Canoeing is more than paddling around a lake or down a river, it is a sport that touches the soul like no other. Connecting with nature, experiencing the quiet serenity of water is the perfect way to relax on the water. The canoe basics are few, just a small assortment of equipment is needed to enjoy this wonderful sport. A canoe is an affordable option, bringing years of pleasure. Canoeing is a sport offering something for all ages, from families to adrenaline junkies, it has it all. Canoeing can be enjoyed with a limited amount of equipment. There are only a few basics that are needed for a safe and enjoyable time on the water paddling a canoe.
The essentials for canoeing are quite simple, a canoe, paddle and personal floatation device, (PFD), is all that is necessary for enjoying the sport. Relatively inexpensive, canoeing equipment will last for years. Renting may be an option for those unsure if canoeing is for them. Buying used is a possibility if the budget is tight. New equipment for the canoe basic checklist is not that unreasonable. A brand new canoe, suitable for the beginning canoeists can be had for a few hundred dollars. The difference between a basic canoe and a high end one is the material used in the manufacturing of the canoe, both will perform the same on the water. A paddle is critical for propelling a canoe through the water, again budget is the determining factor.
Good basic paddles for recreational use can be found for under twenty dollars. This type of paddle will be aluminum shafted with plastic coating, handle and blade. Suitable for lake paddling and gentle rivers. Wooden paddles are the preferred choice of purists. A wooden paddle will not handle any differently than a cheaper one. It may look better and last longer, but a cheap model will move a canoe just the same. All paddles have the same parts, a grip, shaft, throat and blade. Lake paddles are generally a bit longer than whitewater styles. Whitewater is a sport few beginners should attempt, so go for the longer paddle. Next, the most important part, a life jacket.
A PFD is one item that should not be skimped on. Good life jackets run about 50 to 700 dollars. Cheap ones are not worth the risk. Only Coast Guard approved Type III PFD’s should be used. Most states require one PFD per person in the watercraft. Some states go a step further requiring the jacket be properly fitted and worn. Select a PFD for paddling, waterskiing jackets may cause chaffing in the arms. A vest style life jacket is preferred for paddling sports. Choose a PFD with care, it is a life saver. A life jacket adds precious minutes to a dangerous situation, time to gather thoughts and equipment, while saving energy. Canoe, paddle and life jacket are the minimum, but to be safe on the water a few incidentals are necessary.
Safety on the water is the number one priority. Here is a short list of safety related items every person venturing on water should have.
- A properly fitting PFD, discussed above.
- Hat with visor to protect from harsh glare of the sun.
- Proper footwear, sandals or old sneakers are appropriate.
- Paddling whistle, designed to be heard, attached to PFD.
- Water and snacks, even on the water dehydration is an issue.
- Dry bag to store everything, securely attached to the canoe.
- Rope throw bag.
- Knife, useful for a number of tasks.
- First Aid kit.
- Sun protection, sunscreen, shirts and lip balm.
Items on the above list should be placed in a duffle bag and taken every time when venturing out on the water, no exceptions. Better to be prepared, because accidents do happen.
Beginners mistakenly assume that with the best equipment they will be safe. The truth is a strong swimmer with the right skills may be safer than someone with lots of equipment without the proper knowledge. Learn to swim, if not a strong swimmer, never go out on the water alone. A few simple paddling techniques and boat handling skills should be sufficient to start canoeing. The best method of learning is with an experienced paddler. Canoeing is a great social activity, learning from others experience is a tremendous way to meet people and participate in lifelong sport.
The canoe basics are equipment, safety and skills. Three elements that ensure a pleasurable experience on the local lake or river with a canoe. A small investment in equipment, a canoe, paddle and good PFD, along with a safety go bag leads to a lifetime of adventure and exploration. Canoeing can reach the depths of the soul like no other sport. A canoe brings a person closer to nature while escaping the stress of life. Paddling a canoe is a sport for all ages, all personalities, all budgets.