- $30 for A 2-Hour Guided Kayaking Tour of the Upper Chesapeake Bay ($55 value)
Kayak or Canoe?: Two Ways Across the Water
Splash into our exploration of their respective merits to decide whether to rent a kayak or canoe.
The basic form of the canoe is so ideally suited to the water that the US Army Corps of Engineers hosts an annual contest in which young designers build concrete canoes that have no trouble staying afloat. But despite their inherent seaworthiness, canoes aren’t right for every nautical outing—try turning one around when the current becomes too strong, and you may wish you were in an agile kayak instead. When deciding whether to use a canoe or kayak, you should first consider the watery terrain in which it has to travel, even before deciding whether The Slim Seagull is an appropriately cool boating nickname.
In general, a kayak will be easier to maneuver among rocks and other obstacles, whereas a canoe’s open top makes it easier to carry if you hit shallow waters. Kayakers also tend to have the advantage on the ocean or on rivers with rapids, since the vessel’s smaller profile pivots nimbly. Kayakers can also wear a special skirt that seals the gap between the deck and the rider’s waist so that water, even during rolls, doesn’t get into the vessel.
The human element is important, too. A double-bladed paddle propels a kayak through the water quickly, since the distance to the water on either side is minimal. And because they’re sitting almost level with the surface of the water and holding a long, balancing paddle, beginners may find a kayak feels more stable than a canoe. However, paddlers of different strengths can balance each other more effectively in a canoe, whereas in individual kayaks, weaker paddlers may end up straggling. In addition, the top of a canoe is almost always open to the air, making it easier to move around, cast a fishing pole, or have a face-to-face conversation about which side is starboard.