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Beginner’s Guide to Canoeing

A Beginner’s Guide to Canoeing. Is Canoeing Hard?

Life is a compilation of experiences. We experience a variety of emotions throughout life. The emotion that we keep on recurring is a thrill. When monotony hits our existence, we choose something that would kick the monotony out of our life. The emotion we opt for is a thrill.

One of the most thrilling activities one can do if they live near watery areas or are going to visit watery areas is canoeing. But the question is, is canoeing hard?

The idea of rowing a boat is not hard. There are some basic tactics that one has to follow to row any kind of boat. The problem with a canoe is, there's only one paddle, and one can only paddle on one side at a time. So, there's a massive area for misdirection and steering off course.

Other than that, the rudimentary tactics of canoeing are pretty easy. This article contains only the necessary information covering how to row a canoe and when canoeing can become hard.

These two discussion factors are enough for you to learn the fundamental method of canoeing, and you will know exactly in what situation canoeing can become very difficult.

Steering and Paddling a Canoe

In this part, we will proceed with a step by step process for your ease of learning. The basics of canoeing actually apply to two persons. One is called a bowman, and the other is a sternman. Bowman is the guy who sits in the front, and the sternman sits in the back.

The canoe's speed depends on the bowman as he is responsible for setting the paddling speed. Sternman is responsible for steering the canoe. He has to match the rowing speed and maintain the canoe's direction. Bowman and the sternman have to keep their paddles on the opposite sides of each other.

If the sternman has kept his paddle on the right side, the bowman has to keep it on the left. This maintains the balance of the canoe. These are the sitting, designating and rowing position basics of a canoe.

In the case of being alone on a canoe, the sitting position is just like any boat at the back. That means being alone on a canoe by default make anyone the sternman. Because from the back, you can row and steer the canoe at the same time, from the front, boats cannot be steered.

Now that you know where to sit, let's talk about the rowing motion.

How to hold the Paddle?

The first step of rowing a canoe is knowing how to hold the paddle. According to the current, you might be forced to row on either side, so don't think about considering the dominant hand as the primary focus while holding the paddle. So, let's indicate the holding stance according to which side you will be paddling.

If you row to the left, the right hand should be at the top end of the paddle, and the left hand should be at the middle or lower end of the paddle. The gap between the position of the holding should be 2 to 3 feet.

For rowing on the right, the hand position would be the opposite. The right hand would be on the lower end, and the left hand will be at the top.

Holding the paddle on the upper part is for maintaining balance while paddling. It's a stronghold. The primary pressure would come from the hand that holds the lower part.

How to Row a Canoe?

To row, the canoe first knows the sitting basic. While stroking, you cannot get out or even move from your seat. You have to keep your weight on the canoe at all times. Just expand as much as you can and bring the paddle forward.

Make sure the paddle is up from the water every time you are expanding. That way, you can give yourself enough room for rowing. After expanding the paddle, put it straight down on the water and try to push the water as far as you can. Again, keep your weight fixed at your seat.

How to Steer a Canoe?

The steering mechanism might be a little complicated for people who will row for the first time or don't have much experience. The steering stroke is known as the "J" stroke. It's not complicated at all.

For steering right, put the paddle on the left side. Following the rowing principle, expand as much as possible and row. But there's a catch. While rowing, the stroke should form the letter "J" in the water. The more fulfilling the J will be, the better turn you will have.

For steering left, do the exact same thing on the right side. Your canoe will steer to the left very quickly.

When does Canoeing Become Hard?

There are situations when canoeing can become very hard. This is not just for people who will canoe for the first time. This is hard even for professional canoers.

Getting Used to The J stroke

Maneuvering the canoe is not that easy. Forming a J in the water on the opposite side of the turn while maintaining the bodyweight within the canoe is no joke. It takes a lot of practice to master this technique properly.

The forward stroke is elementary. Just knowing the rowing principal, anyone can move forward. But for canoes, the J stroke is a must for steering.

Rowing Through Rough Currents

Professional canoers regularly row in white water currents for sport and thrill. For every canoer, it's a dream to maneuver through white water currents without making any significant mistakes because any mistake can tip the canoe over.

This is a hazardous situation that even pro canoers hesitate to face. In these situations, maximum coordination between the bowman and the sternman is required. Otherwise, the canoe can tip at any time and cause fatality if they're not pro swimmers.

Rough Wind

Canoes are very light. That's why despite not having any sort of sail, wind can influence a canoe by a lot. Also, winds influence the currents of the river.

Understanding the wind and rowing properly maintaining the highest level of coordination is mandatory. Otherwise, accidents can be fatal.

Safety Measures

While we are traveling on ships or big boats, we don't really need to maintain safety measures at all times because professionals are in control of the maneuvering. But in the case of canoeing, the maneuvering and balancing are depending on the person who is on the canoe.

So, maintaining a few safety measures are essential. Wearing a life jacket is a must. If the canoe tips and there are rough currents, no matter how good you are at swimming, there is a chance of losing your life.

If you drown, it's impossible to survive in waters unless someone else is there to save you. A life jacket will keep you afloat even if the canoe tips. You can wear water googles. And a helmet to keep yourself safe from hitting a rock with your head. The googles will keep your vision clear even if there are rough winds and strong currents.

Final Words

Anything can be easy and hard, depending on the situation. Canoeing can be a lot of fun if the current, wind and everything else is under control.

Rough winds and currents are another type of fun. But that's only for pro canoers. Not for the new ones. If you're starting fresh, for practice runs, either choose a nearby pond or a lake where there are no winds and low number of boats.

That way, you can practice all the maneuvers and learn canoeing in no time. But before completely mastering every move, do not try to go for white waters.

You will end up injuring yourself and others.

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