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PADDLE HARD!...or not - How to paddle with a group

Updated: Mar 25

Large groups on the water can be a challenge...or a great safety buffer

Sea kayaking is safer while paddling as a group. At one of my guiding jobs we had 3 tongue in cheek rules:

1) Stay together

2) Stay together

3) Don't separate.

On our guided trips we ask our participants to stay within "conversational distance" which translates to calm days->further apart, rough/windy days-> stay closer. If you can't talk loud and be heard you are too far away.

But groups are made up of people with all types of physical builds, experience, ability, and watercraft designs that range from more to less efficient. All of this means that the key to STAYING together is that you need to WORK together.

On our trips we ask everyone to stay with the guide. If you are drifting apart, or find yourself too far in front, adjust what you are doing to keep the group together.

But what if you are far behind? On a guided trip this shouldn't happen, because the guide will stop the group to wait. If you are with a group of friends it can get trickier. No one wants to be the one in the back yelling for people to wait up. A few tools you can use to help:

  • Have the slower person be the lead boat. No one passes the lead boat.

  • Play games where everyone is talking, and so everyone is within conversational distance. (You've probably played these while long distance driving)

  • Split up a larger group into those who want to paddle ahead, and those who want a more laid back experience.

  • Maybe change out boats so the slower people are in the more efficient boats (Tandems tend to be faster than singles.)

  • Paddle in formation (See Top Gun or Geese) This also helps the group leader know where everyone is at. I like to be on one side of the group so I can look back in only one direction to see everyone.

Still worried about keeping up? If you are taking a guided trip with Lost Creek we have a few additional thoughts:

What about the best trip for people who want to PADDLE HARD? If it's for exercise you can always sprint paddle around the group. Otherwise the best overnight trip for you may be our Performance Paddler, or any overnight of 4 days or more.

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