Of all the fun activities you can pursue on a camping trip, canoeing is perhaps the most challenging, but is also exhilarating! Don’t make the mistake of assuming you already know how to paddle a canoe if you’ve never actually attempted it before. If you try to canoe without bothering to learn the basics, you’re placing yourself in significant and unnecessary danger. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to master the essentials and you can take to the rapids safe in the knowledge that you probably won’t fall into the water within 13 seconds!
Steady Your Canoe
Ever wonder how experienced paddlers are able to easily get in and out of their canoe without any trouble? They follow a very simple protocol. Place your paddle across the canoe behind the cockpit with one end extended towards the shore. Grab the shaft of the paddle and cockpit rim in one hand and ease in or out of the canoe.
The Correct J-Stroke
This is the stroke that separates competent canoeists from those that struggle. The key to a good J-Stroke is to ensure the paddle’s power-face is engaged for the duration of the stroke. When the forward stroke ends, twist your torso toward the paddle, allow the paddle blade to travel behind you and twist your top hand down so your thumb is pointed towards the water.
The next step is to lever the paddle. You achieve this by pulling your top hand towards the middle of the boat and push the shaft away from the canoe. Choose a point ahead of you and use the J-Stroke to ensure the bow of your canoe is pointed directly at it.
Monitor River Levels
When you’re on a camping trip, it is difficult to use technology to determine the way the river is flowing and the depth of the water. A simple trick is to put an upright stick in the sand at water level. The following morning, you’ll see if your stick is submerged in the water or high and dry.
Take a Rescue Course
Experienced paddlers know the importance of embarking on a rescue course. You will learn basic safety skills by taking a swift water rescue course. These classes are widely available online and as well as learning lifesaving skills, you get the chance to meet fellow paddlers.
There is a lot to learn about canoeing, but you can use the above tips to get off to a positive start. Other crucial skills to learn include re-entering your canoe after capsizing and understanding river signals.