Nanuck of the North

Posted by Kurt Maurer on Jun 2, 2004

Hey gang, I performed my first couple hunnerd Eskimo rolls today! Hot DAWG, I'm so happy! In fact, I rolled right up on the second assisted attempt, and went solo starting with my fourth endeavor. It's EASY! In a backyard swimming pool wearing nose clip and eye goggles, anyway.

I got the Derek C. Hutchinson book "Eskimo Rolling" the day before yesterday, and eagerly devoured the first 50 pages or so (I wonder what page of "The Strip-Built Sea Kayak" Peter is on today?). I never got around to practicing the dry land drills he shows, but I studied 'em closely... And then Brian, my new-found old buddy, demonstrated a few rolls while I watched attentively, then had me practice the "hip flick" a few times while holding his hand (awwwww!). When he saw I was able to hip-flick upright with minimal pressure on his mitt, he let me sit upside down once or twice to get the feel of it. No problem there, so he gave me my paddle. For the first attempt, I capsized myself, and he guided my paddle to the start position and then in the direction of the sweeping stroke I wanted to use in order to prevent a really nasty demise... which was a good thing, since it went in a direction I wasn't quite expecting... despite the fact that being upside down was no particular hardship on me (again I credit flying for helping me with kayaking), and that I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do. The stroke itself is really a simple one; the trick is to coordinate it with the hip-flick. Flicking the hips is NOT a big deal. In fact, I have been practicing it forever and didn't even realize what I was doing. I love to sit in a kayak and wiggle it from side to side, and that, my dear, is practicing the hip-flick. How 'bout that? The lay-back part came naturally, it was like leaning back when getting ready to lift a bale of hay up into a truck. You just do it.

I tossed my goggles ashore after no time (maybe a half dozen rolls?), but kept the nose clip. You WANT that noseclip. But positioning my paddle for the windup is easy enough to do by feel. Staying calm is the unnatural part of it all. But even that becomes pretty silly pretty quickly.

I'm not sure how to get any more picturesque with my words here, but I can say rolling is just nuthin' to it! And FUN, and THRILLING!! And I never had a hint of rolling up-and-over upon recovery either, despite the fact that my Cormorant is tippy enough to cause an experienced Pax 20 racer/owner who sat in it for the first time to say "holy shit" (he really did).

There is a *mystique* about rolling that makes it a bigger deal than it really is. But if you can hold your breath while swimming, and handle a small boat halfway decently, you can roll. All ya gotta do is combine the two, and not get all excited because you think you're trying to do some big impossible deal. The impulse when capsized is to bail or panic - or both - forewith, but you can sit upsidedown in a capsized boat for quite a spell, actually, and *still* have options --- in a swimming pool, anyway. But hey, gotta start somewhere, eh?

Yeah, I failed a few rolls. Some I bailed on because I forgot to engage my noseclip, and it's just plain hard to stay calm when you're obviously dying an exceedingly and excrutiatingly violent and painful death. Other rolls I failed because I got overconfident and/or overambitious, but stayed cool enough to regain my wits and wiles, then set up to roll on upright nonetheless. Once, even, while getting fairly desperate for air... and still kept cool enough to come on up with the third try (hey, I *knew* I had enough wind in me to bail out okay, but t' hell with THAT... it's ROLL OR DIE for Nanuck of the North).

Then Brian and I sat by the pool and drank a Mexican beer (or two) and shot the breeze. Even now I can feel the nose on my face. But hey, tomorrow I aim to go to the bayou and see what happens...

No pics today, but I WILL get some soon.

Cheers, Kurt

Cormorant 16 Hybrid Project