I'm not sure I have a healthy enough res

pect for the river.

Im going to go Kayak on the Missouri River soon, and I bought a guidebook, and read other sources, and it’s hard for me to picture how dangerous weather on a river could be.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think whitewater can be deadly, and swift current, I respect that, it’s just when the wind comes up, and waves on the river, I can’t imagine that to be that much more than a nuicence. I mean, unless you are in a serious storm, but I’ve never lived anywhere where there are storms all the time, this isn’t venus.

I was under the inpression that to get bug waves you need fetch, and if you are on a narrow river on even a couple miles wide it could be really windy but shouldn’t get too choppy. I live by the ocean and say the winds are coming from shore, even if I am a mile or so out, the ocean surface isn’t too bad. BUt if it’s coming from onshore, than it can kick up chop, but that’s travelling over hundreds or thousands of miles, and to get actual breakers you need that distance.

I have no doubt I am wrong, but how then? And how easily do these canoes capsize? Since they don’t have a keel like a sailboat, which really don’t want to capsize.

“to get bug waves you need fetch” ?
bug=big? What is fetch?

Anyway, if your canoe is lightly loaded, then wind on a river can easily blow you around, or right back upstream. The combination of high wind and waves might blow you over, but swamping by waves is a little more likely. The Missouri river isn’t narrow, not even way up in Montana.

river winds
I paddle on the Hudson River, which is “only” a mile wide and is oriented north-south-ish. But the prevailing wind is from the southwest, which means that it often has a 12-mile fetch to play with before it gets to me. When the tidal current opposes the wind, three-foot waves are pretty common.

I don’t know anything about the Missouri, but if experienced paddlers say it can get rough, why would you, lacking experience, not take them seriously?

Canoes and kayaks can definitely capsize in wind. I would have called them easier to capsize than keeled sailboats, since they have less rotational-momentum and frictional resistance to rolling. On the other hand, you can’t brace, and it’s harder to shift weight, in a sailboat. So maybe it’s a wash.

In addition to capsizing, you also need to think about getting swamped (your boat filled with water) and about not having the strength to maintain your heading or make headway in the wind.

– Mark

Fetch Is…
…the distance that wind and wave have traveled.

Read Glickman’s Boob

– Last Updated: May-22-08 8:22 PM EST –


Good stories about his mis-adventures on the mighty Mo.

Or, if you're not into Joe's breasts, read his book.

You will learn respect and …
the river will teach you.

Never…Never…Never underestimate an opponent and the winner uses has the most respect for it. Be humble… and the river will gently teach you all you need to know.

From one who learned, loves and respects the water.

Paddlin’ on


What part

– Last Updated: May-22-08 11:23 PM EST –

of the Missouri are you going to paddle on? Much of the Missouri in MT and N Dakota is oriented in a generally E-W direction which is also the prevailing wind direction. Then there are the large reservoirs.

Don’t underestimate wind on a river

– Last Updated: May-23-08 1:25 AM EST –

We were in the BWCA a couple of years ago. Winds came up on our exit leg on the lake we were on. We figured once we got to the Kawishiwi river it would be better. Wrong. Encountered 1.5-2 ft waves (trough to crest), and very difficult paddling. Wind was blowing down the channel regardless of the direction the channel turned. In retrospect my experience on rivers is that regardless of the general wind direction it will almost always align itself with the river axis in the valleys.

I was going to go down the Yellowstone and then meet up with the Mo in ND and do as much as I could.

Thank you for asking butt.

You are going to
be on Garrison Reservoir in N Dakota. It is HUGE and the wind can really get going in eastern MT and western N Dakota sometimes. I’ve seen 4ft+ waves on Ft Peck Reservoir in MT.