Have had this experience
Posted by: Celia on Mar-19-13 8:25 AM (EST)
It is a common experience for kayakers to be joined by relatively unskilled canoeists and find they are significantly slower. We have some canoeists who can smoke many of the kayakers in our local bunch, as well as some (like me) who have some time to go before their stroke is good enough not to be in the slowest group. Many highly skilled canoeists, in my experience, paddle with other canoeists of similar skill more often than kayaks, at least on flat water. WW is a different story.
The question is not the experience but what impact it has on planning a trip. I have been on a number of short, evening type paddles where canoeists arrived with no float bags and no concept of how to handle a capsize except to swim to shore. This is not a plan in the middle of a larger lake. As to speed, there are desired routes where a minimum distance has to be made in a day to get to the next campsite, especially if it is a reservation situation.
My personal take at this point in my life is to dawdle as needed rather than worry about speed, so if it were me speed would not be the issue. But if someone plans an overly ambitious trip and ends up trying to make land in the dark, or overestimates their ability to manage the situation if a wind comes up - these are real problems. I can do a rescue with a canoe, I can do some towing. But if it is handling unprepared paddlers in the canoe(s) in a very difficult situation one of me just doesn't go all that far. Things could get nasty.
If someone has not had experience with better skilled canoeists, or practiced kayak/canoe rescues, it is understandable that they would have some concerns about how to manage a longer trip.