Canoeing Lesson 1– How to Paddle a Canoe

Topic Progress:
Overall Warning:
Canoeing is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury or death. We recommend that you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity. We also recommend that the first time out be with an experienced canoeist. A life vest is required for all who participate in this sport.

Level 1 – How to Forward Paddle a Canoe

Seemingly the simplest maneuver in canoeing, the forward paddle can take years to truly master. These simple instructions offer a beginner guidelines to the most essential aspect of canoeing.    
1 . Kneel or sit in the canoe facing forward at either the stern or the bow. If you’re canoeing solo, sit or kneel in the middle.
2 . Hold the paddle with your inside hand on top and your water-side hand 2 to 3 feet down (wherever feels most comfortable) with knuckles facing out.
3 . Insert the blade of the paddle completely into the water, at least 2 feet in front of you, or as far forward as you can reach without lunging your body forward.
4 . Push your top hand forward and pull your bottom hand back, drawing the blade through the water. Keep the top of the paddle handles lower than eye level.
5 . Pivot your shoulder to draw the blade straight back. Don’t follow the curve of the canoe.
6 . Pull the blade back through the water as far as your hip.
7 . Lift the blade out of the water and turn the blade parallel to the water (this is especially important on windy days) to carry it forward to the starting position.
8 . Reinsert the blade and stroke again.
1 Keep the shaft of the paddle perpendicular to the water. Don’t paddle across your body as you would with oars.
2 Avoid pulling the paddle past your hip. After the blade reaches this point, it’s actually slowing the canoe down by pushing water up and hence pushing the canoe down in the water.
3 Bent shaft paddles are more efficient for forward paddling because the bend allows you to pull the paddle back farther in the water before you begin pushing water up.
1 Avoid lurching forward on each new paddle stroke. Not only is it bad for your back, but it also wears you out faster.
2 Always wear a life vest when canoeing.
Posted in .