Beginning Whitewater Kayaking - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-13-2016   #1
Portland, Maine
Paddling Since: 2015
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 1
Beginning Whitewater Kayaking

Hi Folks,

I was just looking for some specific, area-tailored advice on how to begin my whitewater kayaking career (Southern Maine). I have done a little bit of whitewater kayaking in the past (two days last summer in Errol, NH on the Androscoggin with ELC Outdoors). From that, I know feel comfortable on the class II waters they showed me around there. I would like some advice on where to go from here.

I think my first step should be learning how to Eskimo roll - I started by just bailing out. Does anyone know of any classes I can take this summer to figure this out? - I currently have no gear

After I learn how to do that, I think I should do a little more with an instructor before I go out on my own. For that, I think I have it down, but some confirmation would be nice. I looked on the ACA website and found a list of certified kayaking instructors:
Should I just contact one of the certified whitewater people on this list and ask for instruction?

Next, what do you recommend for gear? I was thinking about buying all the equipment I need except for a boat and then just renting a boat. What do you think is the best strategy for a beginner? Any good rental shops in Maine or New Hampshire?

Finally, what are the good whitewater kayaking rivers in Maine and New Hampshire? I know of the Kennebec and the Penobscot, but they're a bit above my level right know. Any good lower level rivers that are a bit more challenging than the Androscoggin?

Anything I missed that I should be looking into? Should I join some club or organization? Thanks so much for the help! Any knowledge is absolutely appreciated!

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Old 06-13-2016   #2
OTR, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 251
Its been over five years since I lived and paddled in New England so I'm not too up to date on specific info, but here are a few points:

- Buy your own boat soon. Get an older one that is less expensive but make sure it fits you well and is reasonably comfortable - and is not cracked or broken. Then you can get a better one and make a more specific choice on the style you want once you know more about your preferences. With your own boat you will be able to practice in lakes, ponds and easy moving water whenever you want, and only a few rentals will quickly add up to the cost of a used boat anyway (they are usually about $50 a day and you could probably get an acceptable used boat ballparking at $300).

- If you ever find yourself a bit further south the Deerfield River in Charlemont MA (not too far from VT) is a great place to learn with a long class II run (called the Fife Brook section). There is plenty of Class I below and a good class III/IV above for when you are ready to step it up.

- I have a buddy in New Hampshire starting a new shop called "O.N.E. - Outdoor New England" He's a great guy and the shop provides guide service as well as a storefront so I am giving him a plug even though I haven't been to the shop yet. Here is the facebook site:
and here's the regular site:

- If you call or visit O.N.E. ask for Marty and tell him Scott from Colorado sent you.

- Mtn Buzz is more Rocky Mountain centered. For area specific advice be sure to check out Northeast Paddlers Message Board.

- When you are ready to huck the Wells River is a great place to start

- The best kayaker is the one having the most fun!
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Old 06-13-2016   #3
nastysauce's Avatar
SeaTown, NW
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 97
I used these video series
Wavesport Kayaks

And NRS videos

I got my first roll in about 20 minutes and could hit it 90% of the time first try in the pool when i had supervision. I then kept practicing on my own. I typically would hit 30 at lunch, and shoot for 40 to 50 rolls a day. I did this for about 1 whole week before i went out on the river last monday. My buddys who taught me are all 4+ boaters and reccomended i didnt touch a river until I could at least 200 in a row, so thats what i did. I have had only one wet exit in the river as i was being scraped faced first upside down in 1.5ft riffle and getting my face smashed on the rocks. I was fine and was more pissed for pulling the skirt because i only need to wait 20 more feet for the pool to deepen up.

Being new to kayaking and with my limited knowledge base the only recommendation i could honestly give to you, is bomb proof your roll for the combat scenario. It will allow you to focus on the paddling and running lines for when you do make a mistake which is inevitable. Last monday was an easy class 2 river at about 900cfs, day 2 was 4200 on a big water class 4 that i run in a raft. Dont be like me and do the day 2 thing. I thouroughly was pissed, mind fucked, and scared for day 3. Day 3 and 4 were were class 3 boulder garden and rapids on a small to medium sized river. Day 5 was class 3 wave trains in a big river with some technical manuevers. I needed the roll everyone of those days, and it by day 5 i was surfing and trying new stuff, only because I was so confident in my roll.

One more tip that i like and really stuck from the whitewater troubleshooter video, "just because you didnt hit your first roll doesnt mean you wont hit the second" Get comfortable upside down, and practice your low and high brace in the pool. I used no brace on days 1 and 2, and was bracing by day 4 and 5 and made my experience significantly more enjoyable.

Your roll is your best friend and I believe if your already raft and run rivers will expedite your learning curve ten fold.

PS. dont stick your upstream edge in the down current when entering swift water or eddy lines.
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Old 07-17-2016   #4
Pucon Kayak Hostel's Avatar
Pucón, Chile
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Welcome to Whitewater Kayaking

First welcome to the whitewater kayaking community. Like me, kayaking has changed our lives. It's fun, contagious, exciting, challenging and on and on.

Some great pointers on here. If you are on a budget to learn you can get great deals with local whitewater clubs and schools. Or hire a professional kayak school.

Maine Area Paddling Clubs - American Whitewater lists one club in Maine.
Penobscot Powder and Chowder Society
I also did a search for Maine whitewater kayak lessons and you have a few options. You might contact the ACA kayak instructors direct. But unless they are working for a legally permitted kayak school then they will be limited to which rivers than can legally instruct on.

Best of luck. Now, go get your own kayak as soon as possible. Once you have the fundamentals just get out there.

Keep Kayaking.
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Old 07-17-2016   #5
Florence, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 220
Youtube also has a number of videos by Eric Jackson (Jackson kayak). Called paddle education. Been running an ik for over 5 years and stepping into hardshells now. Great instruction and about 5 minutes or so each. Watch it a couple times and hit the water with something to improve on.
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