While most kayaks are made to stay on top of the water, squirt boats are designed to go down under. Because a squirt boats floats so low in the water, it is able to “sink.” But it doesn’t just sink when you get in, you sink it in eddy lines and seams in the river.
It is possible to sink a plastic kayak, but it takes a lot of current because plastic boats have a good bit of volume. It’s called a mystery move when you sink a squirt boat.
Mystery moves makes squirt boating so special. A mystery move is when you sink the boat in a seam or eddy line and disappear under the water. Along ride can be 30-50 seconds. A 59 second mystery has been timed once. This year at the World Mystery Competition, a 49 second ride was timed.
During a mystery, the downward currents of the seam push on the top of the boat. The key is to keep the boat flat so the current is pushing down on the most amount of boat. As the boat sinks, you also keep the boat rotating. But sometimes, when you get deep, it is possible to stay still in one spot.
West Virginia is world renowned for squirt boating. There are so many spots to do mysteries, not just on the New and Gauley, but the Cheat as well and I’m sure other rivers in West Virginia.
Squirt boaters love it when the water is clear. The New has horrible visibility except during the fall when there is hardly any rafting traffic and the water temp is cooler. The whirlpools and bubbles make incredible, crazy configurations. You can see several whirlpools at once, or big horizontal whirlpools, or whirlpools that go really deep. The visuals are amazing. The deeper you go, the darker it gets and, of course, the harder to see.
Learn more about squirt boating in a book by Jim Snyder, one of the pioneers of the sport: Squirt Boating and Beyond: How to Rip in Anything That Squirts
Note: Read Nate’s full article on the wonders of squirt boating will be in the spring 2015 issue of the New River Gorge Adventure Guide. –The Editors
Category: Water Sports