Canoe Tips

Unless you’re a canoeing expert, the whole thing can be a little tricky. Sure, one person can post-up in a canoe all by themselves—if they know what they’re doing. (That means getting in the back, for those wondering.) But two folks in a canoe—especially two folks who maybe haven’t done it before, or have only done it like once and that was ten years ago—that can be a challenge.


Add in a little bit of current, maybe some rapids like we have most of the year here at River’s Edge—and presto! Fun!


Or maybe you might end up with just a little light couple-conflict. (Paddle on that side of the boat! No, that one! Are you listening?)


Today I want to help you avoid that problem entirely, with a few tips on canoeing best-practices. These should help the uninitiated, or maybe those of you who haven’t stepped into those long narrow boats we love so well around here.


  1. The person in the back is responsible for steering the boat. 
  2. Effective steering is accomplished by sticking whole head of the paddle into the water in the direction you want to go. Want to go left? Stick your paddle down on the left side of the boat! 
  3. Paddling is best done by sticking the paddle into the water vertically, instead of skimming along the top. Lots of folks know this already, but lots don’t, including most actors—watch actors canoeing in a movie and they’re usually gonna be getting this part wrong.
  4. When going down rapids, it’s important to keep the canoe in-line with the current. Turnovers and spills tend to happen when you get side-ways to the current. Watch out for rocks!
  5. Always wear a life-vest. It may feel silly, but if you fall out of the boat and hit your head on a rock, it could save your life! We have some deep holes in this river.
  6. If you must bring your cell phone, make sure you put it, plus your wallet and anything else you don’t want to get wet, in an air-tight plastic baggie.
  7. Bonus tip: don’t steer your canoe directly under bushes overhanging the water. We’ll deal with why in a future post (read: w a t e r  s n a k e s! YIKES).
  8. Remember to have fun!


Most of the same principles in this list apply to kayaks, though you’re obviously only one person per boat in that situation.