When gaining experience in paddle sports such as canoeing and kayaking, you may want to see what experiences in river traversal you can learn about that will become more and more essential as you get more experience. This article is a great resource for some important skills to be aware of as you gain confidence, specifically going through rivers.
Here are 30 of some of the most invaluable skills needed for river running:
1. Know the flow rate and capacity of the water:
This is important to know in case of the danger of floods or a high river. That can be planned for if you know the behavior of the river according to different seasons.
2. Do it with more experienced people:
It is perfectly normal for most people to go on a guided rafting or kayaking adventure with little to no experience. That is the best way to start.
3. Seal Launch
- First, picking a launch zone that is open enough and in deep water is best. Hold the paddle with your control hand, and at the same time, use your other hand to push off.
- It is best to aim to run at an 80 to 90-degree angle. This is necessary for the rocker to help with breaking the surface. The angle must be considered when dropping steeply into the river.
4. Scouting a Rapid:
This is a crucial way to plan for and understand how you should get through rapids and navigate wild water. To get the best picture of a section of the river, it's best to look at the river from different positions above and below the rapid or section of water you are navigating.
5. The J-Stroke:
The J-stroke is so named because it is a movement of a forward stroke that makes a J-shape. That can let you steer the canoe without switching around your grip or sides. First, by doing a forward stroke, as you draw the paddle back to the end of the stroke, the paddle face should turn from the normal paddle position (that is flat against any current) into a cutting position away from the canoe.
6. The Forward Stroke:
If anything, starting as a newer canoeist, the forward stroke is important to get right. The technique should look and feel like it is being done easily.
- First, start with the blade near the water at knee level and place your grip at chin level. Then push the grip hand forward and downwards, almost in a lever motion. The lower hand should go towards the gunwale and work as a traveling fulcrum.
- As the grip hand gets closer to the gunwale, roll or twist the thumb down. This is done to set the blade up for a correction stroke. After the grip hand push, then, your arms should relax and let your bottom hand trail behind you smoothly as you do a correction stroke.
- Return to an upright position like how you started and feather the paddle's blade out for recovery. From here, starts the new stroke, be careful with the grip arm and do not over-extend it above your head but keep it close to your knees.
7. Be aware of the shoulder movement
Find ways to ease through a movement rather than letting the force of the water pull your shoulder back too far. To avoid unnecessary injury, always keep your arms in front of you.
8. Use bigger muscles to stay safe:
This point could be considered a supplement to protecting your shoulders. Keeping your arms straight ensures more travel with the paddle and puts full body weight and force into paddling rather than just your arms.
9. Practice the right of way and respect others at intersections.
Trust that there will be points where you will have to let other boaters pass around you at some point in an expedition. So, be aware of others and make sure they are aware of you politely and respectfully.
10. Dress for conditions and conserve body heat.
It Is super important to have layers of protection from the cold, such as having hand or feet warmers meant to be used in water. Remember, the body can lose heat by evaporation, radiation, convection, and conduction.
11. Understand STOP & GO signals:
To do a stop signal, hold arms outstretched and have them horizontal to the ground or hold the paddle over your head horizontally. To do a signal, hold one arm straight up or your paddle vertically from shoulder height.
12. Understand OK and HELP Signals:
Here's how to do a HELP signal; Wave both arms overhead to form a V or an X with arms or by using paddles and waving them side to side.
13. Set a Dislocated Shoulder:
It is important to treat an injury as soon as possible, no matter how small it might be. This is the case with shoulder dislocation, and the shoulder to be reset before the spasm becomes serious. First, put the injured person against a tree.
- Then, tie a loop of webbing tightly around their chest while securing it to the tree. Next, kneel(on one side) while facing the victim, hold the injured arm in the direction of the dislocation, and hold the elbow bent at 90 degrees.
- Put a second loop around your hips and the injured arm. It is then necessary to lean backward and, at the same time, bend towards the shoulder to increase traction, which will relax muscles in the shoulder enough to put it back into place. Be prepared to take several minutes to do it.
14. Find the best and shortest walk-out point:
This comes down to knowing when and where the best is starting or, more specifically, exit points where you can easily get your vessel to land when time is of the essence.
15.Sit Straight up:
Having correct posture and being aware of when you are not exercising good posture will create muscle fatigue and balance issues. It's important to know that sitting with a straight back will ultimately lessen stress on your upper body.
16. Steer at the end:
The ability to create turns at the end of an arc while paddling is a good way of controlling the kayak or canoe. This turning can be done by sweeping a paddle or tracing broad arcs toward the bow or stern.
17. Find a Group:
With any hobby, knowing people with that, you can go out on an adventure with great in any dangerous hobby or sport.
18. Boat Packing:
Securing a load of gear in your boat is better than not having it freely moving around. Use sturdy straps to keep gear secure for long trips.
19. Hours of Daylight:
Be aware of how much traveling you can do in one day when expediting. You will have no advantages running through technical rapids or surprise waterfalls at night.
20. Have The Right Boat:
Whitewater rivers are meant for small, maneuverable kayaks, canoes do better in more calm waters, and whitewater rafting is a good in-between but demands teamwork because of how technical it can be.
21. Have Correct Footwear:
A good water shoe can go a long way in a closed kayak. It is never good to have open-toed shoes. The reason is from crush injuries that can lead to toenail delamination from a healing injury.
22. Know Different Strokes:
As with the two strokes shown in this article, there are more that can be specifically used for canoeing and kayaking. Naturally, as your skills evolve, you will come across newer and more efficient ways of doing the same movements.
23. Know how to swim in a River:
One of the hardest things to do while kayaking is to bail out of your boat in white water (especially in a kayak). But it does happen and when it does, knowing how to swim out of rapids is necessary, even if it's just a half-assed breaststroke if you can get to calmer water, that's what it will take.
24. Know how to Execute a Roll:
When you hit the broadside of a rock or something that would knock you over.
This skill is specific to doing whitewater rafting in a team. However, it is a necessary skill to know, no matter what knowledge and type of boat you are using. A high side is when the raft gets caught on top of a rock or obstacle. To maneuver the raft of the rock, redistribute weight off the obstacle so it can be freed from it. If done right, it will keep a reversal from happening.
26. Rig a Deadman Anchor:
This type of anchoring can be done without trees. The way to do it is; First by digging a 2-foot deep hole for the anchoring point. Then bury your paddle or something similar in size and shape with a webbing loop that extends out of the hole. Next, cover the hole with sand and pack it down to hold the weight, and then tie off the weight to the anchor.
27. Live Bait Rescue:
This is a very technical way to rescue someone who may be trapped or injured, and they are more than likely in a panicked state. It requires two rescuers, one to hold the weight and one to go into the water. The on-land support rescuer is holding the weight and should be in a stable place sitting. A belay is necessary from the dry rescuers' end and braces for when the swimmers are about to pass and flop into the water close enough to catch them by their lifejackets (PFDs). When the rescuer can grab the swimmer(s) from behind, it will be easier, especially if they panic and can be pulled ashore.
28. The T-Rescue:
This is a simple rescue maneuver that can be done to assist a flipped boat. It is done by the second boat making a T to the first boat and making contact for either helping push or pull the capsized boat with the help of someone able to make adjustments and using their hips for lifting power.
29. Learn The Hand Of God:
A hand of God maneuver is secondary to a T-rescue and when it cannot work. The way it's done is first by pulling up next to the boat that is in danger. Then reaching across the hull that is overturned. Have both hands placed on the hull and the far side nearest to you. . Next, at the same time, push down and pull up on each side of the boat, and it will flip the boat over.
30. Entering and Exiting a kayak from the Shore:
This may seem like a simple set of maneuvers for launching and landing a kayak, but it can be a little more complicated than expected. One of the issues is how wobbly the kayak may be, but here is a way to prevent it; By putting your paddle back and extending it to the shore after that, grab the shaft and cockpit rim of the kayak, and this will help create an outrigger for stability.
After that, it is OK to ease into the kayak a foot at a time.