your paddlesports destination

Group Paddling


Whether it’s a corp of seasoned, experience-hardened paddlers or an extended flotilla of friendly casual paddlers, group dynamics and practical protocol play a roll in every aspect of the group.

LEADERSHIP

Typically leadership is left to the experienced kayaker most familiar with the area in which paddling will occur - the best qualified to make on-water judgement calls. The group’s leader should also oversee all land-based preparations; all aspects of a group trip.

SKILL SETS

Every kayaker should be aware of his/her kayaking skills and their own limitations. Likewise, a leader needs to be able to quickly assess each paddler's level of proficiency and to make decisions accordingly.  The "weakest link" is usually the least skilled/experienced (through ability, gear or even confidence) to be able to handle all the situations the group may encounter on that particular trip.

Consider conducting a group pre-trip, hands-on capsize recovery session.

COMMUNICATIONS

Several emergency signal devices (VHS, PLBs, even the unreliable cell phone) are all good group assets. Use hand signaling to communicate over distances. Also consider using the “buddy system” to pair up paddling partner to watch each other’s ‘back’.

SAFETY KITS

First Aid:  Kit inventories vary in content so consider augmenting individual kits with the group medical supplies. Know any member’s particular medications, medical/health issues (allergies?).

Repair: – Personal gear often dictates what each paddler should include in a kit. Consider at least basic kayak hardware (rudder cable, hull repair sealer, etc.)…and don’t forget the multi-tool and duct tape!

Survival:  Every member should carry their own emergency survival kit. Group survival items include: 2-3 person shelters; water filter, fire starters, multiple day/night flares, etc.

Group dynamics feed off of each paddler's abilities, experience levels, overall awareness and even attitudes - all playing a vital role in the safety and overall success of the trip.

Be safe and have fun together out there.

Related Articles & Resources

Emergency/Ditch Kits

First, of critical importance: If you don’t have your emergency kit/gear on you, you DON’T have it! Carry …

Paddling Decisions, Cascading Events & High Wind Exercises

Ever look back on a series of decisions that you've made while paddling and wonder how one slightly differen…

Being Seen at Night

The options available to add running lights to a kayak involve several factors including what type of ligh…