Solo paddler etiquette?

What do you think, is there an unspoken rule that if another person sees a solo paddler loading or unloading their canoe/kayak, that person should offer to help the paddler with their boat?

Call me independent, but if I see someone alone with their boat, I think, “They clearly don’t need help loading or unloading, otherwise they wouldn’t be alone.” It has never occurred to me to ask a stranger if they need a hand unless it actually looks like they’re struggling. Certainly, if it looks like they need help, I’d offer…but a friend of mine assured me that it’s just normal boating etiquette to always offer.


now I feel guilty
I only offer to help if it looks like someone needs or will need it.

I always ask…
the worst they can say is “No thanks, I’ve got it.”

I’m reasonably tall and can offer some help. It’s my duty. At least that’s the way I see it.


l have offered
And been happy with others doing the same. Not always needed but at least you tried.

Of course.
I also hold doors for people whether they need it or not.

hey if you ever see me I will

– Last Updated: Jul-29-15 10:42 PM EST –

always accept help but let's not just limit ourselves to taking boats off a vehicle. You can also help carry my boat to and from the river or lake, or drag an end up on shore to ease my getting out of the boat at the end of the day. Any time you want to drain my boat I'm more than happy to let you.

If I swim feel free to bulldoze my boat to shore, retrieve my paddle, empty my boat, and help me put my spray skirt back on, I've pretty much had help with all of those things at one time or another but I've also helped others out as well.

I don't get the "I'm too cool to accept help" thing. So while you're at it, "you got an extra beer and snacks I can bum?" "Some dry clothes would be nice while I'm sitting here since you're also going to be runnin' my shuttle! Oh and I'm sorry about your Pogies I borrowed a few months back. I can only find one so I thought I'd just hang on to it." No good deed goes unpunished!

I offer
Help load/unload, launch, land, carry it. But never touch the boat until they answer.

I don’t mind when people offer to help me. I’ll always take help launching/ landing from another kayaker I know, otherwise I prefer You stay out of the way.

I always accept gas money though.

I paddle solo, but
that has nothing to do with my ability to load/unload or carry my boat.

My favorite launch site on a Lake Michigan bay is a wooden platform that extends down into the water. You carry your boat down the ramp, then place it in the water and climb in.

If a paddler is coming in, I’ll always go and offer to take his/her paddle and help lift and carry the kayak up the ramp to the grass. I’ll always offer to help carry kayaks down the ramp as well, whether there’s a solo paddler or a group.

The same applies to any launch/take-out site.

To me, it’s just a natural thing to do.

I Am With You

– Last Updated: Jul-30-15 6:36 AM EST –

I paddle solo and rely on myself -- from cartopping to unloading.

Was unloading my SOT this past weekend when a passerbyer -not a paddler -- offered to help. "Thanks, I got it." (How else did the boat get on my car in the first place?) I see another solo paddler and just assume that s/he can handle it on their own and do not offer to help -- UNLESS s/he shows otherwise.


Don’t see how
it would be wrong to offer help at any time. In any endeavor

Maybe I’m being sensitive…

– Last Updated: Jul-30-15 6:54 AM EST –

So I'll explain the reasoning behind my post...

I'm a 30 year old woman, and I've been loading and unloading my solo canoe by myself since I was 18. I've never observed a man offering another man (who's a stranger) help with his boat, but I get asked all the time if I need help with mine. I'm sure they're (mostly) just being polite, but sometimes I get tired of the assumption that because I'm female, I'm going to need help. Like I said, I've never seen a man ask another man if he needs help...

I've decided my response from now on will just be, "No, thank you. Do you need help with yours?"

I like it when people offer. I paddle a Bell Magic and she gets attention. It is a beautiful solo canoe. People will sometimes comment on the canoe and then offer to help. Sometimes I take them up on the offer, sometimes I don’t. It all depends on how I feel. I did my first bwca solo a few years ago. When I got back to the landing a father and son were just ending their first trip. We talked about our trips and the father offered to help put the canoe on the Jeep. I took the help and thanked them. It does not make me any less of an independent women.

offer help.
I’m a solo paddler. I offer and always appreciate help, especially after a long paddle and getting the kayak off the beach to the parking lot. Yea I can do it but many hands lighten the load.

I am asked all the time
And I am not a small man.

You may not notice because when I ask a woman first you gotta say hello so you don’t sneak up on her, then you gotta throw a big friendly non-rapist smile. I usually throw in a comment about the weather or “nice boat” to try and gauge if she’s gonna rip my head off for offering help and so it doesn’t look like I’m being condescending.

With a guy you say “Gotit?” As you’re passing by.

For every ten women I offer to help one will say yes so reckon I’ll keep on.

a suggestion from a male

– Last Updated: Jul-30-15 9:10 AM EST –

I am just a simple male. We males have tried for eons to figure out your complex and evolved gender. But in the end, we are still simple males. Sometimes we don't comprehend ourselves.

I'd imagine that most men offer help are just trying to help. Most of those men who asked you probably asked other men if they needed help also. I'd guess that even most of those who only ask women if they need help are doing so because they were taught that females are the fairer sex and deserve to be treated thusly (I imagine if scrutinized, you'd find those males offering to help are generally older rather than younger). And every one of them had mothers. I may be presuming here but I doubt it's a slight toward you or any woman as being weak. Yeah, there are some who may do so because they think women are weak, or are angling for a social connection.

Anyway my suggestion is to not be like men and try to figure out or presume for the opposite sex. Why sweat what you can't control?

Now I have to get back to figuring out what it was I said or didn't say that made my girlfriend upset.

also a solo paddler these days
But l am also getting more adept than l always love at using roller leaders and carts to get my fiberglass kayak from the car to the water and back. I generally don’t want help from someone who seems totally clueless about the boat. But at 63 closer to 64 I am not going to get offended if someone wants to help me at the launch. It is faster as well as easier. Whatever personal fulfillment I need from handling the boat solo I get from cartopping it and dropping it at the other ends of the trip back home.

But l also usually offer to help others. So l don’t feel that it is at all a one sided equation.

Solo, Tandem, Doesn’t Matter

– Last Updated: Jul-30-15 10:27 AM EST –

If I see someone loading a boat I ask if they need help. Just common courtesy. You may be perfectly capable of loading it by yourself, but why not make things easier? I offer and receive help all the time and I AM a man. And I do not exclusively offer help to women.


– Last Updated: Jul-30-15 10:30 AM EST –

Typically, when I'm paddling, I'm with my wife.
We both paddle solo canoes, and don't need any help.
Can go from 2 boats in the water to 2 boats & all gear loaded in about 20 minutes, or less.

If, for some reason, I am paddling by myself, I would most certainly accept help loading, or unloading my canoe, if help was offered. I have even asked for help with particularly heavy boats.

I like to think I am pretty observant. If I'm at a put in or take out, and I see someone struggling with a boat, I'll certainly offer help. Otherwise, I leave people alone.

If paddling with friends; if some are still loading when my wife & I are ready to leave, I usually ask, "Is everybody good to go". I'll help if someone needs help; otherwise "I'm outa there". The majority of my paddling friends are quite self sufficient.

Help given or offered = good karma. I really believe in karma.

One thing I don't do; tie down boats on racks for others. You're on your own there buddy! If it comes off the's on you.


Generational and perhaps geographical
I’m older than you, readsintrees, and while I’m an independent woman, I view an offer of assistance as an act of kindness, not an assumption that I’m incapable of a task.

I’m always appreciative - whether or not I need the help - and say so. Nicely.

In my Midwest area, I’ve seen guys offer to help other guys they don’t know and I’ve offered to haul gear for both guys and gals. Maybe the strong sailing/boating community here has something to do with it.

It’s all good, so pay it forward.

you got it Bob
I won’t, and I’m sure you won’t let others tie your boats down for you either.