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Paddling close to small and big ships

5 months 3 weeks ago #31352 by SurfskiEstonia
Guys, what are the protocol for riding ship wake? I often see clips of paddlers riding close to humongous ships.. I have only experienced the wake of yachts and larger motor boats and that is not exactly very exciting (moving around 15km/h).

Here in Tallinn, we have a lot of passenger ship traffic. These ships are big and go around 35-40 km/h on average (example attached).

I've always been scared to approach the large ship pathways, but was thinking maybe there is a safe way to do it, which would make the summers here much more fun, as sufficient wind is not that common.

My biggest fear in relation to this is that I will get in the way of a large ship and get sucked under it or something like that :D Also is it at all possible to catch a wave of a ship moving that fast? If not, it will leave only the departure and the arrival intervals, which are crowded enough to even consider going there.. I know that jetski riders mess with those ship waves, but never heard of a kayaker going there to catch a ride :)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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5 months 3 weeks ago #31353 by M.v.E.
I try to ride every decent ship wake I can get because that´s the only excitement I have here at the small lakes where I live and it´s a lot of fun too. Even 15 km/h is much faster than I can paddle and if I am lucky I get close to 20 km/h from time to time. However Iam talking about Yacht waves or small passenger ships.
I wouldn´t dare to approach big ships like the ones at your pictures and I would guess that they are much too fast anyway. Maybe you could try to surf these waves from a safe distance ? That´s not so dangerous.

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5 months 3 weeks ago #31354 by SurfskiEstonia
This is more or less what I'm asking: "Maybe you could try to surf these waves from a safe distance ? That's not so dangerous." The question is how to do it? Just hanging out in the area where these ships pass hoping to get a wave? :)

There is a pretty scary clip here:
and even though I often see short videos on Instagram, where surfski paddlers ride next to freight/tanker ships, I wouldn't dare to do it. I'd just like to hear what is the basic know-how from the paddlers experienced in big ship wake riding..

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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5 months 3 weeks ago #31360 by Impala
The greatest danger of riding ship wakes in crowded areas is that you lose focus of the other ships crossing the course of the ship you are riding. This happens to me from time to time ... I ride a stern wake, lose it eventually, and suddenly realise that a river ferry wanted to cross right behind the stern of my towboat. We both had no chance to see each other because the big ship was blocking the vision. In the case of ferries at least I know where to expect them, but on open water, you never know what comes your way. So I would still try, but only ride stern waves in a safe distance BEHIND that allows me 180 degrees visual control. The wakes of a big ship should be big enough still in 100 m aft distance.

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