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Water paddling

Published: 12.7.2007
Before our first sailing. Is it a taste to try? Our more experienced friends ( if they tried to sail for the first time last year) give us more advice in many aspects. So, we decided to sail for the first time, whatever reasons are available?

In that case, we recommend you to visit the lean-office or renowned travel agencies. Here you will be supplied with all materials and documents necessary for your first excursion on the river. An experienced guide will be fully at your disposal. He informs you how to carry the boat, how to hold the paddle, way of getting into canoe or kayak, he advises you regarding the stability and your first contacts (drives). However, the loan-offices do not offer this service in some cases. Its interest is to loan the vessel assuming that the customers knows how to paddle. In better case, they recommend to obtain the swimming waistcoat. Within the first navigation, it depends more on a situation, if you enjoy the drive on canoe or kayak. Its importance has the weather, water-level, instruction-man, the group of friends and other aspects. If in our first drive totally fails, rains and is cold, we overturn five-times , our luncheon including rum-bottle is get drowned , or this bald-headed man interefered into driving line – a trap-door. We could not have a grudge against this activity immediately for the first time. Let´s try it for the second time , with other group of friends on different river at other season-period. To tell the truth, starting in bathing-drawers on inundated Sázava-river in March is not the good choice!

Let´s try to quote in short the bases of paddle-technique on canoe and kayak. The description of separate elements is one point of view, its execution is the second point. Having a little of skill, we overcome it. Anyway, it is a better thing , when our friend corrects us the errors made from the very beginning. We know later if it is done in good or bad manner as our bad execution of a contact may cause that the boat does not execute what we wish.
The pictures tell you more as two pages of description. For mastering of paddle technique it is important to have the „feeling“ of security in a boat. The lower body-part from waist down rules and secures the boat-stability, the upper body-part we use for arrangement
of inclination, especially for the boat-motion ahead, or to the place we need. In order to rule well the boat-stability by our lower body-part, we have to be „joined together“ with a boat in three fixed points. In case of kayak, this is a seat-place and thighs- or knees-leaning against supports in kayak. As to canoe, it is seat-place again and knees-leaning, provided we kneel in a boat and our legs are under a seat. Provided we sit , we lean the thighs or knees against both sides of canoe. It is not important if one leg is wrinkled and the second leg stretched or both legs stretched. We can then to rule the boat safely. Would you try it on a calm, not deeply water. It is good to learn using the lower and upper body-parts independently on each other. The trunk, being out of the boat, is kept straight, and by means of sides and thigths we fix the boat-stability and rule it in inclinations. On the contrary, if we lean out the upper body-part, while paddling, the boat should remain in a calm position, attention, not to incline. We try this experience, while we learn the paddling.The second experience, which is to be recommended to be done before paddle-starting (again in a safety place and under a range of sight), is an upsetting. Some people are afraid of upsetting (especially in case of kayak) , as they fear that remain wedged in a boat and cannotbe reached out. Would you try to capsize with paddle in hand in hot summer afternoon in a water, where there is no stream. The boat must be turned round with the bottom upwords, otherwise the leg coud be seized under the seat and you will be getting out with difficulties.Afterthat you fall out of canoe, in case of kayak you have to do under the water something as a circling and you reach the water-level without problems. Provided there is a problem „head under the water“ would you use a rack on your nose ear-packings. If it is a psychical affair only, would you cure of it. Would you learn to forward the boat to the bank. We advise, not to turn round the boat with a bottom upwards to a water immediately, first of all would you pour out the water , lift up moderately and put in a swimming position. Swimming in a dressing, better in a swimming waistcoat, is a good experience. It is something different as in bathing-drawers on swimming pool. So, you can pass to paddling.
The drive ahead in canoe and kayak - the contacts are lead along the boat-side, in order the boat could go ahead as quick as possible and not to be wound from one side to the opposite.
Kayak is driven by the contacts along both boat-sides. As to canoe: the driving is ruled by back and helmsman, who is sitting back.
As soon as we enjoy the paddling, we learn the basic contacts, how to drive the boat and the other interesting things about water become attractive for us, we can think over the equipment. We wish to mention it in more detailed way.

Now, we have the boat, paddles and all necessary things which we need for navigation, available, However, it is not sufficient to descent the river, if it seems to be according to the friends´ information without problem.
The experience is missing. If we learn to drive the boat in good way on a pond, it is O.K., but on the river there is completely different. The water is streaming, knocks at obstacles and behaves in other way as it is calm. Provided the wind starts blowing on a pond, we have to learn to go in waves, and this requires a skill. It would be better to run into a waves vertically, but a boat could be sprinkled across the point. We can overcome it while running in a slantindicular way into waves, but this trick requires an experience. The same is valid for running water.
We would learn the „water reading“. Provided we do not „read“ something, we stop and have a look from a short distance or we consult the matter with our friends. We decide after how to drive through this point. It is similar as we cannot read or understand something ( the same as in case foreign language and dictionary).
Let´s give a brief outline of situations on the river:

How to mount and not to be overturned? Thanks to the plastic boats enabling to mount on a bank and then push into a water, this art is disappearing. Nobody desires to fall down with kayak of the rock, of course, in case of upsetting to lift up with the eskimo turn and drive away.
If we need to mount to a boat from the high bank or with laminate boat on stones, it is good to use the support of a paddle on the bank while mounting. The important rule on streaming water – to mount with a point against the stream.
How to put off the bank? We are sitting in a boat and wish to go ahead. If we have the boat-point along the stream and the river flows lithely , we have the problem to reach the middle of the river. The reason is that at the bank there is a water slower as in the middle – in a streaming - and does not let us free. In case there are willow-trees or other trees along the bank, we remain to be hung here (in a better case), if it is worse, the water upsets us under boughs and trees, and this is very dangerous. It is advantageous, from this reason (if the creek is not more narrow as the length of our boat) to mount with a boat-point against the stream and at floating away we use the stream-power for rotation and so we get easily to the middle of the river. We must not, however, in case of vigorous stream, to forget the boat incline at those side we turne of the bank. If we do not this manoeuvre, the stream overturns the boat.
How to land? We need to know always safely, for instance in front of the weir or fallen tree. In general, it is similar as in case of navigation of a bank. We direct against the bank with a point of our boat, and, if it is possible, we choose the place where there is return-stream or a calm place, we go across slantindicularly a place where the stream changes to a calm water or counter-stream and enter into quiet and safe water. Anyway, attention for impetus, which has always the boat at the certain speed.
How to avoid the stones or other obstacles? We learned some contacts with canoe or kayak, so we you it for manoeuvres of boat in a stream also. However, we have to calculate with the stream and its power and to take advantage of it. We can get it by means of experience only, it is quite difficult to describe any situation which may occure.
How to go throughout the rapid? If we do not know what to do, let´s straight ahead. The boat in a straight raid on an obstacle sustains unbelievable things. It is better to knock against a stone with a point as aside.(with side) In case of front collision the boat can turned round and floated into upleasant places, but this probabilty is less as in case of side collision.
Side collision is always dangerous. When it happens so, that the water pushes us against an obstacle (stone, trunk) let´s incline to this obstacle. The water will flow under the boat and we can get off ourselves of this unpleasant situation or wait for a help of our friends. The drive throughout the rapids is stipulated by succesfuul keeping away from obstacles. It is true, sometimes there it is necessary to overcome the hindrance, to go across the watered stone or drive throughout the biggest waves.
How to evade the waves? This requires much experience, great waves do not injure us directly. However, they could hide another dangerous hindrance – a stone or roller. Provided we do not desire in well-known area, we try to avoid the waves and drive at its edges following the road line ahead carefully.
How to drive throughout the roller? If it is impossible to avoid the roller , we do our best to drive through by means of quick straight raid. Provided we are not succesfull, so the overturning and dangerous situation follows. It depends on „character“ of roller. There are the other techniques for roller-overcome but we do not recommend to try it to the beginners.
Security first of all – provided you do not wish to be written into a „black cronicle“.
The situation which can occur on a water, cannot be described in short. The experience and practice only learn us to solve the problems in an effective and safe way.
As soon as we master the paddling technique and learn to read the water, the information received will be very important. We find most information in special publications about rivers or on internet or from our experienced friends directly. We should know from where the river can be descended. How is the suitable water-level for floating of the section chosen ?
Is it an optimal state for river-floating in this season period ? How is the weather like , provided we decide for camping in an open air ? Does our equipment correspond to the river-section chosen ? Would it be necessaary to pack water-proof cloak, warm dressing, helmet and swimming-waist ? Can we drive the river in three persons with a child?
There are many questions, of course. However, you do not find all replies in a Waterman Guide or water-maps but many are indicated here. You can find many important information on waterman-internet servers or in specialised magazines or books , provided you manage to receive it. You form the essential image, where to go, when to go or eventually with whom to go (this is also important – the experienced travellers emphasize the choice of expeditions-members!).
In short: (it is valid in general, not for paddling only): let´s start with paddling on calm rivers, later, with some experience, we can undertake more difficult excursions. After having obtained the safety in boat-ruling and a confidence in our abilities, we shall flow better and more safely. Let´s remember, however, that it is impossible to fight with water , water will be always stronger. On the contrary, let´s take advantage of its power. If we travel on a boat for two or more persons, (on canoe or raft) let´s calculate with a „team work“. The floating is about a communication (as the whole life and everything around).Just on a canoe for two persons (not speaking about raft or ferry-boat) the water-men have to communicate between each other. It is not possible to do it always in a verbal way , let´s learn therefore the signals-speech, so let´s understand better the special watermen terminology. As soon as we learn these two skills , we understand the river and obtain the capability to drive throughout safely the rapids-section nearly everywhere. The paddling learns us the decision, firmness and dexterity. With these abilities, each navigation along the river becomes an unbeliavable story and merry reward to our experience. And what about the sources , from where is to draw the knowledge? The part of this publication contains a survey of a literature, magazines and internet pages where it is possible to know more.


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