Are Canoe Clubs Good For Beginners

I am not anti-social but after 8 years of operating a charter fishing power boat in Ocean City, MD, I had enough. Even 60 N/M off shore, the boat traffic was crazy when the tuna and billies were on the bite. I sold my boat and offshore tackle. I took up surf fishing from sandy beaches using my 4x4 OSV permit pickup to satisfy my urge to fish in peace without the hassles associated with powerboats and crowded fishing grounds.

As I watched and listened to the waves breaking on shore, I still had the urge to get back on the water. So the thought of canoeing and fishing quiet peaceful waters seem very appealing.

At age 70, canoeing was on my “bucket list.” I took lessons from a qualified instructor and really enjoyed the entire experience, especially the agility and freedown of the craft. The silent, peaceful, manual propelling of the boat, hooked me, big time.

After a lot of research and test rides, I purchased a Mad River Adventurer 14 canoe three seater, with a 37” beam, weighing-in at 75 lbs. through REI. I also purchased the necessary safety accessories and paddling gear at REI with help of their expert sales associates.

I purchase this canoe based on its quality, and after reading many Pros/Cons independent customer reviews on this website. I also considered the fact that I would be loading, transporting, unloading, portaging and paddling the canoe single handed. Price was also a factor

However, due to my age and beginner status, safety is a major concern. Solo canoeing is not the safest way to go for a beginner and senior citizen.

I have concluded that joining a local canoe group or club would satisfy my safety concerns and help me learn the art of canoeing. But I don’t want to be a burden to any group or club.

I searched through the list of Maryland Clubs on this Website but I couldn’t determine which ones would be best for a beginner, especially a senior citizen.

I decided to ask the folks on this forum if anyone could recommend a group or club in central Maryland that would good for a beginner to join.


It’s all good
I can’t see how any canoe club would view a beginner as a detriment to the sport. Even if you are 70, you still have a lot of years left. Just do it, and enjoy it. If they don’t like you, it’s their problem, not yours. Age is just a number.

Canoe club outings are typically slow
moving and not that demanding. And someone will help you with that heavy boat. I’m 68, used to lead and go on a lot of club trips back in the 80s, but once I learned what trips I could do on my own, I became a solo boater.

List of clubs?
Congrats, you even have a choice of clubs! Many locations have only one.

Why not try 'em all and decide who you like to paddle with best? You’ll probably find some that prefer, say, white water, or extended tripping, salt, or fresh water paddling, etc.

One great thing about paddling with a club, especially if you’re new to the sport, is that often there’ll be club trips to the favorite spots of various members. These are sometimes unlikely seeming places that might take a person years to discover on their own.

And paddlers are usually pretty nice folks. Even if a club doesn’t suit you for one reason or other, you might well make friends with individuals in the club who you can set up individual paddles with. It’s often nice to have paddling friends to help each other with shuttles, especially if you start doing downstream river trips. A club is a good place to find such partners.

The Canoe Cruisers Association used to be good people to paddle with. That’s 15-year-old information, but a quick look at their website suggests they still offer a decent selection of trips. And Ed Gertler is still involved, a good sign (buy his book on Maryland and Delaware canoeing!).

You might consider a general outdoors group, too. I don’t know how active the Appalachian Mountain Club is in Maryland these days, but they might be a possibility.


Club it
The fastest and safest way to ramp up your paddling skills (or cycling, skiing, etc.) is to do it with those better than you. Take advantage of their advice on technique, gear and other aspects of the sport. Many are more than eager to help beginners.

Great Advice
Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my thread. Your suggestions and recommendations have helped me to feel more comfortable about joining a club. I will seek out clubs in my area. The Canoe Cruisers Assn. recommended by Mark will be my starting point in addition to purchasing the book, “Maryland and Delaware Canoeing.” It was also very helpful to hear that most canoeist are friendly folks willing to help a beginner. jp

clubs are good
sometimes you may run into people with an “attitude”, or trip leaders whom you wind up not liking for some reason - fine, don’t go on trips they lead, but look for other trip leaders who run trips more to your liking.

I don’t consider going on a solo trip to be dangerouse at all - once your skills and confidence have built up, and you always wear a pfd, you should be fine on your own (taking water and weather conditions, water temp etc into consideration), assuming you can handle the weight of the boat yourself. that’s irrespective of whether you are also in a club or not.

perhaps the biggest advantage to a club trip comes with the ability to do river trips - you have other people to do the shuttle with, and likely with people who know the river and its take-outs and hazards - paddling rivers is a different experience than paddling lakes

I paddle with two different groups - that doubles the odds that I can do more trips. So, i’d suggest joining more than one club, at least for a year or two - that way, you have more trips offered, more people to meet and better chance of finding more paddling buddys, and finding a club that best fits what you are looking for.