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 Post subject: Mixing canoes and kayaks
PostPosted: November 4th, 2016, 7:26 am 
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Joined: October 31st, 2016, 9:32 pm
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Location: Missoula, Montana
What has your experience been with mixing canoes and kayaks on trips? What issues have you encountered such as (a) differences in paddling speed, (b) differences in the amount of scouting, lining, and portaging which they find necessary, (c) differences in ability to handle technical or big water, (d) differences in speed of loading up in the morning, (e) differences in portaging, or (f) differences in the amount of gear which can be carried in one tandem canoe versus two kayaks? The bottom line is, do you have objections to mixing canoes and kayaks on a trip, or do you find that it works fine?

An example: I did a 12 day trip with a friend on the Little Nahanni and South Nahanni Rivers, from Flat Lake on the Little Nahanni to Nahanni Butte. We were in Prijon Tornado whitewater kayaks, which are big (11'4") whitewater kayaks. They are excellent for big whitewater, but not very fast on flat water. We flew in and made it down to the First Canyon the first day, and did the rest of the Little Nahanni and made it down to below Moore's Cabin on the South Nahanni the second day. In our kayaks, this was a fun and relaxed couple of days with some fun whitewater. I only remember scouting a couple of spots. Canoe groups seem to take much longer to run the Little Nahanni, but canoes might be faster than our kayaks on the flat water sections of the South Nahanni.

If I do the Nahanni again, I'll probably use my Prijon Yukon Expedition, which is a 14'5" high volume kayak with a modest amount of rocker. It's adequately maneuverable for the easy whitewater on the Nahanni, but is faster than a whitewater kayak on the flat water, and can carry more gear than a whitewater kayak.


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PostPosted: November 4th, 2016, 2:07 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
I don't have experience of mixing boat types but I do have experience mixing paddler types! I've been on trips where I could not keep up, I've been on trips where "they" couldn't keep up. I've been on trips where I fly through rapids and wait for "hours" at the bottom and I've made other wait for me for "hours" at the bottom of a rapid.

My guess is that the paddlers, their styles and experience have a lot more impact than the type of boat they are paddling and that would be especially true for a moving water river trip.

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PostPosted: November 4th, 2016, 3:54 pm 
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Agree that there is a much difference between paddlers as between boat styles. The main issue to manage with a kayak on a trip is capacity overall for group gear.

We find that kayaks make a good "probe" -- err, I mean "safety boat."


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PostPosted: November 4th, 2016, 7:31 pm 
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Trip style is another issue. Some paddlers prefer hit the river early, paddle hard, keep going late, and really grind out the miles, which can be necessary on some long trips. Other paddlers prefer to stop periodically during the day for side hikes, photo opportunities, shore breaks, or whatever.


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PostPosted: November 7th, 2016, 12:34 am 
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Joined: November 16th, 2007, 1:11 pm
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Location: Virginia
Have always found it's about the crew. We paddle tripper canoes solo - but as a group. Have often had kayakers with us on day trips and occasionally brought a kayaker along on a long trip. I don't mind carrying some extra gear to have an extra friend along. And I can appreciate the kayaks ability to provide recon and rescue. Our crowd represents various ages - but there's an unspoken rule that we are taking the trip together, and we keep an eye on each other, and no one ever gets too far ahead, or allows anyone to fall too far behind. The young guys who bust out the long flats always wait along the way to allow the older guys to catch up and rest before pushing on. First man to a rapid assesses, then shoots and waits at the bottom as a safety, shoots and carries on if deemed easy enough, or waits at the top for a second opinion. We carry a croquet set and a box of trivial pursuit cards and a guitar, so there's not usually a lot of reading in camp, unless it's late. Our trips are opportunities for old friends to see each other - with wives, kids, jobs, etc - many of us can only get away a few weekends a year, with a big trip every couple years. We discuss the trip schedule ahead of time, so everyone's on the same page at the start. Then we adapt as needed, but we make those decisions as a group. All that said, sometimes group dynamics can be a real pain in the ass. Even for old friends. I've been thinking about stowing a handful of zanax or valium in the first aid kit to slip into a cocktail for those whose anxiety levels tend to get the best of them. Paddling with largely the same crew for 20 years, we've had some male PMS moments, we've had dishes thrown, we've pushed each other in the river, we've seen croquet equipment abuse, we've had bad weather, low water, high water, head winds, and rivers that just kicked our asses - but I haven't been on one trip that I was sorry I took, or that I'd have rather stayed home on.

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PostPosted: November 7th, 2016, 7:29 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
I've done a several trips with a mix of canoes and kayaks.

There are pros and cons to both craft. In some ways, the different craft lend themselves to different tripping styles. In the end, if there is a will then there is a way to make things work out well for all paddlers.

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PostPosted: November 16th, 2016, 9:51 am 
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I paddle every year for past 10yrs or so with a couple of kayaker friends, with myself in a canoe. We do a mix of lakes, flatwater rivers, and whitewater rivers. Kayaks are much slower on portages, and don't work great if you cannot use a kayak cart; but nearly all of the rivers we paddle have very few portages so this is not usually an issue. On Bowron, my buddy and I with our canoe were typically much faster on the portages than my other two buddies with their tripping kayaks and kayak carts. On flatwater, the kayaks are typically faster than me in my canoe, but not a big issue as we try to stay fairly close together.

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PostPosted: December 2nd, 2016, 9:09 pm 
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Joined: August 19th, 2011, 8:28 am
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I've been on exactly one trip that mixed (one tandem) canoe with (one solo) kayak, and the difference was obvious: going upwind, the canoeists couldn't keep up with the kayaker, and going downwind, the kayaker couldn't keep up with the canoeists.

This was mainly noticeable on Algonquin's Ralph Bice Lake which is notorious for wind.


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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2016, 8:17 am 
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Depends on the kayak.. Skegged kayaks usually are very fast downwind. Non skegged tend to broach requiring the expenditure of energy to keeping straight rather than powering forward.

Its really not possible to generalize.. Some canoes are tubs. Some kayaks are tubs


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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2016, 11:42 am 
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If I recall correctly it wasn't skegged. But my impression at the time was that the issue was more just he was one person in the kayak and we were two in the canoe, and when going upwind the higher profile/wind resistance of the canoe offset the greater manpower. I'm sure design does make a big difference. But kayaks as a whole, full spectrum considered, seem more aerodynamic.

One thing that's definitely very design-dependent is how to portage a kayak. On this trip we had to have two people carry the kayak end to end while the third carried the canoe normally. The kayak was a pain on portages. Some people set up yokes on their kayak, I'm not really sure what that entails. I once met a group on a portage that had a canoe and a solo kayak, and the kayaker had a way of carrying the kayak by putting two rolled up sleeping pads inside the cockpit to sit on his shoulders, but the bow of the kayak would invariably dump water on his face when he stuck his head up in there.


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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2016, 12:27 pm 
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Location: Missoula, Montana
Most kayakers just throw their empty kayak on their shoulder when portaging it. If two people double-carry a kayak on a portage, they can leave some gear in it.

In a canoe, you can carry large dry bags with shoulder straps, which are easy to portage. A disadvantage of kayaks with respect to portaging is that you need to break your gear down into smaller dry bags to get it into the hatches of a kayak. These smaller bags are more of a hassle to portage. I sometimes clip several dry bags to my kayak paddle and put the paddle on my shoulder. Or you can tie several small dry bags on each end of a shoulder strap and use the shoulder strap to carry some on your chest and some on your back. It's less convenient than carrying a large dry bag with shoulder straps, but it works.


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PostPosted: December 4th, 2016, 8:39 am 
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Kayaks are indeed more aerodynamic

If you find a backpack dive bag made of mesh and your little drybags not too heavy, that works well to portage. We have one and as its not got any internal stays it isnt the most comfortable for heavy stuff but all the little stuff fits in. Of course you have to unpack it and repack it.

We use it all the time for going out to a favorite island where the campsite is about 1/4 mile uphill from the beach. We use kayaks in those outings.


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