Wavewalk 500 kayak tracking a plus in strong tidal current

By Art Myjak

Problem: I found myself on the wrong side of the culvert at the wrong time – see attached sketches. I was on side A and needed to get to side B.

Front view of culvert with strong tidal current – hard for a kayak to get through

Tide was going out and the rapids through the culvert was too strong for canoe, kayak or trolling motors (maybe even small gas motors).

Made two attempts to get through–my approach from the sides was wrong (positions C and D)…wasted too much energy, current pushed me back, and couldn’t continue.

Waited approximately 30 minutes to regain strength and a tide change, which didn’t happen–if anything the current got worse.

Schematic view of the road and culvert underneath with different courses for paddling the kayak against the fast tidal current

I was desperate and decided a final attempt: this time I would approach the culvert straight on, from the center (position E)… The current was strong and had many irregularities – much occurred when the water would bounce off the sidewalls… 5 strokes forward would gain barely 5″ to 15″…
I had to be quick to make adjustments when I started to drift off center… I knew from previous experience that paddling strong on one side wouldn’t do it, so I’d do a quick back paddle on the appropriate side…that was my method of progressing: forward strokes (5,8,10, or…) and then a quick backstroke.
With local fishermen and women cheering me on, I made it through, and made it home on time for an important appointment.

I made it through this culvert before against the tide with my sit-in kayak but never with a current this strong.
This time I would not have made it in my sit-in… The reason: the current irregularities would twist me off center and it would be impossible to correct, and I’d be pushed into the sidewall and back to where I started.

The W500’s tracking benefit was really apparent.


Me paddling my Wavewalk 500 kayak in Ozello
Standing next to my W500. Gary Rankel’s W500 kayak is on the right.

Photos: Gary Rankel