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Re: cruising dinghy in currents and beach camping
dr, I'd suggest asking at the local chandlery, or marina, or the Coasties, where you can take some classes in navigation and basic boating skills. There are some strong currents up there and you MUST know how to read current charts and take them into consideration in any kind of small boat. You've also got water that's cold enough to make hypothermia a risk, so I'd suggest precautions including making sure to file a float plan on a regular basis, and carrying a PLB or other distress radio. Or at least, making sure you understand the pros and cons (debated elsewhere often enough) about that.
A canoe, kayak, small catamaran, all are perfectly safe IF you understand the limits of the boat and the crew, and stay on the conservative side of them. A good boating course should help with that.