EST)
You haven't gotten anywhere near trying to edge the boat. That tells you how to set the thigh braces, also informs on the cockpit shape. Also a larger opening tends to complicate dealing with waves, a normal aspect of actually kayaking on the ocean.

At some point you may have to decide how much open water - ie ocean - time you plan to do. There are some skills and comfort considerations for that which are different from and take more time to learn than bopping around on flat water. It will take some patience which has thus far not been terribly present in your approach.

Your impatience is not necessarily a bad thing, better to be aggressive about learning than to go out and get into trouble by doing something not so smart. But you really need to tone it down and wait for some in person advice to make good judgments. There is just way too much that you don't know.
  You Don't Want a Tempest 170
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-02-12 4:56 PM (EST)
Do a side by side taste test between a 170 and a 165 on a very windy day and you'll find out.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-02-12 7:13 PM (EST)

If so, then the Perception will be 10x worse.

If, after this weekend, it seems that my only choice is going to be one of these tiny, painful, claustrophobic things, I'm going to sell both of them and stick to flat water.

  Learning takes time
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-02-12 9:47 PM (EST)
So flat water may be your best idea...
  Yes, Patience and Perseverence
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-03-12 6:14 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-03-12 12:52 PM EST --

I understand about the claustrophobic thing. I got a killer deal on a demo model Alchemy S. There was a bit too much 'friction' when I did a wet exit but otherwise the boat was great. What's the fix? I moved the seat back and took out all the stiffening hardware. Now it's perfect.

I don't know about motorcycles but I make a lot of adjustments to a road bicycle before it starts to feel right. Part of it is getting the machine to fit me but I'm sure that over time my body starts to adapt to the machine.

  Back from Class!
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-06-12 7:57 PM (EST)
Today was my Kayaking Essentials class. I got home about a half hour ago and have hung up my wetsuit and stuff. I just ordered a pizza, and now I can sit back and write. I'm BEAT!! But in a good way.

The boat I got to use was a SEDA brand.. not sure which model. From looking at the SEDA website, my best guess is it's an Ikkuma 17. It was a very nice boat. Fit-wise, it's in between the Tempest and the Perception. I took the Perception out yesterday morning so I would have a good comparison to whatever I used in class.

So yeah.. the SEDA is smaller than the Perception, but quite a bit roomier than the Tempest. It had a fiberglass seat with no padding and a fixed seatback, yet it was very comfortable. After three hours on the water, my tailbone wasn't even slightly sore.

It was a VERY windy day on the Willamette up in Portland. As in steady 15 mph winds gusting to 25+. Made for a very interesting class. We paddled across the river to a cove which gave some protection from the wind, though it still tended to blow us around a bit. We practiced all kinds of strokes.. forward, backward, forward sweep, reverse sweep, bow and stern rudder turns (I think that's what they called it), and two sculling strokes.

One guy was even nice enough to capsize so we got to watch an assisted rescue. No, I don't think it was intentional. :) (and no, it wasn't me)

I played around with edging a bit. Not really knowing what I'm doing though, but it seemed like it'd hold an edge fairly well, but since there were no thigh braces, it seemed like a lot of work to keep it up on edge. Or maybe it was the wind. It tended to track a bit straighter than my Perception, which has a tendency to want to bear to the right unless I put the skeg down. The Tempest (the one time I had it out) did the same thing but to the left.

I discussed kayak fitment with the folks there quite a bit. I explained how there were no thigh braces with my Perception, so they showed me the blocks of foam I can get to carve my own. They also explained how to position the thigh braces. I actually had it almost right the first time... closer to my knee than not.

So once home, I stole the thigh pads out of the Tempest and put them in the Perception. If they work well, I will "copy" them with carved foam so can include the originals with the Tempest when I sell it. I also reset the thigh braces and footrests, so if I go out tomorrow, I'll be set.

Oh, I also played with the seat adjustment some more. It's still not perfect, but it's a lot better.

Before leaving, I looked at all the boats they had in stock. I noticed that the Point 65 N boats have this really incredible Air Seat. It has a higher back just like I want, and several air bladders you can inflate to custom fit it. The seatback isn't so high that it prevents you from leaning back though. Man, I want that seat!! Though honestly, until I upgrade to a much fancier boat, I will find an expensive way to tweak the Perception's a little more.

So there ya have it. I know now that the Tempest is too small for me, plain and simple. There are "smaller" fitting boats that are bigger than the Tempest that will work better when I'm ready for one. For now, the Perception will do the job until I have the skills (and money) to warrant moving up.

And at $12 for an afternoon, I can rent any of their boats and take them out on the river to try them out. So I'll spend a lot of time doing that and then have a better idea of what I want when the time is right.

  Glad you enjoyed the class
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-07-12 8:40 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-07-12 8:50 AM EST --

By the way - you are taking classes with the Portland Kayak Company? Great choice.

You'll appreciate spending time before buying more boats. Learning some of the upcoming stuff that you have planned, like rolling and I assume self-rescues, often changes your view of what you want in a boat in terms of deck height, fit, that kind of thing. Certain attributes in a boat and its fit can make all the diff between a boat being easy to manage or a really trying, exhausting bear. A couple of folks came thru the board recently with just that experience.

As to how each boat got affected by the wind (Perception and Tempest), the diff likely had nothing to do with the boat other than the Perception having more windage. The way the boats were turning were a factor of the wind direction and whatever current was acting on the boat at the time - as I recall you were in some current on the one day you had the Tempest on the water.

You may want to mess around with just shifting your weight into the bilge to get the boat on edge, rather than going thru the extra effort of lifting with the thigh braces. You'll find use for them quickly enough when you get to rolling. In the meantime, unlike a 100 pound skinny female, you have enough weight that you can get some edge just by moving your butt over and staying more relaxed.

The bottom line though is that, the bigger the target volume of the boat is compared to the paddler in it, the more effort it will take to keep a boat on edge. There isn't anything you can do to alter that relationship.

I am confused by one thing though - your repeated reference to wanting to lean back. I was at first assuming you were thinking in terms of a layback position for a roll, not necessarily required but a very common way to start people in rolling. But I am beginning to wonder if I have that right. Is there some other phase of paddling that you want to lean back for? If it is to stretch out your back, leaning over the foredeck can work too, and the basic rotation exercises once you get some targeted work on the forward stroke also help the back. The lower body is usually helped by doing active pedaling... something else that comes in with forward stroke work. So there are ways to get some body relief in the boat that you likely haven't encountered yet.

  Sounds like a great class
  Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-07-12 8:55 AM (EST)
I may have said this before - my experience as a new paddler was that my comfort level in a fairly close fitting kayak increased significantly over the first 20 to 30 hours of paddling. What seemed extremely uncomfortable at first became very comfortable and preferred by the end. Take your time and be patient. Get some seat time. I think you will see that your view of what fits and is comfortable will change in time. Don't sell that Tempest just yet.

I also agree with Celia - not sure what this leaning back thing is all about - when are you leaning back? Is it just to rest? Or while paddling?
  Sounds like a great class
  Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-07-12 8:55 AM (EST)
I may have said this before - my experience as a new paddler was that my comfort level in a fairly close fitting kayak increased significantly over the first 20 to 30 hours of paddling. What seemed extremely uncomfortable at first became very comfortable and preferred by the end. Take your time and be patient. Get some seat time. I think you will see that your view of what fits and is comfortable will change in time. Don't sell that Tempest just yet.

I also agree with Celia - not sure what this leaning back thing is all about - when are you leaning back? Is it just to rest? Or while paddling?
  Leaning Back
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-07-12 12:46 PM (EST)

The leaning back part for me is just to relax. Move my feet off the pegs, stretch my legs, lean back, and relax for a few minutes.

I'm heading out today after lunch to paddle the Essence around so I can compare it to the one from yesterday while it's fresh in my mind. I may give the Tempest another try in a day or so as well.

  Got it, try this too
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-07-12 3:51 PM (EST)
Leaning back stretches some bits, compresses things in the lower body as well so you may want to also lean forward as far as possible to alter where you get the pressure relief. And side to side from the torso, which they'll have you doing for the forward stroke.

The statement above that some people just can't find physical comfort in a properly fitting sea kayak is for real, though I also know people who got into yoga for paddling and found that it helped other activities as well.

If I am paddling properly and often enough, something this season hasn't been about, getting back on the water for some distance usually takes at least an inch and a half off my waist from rotating.
  Try This
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-08-12 5:18 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-08-12 6:00 AM EST --

Take the hip pads completely out of the Tempest. (Not to be confused with the thigh pads). They're just held in with velcro. I've never had to do it but the hip pads can be shaped and put back.

Don't use a crappy boat because it's comfortable. Make your good boat comfortable.

  Posted by: NateHanson on Oct-08-12 8:02 AM (EST)
Take out the hip pads for now. Also, not sure if someone else mentioned this already, but the thigh braces should be hitting you just above the knee. Move your foot pegs far enough away that your legs are not contacting the thigh braces. You should not be in contact with the braces when relaxed.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-08-12 10:23 AM (EST)

Thanks... yeah, that's how the thigh braces are now. Much nicer.

I thought I would sit in the Tempest again this afternoon and reset its thigh braces and foot braces and see again if I cramp up right away. If I don't, I may take it back out on the water again.

I spent three hours in the Perception yesterday and had a very nice time. Ran into a guy with Perception Expression 15, which looks like a nice boat too. We exchanged phone numbers and will probably paddle together from time to time.

The Perception definitely feels bigger than the boat I used in class. It doesn't stay on edge as well either, even with the hip pads. The chine on it looks to be much softer. But it was still pleasant. I know it won't be my final boat by any means. :)

  Tempest Update
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-08-12 6:50 PM (EST)

Since I had to unload the boats to make room to go (hopefully) pick up a used contractor rack later today (to make carrying the longer boats easier than hanging them 7' out the back of my truck), I decided to pull the Tempest back out and play with the adjustments a little bit.

I got the seat into the same reasonably okay position that I did on the Perception, i.e. with the seatback as far forward and vertical as possible, moved the foot braces out another notch (farther away) and made sure the thigh braces were in the right spot.

If I'm careful, I can get into it without any leg cramping, and I don't instantly cramp now. The keys seem to be the thigh brace positions and the foot braces being a notch farther away. This gives me room to relax my legs a little bit when needed.

Getting out still takes some work, and I still have a concern about not being able to get out quickly on a wet exit. If the cockpit was 1" longer or the deck was 1" taller, I think it'd be about perfect.

BUT, that has me thinking about the earlier suggestion of moving the seat back. I think moving it back ONE inch might do the trick. So I might just try that tonight or tomorrow. You really don't think that'll compromise the center of gravity?

  Is it correct that you are 5'8"?
  Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-08-12 8:33 PM (EST)
If so, I must say it seems to me that that tempest should fit you just fine as is. I recommend that you paddle for about 20 hours before you do anything drastic.
  Move the seat
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-08-12 9:23 PM (EST)
As has been said above, it is common. You seem to be having trouble believing this advice. It would be way faster to just do it and get the boat on the water to feel it out than spend more time worrying about it on this thread.

As to wet exits, I take it you have yet to try this. You will find that you fall out of a kayak much more easily than you expect, in fact it can be difficult to stay in a boat that is bigger. Gravity works upside down too.

I strongly suggest that you take the Tempest to the rescue class, get this concern out of the way with someone there. Sweating wet exits is just going to slow you down.
  second that....
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Oct-08-12 10:13 PM (EST)
There are many things affecting the center of gravity so where it was set may not be the center anyway. Plus a little variation makes only minor differences in handling that you likely wouldn't notice and if you did they are easy to correct.

If you saw the "ocean cockpits" that used to be more common (almost just a circle) then you'd appreciate how easy ANY keyhole cockpit is to exit -- unless you're so big you needed a shoe horn to get in. After your first wet exit and assisted rescue you'll relax so much that anything will be possible. No theory beat reality for that.
  Boat Balance
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-09-12 4:57 AM (EST)
I prefer the way my boat behaves after I moved the seat back. I like the bow to ride over waves rather than punch into them. If you don't like it, put a bottle of water in your forward hatch.
  Test the seat position -
  Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-09-12 5:31 AM (EST)
lossen your back band an inch and scooch your butt back an inch an see how it feels.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-09-12 1:34 PM (EST)
I can't be on the water all the time, so it's nice to DISCUSS this stuff here. :)

I'm going to head out either this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon, and I'll take the Tempest. I have some welding to do on that rack I bought last night before it'll carry anything.

I wanted to take the Tempest to the rescue class, but they don't allow it since it's in a pool; you have to use theirs. I'll try to get a smaller model to practice in if possible.

I'm surprised nobody has made a seat slider mechanism for a kayak yet... just like they have in cars. It's not like it'd weigh much, I figure half a pound.

Anyway... I'm enjoying the testing out of the various boats, and I appreciate all the feedback!

  Slider seats in kayaks
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-09-12 5:25 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-09-12 10:38 PM EST --

Might even exist for racing, as I recall they can be found in some pack canoes. But in both of these cases the assumption is that the paddler is going to be fairly unlikely to be throwing deep braces or rolls for the hell of it, or playing in rock gardens.... places where a slider seat would not be helpful, could be a real problem.

If you are talking about the ability to move the seat between fixed positions, that all happens from the top as you will be doing. (oops, I may be wrong there. See next reply.)

As to using the Tempest - have you told them what boat you have? Sometimes those rules, at least if you are talking about outside use, are there because they don't want people bringing inappropriately outfitted rec boats into a sea kayaking class. They may be fine with your bringing in a boat like the Tempest as long as they have a couple of minutes to make sure all the parts are properly attached, like perimeter line, before the class.

Pool sessions are another matter - between pool rules and space it is more usual than not to be restricted to the boats that are already provided. But outside classes are usually more about the setup of the boat.

  Posted by: old_user on Oct-11-12 2:57 PM (EST)

Yeah they know what kind of boat it is. It has to do with cleanliness. They have a separate batch of boats specifically for the pool, that never go in the river.

They said I would be welcome to do the class in it if it were in the river, but those classes won't be offered again until next Summer when the water warms back up.

So I'll just ask them to put me in a small one if possible.

  Try this
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-11-12 4:54 PM (EST)
I have to apologize - I read the above post a little too quickly and missed full attention to the pool part. Just tell them you want a fit that will be closer to that of you in the Tempest 165 than something bigger. Really, gravity does work upside down.

I strongly suggest that you pick up nose plugs and/or full goggles. There tend to be two new discoveries when you are upside down in a boat, a spot that they may ask you to stay in for a count of 5 or 10 just to make sure you are staying calm. (and being able to do that is a pre-req for rolling anyway) One is that water comes into your nose upside down in ways it never does in normal swimming, and the other is that pool water hurts some people like the dickens when it gets well up their sinuses. If you are one of those people (like me) it can really mess up an otherwise fun evening of getting wet.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-11-12 11:06 PM (EST)
Good idea; I will get nose plugs.

Until I get in the water and see what the chlorine content is, I won't know how much it'll affect me. I grew up swimming in chlorinated pools so I got used to it, having my eyes open underwater, etc. Not gonna be the case in the ocean (salt) but in the pool, it'll do.

In time I'll have to get used to not having nose plugs though, since you never really know when you're going under.. not exactly time to stop and put them in. :)

I'm heading out tomorrow after lunch.. taking the Tempest out this time. Will report back when I return.

  Use of nose plugs
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-12-12 7:46 AM (EST)
It is always good if you can get used to the sinus hit without them, but I wouldn't discard them. In salt water, they tend not to be needed anyway. Salt water is automatically kinder and more natural feeling up in there anyway. The only time I have used nose plugs in salt water was when I was being asked to do something like alter my approach to bracing, when I was just getting a ton of closely spaced rolling moments until I got it down. There is a point of just having so much water and discharge running out of your nose every time you come up it is annoying.

Fresh water is another matter, and in WW groups you will often see people going thru rapids with nose plugs on. But WW runs tend to organize themselves so that it is reasonable to pop on a set of nose plugs before a given rapid. That's why you will sometimes see them attached to a helmet.

The salt water rush when you capsize in surf was, for me, very distracting at first because the first rush is so strong. But it is still salt water, so it is tolerable if you can hold off thru that initial hit to get your moment to roll.
  masks are great for lots of practice
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Oct-12-12 10:16 AM (EST)
I use nose plugs for casual practice and nothing for combat rolls. But if doing lots of rolling like in a class a mask is very nice. nose plugs slip off and eyes can burn a bit after lots of dunkings. A dive type mask won't slip off the nose and gives you crystal clear vision to help you stay relaxed and do things like follow a blade while rolling.
  boat choice
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-12-12 10:07 AM (EST)
For initial pool sessions I wouldn't worry about using a boat similar to the one you own. Find one in which you have a fairly snug fit.

When you initially get in a snug-fitting boat it may feel like you will have difficulty getting out of it upside down. I think you will find that when you are inverted, pop the skirt and everything is wet, you will be able to slide out just fine. The water lubricates everything and gravity is more or less working in your favor or is not a factor, since you will be essentially weightless in the water.

A snug fit will allow your lower body movements to be more effectively translated to the boat for bracing, rolling, and bow rescues. Once you have worked on these in the pool, you will be more comfortable doing the same with your boat in protected, outdoor waters.
  Confluence seat attachments
  Posted by: edzep on Oct-09-12 6:55 PM (EST)
As previously noted, the Tempest has a set of holes in the seat pan, for attachment. I recently got a Wavesport WW boat, sister brand to Wilderness Systems. Similar seat pan. Only difference in attachment is that the seat pan is slotted, and, instead of individual nuts, there's a single, threaded backer plate to accomodate both machine screws. So, it's easy to adjust, with just a Phillips screwdriver. Loosen --> slide seat --> tighten. So, they _could_ make it that easy on the sea kayaks, but just don't see it as necessary.
  damn you done good so far...
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Oct-12-12 11:14 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-12-12 11:17 AM EST --

You started off well. Nice purchase!

I'd echo what jay posted: wear your pfd. And learn a wet exit ASAP - if the water's cold and you have the right protection, you'll be fine - maybe splash some cold water on the back of your neck to minimize the shock.

After a wet exit I'd do what Hutchinson recommended and learn to be comfortable upside-down in your boat. wear a mask and noseplugs, use a snorkel with an extension if necessary - whatever it takes to gain that comfort. That will help you with rolls.

Next I'd learn a good forward stroke and commit it to memory.

Next I'd just get out and paddle often which sounds like it won't be a problem! Then you're on to either lessons or instruction regarding edging, low and high bracing, rolls, corrective strokes and so on. You'll need all of these to get out in unprotected water but if you have the desire you'll do it.

You sound just like me when I went from a rec kayak to sea kayaking, except you gave yourself a better start with gear.

  Posted by: old_user on Oct-14-12 9:45 PM (EST)
I just got home a little while ago from my Rescue Class. It was held in a fitness club's heated pool, which is great, since the water temps in the Willamette River this time a year are probably lower 50's by now.

The boats they used are all the same... Custom Designs plastic boats, and from what I can tell, they're right in between my Tempest 165 and Essence 17 in terms of size/volume. They were 13-14' boats, since there's only so much room in the pool.

At the other end of the pool was the rescue class. They used the same boats too, so I know what I'll be in two weekends from now when I have that class.

Anyway... I picked up nose plugs, which are a good thing. They don't stay on well, but that's okay. They protect the initial sinus drenching. I wore mine the first two times, then forgot them the third time and that wasn't terribly pleasant. So I stuck with them for subsequent dunkings.

Wet exits are pretty straight forward. It does feel a little odd being upside down, but I have no trouble reaching the "ejection strap" as I call it. The main thing was learning to relax and do what I needed to do rather than being in a rush to get out.

During one rescue attempt (when I was the rescuer), due to a poor hold on the other boat, I ended up going over. What's interesting is that I capsized while leaning backward. So it took a moment to realize I had to bend forward and grab the strap to get out, since my initial reaction was surprise, especially when I didn't come right out. That was a good thing to experience in a controlled environment, especially since it was unplanned and without nose plugs.

I was really glad to get experience with the self-rescues, since I will be paddling alone most of the time, up until I get into ocean paddling sometime next Summer. I liked the paddle float method best. She taught us the cowboy method too, but I wouldn't attempt it unless it was an emergency or warm weather (and in flatwater), because it's waaaay too much work/exhausting to have to do more than once.

And, while it may not be as comfortable, it's best to have your PFD snugged up as much as you can stand it before you go in the water. It makes all the difference when you're all wet and bobbing about. :)

Tomorrow, unless the weather totally sucks, I'm going to see about moving the seat in the Tempest back a little bit. I think that'll do the trick. The Custom Designs boat I was in today actually had a fore/aft seat adjustment!! So yeah, time to do that, get used to the Tempest, and sell off the other one, and use the money to buy a dry suit. This wet suit crap isn't gonna cut it for winter paddling. :)


  Hood, gloves and a big jacket or cag too
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-14-12 10:07 PM (EST)
Extremities tend to be a problem, and when you do need to stop in cold weather you'll want to add a layer.

I would suggest that you take a little more time messing with the cowboy if you have it. The Tempest is a friendly boat for that, and once you are in cold water you run into the issue of hands that start to get uncooperative. The cowboy, once mastered, is less dependent on having all the fingers working well than messing with a paddle float.

Sounds like you had a good time.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-15-12 2:09 PM (EST)

That's a good point. I'll have to try it with the Tempest when I can. I'm not going to willingly dump in the cold water (at least not until I have a dry suit), so it'll have to wait til warmer weather, or if I somehow manage to get it into a pool.

Now, that being said, if I do happen to go over on my own, I now will probably try the cowboy at least once just to get the heck out of the cold water quickly. :)

The boats we used there in the pool seemed very tippy. VERY easy to capsize, and very easy to tip 'em over when climbing back in. I don't recall my two boats have much better initial stability.

BTW, I wrote a blog post about both of my classes... they're up here: with more detail than I posted here. Even some photos.

  Bow rescue
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-15-12 2:17 PM (EST)
What you term an "assisted roll" in your blog is more widely known as a bow rescue or "Eskimo rescue".
  heel hook
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Oct-15-12 2:23 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-15-12 2:30 PM EST --

nice blog report. Like many, you found the heel hook difficult but with just a bit of practice it actually takes less physical effort. I learned to use the outside and not inside leg in the cockpit first. I think it's easier that way. The key is to elongate your body by reaching for your rescuer's boat near the stern of your boat. This avoid the butt hanging far out requiring more effort for you and torquing the boat more for the rescuer -- you want your body more flush with your boat as you roll in. The heel hook rescue is especially good for anyone that is either weak upper body or large upper body.

  Posted by: Celia on Oct-15-12 2:42 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-15-12 4:01 PM EST --

EVERYONE recapsizes a lot when they are first learning self-rescues, in just about all of the rescues. Balance has to be learned.

Re the Cowboy, getting over the back of the boat gets fairly simple in a kayak like the Tempest once you get your balance down enough that you can start well to the back of the boat. The further back you are, the easier it is to get over the boat because you can actually push it under you.

The downside of this is that, the further back you go to make it easy to get securely over the boat, the further you have to go without capsizing to make it into the cockpit. Hence the reason I have said that lower decked boats are better in this regard - lower center of gravity, closer to the water, you have a little more head room before you are swimming again.

There is a basic trick that you really should experiment with when the water temps and your clothing agree. That is to take the boat into fairly shallow water, so that you aren't killing yourself dumping out the water after every capsize, and literally climb around on the top of the boat. Stern to bow, sit up on the deck, turn around while sitting up, learn to use your paddle to help as a slight outrigger without a paddle float on it... once you can manage this all of the self-rescues get much easier.

I haven't looked at your blog yet, but you should also start to use the correct terms for things. Otherwise you will get a lot of terribly misdirected advice.

  Posted by: jcbikeski on Oct-15-12 3:46 PM (EST)
I've found you need to experiment and find the one spot that is best for you in your boat to climb up. As said further back is less effort but more balance so you need to find the happy medium for you. The higher the deck the further back you may need to go, but further back is both more tippy and requires a longer journey to the cock pit. Personally I like to come up as far back as possible and yet still just being able to reach the cockpit with my hand. This way once on the deck my hand on the cockpit helps me start working forward. The other key is to get the hang of getting your belly button over the deck in one move then turn and keep moving to the cockpit -- this require practice to make that first push is just big enough without throwing yourself over the far side (a bit more rare). Experiment and learn where on the boat and how big a lunge to first make. For many I would also suggest using the paddle float but try to put less and less pressure on the paddle. Eventually many paddlers don't even bother bringing the paddle float.
  The Absolute Best
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-15-12 5:33 PM (EST)
self rescue is a roll. The second best is a re-enter and roll. The best way to avoid needing a rescue is a strong, reliable brace. Learn those things early on. After awhile they aren't just skills but a lot of fun.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-15-12 9:41 PM (EST)
I've been practicing braces already. I rather like them. Especially yesterday in the pool... while waiting around watching the other two guys rescue each other, I would practice tipping and bracing.

BTW, I moved the Tempest seat back tonight. I ended up moving it back one bolt hole, so that I'm only using one bolt per side. I decided this was better than drilling another hole. I still have to put some sealant over the one remaining hole, though.

That adjustment moved the seat back about 1-3/4.". That's as far back as it's going anyway. I couldn't get the seat OUT of the kayak without risking never being able to get it back in. But at least I had the chance to move it way forward and clean under it with some cleaner and paper towels before bolting everything back together.

So with that done, I climbed back in, repositioned and secured the thigh braces, reset the foot braces, and it feels a heck of a lot better now. Now I'm eager to take it out and see how it feels. I'm supposed to go tomorrow after work, but we'll see how the weather goes. If it's pouring rain, it may dampen my enthusiasm.

I want to edit my blog post to use the correct terms... so, the Eskimo Rescue is the one where you pull yourself up onto the deck (assisted), as opposed to the heel hook? And is that one called the Heel Hook? What's the one in between (the one I called the Vee Method)? Thanks!

  bow rescue
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-15-12 9:53 PM (EST)
The bow rescue, aka. "Eskimo rescue" is an assisted rescue in which the rescuer makes the bow of his or her boat available to the person who has capsized.

When attempting the bow rescue as the rescuee it is important to grab the bow of the rescuer's boat with both hands, then bring your head up so that your hands are in front of your face.

It is a not uncommon beginner's mistake to bring the head up in front of the hands, which doesn't work well and potentially puts the shoulders in a vulnerable position. Once you have your hands on the rescuer's boat, put your head on your hands and keep it there as you roll your boat back up with your lower body.
  Rescue Names
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-16-12 12:06 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-16-12 10:12 AM EST --

Rescues are either self rescues or assisted rescues to start with. The there are types of each.

Eskimo rescue - this part edited out because I may be out of date.

Note that coming in at an actual perpendicular angle on the Eskimo bow presentation is a pretty good way to blow the rescue by bumping the boat of the person you plan to save away from you unless you have very tight boat control. Most coaches I've dealt with the last few years favor more of an angle, even sliding your boat along the upturned hull to plop your bow into the rescuee's hands.

Your blog also shows a paddle shaft presentation of this rescue - the woman is doing it - but that requires a fairly good degree of boat control and a willingness to come in pretty hard and fast. It is not likely you'll be getting to that one a lot quite yet.

I've seen what you called the Vee Rescue called a couple of things, usually involving shoulder in the name or between boat at times, but be aware that one is less well liked by many because it is a dandy way to blow out a shoulder.

The Heel Hook has the heel going into the boat first, the one on the side furthest from the boat, and there is both an assisted and a paddle-float self rescue version of same.

The Cowboy and the Ladder are pretty much the same self-rescue, and there is a ladder version of an assisted rescue.

  T rescue
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-16-12 8:42 AM (EST)
T rescue is a term that is also applied to a boat-over-boat rescue in which the capsized craft is drawn over the rescue craft near amidships upside down to empty it of water.
  Yeah Man!
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-16-12 4:57 AM (EST)
Congratulations on the seat move. It makes a big difference for a lot of folks.

You might consider looking at Eric Jackson's DVD. He teaches how to plop your head and shoulders into the water then brace up.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-17-12 10:31 PM (EST)
I finally got out today with the Tempest. The seat changes were a definite improvement, but it's far from done.

The fore-aft positioning is great. I also removed the hip pads because it was too tight with them in. I could see maybe making my own about half as thick sometime later.

The thigh braces need a bit more adjustment. I left my screwdriver at home so couldn't do anything on the water. But the biggest problem is the seat bottom and seat back. I think I need to just replace that seat with one of the molded ones from a composite boat. The one in that SEDA that I paddled in the Kayaking Essentials class was awesome, even without padding.

The current seat bottom angle is all wrong. Even with the front lifted up, it isn't supportive enough, and that's what is setting off my sciatic nerves. The Perception's seat is much better in that regard. The bottom isn't adjustable, but it's already at a good angle. Unfortunately it's too wide to fit in the Tempest or I'd swap it in.

And then there's the issue of the seatback, which I still say is too flimsy.

So.. I need to find a place to order a seat. Then I think the Tempest will be golden. I went ahead and put the Perception up on Craigslist too.. maybe I can get it gone and use that money on a dry suit.

  Improving support under thighs
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-17-12 10:53 PM (EST)
You can glue in shaped minicell in front of the seat to extend the support from the seat bottom. Others here have done it.

That said, when is the rolling class? That will tell you more about how that seat needs to be set, may be a better idea to wait if it isn't too far off.

Obviously waiting is not something you love to do, but before you spend money on messing with the seat...
  Posted by: edzep on Oct-17-12 11:07 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-17-12 11:08 PM EST --

Getting a good non-OEM seat in a kayak is a non-trivial exercise. Having built a handful of kayaks, I tend to prefer carved foam. Doing it yourself can be satisfying, but may also be frustrating and expensive (like, if you mess up your slab of 4-inch thick minicel, which is expensive to begin with). Another possibility is to either get a full custom foam seat from Redfish kayaks, or get a bottom piece with butt-print pre-carved in it, from Redfish, then, you'd shape the block to the hull outlines, yourself. Probably use Velcro to hold it in place. Oh, the WS seat pan does provide a bit of structure, but, I doubt if it's enough to be critical.

  Thigh supprt
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on Oct-18-12 8:30 AM (EST)
An easy way to deal with that is with a paddle float. Inflate it and place it under your legs in front of the seat. Adjust it for height by inflating or deflating. Another tip is to be sure you are alternating pressure on the foot supports. When paddling on the right, push with your right foot and relax the left and vice versa. Finally you will likely find that with experience you will want little or no back support and a seat that is hard and smooth rather than padded. Both facilitate torso rotation.
  Seats, Class, Etc.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-18-12 8:49 PM (EST)

Rolling Class is Sunday the 28th, the day after my class with Nigel Foster, which is an extension of the Kayaking Essentials class I already took.

I'm in no rush to replace the seat; I'm still fairly broke. I'll keep trying to make this one work. I like the suggestion of putting foam under it. That may be a good way to go. For the seatback, I can get a replacement for about $45 that will be much more rigid than the wet noodle in there now. I'd rather take more time and learn more about the boat and see how my needs change with experience than throw money at it.

Speaking of that, I just sold the Perception Essence 17 today. A real nice guy, perfectly sized for it, just took it away. Now I think I'm going to order a dry suit. NRS has a closeout on a real nice one that's supposed to breath very well. I'm really warm-blooded so I worry about sweating like mad in one if it isn't super cold out. I wonder if I should start a separate thread about that. :)

  Posted by: landsharc on Oct-19-12 10:00 AM (EST)
I have a tempest and needed to "firm" up the back band and leg lifters. it was flimsy feeling. I put some foam under the leg riser so it it wasnt just "hanging" from the straps on the side. worked great. then, I ran bungie through the slots at the seat sides where the hip pads run through (i removed the pads) and ran the bungie over where the bottm strap connects to the middle of the band. The back band now stays low and is firm. ( could do any adjustment & it will feel firmer this way) of course you could just change it out but this worked and the t band is not a bad back band as far as back bands go, i feel.
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-22-12 10:45 AM (EST)
PERFECT!! Awesome idea, the bungee on the back band. I have a ton of bungees of various lengths so I'll try that.

For the seat bottom, my initial plan was to use both of my bilge sponges for the time being, to test height and firmness.

  Two more classes...
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-28-12 9:58 PM (EST)
My whole weekend's been taken up with classes this time. Saturday was Nigel Foster's Directional Control class, and today was Rolling.

Saturday's class covered waaay too much stuff to even attempt to describe much of it here. Suffice it to say, it was really awesome. There are so many "finer" strokes and variations on strokes that it will take time to get good at them. It's not unlike the difference between hitting a tennis ball back and forth over the net and actually learning to play Tennis well (I've played since high school so I can say that). :)

Nigel's boat control is just plain amazing. Watching him do stuff with that paddle is wild.

Rolling today was fun! I had to quit early because I was getting nauseous, though. I dunno if it was because I had lunch on the way to class, or what. I got that way yesterday after lunch too, so I suspect it was food-related.

Anyway, I learned a LOT. I know what people mean now about how boat sizing and fit will affect ability to roll. The boats we had didn't have hip pads, so they were fairly loose on me. They were also higher-volume. Not as big as my Essence 17 was, but definitely bigger than my Tempest and bigger than the composite boats we used in the other classes. Still, I was able to do it. I almost had the technique down when I started feeling woozy and had to get out.

I got to play with a Greenland paddle too. It was the second of the three paddles we played with during rolling. We started out with a regular paddle with a foam paddle float on the end, to practice laying sideways in the water, before moving on to actual capsizes. But then later he had us using the greenland paddle and gripping it at the blade end and using it's full length to sweep ourselves back upright. I got to paddle with it a little bit (given the small area of the pool, and I really like it. A friend is a wood-worker so I'm going to see about having him help me carve one.

I'll take the rolling class again in the Spring before I get ready to head to the ocean. I want to take some ocean paddling classes too. I don't dare attempt it without having had some instruction (and some people to go with).

But after all this, I think my Tempest is the right boat, at least for right now. I will want something bigger (capacity-wise) for trips eventually, but it's way too early to even think about that right now. Like, I paddled a Seaward Legend yesterday and while it seemed like a nice boat, it felt very tippy and for that reason alone, I didn't like it. I've chalked it up to inexperience for the time being.

Oh.. I put a couple of short rubber bungee straps around the backband of my seat. I haven't paddled it like that yet, but just sitting it it, it feels a whole lot better. Ditto with the two sponges jammed beneath the front of the seat.

I haven't updated my blog with posts about the two classes yet; hopefully in the next couple of days (if not sooner).


  rolling and nausea
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-29-12 8:12 AM (EST)
Years ago I gave up eating lunch on river trips as I found that any significant exertion right after a sizable meal tended to produce nausea. And if you ever take a bad swim in white water after having a big lunch, you will probably wish you had gone without.

Some people will experience dizziness and/or nausea due to water entering the ear canal. This is more commonly a problem with cold water, but even pool water is cooler than body temperature. If nausea after rolling remains a problem even on an empty stomach, you might want to give ear plugs like Doc's a try:

If you can roll a boat that is loose in the hips, you will very likely be able to roll one that is properly padded out. It is possible to brace yourself into a boat without hip pads using your feet and knees to some extent, but there is still going to be some slop when you hip snap. This is especially true for a roll with a rather explosive hip snap (like the C-to-C), less so for a sweep roll or Greenland style roll. Boats used by clubs for pool sessions and clinics are often left unpadded or minimally padded so that they can accommodate paddlers of any size.

Nowadays white water kayaks come with readily or instantly adjustable outfitting. Back in the day, it was necessary to glue in minicell foam padding and carve it and shape it to fit. Nearly all beginning white water kayakers started out with a fit that was too loose for fear of not being able to easily exit, and progressively added more padding when they figured out that they could easily exit even a boat that felt quite tight.

You might be able to roll a loose boat in a still pool, but rolling in current, waves, or highly aerated water is another thing entirely and you want to give yourself as big a margin for success as you can.
  good idea
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-29-12 11:38 AM (EST)
Good idea on the ear plugs. That might have something to do with it too. I do tend to get water in my ears pretty bad when I've been capsizing in class and have to shake my head to get it out when I come back up. I also managed to swallow a small amount of pool water because I tried to roll once without my nose plugs.. that was a stupid idea. :)

  Second the doc's plugs (vented)
  Posted by: Celia on Oct-29-12 3:12 PM (EST)
They'll send you a little chart to pick the right size first, but they are way worth the extra time. he vented ones don't leak at all but do allow you to hear, and help both to prevent otitis and some with nausea.

Get colored ones, tethered. Once an untethered clear one ends up in the water you'll never find it.e
  Thank you!
  Posted by: old_user on Oct-30-12 10:49 AM (EST)
Thank you, Celia! That chart will be just what I need to pick the right size. I'll definitely get a pair.

I also plan to get one of those neopreme balaclava things. NRS has one with a built-in "bill" for $35.

The nausea didn't go away until the end of yesterday. I was still feeling it yesterday afternoon when I got home from work. This morning it's a lot better.. haven't felt it yet.

Hoping to go out Friday but the river is up to 12' and flow is at 33k cfs, normally 10-13k, so I'm wondering. May decide to wait.

  Not Stupid
  Posted by: Kudzu on Oct-30-12 8:06 AM (EST)
You need to practice rolling without nose plugs now and then. The trick is to slowly exhale through your nose as you roll. Make it a habit to push a little air out with the nose plugs on and you'll never have to think about it.

  cold water vertigo
  Posted by: Morayreef on Oct-29-12 1:42 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-30-12 4:44 AM EST --

Google 'cold water vertigo'

I suffer from cold water vertigo, rolling in warm water, like a pool, no problems, repeated practice rolls in cold water (low-mid 50's) and I'm hurling. The amount of food in my system has nothing to do with my nausea, no food and I dry heave.

Google has lots of info, ear plugs (docs) work for me when practicing. A tightly fitting neoprene balaclava works when playing in places I'm likely to capsize to keep water out of my ears.



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