“In still moments by the sea life seems large-drawn and simple. It is there we can see into ourselves" - Rolf Edberg
Make your paddling to be richer - include the the roll and the building.
The kayak shall fit your own body dimensions - build your own rolling kayak.
Building and paddling sea kayaks is meditation in action.
Harpone check Greater image
The genius Inuits
It is said that the Inuit’s kayak is the most seaworthy, one man vessel ever developed by human beings. It is both an efficient tool or weapon for hunting big mammals in the sea, such as seal, sea lions and even whales. Also the kayak made them capable to be surprised by entire storm weather in the arctic coldness.
Only half of the truth
For sure, the kayaks where designed and optimized for its duty, but the seaworthiness and the hunting properties were not just a result of the kayak. It was as well the Inuit’s technique and ability to maneuver the kayak in all kinds of possible and impossible situations. It has been an evolutionary development of both human and kayak for many thousands of years.
A life on the Edge
Already as a small child the inuit boy was trained by his father. It was their education to learn how to hunt and to survive in many other ways. They developed an impressing ability and skills both to handle and build their kayaks, sledges and igloos.
The kayak was totally customized and tailored to their bodily sizes. An Inuit young man that was not able to build and handle his kayak could not find a girl who wanted to make family with him. That was an utterly necessity for the survival in the Arctic, the outermost frontier for human life.
Make your own touring kayak
Step by step slide show.
You will also need a smaller one, for shorter trips and for rolling practice.
A kayak specially customized for your body mesurements.
A Skin on Frame project 2012
And we called them primitive
The westerners came and got impressed by the properties of the kayaks in the sea environment. We imitated the kayaks and “developed” the design. That’s how our modern sea kayaks have grown out from the Inuit’s tradition.
But it is a little bit of an arrogance to just ignore the Inuit’s paddling skill and only focus on the physical part, the design of the kayak. With our materialistic way of dealing with phenomena we only “developed” the kayak and the paddle, just like it was car or another gadget.
Capsizing – an emergency situation
As a result kayak paddling for most westerners has been limited to be practiced in relatively calm waters. You shall be at least two persons, ideally three so if one is capsizing and comes out in the cold water he can be rescued by the other. The third can then paddle for help if it should be needed.
In such a situation we have ignored that there was one very important act we miss to do, before pulling the string and create an emergency situation – The Inuit Roll! To dip upsidedown is just a natural part of the paddling, as well as the roll is!
Include the roll
To roll the kayak around like the Inuit’s use to do is mostly looked upon as a kind of curiosity that the geeks are doing just to impress. It is not considered as a realistic method when you capsize. Actually it is not a emergency situation to be thrown around by a braking wave. It’s a natural part of the paddling, if you know the rolling technique properly. You never have to leave your kayak.
An emergency situation occurs first after you have pulled the spray sheet and end up outside the kayak in the cold water. But that is a totally different situation. The Inuit’s didn’t have that option. The Arctic water was too cold!
Re-entry and roll
If you nevertheless have to make a "wet exit", you are still independent if you master the roll. Then you just grab the cock pit rim under the water, dress yourself into the kayak like entering a pair of trousers and roll yourself up with the paddle. Of course you have to pump out some water after mounting the spray sheet. But there you are, on stage again.
If you manage some of the basic rolls, in both directions, and the techniques are well ingrained in your muscle memory the paddling will be a totally different experience. A total freedom, nothing can harm you on the sea.
Dancing with the waves
Then the sea paddling will be a joyful dance with the waves, an experience of total presence in the now. You will feel a sense of living on the edge, not just for a second but for hours after hour.
The advantages will be:
You can go out paddling alone, just when you feel for it. That automatically implies you will paddle in total silence. You don’t chat away the serene experience.
You don’t get afraid if the weather changes and it starts to blow up, which can happen any moment.
You will manage to re-entry and roll up if you have to make a wet exit, for some inscrutable reason.
The entire roll training will be a part of the paddling. It is not a necessity for training rescue technique, which can be a kind of awkward duty when it’s cold.
It is an incredible meditative experience of total presence when you paddle in a little rough sea. It’s like go snowboarding off pist.
Everyone can learn
“But that is nothing I can learn!” That is the most common point of wiev. But it is just like to learn to dance or bicycle. It will take some effort, but everyone can learn that. But of course you must arrange for proper training and then give the training some time and effort. You will not master it after one or two attempt but you will definitely learn it if you are as patient as you where when you learnt to bike.
Take it serious – arrange for it
First of all, get yourself one more kayak. Build or buy a small, Greenland style kayak, which is customized after your body measurements. Such a kayak will make it easy to learn the rolling skill. This is the kayak you then will use for the shorter day trips and for training.
Also get yourself a tuiliq and/or a dry suit so you don’t have to get wet when you are training.
Probably your ordinary kayak is unnecessary big for short trips without any packing. That kayak you shall use for longer trips when you overnight with tent, sleeping bags, food and all other equipment you will need for a couple of days. Also that kayak behaves the best in the sea when it’s fully loaded.
When you then master the rolling with your smaller kayak you will be happy to discover that there is not a problem to roll your fully loaded tour kayak.
Extend your ability and security
It is not particularly luxurious to possess two or more kayaks. You quite naturally own more than one type of boots for skiing. One couple for downhill skiing and another for cross country and even a third for snowboarding.
So don’t hesitate to build yourself a Black Pearl or a Skin on Frame (SOF), especially designed for your body measurements, to enrich your paddling skill with.
- Yes you will need at least two!
Both the building and the paddling is meditation because you enter a state of total presence in the doing. You rest your thinking mind and just get into a beingness, when you drop time and space. It is a sense of being lived. Life is flowing joyfully through you.
A richer sea kayaking - Conclusion
¤ Get yourself two kayaks. Your ordinary plus a body customized rolling kayak.
¤ Do your yoga practise regulary. It improves your flexibility
¤ Get the instruction film This is the Roll and learn to roll.
¤ Practise the rolls every time you go for a shorter paddling tour.
¤ Don't make the kayaking to be a question of having lots of gadgets - simplify!
"This is the Roll"
Turner Wilson and Chery Perry have made a fantastic instruction film. You learn three very useful and practical rolls.
They also have an inspiring web site where you can purchase the entire DVD.
This web-site is a process of sharing
It is a way of sharing my passion for kayaking, meditation and my admiration for the indigenous people. They all had something we have lost in our materialistic culture. They had a healthy relationship with Mother Nature and Life itself.
In the western culture, which is global nowadays, we are systematically disconnecting from our source. We mainly develop our logical intelligence and many of us also evolve our emotional intelligence.
But the sad side of it is that we gradually disassemble our spiritual intelligence, our natural connection with the source, our intuitive wisdom and the living essence.
For all indigenous people the spiritual intelligence was probably the most essential and important. Spirituality is to be present in the now, to be creative and to be aligned with Life itself. It is to be a natural part of all and everything.
Spirituality is to live more guided by your intuitive wisdom rather than to live from the thinking mind, your intellectual knowledge.
Kayaking is presence
When you are paddling in the waves you are totally present. You are on the edge and are living in the very Now. There is no room for spacing out into thoughts. You are the beingness itself.
The same is when you are paddling in the serenity, into the calm wilderness, you are so close to the nature. You kind of merge into the Life itself.
When you are building the kayak you also switch over to a creative beingness in the very now. You lose time and space and are just doing. You are the doingness.
All this is meditation. It is a deep sense of being lived. You liberate yourself from your selfmade prison of being totally identified with your Body-Mind-Personality. You are free for a moment. You just are.
As a yoga teacher since many years it arises a desire within me to share this experience of relaxing into the being. How to do this?
I'm just now nourishing an idea:
I should like to present a yoga program, especially designed for paddlers, to increase the body flexibility for
rolling. It could be for free in form of instructions in pictures and text in the web.
These increadable inuits! How could they survive in the Arctic. Look at the classic documentary from 1922
© Björn Welin 2016