The other day Cardy, Rowdy and myself, Kady, ran the Ocoee River in a duckie! This was Rowdy’s first time even on this river! I sat in the back, so I was in charge of controlling it, Rowdy in the middle and Cardy paddling in the very front.
Rowdy didn’t have a paddle, but Cardy would let him paddle on the smaller rapids.
Me and Cardy were debating on whether we should do the left sneek or right sneek on Grumpy’s, which is the very first rapid. Already starting on the right side of the river Cardy wanted to take the right sneek, but we ended up taking the left since we were more familiar with it.
It was a little hard at first to get used to a boat with no edges in fast moving current as we tried to ferry, but got it dialed down just as we passed Grumpy’s Hole.
As we went down the river Rowdy would ask me about the lines Maddy takes when she runs the Ocoee so that he could get an idea of what he would be doing when he is ready to run it in his Jackson Kayak Fun 1.
The next big rapid on the Ocoee is Broken Nose. After Grumpy’s we weren’t going to take any more sneaks and went right for all the holes! The first hole grabbed us and spun us left. I quickly took a left sweep stroke right as we went through Broken Nose Hole just barely making it through, we hit it a little sideways and paddled hard so we wouldn’t get surfed!
Rowdy had lots of fun taking the “big kid line”!
The next big well known rapid is Double Suck! A big hole that Kenny, Cardy, Dally, Grady and Brody like to surf and get trashed in!
Cardy, Rowdy and I went right for the meat of the hole! We got completely tacoed (both ends of the boat sticking in the air in a V like shape) but we didn’t get dumped out of the duckie!
Double Trouble is the next rapid after Double Suck. Which is a consistent train of big fun waves! It was like riding a roller coaster! All I could hear was Rowdy yelling, “WooHoo”! I think he’s ready to step up his paddling!!
Next, we found a fun sticky hole to surf at the very bottom of Flipper. Here, I got to teach Rowdy what “High Side” meant. And for all you who don’t know it’s when you jump to the side of the boat that is in the air to weigh it down and prevent from flipping.
As we were surfing sideways and being tossed around a bit we had to high side and Rowdy jumped too hard and went head first out of the duckie! We managed to stay upright and surf out to get Rowdy. He was laughing and thought it was so fun to get thrown out of the duckie.
We bebopped down the rest of the series of ledges and waves as we came to Table Saw. I was joking around with Cardy and Rowdy that we were going to flip. And this being the biggest lateral waves on the river I knew there was a possibility of this and told them what to do if it did happen.
Sure enough the first wave we hit tossed and turned us so we were facing the right bank and dumped trucked all three of us out of the duckie. Here it was just too fast and strong for us to high side.
When I popped up I saw Rowdy holding onto the duckie just a few feet in front of me. I went back under the waves until the bottom of the rapid.
At the bottom, I popped up right next to Cardy and Rowdy so I grabbed them. The duckie surfed some of the other waves and was far behind us.
The best line here is to go right and so we started to swim right. I was able to hold on to Rowdy to keep him with me. We swam through the next rapid, Diamond Splitter. Which was shallow so I put Rowdy on top of me. We went threw this rapid being turned all over the place and getting little air so I would try to throw Rowdy higher than the waves.
Upstream Grady was getting the duckie and our dad was paddling hard towards us. Another kayaker grabbed Cardy and pulled him onto the front of his boat. I could tell Cardy was worn out.
Rowdy and I swam to the nearest eddy which was on the left. Grady got the duckie to us only shortly after. Rowdy and I jumped back in it to pick Cardy up in the eddy below us.
It may sound terrifying but it wasn’t all that bad. Rowdy and Cardy were neither scared nor hurt and we were ready to get back in right away!
When Hell Hole came around, the last rapid we were going to run and also take-out at, we were ready for whatever was going to happen with the experience we had before! Cardy and I started to paddle hard, but Kenny went into the hole without knowing we were coming. There was nothing Cardy and I could do except keep going.
We hit the first wave and I could see Kenny upside down still in the hole. As we came down on top of him we lost all our momentum and were sitting at the top of Hell Hole’s foam pile.
We tried to high side as it pulled the back end of the duckie into the hole, but dumped trucked us all again! Rowdy instantly climbed into the boat and I shortly after him. Cardy then grabbed on and climbed in just in time to paddle through the next series of waves called Power House!
With big smiles on our faces we were super stoked we paddled the Ocoee in the duckie! Rowdy can’t wait till he can kayak it, and I can’t wait to show him the lines again.
Cardy and I are happy for kayaks that can roll back up. And he’s ready to challenge himself more and more, including running Table Saw switch (backwards)! An Epic day it was!