Open Boat Creek Technique | Rapid Magazine | Rapid Media

A whitewater open boat canoeist drops into a big rapid. Photo: Megan Richardson

Five expert tips for creeking in a canoe

 Open boat canoeing changes from big river boating to creeking styles only in matters of timing. These expert tips are skills that will help you stay sharp no matter where you paddle.

Practice hole escapes


On larger rivers where you are dealing with lines that are five to ten feet wide (go five feet to the left of that hole) it’s fairly easy to avoid getting stuck in a hole. On creeks, the lines can be inches instead of feet (clip the side of that hole on the left). Consequently, getting stuck in holes is part of creek boating and it’s pretty hard to surf your way out of a big hole if you spend the rest of your time avoiding them.


Bombproof your roll


Playing in spots with good recovery areas offers a great way to transition your pool roll to a river roll. You flip so frequently when playboating that you get used to the feeling of being upside down in your canoe, dealing with currents to reach the set-up position and hit your roll.


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Run slalom gates


One of the greatest challenges on difficult creeks is catching must-make eddies. Often micro eddies that fit kayaks can be difficult to squeeze into with a longer canoe. Entering local slalom races is an effective way to practice making difficult ferries and catching tricky eddies on the fly.

Most courses are on class II–III water so the consequence of missing an eddy is hitting a pole rather than slipping backwards into a rapid that you were hoping to scout.


Take on water


Prepare for continuous creeks by paddling boogie sections of familiar runs without stopping to empty out. It takes practice, but you can control most shorter whitewater canoes even when they are almost completely full of water. Just keep the boat pointed downstream, start any turns far in advance and maintain momentum since acceleration will be difficult.


Ride the eddy lines


On continuous creeks, the driest canoe lines often hug the eddylines to skirt most holes and pourovers. The challenge with this technique is to avoid eddying out unintentionally mid-rapid.


This article originally appeared in Rapid, Early Summer 2010. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it here.

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