Canoeing Basics

Lifting Canoes

How  do you get the canoe from a rental store or your house to the lake without breaking the thing? Carefully! You don't need special racks on your car, just some squishy soft things to protect it and some straps or rope. You can do much of it solo, but you really should ask for help to put a canoe on your car. People are nice, they'll give you a hand!

Launching Canoes

Next, you'll need to get the boat in the water and your equipment in it without it floating away on you and getting soaked inside. I like to sit on the bottom of my canoe when I'm doing it solo, and a little water in there can be pretty unpleasant. Nobody wants a wet bum for their entire morning!

You'll need to learn some basic skills on how to move around in a canoe which will mostly come with experience. For starters, no sudden movements! Especially left-to-right shifts, which will make more than your bum wet!

How to Paddle a Canoe

After you're in the canoe and safely not drowning with it, you'll want to work on your paddling strokes! You only need a couple to be effective, but there are some neat ones to learn beyond that if you have the inclination. It's important that the bow (front) and stern (back) paddlers know their roles, because if they aren't doing that right you'll be going half as fast as your friends for twice the effort.

Next you'll need some tips on portaging without breaking your back or your canoes back! I'll cover things to look out for (rocks!), important equipment (stiff boots!), and tips and tricks on getting your canoe in and out of the water.

Canoeing Safety

Your canoe should have a bailer in it, a whistle, a flash light, some rope, and some food wouldn't hurt either. You should know how to use your whistle correctly (there are codes!), and you should be WEARING A PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE. Safety is so important in canoeing I gave it its own entire section outside of the basics, but I'm linking it here too.