The rivers, lakes, and waterways hide treasures underneath their watery surfaces. From tasty fish to lobsters and shrimp, you will fill your belly in a way that not only satisfies your hunger but your primal instincts as well.
And the food is not the only benefit, coupled with the health benefits of canoeing and kayaking the waterways can be an excellent way to cross the beautiful countryside with spectacular sights to see. And what is the best way to travel on the water, you might ask? Well, by using a canoe of course!
But using a canoe will require you to possess some basic skills. If you’ve never been on a canoe before but you’ve been seriously thinking of buying one and heading out to the nearest river, this simple beginner’s guide to canoeing will teach you the basics that you need to know. Let’s begin!
1. Choosing the right canoe
Buying a canoe is much more than just heading out to the nearest store and picking the best-looking canoe. They come in different shapes, sizes, as well as material construction, and the right canoe for you, will depend on your preference and individual circumstances.
2. Loading your canoe
Whether it’s your fishing gear, camping gear as well as the fishing poles, you will need to make sure that you pack them in the best way inside the canoe. Packing all your gear and weight at the front of the canoe will make it much harder to steer. The best position is at the center of the canoe which makes it more stable on the water.
3. Getting into the canoe
Getting into a canoe can be challenging mainly due to the higher center of gravity as a result of you standing up. However, you will quickly find that once out on the water, the canoe becomes surprisingly stable.
There are two ways to get into and out of the canoe based on whether you will be entering the water from a deep shoreline or a shallow shoreline.
If you are on a shallow shoreline, position the canoe perpendicular to the shore. If you are using the canoe with a friend or partner, have one person stabilize the canoe as you get in, and then once you are sited, you can stabilize the canoe as the other person gets in.
If you are getting into the canoe from a dock or a top-rated floating dock, place it next to the dock, have one-person stabilize it as you enter, and then once on you can stabilize the canoe as the other person enters.
Either way, you might get your feet wet and you’ll need to know how to buy water shoes that are fast drying and are comfortable to wear.
4. Transporting the canoe
Before you can use the canoe at the river, you need to get there in the first place. It’s all good if you live next to a river but if you are going to use your car, having a secure attachment on the roof is crucial.
A roof-mounted rack for securing the canoe will help attach and take out the canoe much easier. If you don’t have this, you can always use a bow and stern to tie down the canoe in a secure area on your car.
5. Wearing A PFD
One of the most important pieces of gear to have especially for canoeing beginners is a personal floatation device. In this beginner’s guide to canoeing, we cannot stress the importance of a PFD. If your canoe capsized and you hit your head unconscious, the PFD or life jacket will allow you to float and can be the difference between life and death.
6. What to do when the canoe tips over
An important skill to have before going into the water on your canoe is righting it when it tips over. many beginners find themselves in a precarious situation when the canoe tips over sending both them and their gear into the water.
You can right a tipped canoe by properly placing the gear and weight, using proper paddling techniques, and avoiding fast-flowing water. Observing canoeing safety tips will keep you from finding yourself in a tricky situation when out on the water with your canoe.
Related Post: Canoe Safety
7. Watching out for thunderstorms and wind
Before setting out, canoeing beginners should be aware of the weather conditions. It’s not surprising for a day that started pleasantly warm to end up with lightning, strong winds, and storms in the afternoon.
Check the weather forecasts and plan accordingly. If there is a chance of a storm developing, the best thing is to avoid going into the water with your canoe.
8. Choosing the best paddle
Paddles come in different lengths, widths, and weights and they are all designed for different situations. These may include white water, using over long distances, or slow and gradual propulsion. The right paddle for you should feel comfortable and not cause shoulder and arm pain after use.
To get the best paddle, make sure it is the right length and feels comfortable. Also, check the weight and compare it with your size. If you are not very strongly built, then you do not need to get a heavy paddle.
9. Paddling in a straight line
What canoeing beginners are not often aware of is that paddling is a skill all together that requires proper practice. Do it the wrong way and you may go in zigzags or make complete circles. You might even get the broad side of the canoe to the wind and end up tipping it overtaking an unplanned swim.
You need to know how to paddle in a straight line. Make a forward stroke with your paddle from one side then repeat the same stroke on the other side.
10.Leave no trace
When you finally get to your camping destination near the water’s edge, make sure that you do not leave litter lying around or drop plastic bags or containers in the water. Ensure the area is serene and as natural as you found it.
Leave the environment and waterways clean so as not to disrupt marine life.
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There is more to canoeing than simply getting on the water and heading out to the middle of the lake. In this beginner’s guide to canoeing, you’ve learned the importance of checking the weather forecasts to paddling in a straight line. While it might seem challenging at first, you’ll be having a blissful time in the water once you get the hang of it. Plus, you’ll enjoy all the health benefits of canoeing