How To Paddle A Canoe

Learning how to paddle a canoe is crucial if you want to get anywhere in that banana-shaped vessel. The technique behind paddling a canoe is all about rhythm. Paddling a canoe for one man differs slightly from the canoe paddling techniques for multiple people, but one thing stays the same: the rhythm of the rowing is what gets you going.

  1. One-man canoeing. If you're going out alone in your canoe, listen up. The result of using a flawed canoe paddling technique is you spinning around in a circle like a small child in a walker. First of all, you want to center yourself in the canoe. If you're too far towards the back you run the risk of pushing the front of the canoe up, and you'll fall in the water. If you're too close to the front you run the risk of tipping over. If your paddling is off you could also tip the canoe over to either side. But first, center yourself in the canoe.
  2. Canoe paddling with a single paddle. Single paddle canoe paddles have a huge flat paddle on one end and nothing on the other side. Grip the top of the paddle with one hand (the side without the actual paddle) and grip the midsection of the paddle with your other hand. In order to get going, choose a side of the canoe and get paddling. Put the paddle into the water and push backwards. Immediately raise the paddle and place it on the opposite side of the canoe in the water and push backwards. The trick is to make your entire canoe paddling into one fluid motion. Don't drop the paddle too deep into the water. Just lower it enough to create the momentum needed to move forward. Compensate as necessary to keep yourself going straight. If you're trying to turn, simply paddle on the side you're trying to turn.
  3. The double paddle. Grip the paddle with two hands and hold it horizontally. Keep them a little more than shoulder length apart. Dip the left paddle of the double paddle into the water and push backwards. Immediately lift the the paddle out of the water and dip the right paddle into the water on the right side of the canoe. Remember, you don't have to dip the paddle too far into the water, just enough to create the necessary momentum to move the canoe. The better your rhythm, the better you'll move. To turn, just use the same technique you use with the single paddle: repeatedly paddle on the side you're trying to turn to.
  4. Multiple riders. In order for this endeavor to work out, you guys have to be in sync. First of all, one of you needs to be sitting closer to the front of the canoe and one of you near the back. If you have more than two people, then you guys should be spaced out equally. As far as paddling is concerned, here's where it gets slightly complicated. Too go forward, you need to be paddling on one side of the canoe while your partner is paddling on the other. In other words, when you paddle to the left, he should be paddling to the right. When you switch over to the right, he should be paddling to the left. If you have three riders, then the front and last person should be paddling on the same side while the middle guy paddles on the opposite side. If you have four people, then the first and third should be paddling on the same side while the second and fourth should be paddling on the same side.
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