Trip Leader question.

I have recently started leading trips for novices, primarily because my body can’t handle longer trips right now.
We’ve had a couple and they have been fun. I enjoy teaching and my students want to learn.
A question that has come up a couple of times is " Does anyone have a kayak I can borrow?".
I haven’t been rude but suggest places where boats can be rented. I have rec kayaks I can loan, but prefer not. I have no desire to be an outfitter.
What would you do?
Is this a Dear Abbey question?
I made an exception once when a woman showed up with a 10’ pool toy and a 5lb paddle. She proceeded to paddle her heart out so the next time I loaned her the gear and strongly suggested she find her own. I don’t know what she has done since.

I suggest that paddlers find and bring their own gear be it borrowed, bought or rented. But then when actually on the water encourage folks to switch gear to develop better sense and vocabulary of what works for them.

I am sure you are not wrapped up in the legal BS, but providing gear might imply a greater sense of responsibility. Just make it know sufficiently in advance of paddler’s responsibility to source gear with suggestions of suitability for comfort and effective learning. This is also likely to filter out the non-committed from the mix too.

The evening paddle group around here has traditionally had a lot of novices, though this is the first year without an outfitter participating so the lack of easy rentals may have affected that. Been busy so I haven’t had time to get to many of them, but the only one I made so far I was one of the volunteer leaders. Old habits die hard.

I have offered to swap boat or paddle with newer paddlers in this bunch once they were on the water and I could gauge their comfort or likely interest. I have never offered a rental solution, like to strangers. I have the spare boat or two to do it. But I wouldn’t, because it makes me responsible for a possible outcome and I am not an outfitter. I may loan a boat to someone I already know.

Over the years I have probably put more other people into my boats in situations like informal rescue classes, so that they can experience why a sea kayak works better than their rec boat.

I am surprised you guys even let rec boats near you. After swamping a Pelican a couple of times I’d rather not deal with it at all…

Generally I don’t lend out my gear unless it is for a friend of mine. We might have a group of friends over then we put out rec boats for people to use but not for strangers on trips. Partially for liability… partially for damage…partially for laziness…and partially because many of the strangers that seem eager don’t show up. They need to have a stake in the trip. I already have two boats to load and the gear. Three means I’ve got to take the trailer instead of the short easy to load Forester. So right away I’m doing more than necessary and I’m not that nice. Around here we have many outfitters that will rent boats, give lessons, and lead novice trips. When I joined my clubs I joined them because they were established and full of experienced paddlers.

@SpaceSputnik There is a lot of very quiet water around here where I am inland, and it is very understandable that people want to get on it quickly. Which is usually the same as without spending a lot of money. And frankly someone can have a good time on a hot day on quiet ponds with the recciest of rec boats. So it is to be expected that these paddlers will be out there. The ones who want to go further onto bigger waters usually either have a moment of revelation that they need a better boat when they dump it, or decide to stay in the places where that boat belongs. The exceptions are each spring’s news stories.

I totally agree, if someone did dump one of those boats in the group I would haul them to shore rather than try it on the water. But those paddlers are usually in the slower group, which stays nearer the shore. So it works out as far as the evening group goes.

As the challenge goes up the group thins. My husband and I had a rule that no one could paddle with us past Thanksgiving without a dry suit. As a result a number of people went out and got dry suits so they could join us off season on Lake George, that kind of thing. I was close to calling Kokatat and asking for a percentage.

I have no issue whatsoever letting people test paddle any boat I own.
When/if they do; I’ll be there with them, to assist them in any way I possibly can.
I’ll have "eyes on the paddler & my boat during the testing. I’ll likely be out on the water with them.
On the other hand; I am not putting any boat I own into the hands a rookie I don’t know.
Ain’t gonna happen!

Buy your own boat & your own gear.
Can’t afford it; use outfitter to rent a boat.
Save your money; buy a used boat’
As you make progress; save more money, sell your beginner boat & buy a better boat.

I know that method works. It worked for me 50 years ago & I still use an adaptation of the method.
Will be picking up a used boat tomorrow to add to my flotilla of 22. I think that’s the correct count?
Sometimes I lose count.


Bob, guys like you make me feel normal. I only have 6.