Virtual Coach: The Cross-Current Ferry with Paul Kuthe

Introduction to ferrying, a foundational river-running move

In this short video, veteran kayak coach Paul Kuthe explains how to do a cross-current ferry in your kayak, a key skill for boaters of all levels.

Whether it’s being used on a Class I float or in Class V rapids, the ferry allows you to move from one side of a channel to the other without losing ground to the current. Combined with the other two skills in this Virtual Coach series — entering and exiting an eddy — developing proper ferry technique makes it possible move between eddies mid-rapid to scout your line, play in a river feature, or just catch your breath.

The ferry’s components are simple. First, you’ll want to eddy out on one side of the river. (Kuthe suggests always aiming for “the fun, splashy giggle line” when possible.)

To prepare for your ferry, Kuthe introduces the helpful acronym ATM — angle, tilt, momentum — “if you have all three you’re money.”

Angle refers to the angle of your boat to the current. The speed of the current determines the appropriate amount of angle to use; the faster the current, the more you’ll need to point your boat upstream.

Tilt is the degree to which you tip your hips and tilt your boat. Just a slight bit of tilt downstream while ferrying will keep the water from piling up on the upstream edge of your boat and potentially flipping you.

Momentum. Keep your boat moving across the current by paddling forward. You’ll probably need to put more effort into the strokes on the downstream side of your boat to keep the current from spinning you away from the desired ferry angle.

Now put it all together. Exit the eddy with plenty of upstream angle, add some tilt and build momentum forward. As you cross the eddy line, take several powerful strokes on the downstream side of your boat. Maintain your ATM all the way across the river and you’re golden.

As you become more comfortable moving across the current, try the ferry out in varying conditions. Repeatedly ferrying out to a surf wave is a great way to practice as is simply eddy-hopping down the river.

Have fun!

–Check out more VIRTUAL COACH videos here.