Individuals/families who explore three waterbodies by canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or other paddle boat, and document their explorations with NH LAKES will earn an official Lake Explorer Quest patch. Participants must also certify that they practiced the “Clean, Drain & Dry” method for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species and implemented safe boating practices on each excursion.
To submit an online request for a Lake Explorer Patch, click here.
To download the Lake Explorer Patch Request Form, click here.
By spending time in nature we increase our connection to it, thereby increasing our tendency towards stewardship and protecting our natural world.
Also, paddling is a fun way to get some exercise! Studies have shown that today’s youth are experiencing a “nature deficit” which can be detrimental to physical and mental development. Children who spend time outdoors are healthier and more creative, have better concentration, and get better grades. For more information about the benefits of children enjoying nature and the outdoors, click here.
Stop the spread of invasive species!
Another purpose of the Lake Explorer Quest program is to promote the “Clean, Drain & Dry” practice to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Yes, even paddlers can transport invasive species from waterbody to waterbody, so please consistently and thoroughly inspect, clean, drain and dry your canoe, kayak, or other paddle boat, before and after boating.
- Clean: Inspect your boat rudders, hull, cockpit, storage compartments and gear thoroughly and remove all dirt, plants, and other materials. Dispose of these in a trash can or upland area where they won’t be washed into a nearby waterbody. Don’t forget to inspect and clean your paddles and anchor, too! Even better, wash your boat with clean water – the higher the pressure and higher the temperature of the water the better – just be sure that the rinse water does not flow into a nearby waterbody.
- Drain: Tip your boat to drain out all water from the interior and hatches.
- Dry: It’s best to allow your boat and gear to dry for at least 5 days before launching into another waterbody. If you don’t have 5 days, it is especially important to pressure wash your boat and then wipe down the inside and outside of the boat, all paddles and gear with a towel before visiting another waterbody.
To watch a ten minute video that shows how to clean, drain and dry your canoe or kayak, click here.
And, finally, another purpose of the Lake Explorer Quest program is to promote paddling safety. It is very important to follow safety procedures and guidelines while boating. Here are a few basic safety tips:
- Before setting out on your paddling adventure…
- Let someone at home know where you are going.
- Check the weather forecast to ensure that storm weather is not predicted.
- Pack a map of where you are going (maps of many NH waterbodies are available from the NH Fish & Game Department – click here).
- Pack lots of drinking water and snacks, cell phone, first aid kit, and your life jacket.
- Dress appropriately for the weather, wear bright colored clothes and appropriate footwear (closed-toe shoes are best).
- Put on sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.
- When paddling:
- Always wear your life jacket.
- In areas of high motorboat traffic, stay near the shore, and approach waves head-on or at a slight angle to avoid capsizing.
- Avoid paddling near hazards in the water (including logs, rocks, low bridges).
- Stay hydrated and reapply sunscreen periodically.
- Paddle to shore if stormy weather approaches.
- If the boat capsizes, don’t panic. If in a current, keep your feet pointed downstream and keep them off the bottom to avoid foot entrapment. Stay upstream of the boat to avoid getting pinned between the boat and a rock or log. If you are too far to swim the boat to shore, you’ll need to flip your boat right side up.
The American Canoe Association offers some additional canoeing safety tips.
The U.S. Coast Guard offers additional paddleboard safety tips.
Where to go?
Through the Lake Explorer Quest, you are welcome to paddle any lake or pond of your choice in New Hampshire. For the list of New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game public access sites on waterbodies, click here.
To earn your Lake Explorer Quest patch:
It’s easy and fun! Here’s how:
- Explore three New Hampshire lakes or ponds by canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or other paddle boat.
- Before and after paddling, implement the “Clean, Drain & Dry” practice to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
- Practice paddling safety while on your excursion.
- Document your visits on the official Lake Explorer Patch Request Form (to download, click here or to submit your information online click here. Once you have explored three lakes or ponds, forward your completed form to NH LAKES by email or mail (NH LAKES, 14 Horseshoe Pond Lane, Concord, NH 03301).
- You will receive your Lake Explorer Patch and certificate of completion from NH LAKES in the mail!
Need to rent a paddle boat?
For a great resource for finding outfitters, rentals, and other useful sites for the paddling family, click here.
Have fun while creating wonderful family memories on New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds!
NH LAKES thanks the Dorr Foundation for their support of this program.