Why Does My Kayak Go In Circles? (The Surprising Answer)

If you’re like most kayakers, you’ve probably wondered, “why does my kayak go in circles?”

Kayaking can be fun but frustrating when you paddle in circles.

It turns out that there are several things you can do to stop your kayak from going in circles and have a more enjoyable ride.

This blog post will discuss tips to help you stop the madness and keep your kayak on course to help you navigate the water easily and confidently. 

So, let’s get started!

Why Does My Kayak Go In Circles?

Various factors can cause your kayak to go in circles. First, you might need a skeg or rudder on your kayak to keep moving in a straight line. Second, it could be your paddle stroke. You can go in circles if you are not paddling consistently on both sides. Also, wind or strong currents can cause your kayak to go in circles. These factors can cause your kayak to veer off course, but with some practice and patience, you’ll be back on track in no time.

Paddling Your Kayak

Paddling a kayak might seem like a simple task, but it takes a bit of practice to master the technique.

One common mistake is paddling in circles, which can be frustrating and cause you to lose ground.

Here are some tips to help you paddle your kayak in a straight line.

Ensure your hands are the same distance from the blade on each side. Proper hand position can help you paddle straight and prevent you from going in circles. 

Make sure the blades hit the water the same distance from the kayak on each side. 

Also, you can paddle in circles if one blade is further ahead or farther out.

When you’re paddling, it’s essential to keep your paddle as straight as possible.

If the blade of your paddle is tilted to one side, it will cause the kayak to turn in that direction.

Another common mistake is paddling with more force on your dominant side. This can cause your kayak to veer off course, so it’s important to paddle evenly on both sides. 

With a little practice, you’ll be paddling like a pro in no time!


Paddling a kayak can be great exercise and fun, but it can also be frustrating if you paddle in circles.

One way to avoid this is to focus on paddling where you want to go. Imagine a line going from the front of your kayak to the spot you’re aiming for—paddle along that line.

This will help keep your kayak going straight and avoid those pesky circles.

Of course, you’ll also want to pay attention to the current and wind conditions so that you don’t get blown off course.

But if you focus on paddling where you want to go, you’ll be on your way to a straight and enjoyable journey.

Skeg Or Rudder

Many kayaks come with some form of skeg or rudder, which helps with tracking.

Inflatable kayaks should come with a removable skeg that is easy to attach.

A rudder is a fin mounted under the kayak’s stern (back end) that can be lowered into the water.

The rudder is controlled via foot pedals located near the cockpit. If your kayak didn’t come with a rudder, you might be able to add one, depending on your kayak.

A skeg is a fin affixed to the bottom of the kayak towards the stern. With a hard kayak, you can deploy the skeg at different depths and fully retract it if you don’t need it.

A rudder helps you steer the kayak, but a skeg doesn’t.

Try adjusting your skeg or rudder if your kayak is veering off course.

Wind And Currents

Have you ever gone kayaking and found yourself paddling in circles, even though you were sure you were going straight?

If so, strong wind or currents might be to blame. Together, they can create a force that pushes against your boat and sets you off course.

Fortunately, you can do a few things to avoid this problem. First, try to paddle in sheltered waters, where the wind and currents are not as strong. 

Second, if you find yourself in open water, turn the nose of the kayak into the wind if possible, which will help to counter their effects and keep you on course.

Finally, keep an eye on your surroundings and adjust your course as necessary. Don’t forget to use your rudder or skeg to help out.

You can avoid being blown off course by the wind and currents with a little vigilance.

Distribute Weight Evenly

When you’re out in your kayak, you want to be able to paddle in a straight line. However, if the weight in your kayak is unevenly distributed, it can cause you to paddle in circles.

If one side of the kayak is heavier, it will tend to pull you in that direction, making it difficult to paddle in a straight line.

To avoid being pulled in one direction, it’s important to distribute the weight evenly throughout the kayak. This includes yourself and any gear or supplies you’re carrying.

You can help ensure that your kayak stays on course by evenly distributing the weight.

Having a lot of gear on one side of the kayak will make it harder to paddle straight.

Before you head out, make sure everything is evenly balanced. This will help you stay on course and enjoy your time on the water.


Paddling in circles can be frustrating, but there are a few things you can do to avoid it. This article provides tips to help you stop paddling in circles and enjoy your kayaking experience.

  • Pay attention to the current and wind conditions.
  • Use a skeg or rudder
  • Turn the nose of the kayak into the wind if possible.
  • Distribute weight evenly throughout the kayak.

Following these tips, you can paddle straight where you want to go.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.