Paddling on Rivers & Creeks

On the road, the rule is to keep to the left, on the water it’s the opposite: keep to the right. Trying to cut corners can put you into the path of something larger and faster than your kayak.

The flow in streams (rivers, creeks and tidal flows) is not uniform. It is fastest in midstream and on the outside of bends. Streams are also deeper on the outside of bends: the insides can be quite shallow.

Streams also have eddies, areas of water sheltered from the main current where the water may be flowing upstream. The boundary between the eddy and the current is known as the eddy line, and may be quite turbulent. Eddies may be found:

  • downstream of midstream rocks and islands
  • on the inside of bends
  • along irregular banks
  • over shallow areas along the bank

Eddies may provide safe areas to stop and rest, survey possible hazards, and plan the next move. Moving from the current to an eddy is known as breaking out: the move from eddy to current is breaking in.

There are some very real dangers on moving water, as outlined in the section on Hazards