For some of us, boating is an exclusive relationship. We’re simply in love with one type of boating, or perhaps one type of boat. We stay with our love through thick and thin, and are never tempted. The rest of us though, may have a wandering eye. We may have a little something going on the side. Some of us may even be serial cheaters.
That being said, a very good looker that is hard to pass up is canoeing. Specifically, there’s an allure about canoe camping that is serene, yet playful, and it may be just the thing to spice up your life.
Arrange a meeting.
Read a book or magazine on canoeing. Look at some online information and chat with other canoeing enthusiasts. When you’ve worked up the nerve, take a trip to your local sporting goods or outdoor gear store. Ask the salesperson questions and start getting a feel for this mode of transportation. You might even have a canoe outfitter nearby who can answer questions and rent you a canoe and some gear.
Make a date.
Are you feeling the excitement? Take a canoe out for a spin. Don’t start with anything too strenuous or difficult, it could ruin the moment. Going out your first time with the proper safety equipment and an experienced guide is a great idea.
What do you have in common?
You both love the outdoors, the scenery, and the peacefulness of calm water. A canoe is a versatile craft. It can take you places you’ve never been and show you things you’ve never seen from a bigger boat. You’ll get to appreciate the serenity of a lake or waterway, and be a part of the surroundings instead of imposing yourself and your motorized vessel on it.
Get to know each other.
After you enjoy a few more outings, you should be able to start narrowing down the type and size of canoe that fits you and your needs best. At this point, you probably have more knowledgeable, the understanding of paddle strokes, and a gauge of your abilities.
Get out your tent and camping supplies. If anything is new, give it a trial run. New tent? Set it up in the back yard or living room. Do you have all the parts? Can you put it together without directions? How about in the dark?
Does everything that needs batteries have fresh batteries?
If you’re going to be doing any portage, or hiking, take a suitable day pack for carrying the essentials. And no matter what your intentions, at the very least, your feet will get wet, so take appropriate footwear. A spare set of clothes will take up extra space, but think how welcome it would be to have something dry to change into in the event of a mishap.
Will everything you need fit in your canoe? It’s important not to overload it. A heavy boat is hard to paddle, and tiring to unpack and repack. Don’t load items above the gunwales, and put the heavy stuff in the middle of the canoe, on the bottom. Think stability. Pack the things you’ll have to get to several times a day (sunscreen, insect repellant, food) towards the top. You don’t want to have to dig for them every time.
Make sure everything is in a dry bag or dry box, and that it’s securely fastened to the canoe. Despite your best intentions, you may take a spill.
Time to stay overnight.
Ready to go all the way? Whether you plan to rent or borrow a canoe for your first canoe camping trip, don’t forget your basic boating essentials. Pack the usual safety equipment: life vest and first aid kit. Don’t forget a compass, your maps, and perhaps a GPS. Check the weather as you would for any boating trip, and don’t forget to file a float plan. Take the food and any necessary cooking utensils. Don’t forget drinking water, and something to seal your garbage in so you can pack it out.
Store your food appropriately. If you’re in bear country follow storage protocol. If there aren’t any large critters to worry about, you still have to think about the little thieves, such as raccoons, that will open up or drag off any food that isn’t secured.
Set yourself up for success.
Take your first overnight in good weather, on a calm stretch of water with no known hazards, and easy to climb banks. If you have to drag a canoe up a steep rocky bank, after a rough ride through rapids, your first time out, you’re going to be one unhappy camper. Make your first canoe camping trip a pleasant one so you’ll look forward to the next one.
You’ll have to make your own decision about whether you’re cheating on your regular boat or not. Have a long talk with your main squeeze, and be honest. What happens between consenting adults and their vessels is no one’s business but yours.