Few images evoke the feeling of “getting away from it all” as does a canoe, kayak or raft gliding with the current. But you don’t have to live on water -- or own a boat, for that matter -- to organize an offshore trip. Nor do you have to sign on to an expensive, multi-day, wild river run to experience the wonders of water travel (sans motor) firsthand.
With a little research, you can plan a safe and fun expedition that won’t sink your finances in the process.
Rent, rent, rent your boat
Where there is a lake or river, there are usually clubs, outfitters and/or liveries that rent out small vessels -- and of course, life jackets -- for several hours. Former river guide and adventure mom Julie Thorner of Bryson City, N.C., recommends the Web site AdventureVacations for finding reputable outfitters. Typically, you don’t have to worry about securing a permit. That’s the job of the organization you rent from, and it’s covered by the small fee you’ll be charged for the rental.
Know your water
What you do need to worry about, says Thorner, are the conditions of the water you plan to travel on. She advises all canoeists, kayakers and rafters to make a point of knowing the water. Rivers and rapids are classified to help paddlers know how challenging a route is. For example, a Class I river has few ripples or obstacles, a Class II has some moderately difficult rapids and so on up to Class V, an extremely challenging river with narrow passages, rocks and violent waves.
Know your limits
Novice paddlers looking for excitement can consider a rough river but only if they invest in the services of a guide to travel with them, says Thorner. The experience of a seasoned paddler will help calm nerves -- if not the waters -- when the craft encounters Class III or IV rapids. A good outfit will have a policy for determining age-appropriate trips. Just make sure in advance that all members of your group, kids and adults alike, are up for the adrenaline rush that comes when you hit dicier waters.
Take it slow
Prefer to leave the guide behind? Paddling newcomers should stick to lakes, which are flat except during windy weather, or Class I or II rivers. You don’t need a guide to do a day float on a gently flowing river or on a lake, says Thorner. “Plus, it’s a great confidence builder to do it on your own,” she says. If younger children are on board, bring along plenty of snacks and plan to stop several times along the banks of the lake or river, making sure to tie up the boat if you intend to swim or walk along the shore.
A no-tip tip
It doesn’t take much for a heavy canoe or traditional kayak to tip over, and righting them, especially in a current of any kind, can be very difficult. Many outfitters also offer inflatable kayaks (often called duckies) and rafts, which are less tippy and much easier to right should they flip over and you fall out. Patsy Fisher of Etna, N.H., once tipped a canoe on the Connecticut River while paddling on her own, and pulling the overturned craft to shore -- forget about righting it -- was “incredibly difficult.” That’s one reason she prefers the serenity of canoeing on the lake near her home, especially when she’s with one of her three children. “You can hold a conversation -- or not -- while you’re skimming across the water,” she says. “It’s physical, it’s peaceful, and you can enjoy nature.” Perfect.
Available at Amazon.com:
- Creative Ways to Combine Work & Family
- Giving Mom Best Mother's Day Present She's Ever Had
- Show Mom You Love Her!
- Water Explorers
- Make Cleaning Fun and Get the Kids to Help Too
- Home Cleanup Shortcuts
- The Great Neighborhood Cook-off
- Family Room Clutter Busters
- 7 Steps to a Toxin-free Home
- Secrets to Money-saving Meals
- Growing a Family Garden
- How to Rush-proof Your Morning Routine
- Circus Games Backyard Big Top
- Ready, Set, Scavenge!
- How to Create a Crafty Home
- Brush With the Stars: Family Night out That's Free!
- Stress-free Birthday Bashes
- How to Raise Caring Kids
- Teenagers Testing My Patience
- Moms: Stop Kids Fears Before They Start
- Games for Building Better Family Bonds
- How to Organize and Store Vital Family Documents
- Battling Over Bedtimes? Not Anymore
- De-stress Your Mornings
- Giving Kids a Creative Edge
- New Twists on Family Game Night
- 4 Ways to Make Dinnertime Work
- Sibling Warfare? Stay Neutral
- Raise a Smart Spender
- Money for Something?
- Sick-day Strategies for Keeping Kids Entertained
- Sync With Your Spouse on Discipline Style
- What Kind of Parent Are You?
Copyright © 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.