Golden Rules of Canoeing | How to Stay Safe on the Water


This episode of Paddle TV is brought to
you by the ACA—improving the paddlesports experience for over a century.
Learn more at American canoe dot-org The Golden Rules are a set of rules that
when followed, will let you paddle the most efficiently and help keep you safe
on the water. You need to choose an appropriate paddling trip, you need to use the power of your torso for all your strokes and you need to have a plan in
case you capsize. Choosing an appropriate paddling trip means picking a route that is manageable for everyone in the group. The ideal canoe route has protection
from wind and waves, easy access for launching and landing, lots of places to
go ashore and minimal motorized boat traffic. Look for calm bays or quiet lakes and riverways without noticeable current. As a general rule, if you venture
into water that isn’t protected from wind and waves, has current and/or if you
travel further from shore than you can comfortably swim, you’re entering a new
world—a world in which you’ll need to protect yourself and the people you’re
paddling with by taking a canoeing course . Choosing an appropriate paddling
trip also means checking the weather before and during your trip, and having the flexibility to change your plans to deal with nasty weather. The second golden rule is to use the power of your torso for all your strokes, not just your arms. Think of yourself as a tree where the trunk gives the tree its strength,
not the smaller branches. The way to use your torso to power your strokes is through torso rotation, which means twisting at the waist when you take a
stroke, rather than just pulling with your arms. For example, with the forward
stroke you don’t want to power the stroke just with your arms, but with your
whole upper body. What that means is when I plant the blade on the right, I’m going
to push my right shoulder forward and rotate my torso to the left. As I pull on
the blade, I’m going to unwind that torso to power the stroke. The third golden rule of canoeing is to have a plan in case you capsize. Even though most canoeists will never experience a capsize, everyone needs to
be prepared for the unexpected. With that being said, there are two real
ways to deal with a capsize. You can reenter the canoe from the water, or you
can swim yourself and the canoe to shore and deal with it there. What I can tell
you is entering a canoe from the water is challenging and probably not
realistic unless you’ve taken a canoeing course and practiced the skill. And so
for most canoeists, the best way to deal with a capsize will be swimming and
towing the canoe to shore, this is why it’s so important that you always wear a
lifejacket in the canoe and stay close enough to shore so that you can swim if
necessary. The fourth and final golden rule for canoeing is to create a float plan before every trip and give it to someone who isn’t on the trip. For a
simple day trip, a call or text will do the trick. For a more involved trip you
want a detailed plan. Leaving a plan like this can dramatically speed up the time
it takes for your group to be found if a rescue ever becomes necessary. The
easiest way to create and send a float plan is with the ACA’s Paddle Ready app,
which is available for free online. It also has some cool features like tide
and surf forecasting, river levels and equipment checklists. So there you have
it, the golden rules of canoeing. I hope you found it helpful if you did you can
subscribe to our Paddle TV YouTube channel for more interesting tips and
tricks.

6 thoughts on “Golden Rules of Canoeing | How to Stay Safe on the Water

  1. Correct. Most canoeists never experience a capsize. I have been canoeing a lot and also in waters with a lot of canoe traffic, and I have never seen ONE canoe capsize at all.

  2. I have capsized a canoe only once 25 years ago and it was in a freshwater lake in North Florida among a sea of lily pads. I was leaning really far over trying to unhook a fishing lure from a lily pad (a good way to capsized any watercraft). Luckily I was only in about chest deep water and was able to clamor back in and continue fishing. When I got to shore my girlfriend came over and informed me she just happened to be video taping me when I took the plunge. I still laugh at that video today. It could have been much more serious in deeper water or near a hungry alligator. Good learning experience.

  3. I just bought my first tripping canoe and had my first two hour solo lesson with Becky Mason from redcanoes.ca. Really stoked me. I'm really enjoying your succinct tips. Thank you.

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