The First Roll
The Liquid Logix Remix was the first boat I ever tried to roll. I hadn’t bought the boat yet and the owner, Bill Hester, didn’t have a problem letting me borrow it for a day or two to see if I liked it. I decided I would take it down to the finger lake on Fontana, which is only 5 minutes away. I had watch a ton of “how to roll” videos and I felt like it couldn’t be that hard. I replayed those videos in my mind over and over. The sweep roll seemed to be the roll with the least amount of steps. Start in the front left quadrant, unwind, and end on the back right. It seemed easy enough.
Here is one of the best videos I found on this style of rolling. Please note that in my head I thought this would be the easiest for me to remember and do.
I put in and told some people on the shore to come get me if I couldn’t get out of my boat. I paddled out and decided to roll over. When I turned upside down, I was so disoriented. I didn’t know up from down, I tried to reach my paddle up toward the sky, to roll up but all I got was a few little wiggles. I decided to swim. At this point I had no clue whether it would be hard or not to get out of the boat under water. It was quite a squeeze getting in, the boat literally fit like a glove. But it was easy and there was nothing to it you just pull the skirt then fall out. Nothing hard about it. One of the guys from shore swam over and helped me get my boat out. We laughed for a little while about my pathetic attempt.
At this point I didn’t have nose plugs. I didn’t need them either, I had no problem being upside down and not sucking in water. However, my view point on nose plugs has changed significantly. I will write on that later, bottom line is you want them no matter how good you are at holding your breathe.
So my next attempt, I decided to take it a little slower. When I rolled over, I went ahead and put my paddle length wise on the left side of my boat and remained in the starting position. I’m right handed so I wanted my right had to be in control of the paddle as I pulled it through the water. This time I could see the sky when I was upside down. Now it was time to commit myself to the steps. I made sure I had a good blade in the water, and did a reverse sit up to the back right quadrant while still keeping my arm locked in the position where my paddle would keep surface tension. I emerged. I couldn’t really believe it. I popped right out of the water on my second try, without any training. I have to admit that, I was a little disappointed I didn’t make it on my first but second try was pretty good I thought and I was all smiles. I rolled a few more times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Up I cam every time. I just kept repeating the same thing over and over. It seemed to work very well, but there was no thought behind the “Why?” of rolling up. I didn’t really care about it all I knew was it worked. If I didn’t make my first attempt, I would set up and try and try again until I came up. Sometimes it would take as many as four attempts before my method worked. I swam one more time that evening, after I got tired but made sure to end on a good note.
I was so excited about my roll success that I told all my kayaking buddies. I am sure they are tired of listening to me talk about kayaking now. I asked Bill to come give me his opinion on the fit of the boat before I bought it. We were kinda curious if maybe I was too heavy for the boat because I was right at the top of the weight range and there is no way I would have been able to tell. Of course I was going to show him my roll to and see what he thought about it too. I met Bill at the finger lake and I showed him my sweep roll. I’m sure to him it was terribly ugly, but all that mattered to me was I came up and could repeat the process with frequent success. When he saw my roll, he must have felt sorry for me because he decided to give me a free lesson on proper rolling technique. This was when I really learned to roll, and when the “Why?’s” started to matter.