Hello fellow paddlers!
I’m a confident flat water paddler, but most of my outings are on reservoirs or simple rivers with little opportunity to get lost. I’m in the mid-Atlantic area.
In mid-February I’ll be heading down to Florida to get a break from the cold weather and do some paddling. We’re staying on Rainbow River near Dunnellon, but I’ll also venture to Crystal River, Homosassa, etc. Some of these rivers have what I think of as complicated sections, with the waterway splitting into numerous paths, around islands, tributaries coming in, etc. Not only will they be unfamiliar to me, but I have had little experience navigating these environments. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m looking forward to it. I just want to be careful.
I’d like to know what kind of tools/strategies my fellow paddlers recommend. For example, is a handheld GPS considered indispensable? I’d hate to buy something that expensive to use just for two weeks. I suppose I might use it again if I had it, but like I said most of my paddling is out/back on easily navigated rivers.
Things I’m considering:
- Bringing my Boy Scout (i.e., ancient) orienteering compass. This would be a backup to my phone, but also something I could refer to more frequently/easily since I wouldn’t have to worry about getting it wet.
- Purchasing a deck-mount compass for my boat. Obvious advantages over the orienteering compass. I’m reluctant to make too much of an investment since who knows when I’ll travel so far afield again. However, it might still make the most sense.
- Smartwatch. I’ve often considered getting an Apple watch for its heart rate function. Also getting directional/compass features might convince me to pull the trigger. However, I’m having difficulty determining exactly how useful that feature is on the Apple watch. If you’ve used it let me know. I’m not keen on a different watch such as a Garmin since I doubt I’d have much other use for it.
- My phone. A great tool which I’ll bring regardless, but with known limitations for kayaking. Taking it out of its waterproof case each time I need to check it is the primary concern. On the other hand, showing my location on the map is extremely valuable if I’m lost or uncertain.
Open to all constructive suggestions. My decision seemingly comes down to what compass is sufficient, and whether or not I need a map/chart feature on top of that.