First Long trip

My buddies and I kayak and canoe on occasion…nothing too serious, but now we want to take our first long trip and spend a couple weeks canoing down the North Carolina Outer banks. What are some things that beginners sometimes forget to bring or common mishaps on long trips like this?

(and don’t respond if you’re just going to say “take a guide,” cause it’s not happening)

#1 - destinationitis
#1 - One big mistake people make is getting the final destination fixed in their head w/o regard to current conditions. Watch the weather and know what would make the trip a go/no go ahead of time and then stick to it.

#2 - Another is letting the group influence the individual. I can’t tell you how many times I have been caught out by this one! The weakest paddler never wants to be the one to say, “I don’t think that I can do this”… whatever that might be. The group needs to be aware of everyone’s abilities and know what can/can’t be done based on that.

So, make your preparations for the big trip but take the time to get to know your other paddlers and their abilities ahead of time.

There are tons of lists on the internet and on this site for what to bring. Just review and start getting organized ahead of time.

Get charts of the area you are planning on paddling in and familiarize yourself with the tides in the area and figure out the problem spots along the trip. Make sure that you know your landing areas.

Good luck - the planning and organizing of the trip is part of the fun!


If you do use canoes, be aware that
wind can be very troublesome in the waters behind the Outer Banks. Even back in the tidal estuaries, wind can be more of a problem for canoes. Sea/touring kayaks are better able to deal with wind.

Also, you’ll need tide tables and to know how to use them.

I would plan a rather short, laid-back trip, with camping spots identified in advance. I’m not familiar enough with the Outer Banks to say whether there is any safe way to end your trip on a coastal inlet, that is, an outlet to the sea and beach.

Wow sounds like a good time
Make sure you file a float plan and stick to it. Make sure you are aware of any health considerations for the members in your group. Carry a complete first aid kit. Consider carrying a weapon. Learn to communicate with air rescue they have a standard set of signals. Try to prepare for the worst case scenario in any situation you can imagine. Talk about these things with the members of your group so each of you has an idea of what is possible. There is more I hope to at least get you thinking… Have a safe trip…

plan for the least paddler.
One trip Harry had a 14’ loon, I loaned a long boat to Mike and took my 12’ Dirago while an older woman (who claimed to be experienced… maybe in a car but not a boat) took her 10’ pungo.

She had loaded down to the max so while Harry & Mike took off, leaving the woman behind (they simply didn’t notice), I remained behind to watch over her, then took 5 gallons of her drinking water to lighten her boat, then another 3 gallons and all her food because she had to rest every mile, then every half mile.

When she asked, “Am Islowing you down?” I replied, “Only if you want to set up camp in the light or dark.”

By the time we reached the campsite, Harry & Mike were set up while we arrived, the woman exhausted.

A couple days later, that was repeated on the trip back. Harry & Mike taking off while I babysat.

So… my advice is this:

  1. be honest about your abilities and skills.
  2. ask the companios to be honest too.
  3. CONSTANTLY remind the better people to paddle to the speed/skills of the weakest paddler.
  4. and NEVER leave ANYONE behind.

    #4 was hit to me while harry, Gail and I were paddling along a cattail-infested river-lake.

    I noticed that Harry & I were alone and slowed. Harry kept on because his loon was so fast he simply didn’t notice that he could go so much faster than we could.

    I paddled back to find, eventually, Gail in the water towing her boat. She had rolled, did a wet-exit and was unable to re-enter and the cattails prevented ehr from beaching so was swimming for i-don’t-know-how-long hoping we would find her.

    I srteadied her boat and helped her reenter and eventually harry noticed that he was alone and came to look.

    People in fast boats NEVER realize just how slow other paddlers can be.

sunburn and heat exhaustion are big considerations on a trip like this.

Bail out points and rescue practice
In addition to knowing where you plan to stop, identify possible bail-out points for when you may need to unplanned. Practice rescuing assisted and unassisted before you go (and use the craft that you find gives you the best ability to do that). Paddle in wind so that you know what you are in for. Review the procedures to call for help and confirm what will work - VHF better than cell phone maybe, that kind of thing.

If you’re canoeing, stay close to shore.
You don’t want to be caught out in wind and wave too far from shore. Been there, done that. A strong wind can make controlling the canoe near impossible and when the waves height start getting close to washing over the gunwales, it’ll be difficult to head to shore since you’ll have to be very careful not to broach. You paddle the direction needed to keep the canoe from swamping which isn’t necessarily going into shore.

I found that landing with large waves requires a person to stand in the surf and hold the canoe while the other person unloads it, otherwise; the canoe will get swamped and ground into any rocks on the beach. It can be very cold standing knee deep in water for and extended period of time while unloading.

Just because you’re close to shore doesn’t mean you can land because of cliffs, large rocks, etc. You must always scan for bailout places on shore. My wife and I always now make it a habit of keeping track of bailout areas.

It’s very tempting when paddling close to shore to paddle across a big bay, but always keep in mind the weather so you don’t get caught too far out. If you swamp your loaded canoe in bad weather, the chance of saving it is pretty slim. In cold water you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to right a canoe, bail it out and attempt to get back in. If the weather was bad enough to swamp you, then getting back in won’t be easy and chances are you’ll just swamp again.

I think, and hope, that they’re not
going to paddle along the sea side of the Outer Banks, but to paddle behind the barrier islands as do may sea kayakers and nearly all canoeists. Even there, wind and waves can be a problem, and planning and executing landings takes care.

Outer Banks – heaven
. . . and you won’t need the weapon that a previous poster suggested. It isn’t the culture of the place. Lot of good people live along the Banks and a lot of very prosperous people play there. (You probably won’t need to shoot any yacht skippers or charter boat captains.)

Wind can be a big deal in the shallow sounds.

It’s so beautiful there. I envy you the trip!

Jeez !..i did not realize that the outer banks was such a good neighborhood. DO consider a weapon. Humans are not the ones you generally need to worry about.

Okay, I’ll take the bait.
What do you need to defend yourself from in that area? I’ve been hearing a lot about this place for many years now, but no one has said anything about such dangers until now.

I don’t recall mentioning any specific dangers. Kayaking is preparation. These preparations should be consistent kinda like wearing your PFD, having the ability to make fire,and the ability to defend yourself in a wilderness situation. I don’t have time to list them all.I hope

that you have a working knowledge of the outdoors and consider a weapon. You just never know…

most important
bring lots of beer, and some good whiskey

Take two Haldol, and call me in the
morning. You hopeless paranoid.

I get it. Just carry a weapon. Sheesh.

– Last Updated: Feb-27-09 6:20 PM EST –

If any normal person says "DO consider a weapon. Humans are not the ones you generally need to worry about", that's a pretty clear indication that there is dangerous wildlife occuring there, as indicated by actual attacks on people, yet now you won't tell us what it is you are afraid of. You gonna fight off dolphins with a slingshot, or do you have something else in mind? I hear the seagulls can be pretty pesky in that area, but if you aren't looking up with your mouth open, you'll be okay.

The racoons are hell . They will eat
everything you don’t lock up.If you are a cookie or a hamburger, arm yourself!!!

And be careful GBG and g2d.I have been branded because I don’t think every paranoid in the country needs an assault rifle or hand cannon.You could join me.

Heres the deal you pee brain…I was gonnah try to ignore you, BUT, Who do you think you are? You can disagree I can accept that. But now you bonehead you made this personel. I m sure you are the kinda guy who is prepared for nothing because you beleive that nothing can happen to you Well guess what? When something does happen you better hope that someone prepared like me is there to rescue your sorry unprepared ass. Oh and you also need to hope that I care enough about your unqualfied pill prescribing ass… Now anybody just wannah paddle safely or what?

You to
See the above reply. Tell me do you wear your PFD? Im interested now in what qualifies you to be a smart ass about this. I simply suggested to consider a weapon. Im certain that any paddler who is man enough will consider it and decide on his own. TRY to paddle safely and consider ALL options. I hope to never see you and the above pee brain on the water…

You To
Explain this to me. Why the insults? You have no idea who I am and what I know. Try to look at this from a mature point of view. I simply suggested to consider a weapon. If you guys want to get together and discuss this I am not free. As for wildlife it is everywhere we go. That is part of the reason we all do this. I will leave you with this. “KAYAKIING IS PREPARATION”. Please try in spite of your short sightedness to paddle safely.