It’s that time of the year where the water has past the peak, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had on Colorado’s rivers for the next month. Class II rapids can feel quite mild in a large raft, but once you seat yourself in an inflatable kayak and navigate the river you’ll pump those rapids up to a much more intense and wild level. Here are five tips for your next inflatable kayaking venture in Colorado.
TIP #1 – Paddling Techniques
There are some paddling techniques that every kayaker must know before getting out on the water. The first and most important is the forward stroke. It is essential to use your torso for the strength of the paddle stroke, putting the paddle in the water by your toes, and pulling back to your waist alternating strokes from each side. The other stoke that you should master before getting out on the water is the one-sided deep stroke to turn the kayak. This will resemble the backward stroke, but will be a deeper and more abrupt movement to shift the direction of the craft.
The best way to navigate the rapids is to choose your dominant side and keep your paddle ready to go on that one side. It’s difficult to alternate back and forth in rapids, so learn a forward and backward stroke on one side of your vessel to keep your kayak straight when navigating rapids.
TIP #2 – Sitting in the Kayak
Another important part of kayaking is having appropriate posture while sitting in the kayak. You want to be sitting up straight with your back against the thwart. Don’t lean too far forward or too far back, as it could throw off your balance. While paddling, you will notice your posture starting leaning forward, and leaning back as you pull through the strokes. Put your feet out straight with a slight bend in your knees for comfort.
TIP #3 – Getting Back in the Kayak
If you will be running rivers with rapids, it is easy to fall in the water. Not to worry, this is a large part of the fun of kayaking along the river! However, you’ll need to be able to get yourself back into the boat. One option is to grab on the edge of the kayak, swim it to shore, and get back on from the land. Otherwise if you find yourself in the middle of the water, you will want to come to the side of the boat, and pull yourself up into the raft, holding the opposite side down to keep it from flipping. This may take some practice, and can be more of a personal technique that you will master over time.
TIP #4 – Hitting Rapids or Obstructions Correctly
The main key to hitting rapids is to keep the nose of your kayak pointed straight toward the rapid or rock. If you end up colliding with a rock at a sideways angle or trying to make it through the rapids not face first, the likelihood of you taking a nice dip in the water is high. Keep your boat heading directly downstream and you’ll be good to go!
TIP #5 – Fixing Holes
One issue that will arise at times with inflatable boats is small holes in the raft, causing it to deflate over time. To find where you are losing water, first get a bucket of soapy water. Next, you will want to rub the water all over the raft, especially in areas you suspect the hole. As the air leaves the pontoon, you will notice bubbling in the soapy water over that area. Once you find the hole, you will want to patch it with a durable rubber patching kit – including rubber glue and patches.