Canoeing For Beginners


Last week I covered ways to get started in kayaking. This week will be a similar topic but I am going to cover canoes. Many people that would like to get out on the water but are not sure what to purchase will have to decide between a kayak and canoe. Which is better, which is more stable, which one is easier to transport? I will attempt to answer these and more questions you might have today.

Just like with my kayaking article, this article will be aimed at the complete beginner. If you would like to move forward with either a kayak or canoe I highly suggest researching in depth things like water and boating safety.

You Control The Effort

As with kayaking, canoeing is a great way to get some exercise and relax at the same time. You control the amount of exercise you get by the type of canoeing you will do. Will it be a long fast paddle around an island or a lazy float on a lake? It’s your choice. You should also research the area you are in for launching area rules and/or any fees there may be.

Ok, let’s get started. Canoes have come a long way since they were carved from trees. Unlike kayaks which come in 2 styles sit-in and sit-on-top, all canoes are sit in with no coverings. There are “seats” on either end of the canoe and sometimes in the middle that you can sit on. If you are a fairly tall person like myself, you might want to sit in the back of the canoe.

Moose Tour

When we did our moose tour in Maine a couple of years ago the guide put me in front, Chris in the middle and he was in the back. After a while out on the lake, my legs were feeling a little cramped.

Canoes tend to weigh in a bit more than a kayak so transporting to a launch area might pose a little bit of a challenge. For those out on the road full-time RV’ing, the challenge becomes a little more. If canoeing is really something you want to do, you will find a way to make it happen though. Nothing is impossible and full-time RV’ers are used to thinking outside the box. Chris and I are currently in our deciding phase now. We were heavily leaning towards kayaks but are now interested in canoes.

Blade Is On One Side Only

Another difference you will notice besides the weight is the paddle. A kayak uses a paddle with a blade on each end while a canoe paddle has a blade on only one end. This can make maneuvering the canoe a bit trickier. If you are by yourself and want to move forward, you will have to paddle on one side and then pick your paddle up out of the water and paddle on the other side. You would continue this process to move ahead in a straight line.

Having two people in the canoe would make maneuvering it a bit easier. This way each person would work a side. Also, if you needed to turn hard to one side or the other quickly both people could paddle on one side at the same time.

Have A Seat

As I stated earlier, where you are positioned in the canoe will determine leg room. Generally speaking since your sitting on a “bench” type seat, your legs will always be at least a little bent. In a sit-on type kayak, your legs would be mostly straight out. The shorter person might want to sit in the front position.

Canoes, for the most part, are much roomier than kayaks. That means there is some extra room for more gear. Things like a cooler with lunch would make for a great day out on the lake. This might also be a good time to remind you that some of that room should be used for sunscreen and drinking water. Remember, you will be out on the river or lake under direct sun. Make sure you wear some kind of hat too.

What Else Do I Need

Even though canoes are generally very stable Coast Guard approved life-saving floatation devices are a must. Water shoes, shorts or swim shorts and a non-cotton type shirt should also be worn. Remember to protect your phone, camera, and anything else you want to keep dry in good waterproof containers.

Just as I suggested with kayaks before you run out and buy a canoe try renting first. There are many styles and types of kayaks but not so much with canoes. I think that if you wind up renting one a couple of times, you will have a pretty good feel for whether it’s right for you.

We Prefer Lazy River

If you want to be adventurous and do fast moving or rougher waters than a good ocean kayak might be a better choice for you. If you want the ability to do lazy river type floats and want the ability to bring lots of gear and people then a canoe would be a great choice.

Lastly, let’s talk about transporting. If you are only a part-time RV’er and mostly stay at local campgrounds, you have a few more options for transporting your canoe than a full-time RV’er. If you camp local, you can bring your RV to a campground, set it up, then go back and get your canoe.

You Should Only Need One

As a full-time RV’er that won’t work. But have no fear. There are options. The most obvious and easiest way to move your canoe would be if you owned a toy hauler style RV. For the rest of us that do not own a toy hauler, we would need some kind of rack storage system. The good news is since a canoe will fit more people than a kayak, chances are you will only need one.

For those of us with travel trailers, since we are probably pulling our RV’s with a pick up we have several style racks we can use. For those with 5th Wheels, it becomes a little trickier but not impossible. Class C’s and A’s can pull a vehicle or trailer behind them and attach all sorts of canoe racks to the tow vehicle so that makes it pretty easy.

Pinterest Is A Great Place To Start

Once you have decided to buy a canoe and you know the length, I suggest you research your transport options closely. Don’t just listen to the salesman who sold you the canoe. His/her interest is in selling you the canoe, not transporting it. I have found the best way to get ideas for almost anything including transporting canoes is to search Pinterest. It’s a great way to start your research. Of course,  if you are in a campground and someone pulls in with canoes, I am sure they would have no problem if you asked them about their system. Campers helping campers.

So you see there are many similarities between kayaks and canoes. Hopefully, I have left you with enough information for you to begin your research of which one is right for you. As always, if you have any ideas, stories, tips or suggestions that I have not covered here, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

The video below was shot from a canoe while just floating along. Sorry for the fuzzy video but all I had was my cell phone.



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