Destination Up North 2018 Up North - Page 28

To Canoe or to Kayak In areas like Lake Bemidji, which the Mississippi River passes through, the wind can get so bad that canoes have to land and wait it out before continuing. It does not take a lot of wind to affect people on the water. Carpenter explained that 15 to 20 mile-per-hour winds can really cause problems, including potentially swamping a canoe. On more narrow bodies of water, however, such as most rivers, the effect of wind is not as dramatic. If all other things are equal, the canoe is more stable and better for beginners, Carpenter said. “The kayaks are plenty stable, but there is more of a learning curve. In the canoe if you sit down and don’t stand up, you know you tell the kids that, you’re pretty good.” By Tyler Jensen F or those looking to get on the water when they take a trip up north, there is always the option of launching a canoe or kayak. But the question remains, which one is best to take out on the lake or river, the canoe or kayak? For John Carpenter, owner of Shirley Mae’s Outfitters in Little Falls, the answer depends on the situation and the person’s preferences. “For starters, I think the biggest thing is how many people do you have,” Carpenter said. For those traveling alone, the kayak checks off boxes that canoes don’t. A kayak keeps everything inside the craft using hatches and containers meaning nothing is easy to get out, Carpenter explained. “If you can portage with all of your stuff in the kayak that’s one thing, but if you have a lot of stuff, that makes it kind of hard,” Carpenter said. On the other hand, if your kayak flips you won’t lose gear, while most of your stuff could fall out of your canoe if it goes belly up. If someone is traveling with younger children, however, traveling by canoe may be preferable. The canoe allows parents to keep children with 28 them in the same boat and it is also more stable Carpenter said. “Loading and unloading a canoe is also easier than with a kayak,” he said. “If you’re going to have a lot of portages, canoeing is preferable.” Portaging forces a traveler to get out of the water and transport their boat to another water access point by land to avoid a hazard, such as a dam. A kayak can be flipped over inadvertently if the pilot shifts around, Carpenter warned. Not all kayaks are created equal though. There are sit- on kayaks, where an individual just sits on the deck and is not enclosed, or sit-in kayaks where an individual has their legs in the kayak’s hull. While Carpenter says the sit-on kayaks can be more stable and easier for beginners, they can’t handle making the maneuvers sit-ins can and they lack things like adjustable seats. “I don’t consider them real kayaks,” Carpenter said. “They don’t protect you from the sun, the rain or the wind. It’s like sitting on a sheet of plywood.” Sit-in kayaks have different sized openings depending on the person and the purpose, Carpenter said. Most kayaks available for rental have large openings so if the boat flips, the pilot will fall out of the opening. A touring or sea kayak, where the pilot is wearing a skirt and the opening is smaller, can “FOR STARTERS, I THINK THE BIGGEST THING IS HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU HAVE.” —JOHN CARPENTER However, a canoe has the disadvantage when it comes to large bodies of water. On a lake or a wide section of river, the wind can affect it dramatically. “The canoe can act like a big sail on a big body of water if the wind comes up,” Carpenter said, going on to explain that if there are waves, water can also slop over the side and get into the canoe, whereas some kayaks would allow water to flow over it. The kayak has a lower profile, so the wind will not affect it as much, Carpenter said. Photo by Shirley Mae