How to stabilize a kayak. Two considerations.

Two Shades of Kayak Stability

Yes, ma’am. Damn straight, sir. Two types.

The first, and largest, consideration of a first kayak.

Initial Kayak Stability

First, initial stability: the resistance of a yak to small changes in the difference between the vertical forces applied on the two sides of your boat, the downstrokes of your paddle, left and right or, per the retired naval officer, port and starboard.

Secondary Kayak Stability

Secondary stability addresses a kayak’s ability to right itself at significant angles of lateral tilt.


A kayak with high, high initial stability will resist the heck out of capsizing on flat water but . . . but, but . . . will roll drastically in rough water. The opposite holds true of a yak with high, high secondary stability will capsize more easily on a glassine lake on a sunny, warm May day but will fight and fight not to roll in a roaring Colorado river on a day straight out of purgatory.

Obviously, the beginning paddler or peddler chooses high initial stability in a first kayak.

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