Kayaking from One Side of the River to the Other

 By: Nomad Rick
There you are standing on the shore. A hundred feet across the river on the other shore sit your buddies. And they have the food and beverages! How do you get across?

Crossing a river with a decent flow can be a bit...err, unpleasant. The basic idea is to get from your side to the other side with the minimum amount of strain and distance going downstream. There are two ways to go about this - the accepted way and my way.

The accepted way to cross a river with a decent flow is known as the eggbeater. Okay, it is really called ferrying, but the name is misleading. Regardless, this process involves paddling like hell. You launch from the shore facing upriver and begin paddling. The idea is to angle your boat such that you are paddling both upriver and across at the same time. Since the water is flowing the other way, you are essentially looking for an equilibrium where you are moving sideways, but not up or down the river.

In my humble opinion, ferrying sucks. Yes, it will get you to the other side, but you will be in a foul mood when you get there. You will be exhausted. Your arms will be like spaghetti. You will be cussing up a storm. It truly is not fun. If the river has no current or is fairly narrow, knock yourself out ferrying around. Alternatively, you can try my lazy man approach.

In my view, humans were born with hands and arms so they could paddle. Looking farther down the body, you will note that we all have legs and feet as well. Walking is a natural act. Paddling up and across a river is not. We spend much less energy and effort walking. You can see where this is headed.

A much better way to get across the river is to "sort of" ferry. Launch like you would when you ferry. In fact, ferry away until something happens. When you get to fast current on the river, forget ferrying. Who are you to challenge mother nature? Fool! Turn downstream with the flow and crank it across as fast as you can. When you come out of the flow on the other side, you will have momentum that you can use to head to shore. As you get good at it, you will be able to angle yourself to bleed the momentum off completely just as you get to shore. Now get on your feet and hoof it up the shore to your friends.

I know. I know. Won't I have to carry my kayak? Yes. Unless you have a stainless steel kayak, it is going to require a lot less effort than ferrying. If you do have a heavy kayak, go with a novel approach. Leave it. Who is going to take it? A bear?

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. You can ferry and give yourself a seizure or use my lazy man strategy. Try ferrying a wide river a few times and I have a feeling you will come around to my viewpoint.
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