Portage Etiquette

Portage Etiquette
Lake and river portages have different dynamics and support different craft. Either may be used as an entry or exit site, but the basic protocols are similar and intuitive for the normal, well-mannered boater. Heavily used portages can be hectic and confusing, so prepare yourself and your gear. Explain procedures to novices to ensure a smooth transition at a portage. Motorcraft in the area of a portage can be integrated into the process if rules are followed and reciprocated.


Organize all items that will be carried separately from the raft, canoe or kayak. If fishermen are working the waters, avoid contact with them and their lines. Don't land or launch until the craft ahead of you has finished doing so. If you are under power, slow to no-wake speed, know the portage route, if possible.


If you need to dump water from a raft, act quickly and efficiently if others are waiting to land. Unload gear while the boat is in the water, then exit as quickly as possible. If a landing is full, stay in the water or pull off nearby and wait for an opening. Set articles to be carried separately aside (preferably marked because your gear may look like everybody else's), and out of the way of other people.


When stopping to rest, eat or scout ahead, get out of the way, and do your part to ease and speed the process. Don't trespass on fenced or posted private property and don't litter. Pck up existing litter and make sure your garbage bags are secure. If there are no public toilets, relieve yourself well away from water and portage path, packing out solid waste. Close all gates, set found items aside in full view and be friendly and courteous to other boaters, giving right of way to boat-carrying groups.


Wait your turn and do not crowd groups ahead of you. Assemble all separately carried items and return them to your boat. Be completely ready to launch so you will not hold up those behind you. Once in the water, clear the area quickly.

Article Written By Barry Truman

Barry Truman has published many outdoor activity articles in the past five years with International Real Travel Adventures, the Everett Herald and Seattle Post Intelligencer newspapers, Backpacking Light Magazine and Trails.com. He has a forestry degree from the University of Washington.

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