Ferry for control and fun!

A ferry is a maneuver that gets you across the river, from an eddy onone side to an eddy on the other side. While this is practical for maneuvering, the ferry is best because it can move you into fun surf waves. You start in the eddy, facing upstream.

ferry

A ferry is a maneuver that gets you across the river, from an eddy onone side to an eddy on the other side. While this is practical for maneuvering, the ferry is best because it can move you into fun surf waves. You start in the eddy, facing upstream.

To start a ferry, position yourself nearly parallel to the eddy line. Then establish a slight angle to the oncoming current, and prepare to speed across the eddy line.

kayak draw stroke

This position is often the most important part of the ferry. It requires paddle control and finesse. Backing up, then drawing or sculling may be necessary to move into place. With experience, you will learn to jockey into position.

Once you are positioned close to the eddy line, start looking at the current direction and speed. The current next to the eddy line has usually been deflected by rocks, so it flows in a different direction than the main flow. Establish an upstream angle to move your boat across the current. That angle depends on the speed of the water; The faster the current, the more you'll need to point straight upstream. If you are unsure of the angle, pointing straight upstream is more conservative. The goal is to keep your bow from getting pushed downstream.

Crossing the eddy line is a crucial point in keeping your ferry angle. The bow is in the current, and the stern is in the eddy, so different forces are acting on your boat. Maintaining good forward speed reduces the time these forces have to alter your course.

kayak moves

Stroke timing and placement is important. The instant your feet reach the oncoming current you should be poised for a stern draw correction on the downstream side of your boat, in case your boat turns downstream. Realize the importance of correcting the angle from the stern when ferrying. The end of the forward sweep, the stern draw, works with the current to turn the boat. The first part of a sweep stroke doesn't correct a ferry angle as well since it pushes the bow against the current.

kayak ferry

Another option for correcting the boat angle is a rudder stroke, on the upstream side of the kayak. Use good form with the rudder, rotating the blade close to the boat, then pushing away slightly. Set the blade on edge, like a sailboat tiller. This requires rolling your wrists back and a slight counterbalance lean away from the stroke. Don't do an inadvertent braking stroke, when you want the easy turn of a rudder. A sloppy, poorly executed rudder stroke slows the boat and makes it tippy.

Once you have crossed the eddy line with either a rudder or stern draw, you can open up your angle, and paddle directly towards the eddy on the other side of the river. Well controlled ferries give you the feeling of control on the river.

Peelouts

Peelouts are the moves done to leave an eddy and head downstream. Odds are that your first peelout will be by accident, while trying to cross the eddy in a ferry. Your peelouts from the eddy should be fun and precise. The departure path from the eddy is almost identical to a ferry, but done so with just a hair more boat angle, relative to the current and eddy line. Use strokes that position the boat and keep the boat from turning until you've crossed the eddy line.

Peel out of the eddy in the trough of a wave, rather than climbing up the back of a wave. If your boat isn't positioned properly for the exit with enough speed, it will be turned rapidly on the eddy line. This is a wobbly place to be.

You'll be told to lean downstream while crossing the eddy line. This isn't quite true; Your boat should tilt, not you. Lift the upstream knee and ride on one cheek of your bottom. In this position you will be edging the boat just enough to keep from flipping.

Remember, the faster the current, the greater the tilt needed to remain balanced. When finishing the turn, gradually shift your weight onto both cheeks to flatten the boat.

\Tip\"Lean Downstream" is the most common advice given to beginner paddlers. Remember, this only applies to maintaining your stability when leaving an eddy. If you leaned all the time, you'd rarely feel balanced! Think of tilting your boat, rather than leaning your body.