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Paddling Made Easy

A major part of any white water rafting trip is the paddling. This activity allows the rafters and their guide to safely and successfully navigate down the water. When you show up for your rafting trip, you can arrive with confidence knowing that your experienced guides will show you proper technique for paddling and other essential rafting skills. However, here are a couple of things about paddling for you to think about before you hop into the water with your group and trusty guide!

Before you begin paddling, it is important to ensure that you have all of the correct equipment, including appropriate attire.  Your guide will also be there to ensure that the rafts, paddles, and safety equipment is all in place and ready for your adventure down the New River Gorge.  For more information on what clothing is recommended, please visit www.raftinginfo.com.

One thing to consider when you begin rafting is the position of the paddlers. The main factors in determining the location of the paddlers in the raft should be weight and paddling strength. This even distribution will allow you to be more decisive in your direction of travel. If there is an improper distribution of these factors, you may find that you straight lines have a bit of a “pull” to them. Your guide will handle the majority of the actual steering, but your weight and location will help to determine how successful his efforts will be.

The key idea of river is navigation is to turn the boat, paddle forward, and repeat! This pattern will help to ensure that the raft stays on track. In essence, what this means is that your guide will aim the raft in a certain direction, you will paddle in that direction, he will further adjust your path, and you will paddle forward again. Many factors determine what direction you will travel in, but be sure to look out for large rocks and other solid obstacles.

Many rafters may find it helpful to understand that in situations where you want to go right, you must paddle on the left side of the raft. Don’t worry if this seems confusing at first, your guide will be sure to explain everything thoroughly and also to give instructions while on the water. There are several phrases that you may hear on your rafting adventure from your guide when he is navigating. These key phrases include “all forward” where everyone paddles forward and also the steering command “left back & right forward” (or, the opposite).

This spring, when you plan your rafting trip, it may be helpful to read up on some important parts of the rafting experience. However, what one reads on the internet can never replace the practical knowledge and experience that comes with a rafting guide. We look forward to welcoming you on your next rafting adventure!

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