Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guest Post: A Beginner's Guide To Canoeing

Photos by OHventures

The following is an abridged contribution from Joey Holmes, a blogger for Cool of the Wild

To read this article in its entirety, please visit this link.

Young or old, trying something new is always exciting, and open canoeing, or Canadian canoeing, is a wonderful way to experience time on the water in a new way, whatever your age. 

Who is it for?
Canoeing is for anyone who loves being outdoors and exploring. So long as you are wearing a buoyancy aid, you don’t even need to be able to swim. The waterways often take you far away from roads and towns so it’s a great chance to get away from it all. Canoeing is also ideal for families, as the wee ones can just chill out in the boat whist you put in all the hard work. Plus, the older they get, the more they can get involved providing you with a your very own gondolier to escort you down the river!

[Editor's Note: See the photo below and the corresponding OHventures post, when we took the WHOLE family canoeing - everyone from 5 years old to 60 years old!]

Where can I do it?
Well, although this may seem like an obvious question, there are actually loads of ways to approach where to go paddling, depending on your level and intrepidity. For total beginners, the best place to learn is on a lake or a slow moving river or canal. As you progress, you can take your boat to faster rivers and sheltered ocean bays, and then to the open seas and on gnarly whitewater river descents.

[Editor's Note: Consider visiting our post on Where to Canoe in Ohio]

What to expect
Total serenity, closeness to nature and a slowed down pace of life. You can take photos, have a picnic in the boat or on the river banks, and if you are paddling downstream then you can often just sit back and let the current take you. But that’s only if you’ve mastered how to make your canoe go in a straight line! Otherwise, you should expect to slowly pin-ball from bank to bank as you overcompensate for every misjudged paddle stroke. This can be a little frustrating to say the least – especially when you see other paddlers going in a totally straight line with seemingly zero effort.

You should also expect to get a soggy backside, cold hands and a good shoulder and core workout.

[Editor's Note: Check out one of our very first OHventures, titled Tip-A-Canoe, where we certainly did NOT know what to expect!]

How to get started
Unfortunately, canoeing isn’t the easiest sport to just buy the gear and then go do. Not impossible though, and you can pick up some fun inflatable canoes without breaking the bank. But the best and easiest way to give paddling a go, is to rent a canoe. Most decent rivers will have a canoe rental outfit during the tourist season, where you can rent boats, paddles and safety gear for an hour or even a whole day. On safe rivers, you won’t need any prior experience and you’ll be dumped in your boat, have to fend for yourself and be expected to be back at base at an appointed time. Although this can be great fun for the more adventurous, it can also be a little daunting without the knowledge of how to turn or stop your boat, or the all-important knowledge of how not to capsize!

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