Canoe & Kayak Etiquette

I’d like to hear paddlers’ pet-peeves regarding anything to do with the event of paddling: from loading/unloading boats, portaging, the people who paddle, gear, shuttling, etc… Try to keep it short and sweet so the read isn’t painful.

I’m going to list mine to get the conversation started.

  1. Just cause I’m a woman does NOT mean I need help loading/unloading or carrying my canoe.

  2. DO NOT TOUCH MY CANOE WHEN IT IS UP ON MY SHOULDERS. You think you are helping, but all you are doing is knocking me off balance. ASK before you touch.

  3. 95% of the gear is BLACK or GRAY. Come on… give me some color!!!

  4. LEARN HOW TO SHUTTLE if you are going to paddle. If everyone would just keep an eye on the guy behind him to make sure he is keeping up, the shuttle works. Some don’t have a clue how to shuttle!

    Let the pet-peeves begin!

"Teaching moments"
If the advice is unsolicited, try to keep it short. Sometimes we just want to have fun. It’s not always about who can teach who… that ego trip.

Well, I’m just opposite on the “Loading” and unloading and ALWAYS offer help loading and unloading. And I appreciate some help with my own. Just because you CAN do something, why make it harder than it has to be?

Don’t wait until we are at the beach to stuff your dry sacks and sort your gear. Do a dry run at home so we can hit the water when we get to the put-in.

Nice to Offer
It is nice to offer help by ASKING if the person needs help, or by offering your help to someone else by ASKING if they need help. Sometimes I’m tired and want help too!

Do you kayak at all?
At least sea kayaks. I am guessing not. Because when you get to 16 plus foot long fiberglass or plastic sea kayaks, it is normal courtesy to help carry each others’ boats. Regardless of gender.

Maybe the title for the post should be canoe etiquette, at least if one of your stronger points is about taking offense at someone wanting to help you carry a boat. Much of the post doesn’t have a lot to do with kayaking. Some of the responses yes, but not the OP.


– Last Updated: Aug-12-14 9:13 AM EST –

out of the way. When your boat is 1/2 in the water, you should be getting in, not packing it. When getting out, ground it, grab it, move it. Launches are first come first served, but they are not the place to swim, eat or pack, they are a place to launch and land.

Conversely, if you get there and there are multiple boats in front of you, pull your fundies out of the canyon and wait. You could have gotten there earlier if you wanted to be on the water at that instant.

A. Pick up your trash, all of your trash. B. Any questions on size or composition, refer to part A.

Always ask if someone could use a hand. Its just common courtesy. :)

I Completely Agree
For I learned a long time ago that helping or offering to help is a condescending act and I don’t ever want to be glared at again. Even my own teenage daughter waves me away. Women are just as capable as men in handling their own canoe by themselves, including deep water remounts. And like men, they will ask for help when they need it. Respect that and we can paddle together in harmony.

Also agree about help
I also agree about politely refusing any offered help when carrying my canoes because I have done so for so many years that its second nature. I just came back from delivering a big Old Town Northern Light 18.5 ft canoe that I was selling to a gentleman. As I was removing it from my minivan roof, I declined his offer to help and as I was getting it balanced on my shoulders, he started to pick up the stern and pushed forward almost making me lose my footing. Some people, in fact many people, have obviously never seen someone carry a canoe on their shoulders.

I completely disagree with…
your number 1.

You might not want help but there are many women and men that appreciate it.

We would not be very nice paddlers if we didn’t at least offer to help our fellow paddlers.

The next time some one like me offers to help, just politely say “no thanks” and we’ll both go on our way feeling happy.

Jack L

Dont block the entire loading area
while you figure out for an hour how to pack your craft or negotiate who is carrying what.

Leave room for others to exit and enter.

i will always offer assistance

Something similar with boat loading

– Last Updated: Aug-12-14 11:28 AM EST –

I run into that same thing when carrying canoes. Another similar situation is when loading my guide-boat on the car. Even for two-person loading, the easiest way with a heavy boat is to get one end up on the rear cross bar, then pick up the end that's on the ground and slide the boat onto the rack. The thing is, almost no one I've met has ever loaded a boat that way, and they also don't understand that rapidly lifting the low end of the boat high enough to smash the top of the bow stem into the roof of the car is not an acceptable method. If they aren't reined in immediately, they'll grind the painter ring along the roof until the stem comes to a stop against the front cross bar. Even if I'm loading the boat this way myself, there have been many occasions where someone sees me holding "my end" of the boat low while sliding it into the roof, and they come alongside to "help me lift it higher". At that point I have to resist their effort by pulling downward, or else BANG, the car roof takes another hit.

That one is prettty common
Blocking access to the water with parked boats while milling about aimlessly or while waiting for shuttle vehicles is very common paddler behavior.

Because someone offers to help you and you’re female, does not mean they’re a chauvinist.

I’d like to live in a world where I don’t have to overanalyze the situation before offering help to somebody.

My take on help
I view an offer to help as an act of kindness and good manners, not some sexist gesture.

Am always grateful when someone asks if I’d like help moving my kayak from or to shore, especially if the sand is deep. I accept it when offered, and pay it forward.

You put your hand on my canoe when I’m
getting it up on my shoulders, and I’m likely to break your arm.

IT IS DANGEROUS to interpose “help” when some one is heavy-lifting. Just ask the guys doing Clean and Jerk at the Olympics.

Safety is more important than being “helpful”.

In almost 50 years of paddling, I cannot recall where I was either helpful to another solo lifter, or where I was helped myself.

She clarified that part
She wrote another post which clarified her position that “offering” to help is fine. My take is that she doesn’t like it when someone tugs on the boat she’s already carrying, or picks it up without asking.

yes but gender shouldn’t matter
One should ask first regardless of whether the person is a man or woman. If the issue was simply as you say, why did she write “just because I’m a woman…?”

Maybe that’s her interpretation, …
… and maybe she wrote the first post without thinking about how it might be perceived. All I’m doing is using her second post as additional info, and reaching what to me is a logical conclusion. I figure if her second post specifically says that asking about providing assistance is fine, then that alters the apparent meaning of the first post which you are sticking to.