Third seat for kids...

-- Last Updated: Feb-02-12 8:14 PM EST --

I'll be taking delivery of my new Bell Eveningstar next week. I've been speaking with the dealer about installing a third seat for kids. I have a 10 year old and an 18 month old, the 10 year old will definately not be happy about sitting in the bottom of the canoe.

The Royalex Eveningstar has a center yoke, and both fore and aft thwarts. The dealer has recommended they remove the aft thwart and install a third seat between it and the yoke. The seat would be a matching stained cane seat on matching drops. What do you all think of this? Will it make the canoe too stern heavy?

I’m an armchair enthusiast…

– Last Updated: Feb-02-12 9:10 PM EST –

...for at least another week. I should add that I really do not know much of anything about canoeing. I've learned quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, but it's all from the internet, and that certainly is not worth much. I probably know just enough to get myself in trouble, or really tork off the folks who do know their stuff.

I think I'm buying from a very reputable dealer, but again I don't really have much to base that on. What do I know right? I'm sure everyone knows where I'm buying by now, so I hope I don't offend anyone with my questions. That is definately not my intent. I'm just trying to learn! Anyway, that's why I'm asking this question on here. Thanks!

the way I see it …

– Last Updated: Feb-02-12 10:56 PM EST –

...... the ideal "center" of the 3rd seat will be exacly between the centers of the bow and stern seat . Especially on the Eveningstar because it has differential rocker , 2.5" front - 1.5" rear , which to me says it already favors a lighter bow .

But I would install my own 3rd seat , and in the doing "test" the location I've described by having 3rd person center their weight there . 10 yr. old is lighter than adult but I would test it with adult weight .

I looked at the Eveningstar on Bell's web. site and I still agree with me . Although it's the Kevlar model they are showing and "it" apparently doesn't have a rear thwart , just the center yoke (thwart) and the forward thwart .

Maybe your Roylex model will have the rear thwart (??)

The problem looks to be that putting a 3rd seat were I have suggested seems to be too close to the center yoke .

Bell may have a special need to keep the center yoke (thwart) in that position for maintaining the gunnel shape precisely , it is a tumblehome canoe .

But if it were me and I was definately installing a 3rd seat , it would go were I said it would and the yoke (which is a thwart) would be placed farther forward allowing reasonable distance ahead of the 3rd seat persons knees and movement needs .

The main priority for me would be the 3rd seat location (centered exactly between front and rear as said) , and the thwarts/yoke would go were ever they could be reasonably relocated ...

Our 16'-9" & 10" tandems both have a rear and forward thwart plus the center thwart . The space between me in the stern and the rear thwart is perfectly adequate but my paddle goes over it when I switch sides (I'm a paddle slinger) , so you need at least enough room between you and the 3rd seat person so you don't go bopping them with your paddle , and you don't want to have to compromise that by choking your space for freedom of paddle swing .

Actually if you look at it visualizing the 3rd seat were I've suggested ... that's about exactly where one would put a seat if it were a solo canoe .

Aft thwart…

– Last Updated: Feb-02-12 9:52 PM EST –

Yeah, this confused me too. I've seen a photo of the actual canoe I'm getting and it does have the additional aft thwart. The Eveningstar shown on Bell's website is a composite, and the dealer explained to me that the Royalex version includes the extra aft thwart, not needed on the composite one.

Also, if I do go with a third seat, where do I seat everyone?

I weigh 160 lbs, my wife 140, 10 year old is 75 lbs, and the toddler is 25 lbs. Should my wife be at the stern, 10 year old on the third seat, me at the bow with the toddler in front of me? That just leaves the space behind the bow for a cooler and picnic lunch? Maybe my wife should be at the bow if a loaded cooler is up there?

That sounds kind of funny. I mean "for weight distribution purposes". Not to keep me away from the loaded cooler!

Oh, and we are both pretty fit, so it's yet to be determined who is the stronger paddler. But where does the stronger paddler go anyway?

what I think …

– Last Updated: Feb-02-12 10:15 PM EST –

...... you at 160 , male and stronger handle the stern seat and the work load it requires .

Wife in the bow seat and doing the important stuff as bow paddler . 10 yr. old on the 3rd seat where I suggested ... toddler up front with wife (make a spot at the very front ahead of her) ... coolers and other gear will find their places on their own , lots of room in that canoe .

No reason why toddler couldn't be in center area either if you feel safe with baby that far out of reach from you and wife . I think baby wil be a shifter depending on how safe you all feel at different times .

Also suggest you have the 3rd seat lowered a couple inches from standard to start with (longer drops) ... should be good for youth and can always be easily raised if needed (just shorten the longer drops later if desired) . If youth wants to set higher , put a throw cushion (em. flotation device-seat cushion) under youth .

Thwart Removal

– Last Updated: Feb-02-12 10:47 PM EST –

The thing about thwarts is that they serve an important function. Try removing a couple of them and then handle the boat and see how floppy it becomes. If the gunwales are not stiff and well braced, the hull itself becomes more flimsy in the up-down direction along the length of the boat. People sometimes alter the length of one or two thwarts to "adjust" how much rocker a canoe has, so you can imagine that removing a thwart can make the hull unable to "hold" the proper amount of rocker when under small amounts of stress. Seats do almost nothing to reinforce the gunwales since they are mounted well below gunwale height and the right-angle joint between the seat rails and seat drops are not rigid enough to resist tension/compression the way a thwart does.

How far away is this dealer who's offering to make this modification for you? If close by, I'd definitely take the canoe unmodified and check the overall stiffness of the hull with and without the thwart in question (they are easy to remove and reinstall). If you can't tell the difference, it might be okay to install the seat. If you can tell the difference, I'd be reluctant to trade stiffness for a seat, but many others wouldn't care. A Royalex boat is already not as stiff as it should be for most-efficient paddling, and if it were my boat I wouldn't want to make it worse. This lack of natural stiffness is probably why the Royalex version has more thwarts than the composite one.

One thing you might try is installing a center seat at the location of the center thwart/yoke, and put diagonal braces between the seat rails and the tops of the seat drops. That will provide a lot of strength to resist tension/compression and is probably the best approach to this problem.

As another approach, portable seats work fine in a canoe for any passenger who's not actually paddling. You could use something like a Crazy Creek chair, or even a regular camp chair with short legs. Just set it on some padding or wrap up the feet to prevent it from eventually chewing gouges in the floor. Lots of people put a portable chair in a canoe to make the "duffer" comfortable (a duffer is a third person who's just along for the ride). There may not be much room for a chair among those three thwarts though, so I really like the reinforced seat-drop idea better.

Stronger Paddler

– Last Updated: Feb-02-12 11:18 PM EST –

You can make best use of the strongest paddler up front. In an otherwise-unloaded tandem, this sometimes distributes the weight a little better too if the stronger paddler is quite a bit heavier than the other. It may still be necessary to adjust trim by placement of whatever gear you have along.

The traditional view is that the more "skilled" paddler or the one who's "in charge" paddles from the stern, but in reality, a good tandem effort makes good use of skill at both ends of the boat. Average paddlers seldom know how to help control the boat from the bow, which is the reason for the mistaken idea that the stern paddler is always in charge. Also, realizing that both of you CAN participate in just about any maneuver and that both of you MUST participate in many, will help undermine the roots of the blame game that turns tandem canoes into "divorce boats" for so many inexperienced paddlers. Besides, it should be fun even when you make mistakes!

Who’s in charge?
There are a couple of reasons that the great majority of tandem paddling teams one sees is likely to have the more experienced paddler in the stern.

The first is that turns in long tandem boats are easier if they are initiated from the stern. The stern paddler can typically get his or her paddle blade quite a bit further from the pivot point of the canoe to apply turning strokes that do not slow down the momentum of the boat. Once initiated from the stern the bow paddler can assist and define the radius of the turn. That is not to say the bow paddler can’t initiate a turn, but it is generally easier the other way around and doesn’t slow the boat as much.

Second, it is much easier if the stern paddler is in charge of maintaining the heading. It is easier for the stern paddler, looking down 10 feet or more of canoe, to determine the precise heading of the boat. It is like looking down the shaft of an arrow. If your vantage point is close to the arrowhead, it is harder to judge exactly where it is going to go.

You will probably find that your biggest initial challenge is just making the boat go in a straight line. There are 2 basic methods for doing this. One is for the bow and stern paddlers to paddle on opposite sides and switch sides simultaneously every few strokes. The boat will yaw from one side to the other a little but it is a very effective method. The stern paddler being in a better position to see how much the boat is departing from the intended course should call the switches. Note that if you have someone sitting in a seat just in front of the stern paddling station, it will be difficult for the stern paddler to use this method without bonking him or her on the head.

The second method is for the two paddlers to paddle on opposite sides and stay there. For a variety of reasons you will find that if the canoe is in reasonable trim and the bow paddler is not grossly overpowering the stern, the boat will tend to turn toward the side the bow paddler is paddling on and away from the side the stern paddler is paddling on unless some type of “correction stroke” is used to keep the boat on course. There are a variety of correction strokes the most common of which is the “J-stroke” used by the stern paddler to keep the boat from turning away from his or her paddling side.

The J stroke (and the other correction strokes) takes a little time to master but doesn’t require any great amount of strength. It does require that the stern paddler pay attention to what is going on with the boat. In either method, the bow paddler sets the paddling cadence.

As Erik said, a number of experienced tandem teams, especially racers and whitewater teams, will place the stronger paddler in the bow. In whitewater, the bow paddler may need to make instantaneous course corrections to avoid submerged rocks and other obstacles that the stern paddler just won’t be able to see. In this instance there is no time for talk, the stern paddler just sees what the bow does and follows his or her lead.

In racing, if the team is using the switch, having the stronger paddler in the front will tend to counteract to some extent the tendency of the boat to turn away from the stern paddler’s side so the team doesn’t have to switch as often. If not using the switch technique, having the stronger paddler up front means he or she is not wasting any of their strength on correction strokes, they are just applying all their power to forward propulsion.

In your case, you and your partner are well matched in size so you shouldn’t have to worry about trim. I would strongly recommend you take your boat out on calm water on a day with little or no wind and practice paddling using both techniques. Ideally, it would be nice for both of you to master the strokes for bow and stern.

third seats

– Last Updated: Feb-03-12 8:55 AM EST –

Before you install a permanent third seat, you and your wife might want to take your new canoe out and paddle it around a bit. You might decide that it is best for one of you to be dedicated to the stern and one to the bow.

You might even decide that you like steering by switching sides as I described in the earlier post, and that could influence the placement of your third seat.

I used a small removable folding seat like this one:
for years for my kids and was pretty happy with it.

If you are certain that you want a permanent third seat I would position it so that the weight of the person sitting in it will be centered in the boat for trim. You and your wife are close in weight so I wouldn't fudge the seat placement to adjust the trim of the boat.

The center of gravity of someone sitting on a canoe seat will vary a little bit with leg length and other factors but will typically be a bit forward of the front seat frame. There are a couple of boats that come with three seats installed by the maker. These are not intended to be paddled by three people simultaneously, but intended to allow the boat to be used as either a solo or a tandem. Two examples are the Wenonah Solo Plus and the Mad River Malecite.

Here is the Solo Plus:
and the Malecite:

If you look at those images you will see that the front of the center seat is mounted a couple or few inches aft of the center of the boat and that is where you will want to put your seat if you want that person's weight centered in the boat.

I suspect that if you installed a center seat in that position with a thwart mounted directly aft of it and a second thwart mounted directly aft of the bow seat (like in the Solo Plus picture) and took out the center yoke that the boat would not be terribly floppy. The boat might be a little harder to portage without the yoke, but often times a seat placed like that will allow the front of the seat frame to be rested on the shoulders while portaging.

If you don't intend to use the boat for whitewater you could buy a replacement center seat and carefully shape and angle the cut ends of the seat frames so that they brace up against the inside of the hull and that will add some rigidity even if the seat is suspended from the gunwales. I wouldn't do that if the boat is intended to be used in whitewater as the end of a seat frame could punch right through the side of the boat.

If you are planning to paddle with all four of you your youngest would wind up sitting on the hull bottom or a pad either right behind the bow paddler or between the legs of the stern paddler and his weight balance by some gear in the opposite location but that is something you will have to work out.

Reality check…
I suspect you need to get very clear about your purposes here: who needs to get what out of going canoeing?

First up: if you want to engage and interest the 10 year old in canoeing, she needs the bow seat: end of story. I mean that.

Ask yourself what’s in canoeing for her if she’s dumped in the middle of the canoe, like a burden, with no capacity to exert significant influence / control. The answer is likely to be “nothing”… and as a rule, a 10 year old being treated like baggage is not going to be a happy camper.

Second up: does your spouse have ANY interest in canoeing? If so, that’s the stern seat spoken for. Please believe me: being dumped in the middle of a canoe and given a paddle is a really awful way to experience canoeing: it might work if you spouse wishes to look at the scenery and play with your toddler… but from a paddling point of view, offering her the rewards of taking the stern has to be the way to go.

3rd up, where’s the toddler going? My preference would be in front of the bow paddler: best view ahead… can climb onto the bows and face backwards… can be seen by the bow and stern paddler… and only gets in the way of the physically-weakest member of your team.

Slight permutation: switch the girls around - depends on temperament really. If mum wants to be able to keep a good eye on the toddler, the bow seat might be better (bearing in mind that the stern paddler needs to keep paddling pretty much constantly, whereas the bow paddler can often down tools without adverse impact on boat control).

Now we get to the crunch: there’s no seat for you! Sobeit: such is perhaps the fate of a dad who wants to get the family out canoeing and having fun in the great outdoors. On the bright side… you’ve got a canoe, and you can perhaps find occasions to go out and play on your own (Canadian style), or with one or other of the girls as a tandem partner… but on the downside, you’re surplus to requirements when the whole family turns out!

If that’s all accepted, you’ve got two options…

The first is to perch somewhere in the middle of the canoe and contribute a bit of power (you don’t need a seat: just a kneeling mat and something to stick between your legs).

The second is to get a solo canoe and paddle alongside… which is more rewarding, more sociable, and longer term, more sustainable (especially as your toddler would then perhaps have the option of periodically switching from boat to boat).

Bottom line: canoes are not good for more than two paddlers to actually enjoy the paddling side of things!

I wouldn’t sweat it too much

– Last Updated: Feb-03-12 4:34 PM EST –

It is true that some 10 year old kids will quickly get bored sitting in the center of the boat not paddling, but I have seen some who a are quite happy to do so.

It is also true that your 10 year old in the bow seat might paddle for 10 minutes, get bored and not want to paddle anymore. You can paddle and steer the boat from the stern seat but it is more work.

You and your wife are the adults and you have to be in charge. Therefore, if you are new to canoeing it behooves the two of you to learn how to paddle the boat. I would suggest doing that without the kids initially.

Once you and your wife are competent one of you can take your 10 year old out. If you want to really introduce him or her to canoeing that would certainly be preferable to having them remain a permanent passenger. And it is certainly possible to switch the positions around on an outing, but all the more reason to position a center seat so that the weight of a person sitting on it (who might be an adult) is centered.

When my first daughter was born my wife and I took her on trips before she could even sit up in the boat. Later we took both my daughters out in the tandem canoe on flat water and easy whitewater trips. When my older daughter became old enough to be interested in taking an active part (around age 10 or so) I would take her out alone and she would paddle bow.

You really don't know if either of your kids will really take to canoeing, all you can do is introduce them to it and try to make it enjoyable. I would suggest that you keep your initial outings with the children short enough so that if they tire or become bored they won't be turned off to the sport. As for the 10 year old, in about 3 years he or she will probably be far more interested in spending time with his or her friends than going out in the canoe with boring old mom and dad anyway.

here’s a little story …

– Last Updated: Feb-03-12 9:40 PM EST –

....... a guy we'll call plainsman got this idea to get a canoe , load it up with his wife and kids and head out on an exploration that would transport them all into the great unknowns of nature . To a world few would ever have opportunity to discover , see and experience .

He knows others have blazed this path well in advance of his team . He knows humankind has plied the waters by paddle to the 4 corners of the world even before the world was known ... and the way though not fully clear to him at this point ... is indeed a way . He believed that way could be journeyed upon safely one step , one achievement , one advance at time .

He percieved the rewards each would gain from their participation in the "family team effort" were going to be vast , exciting , full of precious memories that would last a lifetime ... he percieved all would have great enjoyment in their adventures , each filled with anticapations awaiting to be revealed , each ready to go ... right now !!!

So plainsman got the canoe , the paddles , PFD's , ropes and a couple a inexpensive dry bags ... put on his favorite side knife and cap ... some grub was packed and stowed to fill everyone's need for chow and juice and said is everybody ready ... if so let's get going .

All were in agreement so they loaded up and launched . They were a bit intimidated at 1st because this wasn't anything like the solid land they knew so well ... this was water . Thoughts of some scarey things were upfront in their minds ... things like undesired swims , being out in the middle of water floating by PFD's only , needing rescue help that may never arrive and lord forbid ... drowning .

But they remembered what they had been told ... that all who had blazed this trail before them had been subject to these same thoughts of "what if's" ... and after all , they had been assured of and knew there would be no need to bite off more than they felt comfortable and confident chewing up each day . They were pretty certain they could manage the 1st priority of paddling which is "to stay in the canoe" and not go falling out or tipping over (they were correct about that) ... and they felt confident enough to be able to reconize worsening weather and water conditions in sufficient time to head for shore .

So they went for it . Then they went for it again ... and again . Before they knew it they were flying , the fears were surpressed into healthy understandings of risk management .

moral of the story ... they kept going , the team grew in experience and skills , they keep on discovering and exploring , everyone is having a wonderful time , each has found their strengths and are happy to be , and needed to be , depended upon for those strengths , and the end never arrives ... it just keeps getting farther and farther away as they discover the world of water as it flows through time and nature is limitless , they discover they have entered into the never ending story .

sidenote from a later chapter ... the 10 yr. old became an excellent photographer and was the creator the memory book of their lives together in the wild . All depended on the 10 yr. old to make the most wonderful picture memories for them ...

Another decision made…
…thanks to everyone’s help on here. I decided to hold off on installing the third seat until I see how everything plays out with the kids.

Nice tale…
I confess to preferring the version where the mum , dad and 10 year old first hook up with a few experienced buddies who can give them some pointers on technique and so on…

…or better still, the version that includes tracking down an ACA instructor / paddling school and getting a crash course in canoe touring (including paddling technique and deep water rescues)…

Who knows, that path might also lead to a 10 year old girl going on to discover the joys of canoeing for its own sake, or of white water playboats, or sea kayaking, or competition paddling - all of which would have started with dad helping her discover the cool ways in which it’s possible to control manoeuvres from the bow seat :slight_smile:

Pilotwingz story…

– Last Updated: Feb-05-12 6:10 AM EST –

Thanks for the story, it was inspiring and an enjoyable read!

My wife and I met as geology majors, and fell in love on rock climbing trips. We've both spent our entire lives outdoors, and are raising our kids that way. Our daughter was in a climbing harness by her 4th birthday. She has climbed all over America with us, and has never once been inside a climbing gym. We've taken numerous ropes courses, studied high-angle rescue, and can tie a bowline on a frozen line in the dark in freezing rain. I spent years studying sports psychology to become a better, safer climber. I'm a certified CPR and First Aid Instructor. At 10 years old our daughter has probably spent more nights sleeping outside, more miles on the trail, and more time in the wilderness than most adults ever will. We all love swimming and our daughter is in the pool almost every day in the summer. If it can be accessed by mountain bike and weather permits, that's the way we get there. The baby goes in the bike trailer and off we all go. I commute to work by bicycle year round, weather regardless.

What I mean by all this, is just that we go at everything pretty hard. Being out there, in nature, is a top priority everyday.

All that said, our daughter is entering that phase now where friends are starting to take priority. She is very independent and stubborn, just like her parents! She has decided she no longer wants to climb, and she is developing interests that are decidedly not outdoors related. We can accept that, she is mature enough to make her own decisions and I respect that. As long as she continues to respect nature, I will support whatever other interests she has.

My wife and daughter are total water girls, I swear they were fish in another life. My wife loves the mountains also, but it's balanced by the ocean. I am the opposite, it's always been mountains and deserts for me. So canoeing is a new idea for me, something that never really occurred to me as a way to get into the wilderness. I hope that it will become something that does really occupy the lives of the whole family. My wife is already planning bigger, wilder, far-ranging adventures for the canoes that we don't even have yet!

So, we'll see how this all goes. I agree that it will most likely be a fun-filled, never-ending journey! Thanks everyone for your thoughts... and watch for my next line of canoe newb questions!

Regarding Swimming
Unless all three of you can can swim a mile in 30 minutes or 2 miles within an hour, and are also proficient with a canoe, I say forget this idea until all are able to do so, except the toddler. Test out you plan first by renting three canoes and practicing. Your 10 year old will learn the fastest and can teach both of you. Then buy two canoes (double and solo or 2 doubles) and enjoy your expedition, taking turns alternating positions and canoes.

When di you learn control a canoe well?

– Last Updated: Feb-05-12 12:19 PM EST –

My experience has been that young kids can't learn a proper J-stroke nearly as fast as adults can, and when small, they just don't have the proportions to make it work in a full-size canoe, nor do they have the right kind of arm strength to do anything except the goon stroke. I tried and tried to do J-strokes when I was in my teens, and I was just too small. The motion was too awkward for me when surrounded by that gigantic boat, and I didn't have the strength to do it except for an occasional stroke here and there as I made additional attempts to do it "right". After all, not only was the boat huge, it weighed a lot more than I did even with no gear on board, and any wind only made things worse, so doing thousands of J-strokes a day was beyond impossible when I was that age. They taught us the method in Boy Scouts, but only the biggest, strongest kids were able to get the hang of it, and "getting the hang of it" was as far as any of them got. The majority of us gave up and did goon strokes or switched sides to steer. The OP is already watching Bill Mason videos, and I have full confidence he will get this thing figured out without having it explained to him by the kid.

I still see Boy Scout groups on one of my local rivers, and those kids show something else that's typical of kids. They really don't care a bit about practicing the "right way". Anything that makes the boat go, if it can be done without much thinking, is the "right way" to them. The discipline required to develop the kind of feel for proper canoe strokes is more of an adult thing. Kids lucky enough to be in an environment to learn properly will do so, but it will be by following a good example, not by taking the initiative and learning more than the people they are watching.

Regarding the need for top-notch swimming skills, it sounds like the mother and daughter are all set in that regard. We don't know how well Dad swims, but I don't see that paddling in the places intended (near shore of the lake, and on that tiny shallow river that feeds it) makes it mandatory to be able to swim better than 98 percent of the people who are already paddling. Anyone who's at least comfortable in the water will get along just fine, especially wearing PFDs. I've been with more first-time paddlers who've dumped the boat on a river than I can easily keep count of, and getting to the shore of a quiet river wasn't remotely close to being a problem. Usually they thought it was fun. Dumping in swift water is a whole different thing and I've seen some scary stuff happen to beginners in that case, but even then, the ability to make proper decisions during critical moments lasting a few seconds at a time are of much value than having the kind of cardiovascular conditioning it takes to swim a mile in 30 minutes. In any case, everybody starts boating in a different way, and to apply strict start-up guidelines just misses the point and is none of our business. These guys can afford ONE boat right now and will get another one in the future if the kids stay interested, so getting one boat is the plan to work with. Renting is great in some places, but Nebraska? Evening SEEING canoes in Nebraska is a rarity.

My experience is about the same

– Last Updated: Feb-05-12 12:32 PM EST –

Younger kids don't generally learn to paddle a canoe more quickly nor are they motivated to try.

I volunteer to help with canoe trips run by a local nature society and we get kids of various ages from grade school (sometimes) to high school seniors as well as adults. Trying to instruct the kids in the bare basics (just so that they don't spend 2 hours bouncing off alternate banks of the creek) is typically a frustrating experience, and the youngest usually just don't have the strength and size regardless.

Granted, I usually see these kids on only one occasion, but the majority are poor listeners and obviously really don't care about what you are trying to teach them. There is an occasional gratifying exception. In general, the girls are much better learners than the boys (who seem to think they automatically know all there is to know about physical activities).

Lucky 10 year old!
If mum and daughter are seasoned rock climbers and swimmers, and “go at everything pretty hard”… canoeing well should come pretty easily: the progression in paddling can be pretty swift if the attitude is right :slight_smile:

The youngster solo paddling in the following photo was 10 or 11 years old at the time: great company on that trip - and quite at ease in Class II rapids.

I’d tend to agree with guideboatguy that “Kids lucky enough to be in an environment to learn properly will do so, but it will be by following a good example, not by taking the initiative and learning more than the people they are watching” - but some 1:1 with a good instructor can see a youngster progress at an astonishing rate.

On the other hand… most kids don’t have the power to get away with doing things badly… so the rewards of canoeing tend to come only once they’ve progressed to at least “intermediate” level… whereas some adults can seemingly muddle through quite happily at beginner-improver level for a decade or more!

Ps. I’d also agree on the “need” for swimming skills; the advantage of a strong swimming background should come in the “feel” for canoeing rather than on the safety front!

Not My Experience
For kids are amazing and learn real quick too. The secret is kids learn better from other kids. Grownups only get in the way and spoil things. Of course, there are top notch grown up instructors that can relate to kids and get them up to speed real fast. I’ve personally observed a 10 year old teach grownups how to paddle an SUP. The SUP might be an economical way to go for a family and kids really enjoy paddling them.