Set up brother for failure in ducky

So my 73 year old brother came to wv for some paddling on the new river (class II and III). I put him in an aire tributary series tomcat- old design (ducky). I had added a buckle in thwart to help support the seat. It was a real struggle for him to sit upright even with the seat modification. I tried reconfiguring the seat and thwart several times and added additional cam straps. The only other idea i had was deflating the floor a bit but never actually did it . He made it down the 5 mile stretch of river practically laying down. We also had some major issues getting him in or out of the boat. I know it was a frustrating experience for him. Geriatric boating has its challenges and what works for one person may not work for another. Today we are going for a hike. I really do try to set folks up for success but failure sometimes happens . My set up didn’t work for him. Something like an aire force might have worked better.


We do what we can,
As long as we can.
That’s all we can do.

I’ll do what I can,
As long as I can.
All I can do too.

I’m no canoeswithduckheads,
He adds brilliance to our threads


That’s about how my husband takes me on outings.

He put me on a new heavy eBike that was way too big and sent me down the steepest hill in Germany on my first time. It’s possible he is trying to kill me😆


Hey, my parents did that to me. I wanted a bike so they put me on one an pushed me down a hill. They told me to use the brake to stop, but I could find a brake pedal.

The plan worked. I no longer wanted a bike. Thirty years later I bought a bike that had hand brakes on the handle bars.


Age does not seem to be a factor on posture. We find many that can’t seem to sit up when kayaking. I don’t know what a “ducky” is, but leaning back against a backrest seems to be common for everyone over 18 years old.

As a 73 year old I can also say if you haven’t been doing it regularly it is difficult to start new things that require some physical conditioning. What we are learning too with our seakayak and canoe club there is a concept called “age out” that even good paddlers eventually fall into.

Having lead a lot of tours when I worked at a kayak shop I was always surprised at the number of adults who were not capable of sitting up unaided for more than a few minutes. Excess weight around the waist doesn’t help either, but I saw lots and lots of seemingly reasonably healthy people slumping down in their seat to the point of disappearing. Just because you can sit in a chair all day does not give you the core strength to sit in and paddle a kayak.

I feel your pain though, it’s no fun to take someone out for what should be a fun outing and it ends up being a miserable experience. I’ve gotten people seasick a few times out sailing and I always feel really bad about it.

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Well we change with age but also from our habits, conditioning, medical status, and mind set. About the only thing i can say that has improved with age for me is my experience level, patience, and time to pursue my interests. I know a couple of individuals who still boat ww at a high level that are in their 70s. They talk about retiring soon from the Upper Gauley (class 4 and 5). I’m “aging out” before some of my peers.

Diminishing physical capacity and becoming more risk adverse are kind of interlinked for me. The confidence in a roll has diminished for me. I simply do not have the flexibility, ability to hold my breath, and overall physicality of when i was younger. So i adapt my goals, environments, and practice a bit more. Never the less, i need to take a serious look at nutrition. My brother is 10 years older than me and shares the same gene pool. So if i want to be able to duck, kayak, or sit in a canoe 10 years from now i probably need to continue to work at it.

Kneeling is something i cant do. The active lifestyle when i was younger took its toll on the knees and hips. Admittedly I’m now fond of kayaks with racheting back bands and am thankful the outfitting in the boats has gotten a lot better.

Like Doug aka castoff said, just do as much as you can for as long as you can. One final thought, i do try to set people up for success rather than failure. Our hike went well yesterday with the bro. We adapted and found success eventually even if it wasn’t on the water.


We had quite a bit of flight instruction with an 85 year old instructor. It made me a teeny bit nervous but her husband was 87 and he was the mechanic who would tear the plane apart an hour before the lesson.



Some old people are pretty with it, those two could stick the numbers in air races.


Well after a good hike in your neighborhood your brother will be begging to get back in a ducky.

And I’ve seen you kneel even wearing boots. I think you just need good kneeling pads and seat pads so you can make adjustments until there is little weight on your knees. Plus you have to lose the boots.

I am bad for slouching in the boat. My deteriorating back is not happy with a properly erect seating posture. Sitting in ladderback chairs becomes beyond un comfortable.
In the boat , I concentrate on my abs and with a bit of slouching, it gets done.
And then I can’t get out of the boat by myself unless I can grab a solid object and pull myself up.
I use a walker to get around on land.
Without a great friend or relative my paddling days would be over.
I will go somhow as long as I can.


good for you string!

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Starting with Class III rapids also amplifies any problems with the set up.
Your job as a leader is to keep people out of trouble.

Long live endurance.

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ppine, I’m the little brother, my role is to get us into trouble!

I never want to have to knock on the door of a friend, and tell his wife that her husband is not com ing back. I have had a few near misses. As a trip leader, you have great reaponsibility.

now a days I’m much less of a TL and more of a common adventurer, either way it would suck to tell someone’s family that they had died. It is real possibility though. “Stuff” can happen.

Nobody died. Ducky (aire tomcat) simply wasn’t a good choice in this case. Mistakes were made. We lived and learned. Just a few years ago we duckied together on the elkhorn river successfully and of course we made some tandem canoe runs back in the day. This is more about adaptive paddling unsuccessfully and less about trip leading.

I try to avoid risk, so I weigh my options carefully. We all have an expiration date, and I feel like day old bread. If something happens to me due to a fluke, a poor descion, or unwitting stupidity, it’s all the same. Nobody has to lament. Especially if it happens while I’m doing something I enjoy. The exercise gives me a better chance than sitting in my rocky chair eating potato chips, which I must say is equally appealing.


You make a funny but compelling point.
On the one hand, I don’t want to “save myself” for the rest home but our very nature tends to be more risk aversive the more we feel like “day old bread.”
Think about money=time. At a certain age, it doesn’t make sense for a person to want more money (legacy money aside) because you would just be using your increasingly valuable time to build an estate that would never benefit you.
We all know what the main killers are and to some degree if you save yourself from CAD heart disease, you’ll die of cancer (roughy speaking at the aggregate) so at some point it’s foolish to chase risk at the expense of quality of life.

Hey, you think too much! :laughing::+1:t3:

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I probably don’t think enough. I really do like watching TV. At times the forum burns me out. Every day is a blessing, every day means you benefitted more than the last. I have no bucket list. We simply do things to pass the time until the inevitable.

The ONLY thing that matters, the only thing isn’t about what we do in the interim, its about how we help each other pass that time. Whether its alone or interacting doesn’t matter. Our money should be used for our own enrichment and shared with others, as we see fit. That distribution of wealth is up to each induvidual. Can’t take it with you when you’re gone.

Not to be a spoil sport, but based on my intel background, I have some observations about this mess in Israel that I would like to share, if you’re interested. The reason I reach out is your vast amount of world travel. Most people prefer to focus on daily routine rather than dwell on eventualities, so no need to respond otherwise.

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When the husband was at NPS (Monterey) an accomplished intelligence official who was
an exchange student in Iran before the Revolution told him (who was studying the Middle East as a RAO)

“If you think you have the answers about the Middle
East, you just don’t know enough”. So complicated :pensive: