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How To Canoe

If you love being outdoors and getting out onto the water then you will love canoeing. It is a great way to connect to nature, to get some exercise, and to learn a hobby. 

Once you get comfortable on your canoe you can go on lots of adventures and explore different areas by paddling across the water, seeing much more, and covering a greater distance than you would on foot. 

But how do you canoe? Figuring out how to do it can be challenging and many of us fear falling out into fast-moving water. And while you can expect some falling, we want to avoid it as much as possible.

So to help you, we have put together this useful guide with all of the information you need to get started. 

How To Canoe

Where Should You Sit In The Canoe?

Where you sit in the canoe depends on whether you are paddling alone or with a partner. If you are paddling alone then you should try and center your weight in the middle of the canoe or as close to the middle as you can. Make sure you are facing the bow of the canoe (the front) and not the stern (the back). 

If you are paddling with a partner then the heaviest person should go at the back, as the stern of the canoes can take more weight than the bow. However, most of the rowing power will come from the rear if there are two people, so if one of you is much more experienced or stronger than the other then they should sit at the back. 

How Do You Get Into A Canoe?

Once you are sat down in the canoe it will be quite stable, but a lot of people struggle to get into the canoe in the first place without ending up in the water. The most important thing to remember is that the higher your center of gravity is, the more unstable the canoe will be. If you step into the canoe from a fully upright position then the canoe is likely to wobble. 

If you are launching your canoe from a shoreline then it should be fairly straightforward. Place the canoe so that the bow is in the water but the stern is still on the shore. One person can stabilize the canoe by holding the stern whilst the other climbs in and makes their way to the front seat.

Remember to keep your body low and as close to the canoe as you can, and keep your feet close to the center of the canoe. Once the front seat is occupied, the person steadying the stern can push the canoe out into the water and then carefully climb in. 

If there is no shore and you are getting into your canoe from a dock or a bank it can be a little trickier. You need to position the canoe so that it is parallel to the dock or the bank and very carefully step in, keeping low. Ideally, someone would be stabilizing the canoe. 

If you are a solo paddler then there will be nobody to stabilize the canoe for you. This means you will need to move quickly to ensure the canoe doesn’t drift away, but you will also need to be very careful and keep your body as low as possible to the canoe. 

Getting out of the canoe is the same process but in reverse- the person on the back seat climbs out and stabilizes the canoe whilst the person at the front carefully walks to the back and climbs out also. If you are alone, you will need to hold the support on the edge of the canoe with one hand and hold the dock or the bank with the other and push yourself out. 

Should You Kneel Or Sit In A Canoe?

Should You Kneel Or Sit In A Canoe?

There are two different positions that you can take up in a canoe. Kneeling is more stable, as your center of gravity is closer to the canoe and you have better control when shifting your weight. However, kneeling for long periods is uncomfortable. 

Sitting is much more comfortable and sustainable. You can switch between the two positions, perhaps moving from a sitting to a kneeling position when the water is rougher and you need more directional control. 

Will The Canoe Tip?

If you are new to canoeing then you will be worried about the canoe tipping over. This can happen sometimes, but the more experience you have been out on the water in your canoe the more you will be able to understand how to balance and shift your weight carefully. 

How To Paddle A Canoe

First, you will need to hold the paddle correctly. Put one hand on the butt of the paddle – the top grip section- and the other hand on the shaft close to the blade making sure it is thumb side up. If you are paddling on the left side of the canoe then your right hand will be on the butt, and vice versa. 

Keep your elbows slightly bent and position your torso in the direction of your top hand, keeping your hips central. As you place the paddle in the water you need to push down with your top hand and pull with your bottom hand, whilst rotating your torso to put some power behind the paddle.

As you move your lower hand closer towards you this will guide the paddle through the water. When it reaches the level of your hip, bring the paddle out of the water ready for your next stroke. 

How To Steer A Canoe

As a beginner, you will want to stick to calm waters and straightforward routes that don’t require big directional changes. You can change the side of the canoe you are paddling on to control the direction.

Once you get more experienced and you are ready to take on more challenging locations and routes, there are different paddle strokes you can learn to perform directional changes. This means you won’t need to switch sides as often with your paddle, though switching sides does help to tone up your muscles evenly. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, how to canoe! That’s not as tricky as you first thought, was it? Remember, you won’t be an expert straight away, so don’t worry if you make a mistake or two, or fall out! It happens to all of us. Just take your time, follow our tips, and make sure your safety is a priority at all times.

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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