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RainShine

Scout canoeing, how far in a day

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Typically, with a mixed age group of Scouts 11-15yo, how far could a group comfortably canoe on a fair weather day? 

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How fast does the river flow?  :)

It depends.  Moving water or lakes?  Unloading, portaging and reloading? 

For our river trips, we timed it in the fall so the river was slow at about 4 mph.  We did 18 to 20 miles the first day.  Plenty of breaks for lunch, etc.  The key was that even if the scouts did not paddle, we'd get to our destination.  It was more a matter of how long we were on the river.  

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Fair weather, hmm. 20 miles in fair weather, maybe more. But, I've not seen fair weather on lakes much after 9:00 am. The one disadvantage of a breeze while canoeing compared to a breeze while backpacking is canoe tend to drift in the wrong direction when you stop to rest. I think we average 15 miles a day over the whole trip. 

Barry

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With a mixed-age group (and I suspect mixed experience levels too), I would be more conservative than Barry's estimate of 20 miles per day. 

When I've paddled with younger scouts, it seems that many of them take a while to figure out how to move in a straight line and slow progress is made. Maybe only 1-1/2 mile per hour.  On top of that, they will get tired after about 4 - 5 hours (so will your out-of-shape adults). 

If I were paddling with older scouts whose skill levels and maturity inspired confidence, I'd tackle that 20-mile day without much hesitation.

If I were paddling with mixed ages of indeterminate skill, I'd probably keep it to 7 miles or less.

As always, your mileage may vary.

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Okay I can see I don't even know what questions to ask. I'm the worst kind of dreamer, the kind that doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm considering proposing to the boys a canoe trek. This is on the Hood Canal in Washington state. Salt water. Drive to Belfair State Park, camp. Canoe to Twanoh state park, five direct miles, and camp there. Then on to Potlatch state park, another ten miles as the fish swims. A dad in a truck could participate by delivering the patrol boxes to each camp so the Scouts don't have to canoe w all their stuff.

I realize those are direct measurements (by google maps) so dont include drifting, etc. Following shore would add more also.

I might be crazy. You can call me crazy. I've been called worse.

canoe trek.PNG

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Posted (edited)

It is hard to judge without being familiar with the local area.  I would suggest calling the local land manager (looks like Washington State Parks?), and ask for some advice on what conditions to expect out on the lake.  Or try to find a local paddling group and ask some paddlers there for their expert insight.  Wind, tides, and bad weather are all things that can determine if an extended distract canoe trip is easy or super challenging.

And just remember that there is nothing wrong with first having a "training" canoe outing on calm water that covers a limited distance to develop skills before trying to tackle something like your trip.

I should mention too that in challenging conditions gear may play a big factor as well.  Like a low quality leaky canoe that doesn't track straight and $15.99 Walmart paddle (I am describing my council camp's aquatics equipment) makes it much harder than if you have good quality boats and paddles.

Edited by Tatung42

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20 miles is a big ask. Figure 1 to 1.5 miles per hour. I went to Swamp Base this summer,  our longest day was the first day, at 19.2 miles and we all were feeling it. The agea of youth were 13,15,15,15,16,16.

I would start with a short section the first day, and maybe work up to 10 or 15 miles. 

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It's great to reach out to this forum, but what you really need to do is talk to people in your council who have experience with canoeing and know your local waterways. A great way to get hooked into your local expert network is to get your scouts to organize some training outings as Tatung42 said. This sounds like a great goal for your Troop and will be a ton of fun. Just be methodical and do your due diligence as a leader. 

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This would be a good discussion at your district round table (if you have one). I often will google the place I think would be good for the scouts to explore and add the word "troop" to the search. Most of the time other troops have done the same trip in the past (no need to recreate the wheel) I then hunt down someone from that troop for advice. Works about 50% of the time

Looks like Parsons HA base may have some answers for you - https://www.seattlebsa.org/scouts-bsa-camping/42-scouts-bsa-camping-cat/67-pacific-northwest-high-adventure. Looks like Troop 27, 166, 15 and 493 might know a little more about this area. I googled "hood canal troop canoe"

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Another variable to consider is what else the scouts want to do. Is it just paddle to make distance everyday, or do they want to go fishing, or do other in camp things, etc...

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Good stuff folks, thanks. There's no rush on this - its a 2020 project - so if the boys choose to pursue it we have time to investigate and get prepared. If there are any more ideas, please keep them coming.

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2 hours ago, RainShine said:

Good stuff folks, thanks. There's no rush on this - its a 2020 project - so if the boys choose to pursue it we have time to investigate and get prepared. If there are any more ideas, please keep them coming.

Now is when you plan 2020 trips.  You're right on schedule.  I'd call someone experienced with that exact water.  Flows.  Waves.  Tides.  Wind (predictable and BIG issue for us on certain parts of river due to landscape).  

A good advice I'd give is do your big leg on the first day.  We always planned 19 / 20 miles first day and 8/12 miles second day.  Scouts were tired on the second day and wanted to get off the river a little after noon.

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