Introduction: How to Solo Canoe

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Every thing you need to know to become a solo canoe paddler. Shot on location at the University of Hard Knocks.

First the basics you need a boat then you need to get in the boat then move the boat with the paddle.

Sometimes reality does not match the expectations. Canoes are easy to find, they usually sit in the back yard of a friends and camouflage themselves with weeds and grass. That is because everyone has the intention of paddling on a glassy calm lake with ospreys and eagles flying overhead while fish make ripples in the water. Go borrow or rent a canoe.

Step 1: Canoeing Terminology

You will want to learn the correct terminology to impress the locals. First we do not carry the canoe we portage it. This is a Canadian word stolen from the French and like most French words it is spelled wrong. They write it like, "PORT AGE." Do not pronounce it this way as that is a sure sign of a newbie and to be avoided at all cost. Pronounce the first syllable like, "Pour." The first half of the second syllable is, "Ta." The last half of the second syllable is pronounced like the second half of the one syllable, "age." Just say the, "G," with the silent, "E," while holding your nose and you will have it correct. Forget all that it really does not matter as no one will hear you since you are paddling solo.

Step 2: Learn the Ropes

That is the beauty of solo paddling you can do what ever you want and make up your own names for any special skill you desire. Knots and ropes are not intuitive. When you want a knot regardless how many times you cross it the rope slips out. When you want a rope to uncoil it always forms a new knot. The trick is to think like a rope. Fool it into thinking you want it straight, when that is Not what you really want.

Step 3: Launching a Canoe From a Dock.

Mastering the skill of getting into the canoe as it tries to move every direction out from under you. Do not expect to stay dry on the first trip. When you step in the canoe it moves away. If you try to crawl in it separates from the dock. If you step in it turns over. Don't give up keep trying and you will find what works for you.

Step 4: Strokes

Every book on paddling a canoe tells you how to do a, "J stroke,". This is explained as drawing a letter J in the water with the paddle to make the canoe go in a straight line. Much verbiage has been written about how you catch the water with your paddle in front of your knee. Then as you apply power your thumb must turn down and the stroke should end behind your hip.

None of this matters you are paddling solo if you want to go in circles with your stroke go for it. Since you are paddling solo you can call your turning stroke a,"J stroke." This is true paddling liberation.

Make up your own strokes and give them names. It makes more sense to call the strokes what they do instead of some letter. For example the, "away stroke," makes you go away and the, "come back stroke," brings you back. Is this not fun and liberating.

One of the big advantages of paddling a canoe is you only have one paddle blade. This is a huge advantage if you only want to go in a circle. If you need to go straight you can paddle on opposite sides of the canoe with every other stroke. To keep the water out of the canoe use the dry stroke. By slinging the blade quickly over your head the centrifugal force will make the water on the blade fly far away only wetting people that paddle near you. But you are paddling solo remember so you stay dry.

Step 5: Solo Canoe Mastery.

After some experimentation you will discover a way to paddle your canoe straight with strokes only on one side. Master this as it really impresses the locals to see you glide across the lake effortlessly. OOPS I forgot you are paddling solo. You can look as nerdy as you want as the wildlife won't tell. Disembarking is the opposite of how you got in the canoe from the water. You are now on your way to being a solo canoeist.