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Kayak Eskimo Roll

Two great skills to learn are the Eskimo Roll and Slap Stroke. Then you can roll your kayak over and get wet whenever you want.

To roll your boat up again is an essential skill to save time or even your life. You can use your paddle to pull yourself up or you can learn the fine art of rolling up just using your hands.

Practice the Eskimo Roll often for Fun and Safety

The Eskimo roll allows you to turn the boat back into an upright position after capsizing. If you can master this technique, you should very rarely have to swim ashore and empty your boat of water.

Pawlata Sweep Stroke

The Pawlata Eskimo roll is the classic paddle roll, a slow motion sweep roll using an extended paddle. It is named after it's Austrian inventor Hans Pawlata, probably the first non-Eskimo paddler to roll a kayak. He taught himself to roll based on historical descriptions of artic explorers back in 1927.

Slap Stroke

The slap stoke is equally if not more important to learn and master. This particular paddling stroke allows you to slap the water as the boat starts to capsize. A slap of the paddle against the water stops the boat completely turning over, so no need to Eskimo roll. This technique becomes very important on moving/white water where hidden rocks are beneath the water.

Sit upright with your paddle in the high brace position. Begin to fall in to the left. As you fall rotate your body and begin to lean on the back deck of the boat. Start to sweep the water with the left hand paddle blade all the way round until you are upright.

PFD Roll

Best done using the sort of waist jacket PFD issued at water sports centres. Description below is for a capsize to the right.
  1. Attract attention from those you wish to impress.
  2. Capsize to the right.
  3. Remove PFD.
  4. For extra effect hold PFD just above right side of the boat and do up all zips and buckles.
  5. Allow PFD to float on surface.
  6. Hold PFD with both hands (or just one if really confident and flashy).
  7. Use the PFD for support for a strong hip-flick.
  8. Continue conversation as if nothing happened.
  9. Put PFD back on and lap up applause.

Reader Story: Hot and Humid Day

By Finn from Ontario, Canada

Yesterday I went kayaking as it was a hot and humid day 25°C (77°F). The lake was calm, no wind, just the sound of the birds and the boat gliding through the water. I paddled along the tree-lined shore, enjoying the warm rain on the lake.

When I got to the other side of the lake I decided it was time to cool off. My clothes were already wet from the rain so I decided to keep them on in the water. Paddling usually involves swimming in clothes anyway.

I rolled the kayak a few times, and finally did a wet exit into the lake to enjoy a nice swim for a while. The water was still on the cool side, but my warm clothes helped enjoy it more.

I got back into the kayak and slowly returned to the other side, enjoying the calm and steady rain. Before I reached the pebble beach, I rolled the kayak in chest deep water to get out and carried it out so it wouldn't get scratched.

While I got out, several others were jumping into the lake at the dock, dressed in jeans and hoodies. When they saw my wet clothes they asked me to join them, and so I went in again for a another swim and a few jumps. It was a great day. I'll do it again soon.