In some instances, the coordinator of a paddle may list various conditions in order to participate in the paddle outing regarding the distance, speed, location, type of kayak, level of experience, etc.
If the coordinator stipulates you need to know how to self-rescue and you don’t know how to, not only are you putting yourself at risk, you are putting the entire group at risk. It is crucial that you don’t participate in the trip outing if you do not meet the stipulations specified by the coordinator of the outing. It is also not advisable to go on a group outing if you are not comfortable paddling the same route by yourself, which is usually an indicator you have some doubts about your capabilities.
Factors to Take into Consideration Selecting a Destination
Amount of Time and Length of Trip
Proper preparation for a kayaking trip includes picking a destination. Prior to deciding on a trip route, talk with others that have paddled the same destination to find out if there are any hazardous conditions.
How much time you have will determine a lot of factors in selecting where you can go. Knowing the time it takes to drive to and from the destination(s) will help narrow down the number of destinations you can travel to in the allotted time available.
Number of Destinations
Do you want to paddle a series of small lakes, or prefer to paddle only one destination? This comes down to personal preference and physical condition. The more upper body strength you have, the longer distances you can paddle without tiring. If you are just starting out, smaller lakes are safer and easier to paddle.
Size of the Lake:
You need to take into consideration the distance you want to paddle in a day. Some lakes are so large they are impossible to paddle in one day. However, you can paddle a large lake in sections if the lake has multiple launch locations or allows boat-in camping along the shore, which very few lakes in California allow.
Are there counter-clockwise regulations at the lake which would inhibit you from paddling back the same way you started out? Some lake’s have harbor patrol that ticket violators.
The drought for the past few years has drastically affected the number of shoreline miles on a substantial number of lakes in California. Always call prior to paddling a lake to find out the present number of surface acres of water. Surface acres are the number of acres the lake covers when it is full. By knowing the number of surface acres when the lake is full compared to the current water level of the lake, you will know if there is a reduction in the miles of shoreline. Reduction in shoreline miles will reduce the amount of time it takes to paddle around the perimeter of the lake.
Miles of Shoreline
The miles of shoreline and number of miles you want to paddle in a day must be considered carefully in relation to your endurance. If you paddle longer than you are physically in condition for, you'll over-exert yourself. Miles of shoreline is the distance around the perimeter of the lake. Knowing the number of shoreline miles is crucial information for a kayaker’s safety and it will also help you determine which destinations to plan a paddling outing to.
If you want to know how long it will take you to paddle a lake, divide the number of shoreline miles by your miles per hour paddling speed. You can determine your paddling speed by finding out the lake’s number of shoreline miles, and then see how long it takes you to paddle the entire shoreline distance. Always know where you can cut across the lake at the narrowest area, to head back in if an emergency occurs or the weather turns bad. Are there alternate routes which you can take back to the launch if the weather and wind conditions turn bad?