Now yer talkin my lingo..

Posted by Robert N Pruden on Sep 24, 2007

I have done a lot of river camping over the years. If you have coated teh bottom of your kayak with a graphite/cabosil mixture (10% v/v is best), then your kayak will do ok on a river. Class one and two rapids won't do anything to your kayak as long as you avoid the rocks. With no major rock hits (scrapes not included in this qualifying statement), you will have a good time of it. Understanding water hydrolics is very important when paddling along a river. Knowing the river is critical. You do NOT want any rude awakenings after paddling around a corner only to find a nasty rapid blocking your advance. Quick thinking, however, tells your brain to get your arms moving to get to shore or to skirt the rapids to whatever side the water is less turbulent.

I paddle the North Saskatchewan River often and have paddled her up in the Rocky Mountains (class4-6 note: the class 6 rapid broke my kayak to smithereens and almost killed me) down into the Canadian prairires (class 1-2, sleepers).

The major concerns were up in the mountains. The minor concerns occur wherever there is a dam (#$^(#*$& portaging). Shifting waters (side-to-side motions) are very common on shallow rivers (like the North Sask). The side-to-side flow comes from the river water moving around shallow sections into deeper channels. That side-to-side flow means that sometimes you risk running into barely submerged gravel beds that do nothing worse than scrape up the bottom of the hull (hence, the graphite/cabosil coating).

Deeper rivers flow straighter but carry hazzards during higher water levels, including trees and logs that can suddenly pop up to the surface, eddies that can act like whirlpools, minor standing waves (no big deal - just go straight through them and keep paddling for stability), and a current that is stronger underwater than it appears above the water.

Rivers with fast currents need to be negotiated with care. Slower rivers (under 7 kms/hr by the GPS) allow for more relaxed paddling trips.

Did I mention graphite/cabosil on the bottom of the hull?

Hope this helps a little.

Robert N Pruden

In Response to: River camping by David Duhon on Sep 24, 2007