: So I should paddle alone on my own schedule?
The feeling I can gather is really: just to have someone to share the experience with.
The group thing seriously breaks down when the group spreads out. For the most part, the group spreads out due to diverse ability. And my experience is, very fast and very slow paddler in the same group is a frustrating experience for both. So in reality, they end up being on seperate groups. And if there's only one paddler who're substantially slower than the group, he got left further and further behind. The second slowest paddler also got left behind, except he's under the mis-understanding there's one behind him that could come to his help. The fact that slowest paddler might not be skill enough, or too exhausted to help is conviniently ignored.
I go paddle with groups to go to places I'm not familiar with. The launch, the route choice to avoid motor traffic, variation given weather condition, those are easier done on water than reading a book or staring at charts. But as far as safety goes, well... not so much. If I'm not confortable to go out in certain condition, I don't go out, group or alone.
Yes, I'm one of those relatively slow paddler. So I know if I get into trouble, others may not notice for a long while! I'll likely be on my own to deal with it whether I started out with a group or not.
The Connyak BBS