How to Canoe Solo

How to Canoe Solo
Canoeing can be a peaceful, relaxing way to journey across an open lake or in to places unreachable by motorboat. It's always best to have two in the canoe, but if you've got to go it alone here are a few things to keep in mind.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Weight your canoe for improved stability. The first thing a solo canoer should know is that a canoe with one person tends to be more unstable than the standard two-person canoe. With all the weight in the back of the canoe, you might find the front end rising up out of the water. Having less of the canoe in the water tends to make the canoe tipsy. But there's a solution to this tipsiness--weight. If you're going on a canoe trip, you'll undoubtedly have some gear that you've packed for the trip. Stowing this gear in the front of the canoe will help to offset your body weight and give more stability to the craft.
Step 2
Use the J-stroke. Paddling can also present some problems if you're not used to traveling solo. Because you have only one paddle you have to switch sides frequently to keep from going in circles. But there's a solution to this problem as well. It's called the J-stroke and it allows you continue paddling on one side of the canoe without the incessant switching between sides. Use your paddle as you normally would but instead of pulling the paddle out and taking another stroke, make a J with the blade of your paddle. This will pull you back in line and you can continue going straight.
Step 3
Carry the canoe by yourself. To access areas where motorboats can't go, you often need to portage (carry) your canoe, and this can be a bit trickier by yourself. But it's really not that difficult. Once the craft has been pulled from the water and emptied of its contents, turn it over and lean it against what's available. Often portages will have canoe stands that you can use to lean your canoe. Climb under the vessel, resting your shoulders on the center bar of the canoe, pull back a few feet to clear the canoe stand and balance the canoe on your shoulders. With the proper balance, the canoe should be light enough to carry with ease.
Step 4
Turn your canoe over. Should you find yourself alone on a lake or river and your canoe flips, there are things you can do to try and get the canoe back out of the water. The easiest way to deal with the problem is simply climb into the waterlogged canoe and paddle to the nearest shoreline. It's much easier to empty out the canoe when you can stand. If you have to empty the canoe in deep water, get under the overturned canoe, push up with all your strength and attempt to empty the canoe. Once you've got it empty, quickly flip the canoe back over. Then, keeping your weight as low and evenly spread out as possible, try climbing in.

Article Written By Patrick Cameron

Patrick Cameron is a freelance writer with 10 years of diverse experience in consumer goods branding, promotions and retail communications. He works out of his home in Denver, Colo. He received his Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

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