Lake paddling question

I’ve only been on one small private lake with a canoe before…no big boats. I’m looking into small lakes here in Marietta, GA, and see that they allow boats with only electric motors…

Does that mean it’s safe for a canoe to be on those lakes? I’m a little worried about taking my kids out where there is a chance of getting into trouble from large boat waves.



– Last Updated: May-24-11 5:34 PM EST –

You say you've been on one "small" lake, "one" time, and there was "no" heavy boat traffic, and no large wakes.

You seem "worried" about taking your "kids" out on a large lake, where there "is" heavy boat traffic, and therefore there "will be" large wakes.

You have described yourself in your profile as a beginner.

I think you need to listen to your "inner voice".
I think it's telling you, "don't do it"!
Perhaps use the private lakes to gain some more experience, "before" putting kids at risk.


motor boats
With only electric motors the boats can’t make much of a wake. Seems like they start getting sizeable wakes produced at around 10-20hp motors, which are the limit at one popular state park near me.

It’s hard to say if you’ll be alright. Everyone has different skills and comfort levels with this stuff.

If in doubt go check it out before paddling or go on a quiet weekday and stay near shore. Make sure everyone has a pfd on use common sense, and you should be fine. Best thing is to find a paddling shop near you that offers some basic lessons.

I suggest joining Georgia Canoeing
Association and availing yourself of their training and water events for beginners. They are on the web at

Right now you’re concerned about many things, but one thing is more important…a proper foundation of basics about canoeing and water safety. Small lakes near Marietta may not be the best place to start, especially on your own.

Yes, that is where you would have no…
trouble at all and have no worry about wakes.

You should be fine and have no problems.

Jack L

You’re on the right track.
Boats propelled by electric motors do not leave serious wakes. You do want to avoid windy days. Wind will blow the canoe around and whip up waves. You’ll usually have less wind early or late in the day.

You did not say, but I’m assuming you have two paddlers. It could prove difficult for an inexperienced single paddler to handle a canoe alone.

Sit the kids low in the boat and distribute weight so the boat rides level. Stay close to shore, wear your PFDs and it all should work well.

On a recent trip to Atlanta I spent a day at Stone Mountain. The lakes in that park seemed pretty ideal for what you are proposing. I believe they had canoe rental available also.


The Stone Mountain rental is active on
weekends, but private boats are not allowed on the lake Saturday and Sunday.

Safe lake
Go to Stone Mountain, only small 10 hp or less motors allowed. Boats ARE allowed on Weekends.

Stay away from Allatoona and Lanier, you WILL get run’d over!

Thanks all, great advice. I have had some lessons, but aren’t making assumptions about what I can do at this stage. I’m athletic, quick learner, surfer, and a long background in martial arts…good for balance. All that and a dollar still won’t get me a coffee at Starbucks…but it’s a start :slight_smile:

Sounds like some GA paddlers on here? Thanks for the Stone Mountain tip…I can get over there during the week this summer…can’t wait!

Does anyone have any experience with some Cobb County small lakes? Sope Creek Unit Lake, G.B.'s lake or Lake Acworth?

“Bob”, I “appreciate” your “advice”. “Thanks” and have a “nice” day.

Beginners and beginners
I don’t know really how much of a beginner you are - but if this really is a first time for you in dealing with waves and boat wakes… someone should mention “when in doubt, turn into the wave.”

Actually boat wakes are not such a bad way to get the feel of handling waves - they do fade away fairly quickly after all. (And the waves generated by a boat with an electric motor are hardly worth mentioning.) Its really quite forgiving as waves go. Unless you’re paddling near a Carnival cruse line boat or the like, wakes are usually waves with training wheels.

Different game from a large lake after a couple days of consistent wind. There the waves just keep on coming and get bigger and bigger the further downwind you might get pushed. And in a really serious case its entirely possible to get ground down trying to get upwind and, after exhausting yourself, get blown into bigger and bigger waves. That can get dangerous for anyone, depending on the size of the lake, strength of the wind, and how long its been blowing.

Just take the waves at 90deg on the bow if possible and the stern if necessary. Avoid broadsides. (You can take waves broadsides later on after you get a feel for it, your hips are “on a swivel”, and you’ve learned a brace stroke of some sort.) But at first and whenever in doubt - especially with kids (or dogs)who may not stay seated or who might lean the wrong way - turn into the wave. Go back to your intended course after the wake settles down.

You’ll be amazed at how large a wave a canoe can take if you just keep your weight low (kneeling helps with that, but don’t get caught switching positions when the wave hits), meet the waves at right angles, and keep your paddle in the water. And, of course and always, make sure everyone is dressed to be warm enough even if they get wet and wearing a well-secured PFD. Staying near shore or in shallows isn’t unwise either if you’re REALLY a beginner paddling with kids.

Moderate waves will get routine soon enough and even get to be fun. You’re a surfer, eh? Getting any ideas? The answer is “yes”. :slight_smile:


– Last Updated: May-25-11 12:51 PM EST –

A practice session (capsizing the canoe, with kids aboard) under controlled circumstances, with assistance readily available might not be a bad idea.

Then everybody knows what it's going to be like if a capsize does occur. Everyone is more likely to know what to expect, and how to react correctly.
Everyone is less likely to panic.
"Hey, it's no big deal; we know what to do, we've done this before"!

The go for it mentality, without preparation for what might potentially occur, especially with 2 kids taken into consideration, is not a well reasoned decision in my opinion. I'm not talking about a forget the boat & get myself to shore situation........I'm talking about a forget the boat, get myself to shore (while shepherding 2 kids) to shore situation. Ever done that?
Do a little prep work(what have you got to lose), and then go for it.

I believe a little research will confirm that the majority of people who drown every year in the U.S. are NOT doing Class V whitewater. They are on local flatwater creeks, rivers, and lake.
What could possibly happen; it's not even over our head?


You probably don’t realize it, but the use of all those quotation marks make your posts come across as sarcastic. I don’t think that’s your intention, though, as you give reasonable advice. Just an opinion from the herd…

Quotations marks…

– Last Updated: May-25-11 5:00 PM EST –

I removed most of them; just in case others might perceive them as sarcasm.

My opinions/concerns are based on my training as a Lifeguard Instructor, Canoeing Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, Fire Department Search & Rescue Team member, Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor, Water Safety Instructor, NOLS graduate/ 21 day, Outdoor Leadership Training, and multi decades of canoeing experience.
I shepherded groups of delinquent kids down rivers/in all seasons for 21 years. None were ever drowned, or had to be evacuated because of injuries. The same can be said of every rockclimbing/rappelling, caving & back packing outing I led over the course of 21 years.

None of my 3 college degrees are in English; so I could be wrong........but I don't think my quotation marks implied sarcasm; they were more for emphasis.

No doubt about it; I can be a sarcastic b-----d
on occasion.More often than not I'm just trying to pull someone's chain, for fun.

Having seen a drowned child pulled out of a lake due to parental inattention; I don't joke about kid's safety.

I understand the concept of go for it.........

Another of my fun activities besides canoeing is caving. I have been a caver for 30 years, instructed cave rescue, organized & participated in 3 cave rescues on my personal time, at the request of the the County Sheriff's office, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and a state park Superintendent. All those rescued were going for it; without any training I might add.

I'm sure the OP will do fine; I wish him good luck, and good paddling. Not my intent to rain on his parade.


Our family rule for kids and boats:
One to one adult to kid ratio.

This lasted until they started taking sailing lessons off Newport, RI. I refused to stay and watch a dozen 10 year-olds, alone in their Optis, crossing the channel under the watch of a couple of college-age instructors in a 14-foot Whaler. It was too much for this dad to bear.

As to your situation, only you really know what’s safe and what’s not. The best advice I can offer is to never ignore that little voice.