SEARCHING FOR PHOTOS & PROSE
With Kayaks, Mountain bikes, Backpacks, Daypacks, Walking Sticks, Fishing Poles—and an Airstream Travel Trailer
©Bert Gildart: Bottom line, I guess, is that I made one successful roll during my second lesson last night with Sue Conrad of Silver Moon Kayak Company. But I had believed that after I rolled the kayak—once—I’d then be able to perform the roll with grace and precision hence forth and forever more.
A modicum of success does not confer talent. Excellence in rolling a kayak derives from much continued practice, for there is so much that goes into a successful roll that although you might luck out—once—fine tuning the skill requires dedication. But one roll is a start, and after watching a training video dozen of times, I understand the concepts. My target’s in sight.
The proper roll starts with the “set up,” a position in which you lean hard into the side of the kayak at an angle of about 10 o’clock to your craft’s long axis. Then you dump—on purpose. Then, from an upside down position you check that the shaft of your paddle is parallel to the side of the kayak and slightly above the water’s surface. And here’s where it really gets tough.
In theory, you are supposed to then sweep the surface of the water, blade angled in such a way that it doesn’t dig into the water. If your blade is angled the slightest bit it will dig down hard, and, as Sue says, “It will throw you out of your roll.”
I know exactly what she’s saying, and am a textbook example of falling out of the roll.
At the same time you are skimming the surface of the water with your blade, you are supposed to be executing a flip of the hip, and if done properly, the entire action is smooth and graceful. That, I can see is going to take practice, but since I have now rolled a kayak—once—I am encouraged to sweep on.
Nevertheless, I lack total confidence, and think I could use one more lesson. Sue believes that might be beneficial, but then spoke words that were music to my ears. “After that,” she laughed, “I’m gonna’ have to wean you from your instructor. I think you’re about ready to face the world alone.”
As I’ve said to others, “If I can do it, I suspect anyone determined to do so can also do it.”
Just find yourself a good instructor, and then be ready to spend lots of time practicing. But think of the rewards of being able to look the world in the eye and say, “I can roll a kayak.”