-- Last Updated: Mar-25-13 10:22 AM EST --
Looking for advice on responding to a friend who wants to borrow my two kayaks. He is a good friend, but I have never paddled with him as he mainly cycles and skis. He sent me an email yesterday asking if he could borrow our kayaks and gear to paddle down the local river (Neuse River in Raleigh, NC) with his son next weekend. As a good friend, I would like to help him but just don't think it's a good idea or very safe for him.
First, his paddling experience is very limited although he has kayaked a few times. I have never paddled with him, however, to know whether he has the skills or knowledge of safe procedures. Second, we have had an unseasonably cold late winter and early spring with temperatures consistently running 10-20 degrees below normal. Water temperatures are 51 F in the reservoir that feeds the Neuse River, but the river might be colder than that if they release water from lower depths. Water levels are about normal, not unusually high but not low either. Third, I have never paddled that stretch of the river, but I know there is a significant low-level dam (Milburnie) that he plans to portage around. However, I don't know how hard it is to spot the dam when approaching it or get out of the river in time. I do know that a number of people have drowned at that spot, mainly swimming below the dam.
Finally, my kayak is a sea kayak (P&H Capella 16.6) that is easy to tip over for someone who is experienced. It is not the ideal size or design for river paddling, and the only time I have tipped it over was while boarding it on another river. I would expect the odds would be pretty high that my friend (or whoever used my kayak) would tip it over at some point during the venture. With the water as cold as it is right now, they would be very uncomfortable at the least and risk hypothermia or drowning at the worst.
I am pretty certain that I will not let my friend use our kayaks for the reasons listed above, but still feel bad about it because he's a good friend who has helped me out many times. I was thinking about suggesting that he contact one of the local outfitters to see if they could provide boats and a guide, but not even sure if that is a good idea.
How would you handle a situation like this?
Touring Kayak Paddles
Canoe / Kayak Anchors
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My Boats Would Stay On The Rack|
Posted by: VK1NF on Mar-25-13 10:36 AM (EST)
Inexperienced borrower, son involved, no knowledge of a river with a known hazard, dangerously cold water - either one of those factors would be cause enough for me to refuse a similar request from friends who aren't skilled and well-equipped paddlers.
I would tell him what you told us,|
Posted by: tdaniel on Mar-25-13 10:37 AM (EST)
Explain exactly what you wrote here|
Posted by: mintjulep on Mar-25-13 10:37 AM (EST)
a good friend should listen|
Posted by: tetonjohn on Mar-25-13 10:46 AM (EST)
Posted by: angstrom on Mar-25-13 10:49 AM (EST)
Posted by: Tarwheel on Mar-25-13 10:53 AM (EST)
Thanks for confirming my feelings. Good idea about suggesting that I take him out another time. I put in a call to the local outfitter but got their recorded message. Apparently they aren't even offering trips on the river yet, which is a pretty good indication of the the conditions.
great that you checked in|
Posted by: tetonjohn on Mar-25-13 10:58 AM (EST)
with folks here. You could tell him that you were worried that you were being overly protective, so you checked in with other experienced folks (here) and was told that you were NOT being overly protective. (Not sure how honest you guys are in such matters.)
We have a capella 166 also|
Posted by: just1more on Mar-25-13 11:26 AM (EST)
and that is not a beginner kayak plus wrong useage - it is not a designated river kayak. It is a sea kayak meant for fairly open water, it cannot turn quickly due to its length and in rivers you need moveability.
listen to your instincts luke|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Mar-25-13 11:29 AM (EST)
You are right|
Posted by: Celia on Mar-25-13 11:45 AM (EST)
And he is wrong to even ask. That puts you at a giant risk in a number of ways, above and beyond how bad you would feel if something went south. I am sure your friend lacks the clothing for this water temp, and based on your description I can't see how he could handle any current in the Cappela without taking a swim.
Show him this thread...|
Posted by: carldelo on Mar-25-13 11:54 AM (EST)
I would send him the link to this discussion. Your explanation of your reservations is cogent, and he can read for himself that a lot of experienced paddlers back up your position.
Posted by: Tarwheel on Mar-25-13 12:11 PM (EST)
My friend is a bit of a Type A, but I don't fault him for asking. Frankly, I don't think he knows much about kayaking and isn't aware of the risks. He has paddled some rental kayaks before, but I think his experience is very limited. I wasn't aware of the risks from hypothermia and cold shock until after I got a kayak and started doing some reading.
With his son...|
Posted by: Celia on Mar-25-13 12:26 PM (EST)
I had slipped and missed that part. Whatever you think of this guy as a friend personally, his ego needs some major checking. The first question if he is taking a child along is to confirm what is safe, especially if he has a readily available way to check it out like to talk with you.
Posted by: Tarwheel on Mar-25-13 12:38 PM (EST)
His son is not a child, in his 20s.
OK - off base there|
Posted by: Celia on Mar-25-13 12:57 PM (EST)
Sorry. I have a rather strong response to this because we dodged a bullet several years ago. A friend wanted to check out purchasing one of our boats by taking it out on the Hudson, by himself, in chilly-water weather. We felt badly, but refused to sell it to him unless we had a chance to go out with him and gauge things. (and dress him properly)
It's fun to say no to type A's|
Posted by: blackboat on Mar-25-13 2:46 PM (EST)
(laughing) I agree|
Posted by: pikabike on Mar-26-13 1:30 AM (EST)
Always fun to say no to someone who's used to bossing people around.
Outfitting is another issue. |
Posted by: g2d on Mar-25-13 12:22 PM (EST)
Your kayaks may not be quickly adaptable to the anatomy of your friend and his son. Inexperienced paddlers, unfamiliar boats, not properly outfitted for control.
Posted by: suiram on Mar-25-13 1:12 PM (EST)
Explain what your experiences are, what are the risks of paddling on cold water without proper attire, what it takes to flip a sea kayak. It is a pity that you can't put them in those boats somewhere close to the shore where they can experience the joys of self rescue in the low 50s water.
Posted by: Tarwheel on Mar-25-13 3:33 PM (EST)
Well, I emailed my concerns to my friend, and he appreciated my views. He has decided to call off the trip for now but might try it later after it warms up and I can go along. He wasn't offended at all by my frank assessment and thanked me for my honesty. Thanks to everyone here for helping me collect my thoughts.
Posted by: Celia on Mar-25-13 4:25 PM (EST)
Now you'll have a chance to get him started so he can have fun rather than drama. That is always enjoyable.
Posted by: Kudzu on Mar-25-13 4:42 PM (EST)
See if you can steer him to Falls Lake or Jordan. Probably more beginner friendly than the Neuse.
This saying applies.|
Posted by: magooch on Mar-26-13 9:42 AM (EST)
Never a borrower, nor a lender be. Some things are just out of the question when it comes to loaning. My list starts with my wife, then the sea kayaks, motorcycles, vehicles, shop equipment, bikes ....
Posted by: FrankNC on Mar-26-13 12:52 PM (EST)
I like that run, so if you offer to go with him. We could go together. You would then have to barrow a boat from me. Tell him groups of two are not warranted for that trip at this time of year. The water is danger cold and there is NO PLACE to get out along the river for a few miles in sections. Deep water Rescue skills are a must in places.
Take Nancy Reagan's advice...|
Posted by: adeanast on Mar-26-13 10:23 PM (EST)
Just say no.
Posted by: RubricOfRuin on Mar-27-13 9:26 AM (EST)
that you have been able to tell your friend as it is and he understood it for what it was - a genuine expression of concern for his well-being.
Loaning kayaks to a friend|
Posted by: jerrysmith on Mar-27-13 8:34 PM (EST)
You obviously want to help your friend, and all the factors you mentioned are valid reasons to refuse his request.