Author Topic: Canoes and kayaks  (Read 1079 times)

Canoes and kayaks
« on: April 11, 2019, 10:43:52 am »
Does anyone have any experience with canoes and kayaks?

I want to start getting out on the water with my 9 year old son but could do with some advice on what sort of craft to buy; a tandem sit on-top kayak or a Canadian canoe.

I guess we’ll mainly use it on large inland bodies of water such as Kielder Water in Northumberland but I would also like to be able to use it for camping trips on the west coast of Scotland sea lochs, sheltered waters such as Loch Goil and Loch Long.

Any advice would be welcome.
   

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2019, 11:09:50 am »
Lots - and there are other here who can advise.

I would say "don't rush out and buy anything".

Look around for a club.
Firstly, for training. That will help with safety and you will enjoy yourselves much more when you develop some skill.

Secondly, access to gear. Most canoe clubs have a wide variety of equipment that members can borrow. Canoes, kayaks, paddles etc aren't cheap (cheap gear is like a cheap bike).

The club that I belong to costs £60 a year for a single member; for that I get access to over 100 boats varying from stand-up-paddleboards to canadian canoes, to sleek racing kayaks. Buoyancy aids, paddles, helmets as well; and I can borrow them to take away for a weekend.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

road-runner

  • is in Slovakia.
Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2019, 11:19:18 am »
I have a fair bit of experience in kayaks and none in canoes.

What I like about a kayak is that you sit in it such that your feet and knees effectively make the kayak an extension of your hip, so flick your hip to flick the kayak. You sit low enough that your bottom is at water level and a low centre of gravity makes the kayak relatively stable and responsive. Paddling a kayak means you will get wet hands. Sure you can wear gloves and I used a jacket with watertight elastic cuffs. Any luggage carried is usually stuffed inside a kayak, behind the seat or between your knees and in watertight bags or containers. Lastly, the first thing you need to learn in a kayak is how to get out of it because there will be times when you are upside down and, as a newcomer, have not yet learned to right yourself without getting out.

My impression of canoes is that of it being more akin to small yachts where you sit on a bench from where you row or paddle, although I have seen competitive canoes where you kneel and are strapped in. My guess is that when canoeing it might be possible (I don't know) to keep your hands dry.

As to whether you should get single-seater or tandem boats is similar to bicycles: would you prefer a pair of bikes or a tandem? I know which I prefer but what about you and your son? Try all the options before deciding what you prefer.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2019, 11:41:39 am »
What road-runner said is generally true, but doesn't apply to sit-on-tops or the inflatables. Both of these are 'sit on' kayaks rather than 'sit in'. You still get your hands wet though.

I will add a note of caution regarding canoes and inflatables; both of these are affected by wind. It can be *extremely* difficult to steer them on a windy day.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2019, 12:26:20 pm »
I have an Canadian canoe and love it. Its more dynamic to paddle then you may think in that I rarely sit on the seat and paddle unless taking it easy. I tend to kneel so have better control over the canoe.

Good points. Are it is better for load and I can take my family in it.

Bad point is its heavy and awkward out the water. My ones is 16 foot long so getting it from garden onto car and from car onto water are difficult on own. I'm fine with it on water although on own it can be susceptible to wind but that's because it's sat high in water with my sub 70kg in it as think it's rated to 300 if not 400 kg load.

I have no personal experience of inflatables but my brother in law and his brother got left for dead by his sons who were early teens in a rigid canoe. They are however easier to store and transport. Edited It wasn't clear but they were in an inflatable

Joining a club or hiring a few options would be worth while. If your anywhere near Essex I'd happily take you out

redshift

  • High Priestess of wires
    • redshift home
Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2019, 08:37:58 pm »
I was a late convert to sea kayaking, as an adult.  I go away on a course a couple of times a year, usually with Huw at Plas Menai, although I've also been to Plas y Brenin too.  I started locally at Hollingworth Lake doing the old 1* and 2* BCU courses on flat water, followed by little bits of sea kayaking in and out of relatively quiet bits of Anglesey.  Anglesey's great to learn around, as you can often find a sheltered bay in lots of conditions, but Plas Menai do courses to all levels, including the crazy stuff in the tide races off Penrhyn Mawr - I'm not that good, and probably won't ever get there, but I use the training to consolidate and hopefully be a better paddler at lower levels of difficulty.

Sea kayaks are load carriers - think 'expedition touring bike' - usually with at least two watertight hatches, and can be loaded for camping trips and expeditions lasting days or even weeks.  Their length (4.5-5.5m / 14-18 feet or so) means they are comparatively fast, and apart from some weathercocking in the wind, most of them will paddle in a straight line with relative ease.  I much prefer them over sit-on-tops, but as ever, YMMV.  There are 'river touring' type kayaks which are longer than whitewater boats, but shorter than sea kayaks, say around 3-4m or 10-13 feet, which usually have a single watertight hatch.  Canoes I have no experience with.

A club would be a good way to start - the only reason I didn't do that is because I work very irregular shifts and find it hard to make a commitment to particular days more than a couple of weeks in advance.

For a handy reference to all kinds of canoeing and kayaking, you could try the UK Rivers Guide Book, which is well stocked with opinions, kit for sale, and an almanac of useful hints and info - much like this place, really.
L
:)
Windcheetah No. 176
The all-round entertainer gets quite arsey,
They won't translate his lame shit into Farsi
Somehow to let it go would be more classy…

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2019, 11:31:27 am »
Many thanks for the replays and advice guys.

Joining a club certainly seems like the best idea and a quick internet search shows that I have a few choices nearby.  The only problem at the moment is that I usually work away mid-week, though this won't be an issue in the long term as I'm moving on from my current job at the end of the year and will hopefully find something local.

Training would defiantly be beneficial, as a member of the Armed Forces (though only for another 8 months) I can even do some courses for free at one of the military adventurous training centers, something I'll investigate next week.  With respect to being on the water I've probably got some transferable skills as I'm already an Advanced Diver, Open Water Instructor, former Navy Diver and a (all be it out of date) navigation officer.



   

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2019, 11:55:28 am »
I've probably got some transferable skills as I'm already an Advanced Diver, Open Water Instructor, former Navy Diver and a (all be it out of date) navigation officer.
Ah!
In that case I can speak more plainly; your training and experience will help you understand.

Canoeing on lakes looks safe compared to rivers. No currents, no obstacles. That is true, to an extent.
The added risks are:
- Exposure (wind chill, driving rain).
- Exhaustion from fighting wind.
- Exhaustion, capsize and then hypothermia when fighting weather to get back to a car/campsite.

Plenty of beginner paddlers think that lakes must be safe. They are, as long as you don't get caught out in bad weather (just like hill walking), and don't make the mistake of trying to fight back against an adverse wind. You can do it when you have strength and skill to spare, but you might really, really struggle when starting. There are tricks - like switching round the weight in a canadian so it is 'bow down' when paddling into a strong wind - but this takes a bit of knowledge.

Just like hill walking, you need to check weather forecasts.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

gibbo

  • Riding for fun, cake and beer.
    • Boxford Bike Club
Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2019, 01:16:07 pm »
I have an open (Canadian) canoe, it's an Apache which is fibreglass based with ash gunwhales and fittings. The freeboard is minimal which is good if you're paddling in open water/ exposed situations as it's not influenced by the wind so much as say a Venture or Mad River. Don't underestimate the effect of the wind as this can make paddling extremely tiring when trying to counter it. A sea kayak in that situation is much better.

Another plus point for me when my kids were young and needed to be bribed to come out was that I'd throw in a stove and food and moor up and make a small fire, they loved the food and the fire. Keeping the kids occupied is also important and they will get bored. I had a toy boat I made on a string which has done many miles. There's also plenty of room for spare clothes etc.

Getting some training is a must, in my opinion, since you'll get taught self rescue techniques as well as paddling techniques (it's not all in the arms!). You need to be able to rescue yourself and your (inexperienced?) passengers will rely on you here.

My personal choice was the open canoe because:
  • I could pack as much stuff as I could paddle and did several multi day trips
  • If the canoe capsized the passengers are much less likely to be trapped or held in by a spray deck on a kayak
  • It's much more peaceful, if you have a good paddling technique, than a kayak so you can silently move and get close to wildlife

There's a really good website named Song of the Paddle - take a look as there's a huge amount of info there. It's an open canoe forum though.

With respect to one of the earlier replies about the weight/ handling of the canoe, I agree, this can be an issue, especially when windy, but with good technique one can lift a canoe from the floor to on top of your head without injury. There are probably youtube vids that will show you how. In general the cheaper the canoe the heavier they are.

Hope this helps?

Gibbo.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2019, 11:32:47 pm »
I have a fair bit of experience in kayaks and none in canoes.

Snip

My impression of canoes is that of it being more akin to small yachts where you sit on a bench from where you row or paddle, although I have seen competitive canoes where you kneel and are strapped in. My guess is that when canoeing it might be possible (I don't know) to keep your hands dry.
I know someone who was a really good kayaker but got injured and could not use a two bladed paddle. He got a whitewater canoe (1 man with a good rocker). It was very good up to grade 5 rivers. It wasn't much bigger than a modern whitewater kayak at the time (not a freestyle type more the creeker type). He turned out to be very good in a canoe too. So he replaced it with a freestyle canoe. Best way to describe that boat was unstable. One by one all the kayaker in our group tried it out on a very easy stretch of a grade 3 river (not really grade 2 at that spot). Not one could get it that far out of the eddyline without getting thrown out.

Anyway, this guy, who was really talented, could play on grade 4+ rapids and do tricks on grade 3 playspots. It had airbags to stop water filling it. Difficult boat but very impressive performance in the hands of a good paddler.

If you like a challenge and like whitewater kayaking seriously try your hand at a proper whitewater canoe or even a freestyle one. You might be surprised.

But back to the OPs question. Join your local club. Best advice you can get. It's not just the social aspects but you learn from some very experienced local paddlers. Local knowledge is useful to say the least.

Boats? Flat water inland touring kayak. Long, decent speed, storage and good in wind. Sea bays, estuary and inshore water then a sea kayak. Like a flat water touring kayak but better for sea. Double hatches and sealed storage that they access. These two can also have skegs, basically a fin in the tail that can be raised or lowered to help with straight line tracking.

Canoes are great boats for their uses. Load carriers, good for two or even three, good boats for centre use on lakes. In the hands of the experienced they are on on whitewater to up to a certain level.

Lakes. Well bear in mind that if you lose control on the middle and capsize you'll have a long way to go. You might be ok but your kid? Stick to paddling close to shore until experienced unless you are with a group that can help you out. A club is good for that. Also note lakes can get choppy too. I've seen waves that have been wind whipped up and that made it very hard to paddle in a straight line on the direction I wanted to go. Very tiring at times. The sea is a lot worse.

Not trying to put the OP off but kayaking is something that you need to learn about. Courses and groups are my advice. I took a long apprenticeship in my paddling but one day I found out I was a good kayaker. It was when a very senior examiner I often paddled with in a close knit group told me I handled my boat well. I think that took 10 years or more. I still can't work out when I stopped being a novice though.

Of course when you'd learn your paddling in whatever type you choose then you'll have skills to enjoy an amazing hobby. You can see and experience things by small boat like kayak or canoes that you can't by any other means. For example, off holyhead Island on Anglesey there's a coastline made up of heavily folded rock layers. Every so often there's tunnels or cracks that a kayak can get into. One such tunnel leads to a hidden bay with cliffs all around the beach. I do mean around including the sea side where the tunnel comes from. Actually tunnel is wrong word, it's a cave or crack.

Our river paddling where you're going down rapids watching a dipper hunt in the water. A dipper working their own stretch of river never gong into the territory of the next one. Beautiful bird IMHO and very interesting to watch.

All theae things and more you could experience but do it safely with others.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2019, 10:03:52 pm »
A little more research has has shown that one of the local clubs meets on a Friday evening, which is perfect given that though I work away I'm almost always home again before Friday.

The Canadian canoe appeals precisely for the same reasons of versatility which others have mentioned, that said if I were aiming to get out on my own rather than with little Joe then I'd probably favor a sea kayak.     

CAMRAMan

  • Formerly A Warwickshire Lad
Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 09:42:24 am »
Kill two birds with one stone: http://www.birchcanoes.com/

I've stayed in the accommodation, but not built a canoe. Lovely bloke runs the place. Very laid back.
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 09:46:35 am »
Two man touring or sea kayak? I think you can still get them. The good thing about the ones I've seen is the way they split into two for putting onto your car. Lots of money to buy as they're practically custom made because there's such a low interest level. Probably the equivalent of a touring tandem with a recumbent front seat for the stoker. The more experienced / parent sits at the back of the boat.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2019, 09:53:07 am »
Kill two birds with one stone: http://www.birchcanoes.com/

I've stayed in the accommodation, but not built a canoe. Lovely bloke runs the place. Very laid back.
There's another place like that in the lake district that actually encourages families to build their own canoes. The kids do what they can with guidance and the parents do what can't be done by kids. Then when the kids get bored there's entertainment for them and any kid too young to help build the canoe. I read it in either a local or activity magazine or perhaps the guardian. Very interesting holiday I think.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2019, 11:21:11 am »
Kill two birds with one stone: http://www.birchcanoes.com/

I've stayed in the accommodation, but not built a canoe. Lovely bloke runs the place. Very laid back.
There's another place like that in the lake district that actually encourages families to build their own canoes. The kids do what they can with guidance and the parents do what can't be done by kids. Then when the kids get bored there's entertainment for them and any kid too young to help build the canoe. I read it in either a local or activity magazine or perhaps the guardian. Very interesting holiday I think.

That'll be Orca, I assume. https://www.orcadventures.co.uk/  Something that's tempted me in the past too.
Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2019, 09:43:59 pm »
A guy I knew from a couple of outdoor groups we were both in made wooden kayaks and canoes in various styles. He was an interesting guy. Electrician by trade, volunteer firefighter on the side and ran a small business making canoes, kayaks and wooden paddles to order.

His boat business was more a work of love for his craft and he had talent. Not sure he made much but his stuff was high end. You had to give him a blank cheque because he bought the best wood possible. He colour and grain matched it on the boat or paddle to create a mirror either side of the centreline. All designs were for good boats or paddles.

He brought one boat to our Wales canoe surf trip. He had a few boats including the plastic kayaks. But it was his canoe that got the most admiring glances. Made using thin strips of wood bonded together to give a very effective hull. It was used across a sea bay and wasn't caught out by the wind too much.

A kayak made in the same way was very interesting. Touring kayak and very much an old traditional shape.

His paddles were probably the most practical output. A really nice wooden kayak paddle is nice to use in winter. The wood doesn't feel cold to the touch and it's very tactile too. They don't really get damaged as much as you'd think neither. Wooden canoe paddles are a must IMHO.

Re: Canoes and kayaks
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2019, 03:21:40 pm »
I've now got an application in for a BCU 2* canoe course, fingers crossed I'll get a place.