Would you say something to this guy?

Hey just a question for some of the canoeing populace here. I have a neighbor who has just told me he is going to take his wife and six week old daughter canoeing in Resurrection bay (which if you don’t know is just south of Seward, Alaska). Now, I have kayaked this stretch many times and find it relatively tame most of the time in a 17 foot sea kayak. I’ve never paddled a canoe in my life but didn’t think that they were ever considered seaworthy. He claims that he has canoed many times on lake superior and that because he now has a motor attached to the canoe and a set of inflatable sponsons that he will be fine. This canoe is not a giant Hawaii or Aleutian outrigger, just a normal 16 foot open canoe with a motor and sponsons attached. Will he be fine or is he crazy to the point that I should risk some neighborhood peace and attempt to get him to stick to the lakes and rivers when in Alaska? Can anyone give me advice on this one?


I consider my canoe sea-worthy,
I’ve paddled my 16ft-9inch canoe solo quite a few times in the Gulf of Mexico and it handles 6-8 ft. swells fine due to its rocker and shallow_vee hull. I would NOT do this with another person on board, especially a child or infant! I would inform the local constable or harbor patrol and ask for their advice on the situation. Harbor patrol could stop him either at the dock or intercept him before he gets too far from the dock and have a few words with him about the safety of his family and how long could they survive in those waters if a mishap occurred.

Maybe offer to go along with him. I know you’re not your brother’s keeper but maybe this time it would help.


agree with gulfcoaster
I also like the idea of informing the local authorities at the dock. You can probably do this without getting personally involved if that is your concern while still doing something to increase the safety of the child.

Not sure I would be overly concerned about telling him though. Make sure it is in front of his wife. discussing hypothermia and the possiblity of death to both parents seems to put a reality check on things and I would guess at least one of them will see reason.


No and yes
I have paddled Ressurection Bay, and although it could blow up and be brutal, if the guy listens to the weather report it can be no different than any large lake.

I would give him a warning about the dangers, but it is his right to do what he wants.

I would also warn him to get back before theafternoon when the wind comes up.

I think any one that would take a six week old baby out in a canoe is nuts, but that is his right.

Tell him it would be a lot safer to put the baby in a back pack and hike the trail up tp the harding Ice Field

Picture of Ressurection Bay:




Yes, Advice
Wait until he or she asks for your advise before offering it. If he has paddled Lake Superior many times in the past it would seem that he is experienced in paddling big open water.

Happy Paddling,



– Last Updated: Jul-13-06 8:37 AM EST –

Edit -- Oh, wait, I just re-read the OP and realized that the sponsoons were inflatables. That does lessen my opinion of this crafts seaworthiness, but not to the point that I would suggest that the guy is being foolhardy, so long as he's within sight of land.

Guys, the fellow has sponsoons & a motor on his canoe. That makes it basically a motorized catamaran. Now, I seriously question the wisdom, (or lack of same), of taking an infant along. But, if the guy knows what he's doing, and if he has any common sense, that would make a pretty decent little craft, capable of light bay use.

I don't know about Resurection Bay, but I've had canoes, without sponsoons or motor, in protected, and semi-protected areas of the Atlantic, including some rather large bays. If you religiously watch the weather, and have plans for what to do if a blow comes up, it's not so bad. Mind you, I wouldn't want to be out past sight (and paddling range), of shore. But, putting sponsoons on a canoe makes it pretty stable. (So stable that standing up, and in some cases, swimming to and from it are options)

Also, keep in mind that a canoe with sponsoons and a motor is already more craft that what many indigenous peoples used to cross open ocean.

Seriously though, I might try to talk the guy into leaving the kiddo at home, if for no other reason than exposure.

Do me a favor
and babysit for them, please.


– Last Updated: Jul-13-06 9:41 AM EST –

Nothing could possibly happen to a canoe with a motor & sponsoons. That thing is absolutely unsinkable; just like the Titanic.

And if against all odds they somehow managed to capsize the boat; the six week old's well fitted pfd will keep it afloat, and hypothermia wouldn't even enter into the equation. They could right the canoe, bail it out, and in a couple of minutes be on their way again. Everybody knows that motors are 100% foolproof, inflatable sponsoons never deflate, and swimming with a 6 week old kid is a breeze.

If the neighbors were friends; I would make an effort to get them to consider possible natural consequences of what sounds like a not so well reasoned decision, and leave the child out of that adventure. The trip could go absolutely flawless, but what if it doesn't?
Nature often sides with the hidden flaw.


Maybe about water temps?
He’s obviously thought about the boat and its equippage - probably feels he has that licked and isn’t real open to suggestions whatever you think.

But isn’t the water temp up there likely to be a good bit cooler than on the Great Lakes? I’d be rather concerned about having a baby that young exposed to even the rarest risk of capsize or a cold surprise rain shower. The adults too, but they should be abale to fuguer this out for themselves.

I guess the guy didn’t think M. Jackson
holding his baby over the balcony or the Aussy Croc lover putting his baby near Crocs was a bad idea. The question is: why risk it? What does the baby get out of it? Is it going to remember the trip? Without splash covers the canoe can still fill up with water. It’s a bad idea. Hire a babysitter.

Alaskan independance
It sounds like you still mind your own business in Alaska for the most part. The code of the North and such. Still, endangering a child, particularly one who is too small to tell the parent he is foolish, can fall in the area of child abuse. Wispering in the ear of the Harbour Master may be a pretty good idea if the guy actually goes through with his plans.

i agree
my solo is very seaworthy. wouldn’t take a child that age anywhere near any water in such a boat. two skilled big water canoe paddlers, yes. my family, no.

All this talk about “it’s his right”. It’s his right to take risks for himself, but not to place a child in a situation which reasonable people would think is extremely risky. An infant isn’t his possession.

And anyone who goes out on Lake Superior in an open 16ft canoe is nuts too, unless the lake is flat and they’re in protected waters. Decked canoes are another matter, but even then, people don’t do crossing in them, especially not with infants. An infant can’t produce enough body heat to make a wetsuit work, can she?

Add a radio?
Last time I visited Ressurection Bay, it was buzzing with fishing boats and pleasure boats. If there’s any equipment trouble, help would only be seconds away by passing boats. Perhaps you may suggest he bring along a radio?

so now he’s doing a crossing?

– Last Updated: Jul-13-06 3:33 PM EST –

This is getting more exciting all the time.

This is all we know from the original post: "I have a neighbor who has just told me he is going to take his wife and six week old daughter canoeing in Resurrection bay." Nothing about a crossing. For all we know the guy is going putt putting right along the coast for a little while.

But, I agree that the six month old thing sounds pretty bad. But I have to wonder if that's REALLY the guy's plan. This is the internet, afterall.

I wouldn’t say anything. It sounds like he has the experience to make his own judgement call on when it’s safe to go out and when it isn’t.

As far as canoes on open water are concerned, there are a lot of variables from boat to boat and a lot of variables from paddler to paddler. I prefer a kayak when things get nasty, but I have been out in a solo canoe when plenty of kayakers stayed ashore. Of course, that would also depend on the solo canoe - there are a couple I trust in really bad conditions and others that I’ve tried in marginal conditions and couldn’t get back ashore fast enough.

John Winters, who has designed quite a few paddlecraft, had this to say about the boat which he designed for himself and which later became the Swift Osprey in slightly modified form:

Despite its relatively low freeboard, it is a dry boat (I have paddled the north shore of Lake Superior in it without taking on more than a few small dollops in the most severe conditions one would like to paddle in).


– Last Updated: Jul-13-06 6:04 PM EST –

I don't have any concern whatsoever about the guy doing Superior, Resurrection Bay, or Niagara Falls for that matter. Go for it; I think you can make it!

I agree that John Winters is a fine designer of boats.

I agree that the Osprey(I have one)is a nice canoe.

So...... the guy has a canoe with a motor & sponsoons.
He is no rookie, and is probably not attempting a crossing.
His wife is, I suppose, an adult, and capable of making a well reasoned decision about her participation in the adventure, and possible natural consequences.
There are normally "other" boats out there, available to assist him if a problem should occur.
It might be a good idea for him to have a radio to contact said "other" boats.

All good so far............

With a 6 WEEK old kid he's still "good to go" ???

I ain't buying that.


You have a way of cutting right to the heart of the matter.

well said.

speak of these canoes
which solos would you take out in such conditions, in theory.

i’d take my rob roy with cover, pfd, radio, dry suit, flares, dry bags, etc. certainly any kruger design would be up to the task.