Better for stability- kayak or canoe

You obviously didn’t read my posts

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 1:50 PM EST –

She doesn't need swim lessons, she's a strong swimmer and in fact swims in a league.

I'm not sure how much time you have spent around kids but every child is different. To say that she shouldn't do it is just feeding into her anxiety. She WANTS to do it, or I wouldn't be asking about it. She just doesn't want to be in a boat that feels like it would flip over.

So the OP concern is not about
capsizing per se but capsizing amidst gators. Legitimate concern with a child small for their age but in reality, just how much of a concern?

People do swim in Florida gator springs but the gators take off when there is a horde of people. And a bunch of you would be paddling…

I’m a bit bigger than a kid and have capsized in gator waters. I tell you this just to put a balance on your fears.

If you are scared you will be stiff… Experienced paddlers know that staying loose in the hips and unstiff is a key to remaining centered in the boat and capsize resistant. The problem now is that you may well be telegraphing your concern to her.

A guided tour is probably the best way to guarantee that you won’t see any alligators at all.

I can’t help you solve your kids fears but perhaps your probably inadvertent and unintended feeding of them… If you are confident she will follow.

Guided tour

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 1:57 PM EST –

That's exactly what we were going to do like i originally mentioned- a guided tour.

The parent’s attitude
I think Kim is right. On those same grounds, I totally disagree with another person’s reply that there’s no way for the kid to have a positive experience in a small boat if she goes into it being afraid. I was first a passenger in small boats at about age 4 or 5. Even though I was very afraid of water at that age, I quickly learned to love everything about being out in small boats. I even remember being afraid of getting lost in the backwaters of the Mississippi, yet at the same time thinking the place was magical. I’m sure the fact that my dad had no worries made all the difference.

Just to be clear…

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 2:04 PM EST –

She isn't fearful and not wanting to do it. She wants to do it or I wouldn't be here asking. She is just afraid of the boat tipping over, so in order to make the first experience as pleasurable as possible I'm trying to find out what craft would be the most stable and make her feel most comfortable.

OK - I missed things but

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 2:08 PM EST –

I am also not sure that avoiding the flip is going to move things, especially if there are gators involved. Learning how to get back into the boat very quickly, and doing that early on, might be more effective.

Some kids do have vivid imaginations

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 2:14 PM EST –

and are natural worriers.
Remember, you are on a guided tour. Guides are safety experts. You are picking a guided tour because you want to learn about paddling and the local ecology. Guides are paid not to allow bad things to happen to their clients. If they did they would no longer be in business.

May I ask what area you are contemplating?
Some areas that have guided tours are apt to have lots of kids on the tours.. Seeing other kids relaxed in kayaks might do way more than any adults ( us or you!) blathering to ease her discomfort.

Consider asking her how you can help her deal with the "monster under the bed"

At this point its settled that a tandem kayak is better for you as directional control won't be an issue as much..

People get into paddling often by going on a guided tour simply because they have no experience and have the wisdom to admit that. Tours are built on clientele not having any experience! ( dont quibble., I know there are tours for experienced only but they are far fewer)

The hope is you like the experience so later you get instruction on self rescues and paddling technique so you can safely to on your own.


– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 2:13 PM EST –

As you obviously realize, a lot of times people come on internet discussion boards with advice, who really don't understand the situation. I get the biggest kick out of people telling others how to raise kids, when they don't even have kids of their own (not that I would know here, but...).

Just do it. You can't lose, with a small solo SOT, playing around in shallow water. That's what we did first. I can even get on the little Emotion Spitfires with a small child in front of me. It floats. I can "paddle" it around. Hey, little kids love this.

The only problem I see is, if you are doing this in a "guided tour" situation, the guides may not let you do this at all. Insurance, liability, all that crap. (And yes, I do understand their perspective - I'm a lawyer. :) ). You can rent or even buy these little boats for next to nothing, though. I'm about to finally sell our Spitfires, probably for $100 each. They're all over CL.

I really like guideboatguy's comment though -- fear isn't always such a terrible thing, and can actually add to the mystery and wonder of it all.

Kids are a joy. I took my son paddling early Sunday morning for three hours on LIS (and I let him paddle my Caribou). He's 10 and, to give an example of where they go, when he uses the SUP's, he puts them on the beach far enough out to get the skeg clear, then goes back and runs and launches himself onto the thing, shooting out into the water. It's awesome to watch. This comfort on the water comes with time and experience, and is truly worth everything you put into it.

agree with celia here
The best way to get her to discard her fear of something is to show her she’s fearing nothing.

So, in controlled conditions, have her capsize. Do it on dry land on the beach if necessary. Show her when she tips over that she’ll come out and become a swimmer.

Why is a tippy boat scary? Because we get to swim?

Maybe manatee cove?

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 2:18 PM EST –

I was thinking about taking her on a guided tour at Manatee Cove in Cocoa, FL. She would never even entertain the idea of a kayak or canoe until I showed her photos of kayaking amidst the manatees. It sounds like a nice, leisurely paddle and I believe they use SOTs.

I completely agree with you about other kids. That helps immensely. Do you have any ideas that might have more kids?

I do like the idea that JustAGuy brought up- allowing her to sort of sit in it and play with it in clear shallow water would help immensely. Now to just find where I can rent a kayak that would have that type of shallow, clear beachy area... hmmm.

why is she afraid of tipping over?
Get to the point already and have her capsize in controlled conditions. Heck, have her swim around the boat and try to get in from the water.

I swim all the time from my kayak and it really makes me wonder why we spend so much time fussing about a capsize. I mean - I KNOW why, but in benign conditions there really is no need, once you know what happens and know how to get back in.

Once she learns that she’ll be using it as much as a swimming and diving platform as a kayak.

I don’t disagree with you on that
I don’t disagree with you Celia on that point. The only point of this post was to merely get her on a kayak or canoe for the very first time, and to do so with the boat that would make her feel the most comfortable. All of those issues can and would be addressed if she goes and enjoys it, and wants to go again. This first time the most important thing is getting her in a boat that doesn’t feel like it is going to tip over. That is step 1 or we can’t go any further.

If you are using Calypso
give them a call before your trip. I am sure they would allow a test sit of a few minutes.

Guided tours run very stable boats
but " the feeling of tippiness" is so personal that just bobbing around in a boat that is NOT tipping over can be overwhelming…

If that happens go kayaking… learn. Yourself. She’ll want to follow you.

Thanks for the info!

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 2:47 PM EST –

Everything was really helpful. Thanks to all who took the time to read and respond. We will let you know how it goes! :)

Tipping over
I’m in the “intentionally capsize” camp. It’s very instructional and can show you just how difficult it really is to tip the boat. Let her swim first so she’s already wet and having fun. Get in the boat next to shore and start gradually tipping the boat until it goes over. Then you’ll both now how hard it is to tip over that boat so instead of getting excited over every little wiggle of the boat while paddling you can both relax knowing it takes a lot more to tip the boat.

At the light weights the two of you are there shouldn’t be any issues.


Rent a kayak and
Ask the league that your child swims with if you could bring a SOT kayak to the pool for some water safety training. If they say it’s ok get your daughter and some of her friends and let them play around with the SOT (while wearing PFD’s to get use to them). Make up some games for her and her friends to play. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Have them see how far they can lean it over without falling in.
  2. Have them stand up on the SOT and run from one end to the other end then jump off in the water. Once in the water turn around and then crawl back in and run end to end again while the others are counting out loud to see who is fastest.
  3. Have two or three of the kids stand up in the SOT and play “rock-the-boat” to see who the last one standing is.
  4. See if anyone can stand on their head on the SOT.
  5. Have the kids come up with some of their own ideas.

    If you can’t use the pool maybe you can find a lake to practice in. I think you will find that after doing something like this that your daughter will not worry about how tippy the SOT is.

    I would get her a waterproof disposable camera (if the camera falls in the water it will float and if you lose it you are only out a couple bucks for it). Encourage her to look for gators, turtles, birds and other stuff and take pictures of them. Maybe this will help her with the gators. If it doesn’t tell her that her kayaking nickname will be “Seminole” since they hate “Gators”. :wink:

awesome ideas!
Hey, kayak-ken - if you aren’t already involved with teaching children, you should be! I laughed out loud reading your list, sounds like a blast.

A SOT tandem

Kenny uses Perception Tribes which are about as stable as you can get. He does family oriented tours with small groups, and he’s very sweet and patient.

His tour from Katie’s Landing on the Wekiva would be a great first time experience for you and your daughter.

Yes it would
The Wekiva river is beautiful…with the sandy bottom you would like…

And you can swim in the park in the lagoon!