CANOE OR KAYAK by wpr1947


									CANOE OR KAYAK?
                                 That is the Question                                            By Rich Macha

O                ne can find a plethora of paddling destinations
                  in the Adirondacks, some less adventurous, some
     more so. Some folks might portage from pond to pond in the St.
     Regis Canoe Area; some might want to take on the whitewater of
     the Hudson River Gorge. Others may load up the gear and paddle
     out to a backcountry campsite on Little Tupper Lake or just bring
     along a fishing rod and poke around Thirteenth Lake. A few may
     want to do it all!

                                                          Canoeing and kayaking on Lake Lila. DAVID HOUGH

 T       here are many models of canoes and kayaks
        to choose from, none of which is perfect for all types of
 paddling. I am lucky to own several canoes and kayaks and can
                                                                                hard to make it turn. Luckily, there
                                                                                are compromises that can make
                                                                                most paddlers happy.
                                                                                   Seaworthiness is a quality I regard
                                                                                highly in a kayak or canoe yet I
 use the one best suited to the task.                                           don't often hear others giving much
    When buying your first kayak or     canoe or kayak, then over time other    thought to how a certain vessel han-
 canoe you should pick a model best     needs and preferences might dictate     dles in waves. If you paddle much at
 suited to the type of paddling you     a different choice.                     all on larger lakes (Little Tupper,
 plan to do the most of. Your choice       There are many trade-offs in the     Stillwater, George, Cranberry) then
 may change as you gain experience      paddling world. Weight vs. price—       inevitably at some point you will
 and skill, so don't get hung up        lighter boats cost more. Speed vs.      have to deal with wind and waves.
 thinking that your first canoe or      stability—more stability, less glide.   Most boats handle fine in placid
 kayak will be your last. You might     Tracking vs. maneuverability—if it is   water; some handle well in rough
 want to start with a general-purpose   easy to keep it going straight, it is   conditions.

12                                                                                                        Adirondac
   It is wise to acquire some pad-                                                    Comfort may vary. Manufacturers
dling skills—take lessons, watch            Kayaks are often viewed                are putting more effort into provid-
how-to video,s and read books.                                                     ing fancier seats with more adjust-
Many years of trial and error make           as sexier than canoes.                ments, but a high seatback and thick
for an experienced paddler, but less                                               padding do not guarantee the most
likely a skilled paddler. A good pad-                                              comfort after a few hours of pad-
dler in a lousy boat is better off than                                            dling. Note that most kayaks
a lousy paddler in a good boat.                                                    designed for performance and for
   Another major choice is whether        ter of gravity, allowing for more ini-   going longer distances have low seat-
to go tandem or solo. A misconcep-        tial stability in a narrower boat.       backs. Before buying, it might be a
tion I often hear is that canoes are      Longer and narrower boats are faster     good idea to rent your dream kayak
tandems and kayaks are solos. There       than shorter and wider ones. A           and spend the day in it; many deal-
are solo and tandem canoes and            lower profile exposes less boat to       ers will put the rental fee toward the
there are solo and tandem kayaks.         the wind and one is less likely to be    purchase price if you decide to buy.
Tandems are usually bigger and            blown sideways. Kayaks equipped            Back problems are a common com-
heavier than solos, so if you go tan-     with skegs, or rudders, allow the        plaint, as is legs falling asleep. The
dem make sure you have a regular          paddler to stay on course in windy       former may be helped by readjusting
partner with whom you have a good         situations. Foot and thigh braces        the seat and the latter by adding
rapport. Two paddlers will generally      add more points of contact between       under-thigh support. People with
go faster than one and an organized       boat and paddler, generating more        existing conditions like bad backs,
team can make for easier portages;        efficient paddling and better boat       hips, or knees should try renting to
one can carry the canoe and a small       control. Although not all kayakers       see how kayaking might affect those
pack while the other totes a big pack     use them, sprayskirts can keep           parts. Bad knees and hips can make
and the paddles. Soloing offers           splashes out of the boat as well as      it harder to enter or exit the kayak.
more independence.                        help keep the paddler drier in rain.     With a little help and determination
   Design and construction are            Most higher-performance kayaks are       most folks should be able to get by.
beyond the scope of this article. Try     rollable, making for swift recovery      There are always better and worse
to find a good dealer who is willing      after a capsize if the paddler has       ways of doing things; get a skilled
to spend the time explaining this         taken the time to learn this skill.      kayaker to show you the better ways.
stuff to you. Here, I will discuss the
relative merits of canoes and kayaks
for primarily flat-water recreational

    K A Y A K S

K       AYAKING HAS BECOME increas-
       ingly popular in the last
          decade and, at least in our
neck of the woods, many more
kayaks are being purchased than
canoes. There are many reasons for
this, one being that kayaks are often
viewed as sexier than canoes. Basic
entry-level kayaks made of polyeth-
ylene are relatively inexpensive; one
can be out kayaking for under $500.
The double-bladed paddle makes it
easier than single-bladed canoeing
for folks to achieve a basic level of
competence. Most paddlers can go
faster when using a kayak paddle,
and many people enjoy the feeling
of being closer to the water.
   A kayak's low seat lowers the cen-
                                                                 River kayaking. RICH MACHA

March–April 2010                                                                                                        13
                                              A good paddler in a                   double-bladed kayak-style paddle.
      C A N O E S                                                                   This combines some of the advan-
                                             lousy boat is better off               tages of both canoes and kayaks:

 O         NE  THING I LOVE about                                                   simplicity, light weight, ease of pad-
            the canoe is its simplicity.      than a lousy paddler                  dling (less technical skill is
          There are few parts to break                                              required). Foot braces aid in com-
 or malfunction. Most people will               in a good boat.                     fort, stroke efficiency and boat con-
 find getting in and out easier with a                                              trol, although you will not experi-
 canoe than with a kayak. When                                                      ence the added control found in
 going over beaver dams or negotiat-                                                kayaks with thigh braces.
 ing obstructions I can easily step        in a solo canoe, but most of the            The most common pack canoes
 into another part of the canoe,           canoes we see are tandems.               are in the 10- to 12-foot range, but
 whereas in a kayak I am limited to           Some paddlers use double-blad-        we are beginning to see some longer
 the cockpit area. A canoe is lighter      ed paddles to power their canoes,        ones on the market with greater
 than a comparably sized kayak,            and often find themselves going          speed, seaworthiness, and load-car-
 making for easier cartopping and          faster. A double-bladed paddle is        rying capacity. Newer models are
 portaging. Loading your stuff is also     almost twice the weight of a single-     being offered with fancier seats fol-
 easier in a canoe and you also have       bladed one and the arms may tire         lowing complaints of discomfort
 greater access to your gear while on      sooner from holding it up for a          that came with the rudimentary
 the water. Bulkier items fit better       length of time. The single-bladed        seats often associated with the pack
 too. From the canoeist's higher posi-     canoe paddle is often quieter.           canoe. Without a deck they are wet-
 tion one gets a better view down-            One has the option of sitting or      ter in the rain and in a downpour
 stream and over stream banks.             kneeling in a canoe and can switch       the paddler could be sitting in a
    For most people, it takes longer to    back and forth for a change of posi-     puddle of water. Drips from the
 reach a level of competence when          tion. Kneeling puts the canoeist in a    paddle tend to end up in your lap.
 learning to use a single-bladed pad-      better position to control the canoe,    Ease of entry and exit falls some-
 dle. A j-stroke just does not come        especially in less-than-perfect condi-   where between a traditional canoe
 naturally—how often do we see a           tions when more points of contact        and a kayak.
 paddler switching sides every two or      between paddler and canoe are
 three strokes? One will learn faster      desirable. The kneeling position         M OST IMPORTANT, whatever gets
                                           allows for better posture and is good    you out on the water is good. What's
                                           for one's back, although the knees       right for me may not be right for
                                           or ankles might suffer. Knee pads        you, but if you are like me you will
                                           and some support under the ankles        need a small fleet to explore the
                                           can help. For some reason, Ameri-        variety of waterways available to us
                                           cans seem to be predisposed to sit-      in upstate New York and especially
                                           ting. Sitting is not so good for the     in the Adirondacks. If you see me on
                                           back and makes for fewer points of       Lake Champlain (“the Adirondack
                                           contact with the boat, resulting in      coast”), I'll be in a kayak. If you see
                                           discomfort and lack of control.          me on the Oswegatchie River above
                                           Some folks add seatbacks, although       High Falls, I'll be in a canoe. If you
                                           most would be better off installing      see me lounging in my comfy chair
                                           foot braces.                             at a campsite on Lows Lake, I've
                                                                                    brought my canoe. If you see me
                                                                                    paddling on the Cedar Lakes, I may
                                             H Y B R I D S                          be in a pack canoe. If you see me
                                                                                    cruising around Little Tupper Lake I

                                           T      HE MOST COMMON HYBRIDS in         could be in any of the above. See
                                                  our neck of the woods are         you on the water.
                                                  pack canoes. I think of the
                                           pack canoe as being more of an           Rich Macha is a long-time Albany
                                           undecked kayak, an OK-1 (open            ADK member currently serving as
                                           kayak for one paddler). These have       Paddlers Chairperson, leads many
                                           the look and shape of a canoe, will      paddling and cross-country ski trips for
                                           most likely have a low kayak-style       the club, and is owner of Adirondack
     Kneeling helps control a              seat, and are paddled solo with a        Paddle'n'Pole in Colonie, New York.
       canoe. CARL HEILMAN II

14                                                                                                                 Adirondac

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