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Thread: Canoeing in Whittier on a calm day

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    Member MidnightSunRebel's Avatar
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    Default Canoeing in Whittier on a calm day

    Is this a dangerous idea? At the moment a canoe is the best boat for our needs in the lakes and tribs. We'd like to know if this is a possibility, if the forecast is prime, because we like to fish and really like the area. I've been to Whittier and seen some pretty calm water days. On the good days how dangerous is it to be out in one if I stick close to town and near the cliffs? If I only go out an hr or so can the chop come up fast enough that I'll have difficulties getting back to a cove?

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    Default safe water

    it will be safe as long as the wind don't come up / or change directions, the tide don't change, a big boat don't come to close to see what you are doing
    be safe it is cold an unforgiving in the PWC anytime of the year

    PS if that is what to do. you want get a KAYAK better siuted for that type of water
    a very large HB unit over 20 FT would do

    SID

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    Default it will be safe....unless it isn't.

    on flatwater you will do fine...lots of boat traffic though and they can't all see you very well in a canoe in my experience.

    Have launched out of Valdez in a 19' grumman square stern during favorable weather a couple of times (with motor, but brought paddles in case)). We only went on calm mornings and were back by 1 or 2 to beat the winds. We were fine on the 1-2 foot waves in the afternoon but you are awfully low to the water.

    Better in a sea kayak as was mentioned.



    We did fine running on the water, but burned through a lot of fuel trying to act like a real boat (not much planing, we just put putted a long)


    I wouldn't feel particularly comfortable without a motor except in the most protected bays...which whittier isn't.



    We of course got an early start when winds were calm.

    In early morning you would probably be fine.




    I've take a habit to reading the "forecast discussion" link on the national weather service pages (just enter any south central city and you get the same daily weather forecast DISCUSSION, the more basic generic forecast is individual for your zipcode) www.noaa.gov enter your zipcode and click on forecast discussion link near the bottom of the page.


    It takes quite a while to get the hang of all the terminology, but use it and a map of AK and you will become much more confident in what the weather will likely do.
    Last edited by andweav; 02-13-2010 at 19:46. Reason: add a link

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    We have done a lot of ocean canoeing. Discalimer: we are very experienced canoeists and have also done a lot of whitewater and are comfortable in large waves and strong currents.
    To maximize safety:
    -I would make sure you were watching the weather and the tides so you don't get caught.
    -stay close to shore in case you needed to get there quickly
    -Add a sprayskirt to your canoe

    Wouldn't you be MORE visible in a canoe than a kayak?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cristancanoe View Post
    Wouldn't you be MORE visible in a canoe than a kayak?

    i almost added kayak to the comment about visibility.

    you are spot on. i was recommending the kayak from a stability/safety perspective.



    we were a ragtag operation enjoying just a small slice of ocean to catch a few silvers from the salt. open canoe. short trip.



    sounds like you have a lot of fun out there. curious to hear more about your craft and set-up. I assume you travel well outside of resurrection bay?

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    Quote Originally Posted by andweav View Post

    sounds like you have a lot of fun out there. curious to hear more about your craft and set-up. I assume you travel well outside of resurrection bay?
    We haven't been too adventurous with the canoe since having our son 3.5 yrs ago (this is also when we moved to Alaska). The majority of the ocean canoe trips have been in Maine. We haven't ventured past Caines Head here in Resurrection Bay. We wanted to paddle in from Pony Cove while training for the yukon race last summer, but we couldn't find anyone who would drop us off!

    We havemostly used our Mad River Freedom in the ocean. It bounces well over the waves, and tracks okay when I want to go straight.
    We now have a Wenonah Jensen with a sprayskirt. The skirt makes up for the lack of freeboard and sheds most of the water that splashes onto the deck.

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    Member MidnightSunRebel's Avatar
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    Default Thanks folks.

    I'm glad to hear that the idea is not outside the range of possibility for calm days. To be honest we'd likely stay not too far beyond sight of town. I appreciate the comments about visibility and it reinforces my plan to get a couple small fluorescent flags. Christancanoe, thanks for the spray skirt suggestion to keep us drier.

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Doable

    Doable under perfect conditions. Probably. Wind comes up?? No. Other boats?? (that don't care) No. With a 3.5 year old?? NO. It is just not worth finding out. You are going to die in the water if you flip it before anyone can rescue you. Last person that I know that fell into PWS was gone in a few seconds. We never found the body. And it was silver season with 20+ boats in the area.

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    Member cristancanoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    Doable under perfect conditions. Probably. Wind comes up?? No. Other boats?? (that don't care) No. With a 3.5 year old?? NO. It is just not worth finding out. You are going to die in the water if you flip it before anyone can rescue you. Last person that I know that fell into PWS was gone in a few seconds. We never found the body. And it was silver season with 20+ boats in the area.
    This reiterates why it is very important (in any type of water activity) to know your own abilities and be prepared to self rescue in the event of an unplanned swim.
    One can lower their risk by going out on a calm day, working with the tides/currents, wearing their PFD, staying close to shore, and knowing how to get back in the craft.

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    Default canoes an saltwater

    if canoes were that good in saltwater you would see alot more out there, the canoe is a flat water boat an sure you here about going in white water, an a lot of people do it, an have fun but they get wet an tip the canoe over a lot an they expect to get wet a very posable tip it overthe wind comes up an changes real fast out there you be real safe out there an don't take your son out in PWS till he can take care of him self leave him home on thoes trips to PWC, lets face it after looking at the weather, going to PWC an taking the tunnel [FEE ] you might push it a little just to see if you can an the next thing that happends is you are over your head in the water if PWC is what you want, save up a get a boat that can take the water there, if you like canoes an a young family get a HB canoe 20 to 24 FT long frighter, an you will be a lot better off an it will be a lot safer for you an the family
    what ever you do be safe for you an family the water is cold an unforgiveing out there
    my 2 cts SID

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidnightSunRebel View Post
    Is this a dangerous idea? At the moment a canoe is the best boat for our needs in the lakes and tribs. We'd like to know if this is a possibility, if the forecast is prime, because we like to fish and really like the area. I've been to Whittier and seen some pretty calm water days. On the good days how dangerous is it to be out in one if I stick close to town and near the cliffs? If I only go out an hr or so can the chop come up fast enough that I'll have difficulties getting back to a cove?
    Think some folks are overreacting a bit to your post.

    PWS doesn't have to be portrayed as your gonna head out, be eaten alive by cold water, and never seen again... if/when you paddle a canoe.

    Not even sure what canoe you have. Realizing full well that some hull designs, and manufacture's specs are different.

    For example: the poster relating sea-canoeing coastal Maine... yes - this is done all the time by university outdoor extension programs, Outward-Bound groups, sea-duck hunters - all kinds of canoes along the Maine Coast... particularly more protected waters or shorter duration paddles in less-demanding ocean conditions. Point is here that - yes - canoes can be used effectively on the ocean.

    No substitute for being informed, experienced, having good equipment with proper safety gear, and making (informing others like harbor master) a float plan.

    If you have a more run of the mill glass or plastic hard-shell... there are most certainly things you can do to the boat limiting the amount of water that can enter the boat while providing better flotation for self rescue should you capsize. Air bags will be much, much better than a spray skirting for an open canoe. You can also deal with a cold water capsize/immersion/submersion scenario by wearing something more than simply a life-vest --- like a wet-suit or dry-suit.

    Food for thought... take a course, practice a T-rescue & Go with someone in the know.

    For starters, also consider taking out an inflatable canoe with paddles and a little electric motor to get better acquainted with PWS Passage Canal on a nice day.
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    Exclamation PWS...Cliffs...Canoes

    Much of PWS 'near shoreline' can be inhospitable rock cliff making very challenging contingency haul-outs for the ocean canoeist. It is not 'sound thinking' to literally terrain entrap yourself believing close to land lends some great margin of safety.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    Think some folks are overreacting a bit to your post.

    PWS doesn't have to be portrayed as your gonna head out, be eaten alive by cold water, and never seen again... if/when you paddle a canoe.

    Not even sure what canoe you have. Realizing full well that some hull designs, and manufacture's specs are different.

    For example: the poster relating sea-canoeing coastal Maine... yes - this is done all the time by university outdoor extension programs, Outward-Bound groups, sea-duck hunters - all kinds of canoes along the Maine Coast... particularly more protected waters or shorter duration paddles in less-demanding ocean conditions. Point is here that - yes - canoes can be used effectively on the ocean.

    No substitute for being informed, experienced, having good equipment with proper safety gear, and making (informing others like harbor master) a float plan.

    If you have a more run of the mill glass or plastic hard-shell... there are most certainly things you can do to the boat limiting the amount of water that can enter the boat while providing better flotation for self rescue should you capsize. Air bags will be much, much better than a spray skirting for an open canoe. You can also deal with a cold water capsize/immersion/submersion scenario by wearing something more than simply a life-vest --- like a wet-suit or dry-suit.

    Food for thought... take a course, practice a T-rescue & Go with someone in the know.

    For starters, also consider taking out an inflatable canoe with paddles and a little electric motor to get better acquainted with PWS Passage Canal on a nice day.
    Great information. I have enjoyed this discussion/mini-debate. I do find it amusing that folks are assuming that we are planning on taking our son out PWS. GO back and reread!

    I stand by my original post: with the right knowledge set, the right equipment, and the right weather conditions it is definitely possible to safely take a canoe out on the ocean. Hopefully we have inspired the original poster to learn more about his canoe, get some training if needed and make an informed decision about the risks of paddling out in PWS.

    Midnightsunrebel--come join us sometime here in Seward this summer to get a feel for ocean.

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Big Water

    The problem is it is big water. I remember being stranded for 2-3 days on a large lake north of Toronto one time. Things were good to start with then the wind came up and we just could not paddle against it in the canoe, loaded for a week trip, it just acted like a sail with the winds. We eventually snorkeled and towed the canoe to where we had to stay.

    Tides, wind, shoreline, ferries, cruise ships ...... I have run up to Class 3 in an open canoe. But there were 12-14 other experienced canoeists there watching prepared for rescue.

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    If you have a relatively flat bottomed canoe (bad secondary stability).....I would recomend that you don't attempt this. If you do......a set of pontoon stabilizers will be your freind. Big water and boat generated waves......bad combo when combined with flat bottomed canoes (they follow the contour of the waves). I once thought about taking out one of my square sterned canoes out there with a 9.8 horse tohatsu.......but with spray rails, and a custom made set of pontoons made of raft material.

  16. #16

    Default Ferry waves

    Don't forget the ferry waves, the cliffs, all the boat traffic, converging boat waves, the afternoon wind on a bright sunny day. I think if you have to ask "if this is a good idea" it's probably not.

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    For what it's worth, when I lived on Kodiak, I used to take my 13' Mohawk canoe out on a daily basis, fishing for rockfish, silvers, and dollies. Good times.

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    Default If you are experienced and strong

    I have done a lot of both, Canoeing and Kayaking the coasts of AK, and would caution about the canoe for the fact that they sit so high and especially along the cliffs the wind is hard to predict. It can coming rushing down "off the shore" out of bays and passes and blows you away from your expected leeshore protection, and wind affects a canoe so much more than a Kayak. This can happen on a really nice Sunny day. Especially in Afternoons.

    If you are experienced, a STRONG paddler who knows how to steer well at Full Strength from one side and keep low for stability i would say go for it. Sounds like you meet these requirements

    The weather is much more unpredictable than most places so bring along a handheld waterproof VHF, GOOD lifevests and stick close to shore, watch the sky, etc. before larger crossings

    I would also advocate float bags, tied in well, over spray skirt, as you will be able to get back in somehow to a floating boat. Climbing back in and bailing is not going to happen when you hope it will. The water is heart-stoppingly cold tho so the idea of Drysuits is also Very Sound for much traveling

    All those things taken care of and you can Canoe All Over the PWS and lots of other places.

    Very Wise to ask the question, indicates to me that you definitely ARE the type who Can Do It with Wisdom

    Personally I feel a smaller boat that you and your partner can handle well is better than a large freighter, get one that is an extension of yourself and Have A Blast for a lot less $ than the rest of us. You will work for it tho

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    Default Yes on Canoes

    Mdnt Sun, looking back at your original post I should admit I am responding not to your question but as if you were going on a major trek

    having started Canoeing in AK '83 and kayaking '85 I ,must admit that more often than not, I will jump in my canoe for a one hour trek down the shore without all the float bags and Drysuits.

    Some Things I Do Always, have a VHF along, and Excellent Life Jacket, and am Always sniffing the weather (you can get this twice a day updated on WX1 on your VHF also) but flat calm and sunny... jump in and go

    So as long as you are a confident paddler, ability to self rescue,etc you can grab a good canoe and cruise shorelines at will

    The other stuff on my previous post applies to deciding, " Hey, we'll just cross over there" and getting into the middle of something, you gotta be careful of that.

    Yes, to Canoes though for Alaska, I think a lot of folks assume they are inherently unstable but they've been used for a long time.

    If you are getting run over by sport boats you might consider traveling away from the city, it doesn't have to be that way in ak

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    Brian,
    Do you have trips/services in Valdez or can you recommend someone there? Relocating there next month and want to get some help with canoeing/kayaking there. Thank you! Christy

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