Throughout my childhood, my parents organized canoe trips on local rivers. They would invite their friends, who would bring their children, and we’d take the entire day to explore someplace new.
What began close to home – the North River, the South River – spread to points all over eastern Massachusetts. We canoed the Concord and the Ipswich to the north; the Bass and the Plymouth ponds to the south. Each trip had its memorable moments: the kids who stayed warm in garbage bags after their parents capsized the canoe; the dad who was left stranded over the cold autumn water, dangling from a rope swing; the dam my high school friends and I almost drifted over at the end of one particularly long trip.
As a child, I was spared the logistics, but I still remember the stress of wondering whether an aluminum canoe would actually remain lashed to the top of a Toyota Corolla for the duration of a 50-mile highway trek. This was back in the days when woven cinch-straps weren’t so readily available.
As an adult, I’ve mused about organizing similar excursions for my own circle of friends. I’ll begin to consider what such a trip might entail, and then back away quickly. Even locally, it seems like a lot of work. There are so many variables – the tides, the wind, the weather in general. Rounding up the right number of boats and PFDs (personal flotation devices are required by local law). Towing boats, staging vehicles for one-way trips, choosing a date that works for everyone. Headache!
Not that there aren’t alternatives. A number of local organizations offer guided excursions for canoes, kayaks, and SUPs – on our local rivers and plenty of other appealing places as well. Some of these trips are the Bring Your Own sort – you show up with your boat and PFD, and then follow the leader on a pre-determined course. Others are Full Service. You show up empty handed and they outfit you with everything you need.