Use of paddles when rafting can be essential for not only propulsion; but also for steering and overall control of the vessel. When you go rafting, you can be certain that your guide will demonstrate everything that you need to know and that they will also play a huge role in influencing the direction of the raft. However, if you’re looking to read up on what you might encounter on your first (or next) rafting adventure, keep reading for several of the most important things to remember when paddling.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Participants should be balanced on both sides of the raft to help evenly distribute the weight across the entire vessel. This can have a substantial impact on the overall maneuverability of the raft, so it should not be ignored.
- To hold the paddle correctly, the inside hand (the one closest to the center of the boat) is the one that holds the top of the paddle; often called the T-Grip. The outside hand (the one closest to the water), holds the stem, towards the base of the paddle. Correct technique here is important, so if you’re unsure, definitely ask your guide!
- To propel the raft, paddlers make a digging motion into the water with their paddles. In actuality, this means that rafters pull the stems of the paddles towards the rear end of the raft (sometimes referred to as the “aft”). To move backwards, the same motion can be done in reverse – but may require a bit more of coordination 😉
- To move left, rafters on the left paddle backwards, and those on the right paddle forwards. To move to the right, the motion is done on the opposite sides.
These are just a few general tips – they are no replacement for listening to your guide and paying attention on the water! Any safe and reputable outfitter will take the time and energy to explain and demonstrate all of the techniques and tips in detail before beginning your trip.