-- Last Updated: Apr-04-10 2:06 PM EST --
I still paddle alone most days. If I waited till someone compatible and eager to paddle was available, I'd paddle maybe once a week. That's not enough.
Gender has nothing to do with the decision. The water and weather don't pick on women more than they do men.
I agree with the advice to learn to swim first. It's not a matter of whether you will actually swim, so much as it is a fear factor. I've noticed that people who cannot swim are afraid of wet exits even if they've done them already. Having grown up in a region where everybody learned to swim, I was extremely surprised to find out how many here do not know how.
Play it safe by staying close to shore, being ultraconservative with weather conditions, and not overdoing the mileage. You could join a club and hope they know what they're doing, but sometimes "safety in numbers" is false security. There is no such thing as absolutely safe anyway.
I normally paddle lakes and reservoirs, and for a short part of the year I paddle in a WW park. Obviously, there is higher risk of something "happening" at the latter, but I don't go during the high-flow season and shoreline is always very close in this narrow creek. I never do float trips; why would you do a float trip alone anyway since you need 2 people and 2 vehicles?
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