Canoeing and kayaking: 3 easy tips for planning a trip

July 29, 2015

A properly planned water activity can be a lot of fun. Here are three simple tips for planning a safe canoeing or kayaking trip.

Canoeing and kayaking: 3 easy tips for planning a trip

1. Choosing a safe waterway

  • Always choose a waterway that is within your abilities. Canoe associations and clubs, sporting shops and hire outlets may be able to suggest trips appropriate to your experience.
  • Outings orga­nized by clubs or adventure groups are the safest and least expensive way to get started.
  • White-water thrills await seasoned paddlers who venture into fast-flowing waterways. Although the roughest waters are the province of experts, anyone from a novice to a professional can find a stretch of water that will match their skill, experience­ and type of craft.
  • Water is a, however, dangerous medium, and you should never overestimate your skills. River levels may rise very quickly after rain; estuaries and salt-water lakes can become hazardous in gusty winds; snags and rocks, normally well covered, may lie just beneath the surface during a drought.
  • Consider the weather over the previous few days, as well as prevailing conditions and the weather forecast, before deciding to take to the water; postpone your trip if conditions are doubtful.

2. Pack what you need

Like camping, what you take with you in your craft is a compromise between necessity and weight.

  • Although you can carry more equipment in a boat than on your back, do not be tempted to overload the craft. You could cause it to sink or, if there is a difficult, un­navigable stretch of river, you might find boat and equipment too heavy to carry to a safer section.
  • Your main goal is to keep things dry. Purchase waterproof drums and bags from a canoe shop, or improvise with tight-sealing gear from home. You could use heavy-duty plastic garbage bags inside a duffel bag or soft rucksack, or use drums from a home-brewing kit — they have watertight seals.
  • If you are camping, the tent and sleeping bag must be kept dry; cooking equipment such as frying pans do not need to be packed so carefully; any similar, loose items that might sink are best tied to the craft.

3. Bringing the right food

Food is the fuel of a paddled boat.

  • For over­night excursions take the same sort of food as for a camping trip.
  • To top up energy reserves quickly, prepare meals high in carbohydrates. Pasta or rice dishes flavoured with simple, spicy sauces are ideal.
  • Freeze-dried packs of nutritious dishes are also popular.
  • Cheese and eggs — carefully packed — are a good source of protein.
  • Nut and dried fruit mixtures provide fibre and extra energy between meals.
  • Carrying your own water is a wise idea, as many waterways are polluted, even in pristine-seeming wilderness regions.
  • If you must rely on the river or lake for drinking water, purify it with purification tablets or boil it in a pot for at least 20 minutes.

Safety is your number one concern on the water, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice fun. Keep these three tips in mind and prepare for an amazing water experience!

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