One of the most important and challenging skills to develop in kayaking is what is called an Eskimo Roll. This is a maneuver to rescue yourself when you capsize. The name Eskimo Roll comes from the legend that when Eskimos went out to hunt seals, walruses and other animals by kayak they had themselves sewn in their kayaks made of seal skins so they would not fall out during the hunt into the frigid waters where death by hypothermia could occur in minutes. But it also meant that if you capsize you would drown unless you were able to roll back up. If that would not inspire you to learn nothing would.
Today we have other techniques for getting back in your boat – some of which I will show you in the future, but the Eskimo Roll is still the most efficient and a skill that will give you confidence and make you a better kayaker. For me developing an Eskimo Roll has been a frustrating journey as while intellectually I knew what to do I had some sort of mental block. It was not until a fellow kayak instructor, Adi Herman, who is a roll master did the best thing. While talking to me about the roll he just flipped me over without notice! What a shock especially since I was not in the warm waters of Tanzania but the cold waters of Santa Monica bay. Of course I did not have time to think and responded instinctively by rolling right up. I was rolling – rolling – rolling in my kayak (sorry Ike and Tina). After more practice and 2 steps forward and 1 step back I have finally gotten the confidence necessary for my roll. Now I am ready to go hunting in Alaska except this time it will be with a Canon Camera!