Getting ready to go canoeing? Discover our 8 useful tips!

Written by

Lian van Doorn

Reading time 4 minutes

Getting a canoe to move in a straight line can be a frustrating task at first. Stay calm, no need to panic! Here are a few key tips to make your canoeing trip an unforgettable one, and to make sure you get home in one piece, stoked for your next canoeing adventure!

Water may be your best friend when you’re thirsty, when you take a plunge in the pool or a dip in the sea. But when canoeing, water can sometimes be quite the struggle because it simply refuses to cooperate! You mission is to effortlessly glide that canoe over the water and relax at the same time. But is that even possible?

1. Step into the canoe and keep dry

Are you on shore thinking how on earth you’re going to get into that tiny, ramshackle boat, preferably without capsizing? The best way to go about it is to place your foot in the middle of the canoe immediately, holding the sides to balance your weight while lifting your other leg into the canoe. Granted, it will look a bit funny the first time around, but after a while, it will go a lot smoother, promise! Still, as a beginner, it might be wise to hold the arm of your partner or the canoe owner to enter the boat safely.

2. Don’t fight your paddle

Are you always struggling with your paddle? Do you start sweating ten strokes into it? It can take a while before you find the right pace in your canoe. In any case, paddle on both sides of the canoe to increase its stability. Strong headwinds? Then kneel in your boat for a firmer hold. A canoe comes with a paddle that has a single blade. The person sitting in the front only needs to paddle, while the person sitting at the back also needs to steer the canoe with the paddle.

3. Add a little swing

But how do you find the right stroke? First sit upright in your canoe and hold the handle of the paddle with one hand, while holding the middle of the shaft with the other hand. Make sure one person starts paddling on the right, while the other starts paddling on the left. Hold the paddle above water and push the full blade into the water, ensuring the shaft stays virtually perpendicular to the water. Then pull the paddle through the water along the side of the boat. Off you go!

4. Keep that sun cream handy

Whether you’re canoeing in winter or summer, water reflects sunlight, making it easier for you to get sunburnt. So slap on a good layer of sun cream. Don’t forget your nose and the back of your ears! And for a totally sun-proof look, make sure you also have a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses. Take along a small first-aid kit as well. You never know what awaits you on this wild canoeing adventure!

5. Don’t take any valuables along

The golden rule for outings on the water? Leave anything that can get lost or ruined when wet at home if you don’t want to spoil your day. That means no jewellery and no cash. Taking valuables along anyway? Then put them in a waterproof bag and tie it to the canoe.

6. The fun factor

Plenty of water, a first-aid kit and food... Those are the essentials you need to pack when preparing for a canoeing trip. But let’s not forget that canoeing is above all a fun and exciting adventure. Children will love jumping in the water for a swim and looking at water plants with a magnifying glass. Teenagers will definitely want to take a camera along and you will surely enjoy a romantic picnic or a fun board game with the whole family.

7. Turn it into a real adventure

The fun thing about canoeing is that you can gear the adventure to your personal tastes. Once you’ve mastered the basics of canoeing, you can safely manoeuvre the canoe to the middle of a lake, for example, where you can stop for a nice dip. Or you can cast your fishing line (check whether fishing is allowed in advance!), or paddle to your favourite picnic or camping spot for canoeists.

8. Press the pause button

Does your life sometimes feel like the Amsterdam Central station at rush hour? With e-mails and messages flooding your phone, your diary overflowing with appointments and your brain in a constant state of thinking, planning and scheduling? Then it’s time to hit that pause button and relax. And what better way to do so than to go canoeing? Surrender to the pace of nature, switch off (leave your phone at home or put it in flight mode if you’re keen to take photos) and just enjoy bobbing in the water.

Lian van Doorn

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