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Canoe Trips - Useful Tips

Canoe Trips - Useful Tips

The instructions below are heuristic in nature and should be treated with a grain of salt.

Stepping on and off the canoe
This is tricky, as a wrong step can bring you out of balance and cause your canoe to capsize. In general, try to put your foot in the middle and not to the side of the canoe and preserve balance when moving your other leg in. It helps if your partner holds the canoe. If you are the last to get into the canoe, one trick that may work is to sit down in a horseman position on its tail and then, once the canoe is floating, moving carefully to your sit. Keeping low helps to preserve balance.

Try to do it gently and quietly. Put your paddle close to the canoe (this prevents your canoe from unintended turning and following a drunk snake's path) but do not hit the canoe with your paddle.

You can turn left by paddling harder (or further away from the side) on the right side and turn right by paddling on the left side. If you need to turn suddenly, holding your paddle in the water or even paddling backwards on the right side will turn you right.

Who is in control?
The person sitting in the back has much more control over the direction. It is prudent to have the more experienced person sit there when the water is rough.

Going through rapids
The thing that you want the least when going through rapids is hitting a rock or getting stuck on a rock. When the current is strong, it can turn you sideways and then capsize. When approaching rapids, watch the river carefully and try to find a path of reasonably clear stroke of water. If the current is strong, underwater rocks will disturb the water and you can get a reasonable idea where the rocks are. Enter the rapids straight, never sideways. Even a small sidewise position may make it difficult to control your canoe.

In case you get stuck on a rock, the best method to get you out of trouble is to have one of the two canoers (the one closer to the rock) to step out of the canoe (the water may be deep, but there is usually a small piece of shallow water, which is the rock itself). Try pushing the canoe gently off the rock and get into it before the current carries it away. The safest way to get on your canoe in this case is to sit down on its front or its back in a horseman position and then move slowly into your seat, trying to preserve balance.

Like in airplane landing, try to keep plenty of distance between you and the canoes before you when approaching rapids. You should ba able to stop or easily to take another route if the canoe before you gets stuck on a rock.

In the very beginning, it makes sense to have somebody with more experience go first through rapids and pick a good route (watch out - some people like picking the most dangerous route for the pure fun of it).

If there is a thunderstorm, you should get out of the water and wait on the shore.

Tie your things to the canoe (use a rope or bungy cords) when you start the trip. This helps to avoid spreading your belongings over the riverbed in case your canoe capsizes. Also, make sure that your children wear life jackets. If capsized, don't panic, the canoe will keep floating, the river is not very deep, and the current is not that strong (it's not whitewater). Call somebody to help you pull the canoe to the riverbank and get the water out before you continue.

by Tomek D Loboda and Mark Voortman