Beginner to white water kayaking? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-05-2010   #1
Locust Grove, Georgia
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 3
Beginner to white water kayaking?

I've been interested in white water kayaking for many years now but never went through with it because I didn't have anyone to get into it with (my older brother does it, but lives 5 hours away, & my step-brother also does but is WAY beyond me in skill & would probably get bored with what I'm currently capable of running). So I finally found a friend close by who got a kayak recently & has been bugging me to go with him sometime. He has a mid-size creek behind his house that has a dam right in his back yard that creates about Class II to II+ rapids, but the rest is slow moving Class I. That's what I'd be practicing in a lot of the time (mostly just the dam) to gain familiarity with the kayak & maneuvering/rolling, etc. I've practiced rolling in my brother's kayak & am decent at it, & I ran the Nantahala River (but got out before the Falls) in North Carolina in his Dagger RPM with ease, though that was nearly 5 years ago. So now that you've heard the back story, on to the questions.

First off, would a Dagger GT be an okay kayak to begin with? Someone near by is selling one for $125 on craigslist. I like that it has an adjustable seat & a wide base for roominess, but I'm wondering how it is in the water compared to the RPM. I know it would be worse with tracking since it's a foot shorter, but I'm basically just wondering how it is compared to the RPM, because I really liked that kayak & want one as similar to it as possible without breaking $300 in total.
Secondly, how do I plan a kayaking trip? I was 14 when I ran the Nantahala & had nothing to do with the planning, so I don't really know how this stuff works. Do I have to make reservations at popular kayaking rivers? Does it cost me any money if I provide my own equipment? What class should I start out with?
Also, what are some good kayaking locations in Georgia? I live about an hour south of Atlanta, so I'm just about as central as you can get in the state of Georgia.

Thanks for any help & advice, & I hope I haven't done anything wrong in this forum. I know some people lurk on forums just to flame people for doing something wrong. But I did a search & didn't find anything that helped me with my questions.

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Old 04-05-2010   #2
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Welcome to the sport. For starters, post your question to boatertalk; MtnBuzz is generally a mountain-west site, boatertalk is largely populated with east coasters who will be able to give you some more localized advice.

The dagger GT would be a good beginner's kayak.

My advice would be to take some lessons, or, failing that, find a local club (again, try BT for the club bits, they may be able to point you in the right direction). They'll help you with the basics.

Generally, no, you don't need to make any reservations, and it doesn't cost any money beyond equipment and transport. As for what class you're starting out with, if you mean the river difficulty sort of class (and not the instruction type), it all depends on your ability and preference, but class II moving water will give you a good place to start some eddy turns and the more basic moves before moving up.

Also, be very, very wary about the dam in your friend's back yard. Lots of small dams create hydraulics that kill people, even though they look like they only drop a foot or two and couldn't possibly be a big deal. You may want to find another place to practice if there's a chance you could end up in the dam. They're referred to as drowning machines.
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Old 04-05-2010   #3
Locust Grove, Georgia
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 3
Thanks for the quick response & advice on the other site, I'll give that one a try. And I probably should have been more specific about the damn, as I am aware of the sort of "vertical whirlpool" (as my bro calls it) that dams & similar structures create. It was actually a large rock creating a vertical whirlpool that I got stuck in right before the Nantahala Falls which discouraged me from continuing. The dam has a set of natural rapids about 30 ft after the actual dam, which is what I was planning on practicing on. The build up from the damn just helps make these rapids more fun, & I've actually gone over them in both a canoe & river-runner kayak. But anyway, thanks for the advice.
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