Canoeing Can Be a Relaxing Time with Friends and Family
Being on the water, whether it be a river, lake, or ocean, is always fun. The breeze in your hair, the smell of the water, the slap of little waves against the boat, all relax you. Being in a canoe, though, is special. It's silent, sliding through the water with barely a ripple low to the water. You're close to the water, a part of the environment. Herons and ducks barely notice you, continuing on with their own concerns. Beavers, raccoons and otters look up curiously as you pass. Deer watch you from the bank, chewing complacently. You bring only peace and calm with you and you're accepted. There's no motor noise, not even the slap of sails. If you want to get close to nature, move slowly and quietly and you will see and hear the secret lives of the water. This is best done in the water from a canoe.
Proper Paddling Technique
Canoeing is more than getting in and picking up a paddle. There is a body rhythm to be learned in order to paddle efficiently without tiring quickly. The three rules of canoeing should control your strokes. They are:
- The power of your stroke comes from rotating your torso, not your arms and shoulders.
- Upper and lower body must work independently, but together.
- Always keep your hands where you can see them.
The motion of the torso starts with twisting at the waist which winds your upper body. You will be facing away from the direction you're going. The force of your stroke originates in the unwinding. Your arms and shoulders position the paddle while the torso provides the power.
The torso winds and unwinds, while the legs stabilize the canoe or aid in turning it.
Keeping your hands visible before you keeps them close to your body and makes your strokes efficient.
What's the Best Canoe?
If you're thinking of buying a canoe, you should consider what kind of canoeing you'll be doing. Quiet trips through salt marshes and lakes or more adventurous boating through rapids? You also need to think about how long your trips will be, how much baggage you'll be carrying, and how many people will be going. Once you've thought of all that, you can start to pick out a canoe.
There are several different classes of canoes, but you should probably go with a multi-purpose type, good for flat water, but able to handle at least Class II rapids. Most canoes run 15' to 17' in length, combining good maneuverability with the ability to carry enough gear. Width depends on your expertise. Wider canoes are more stable, but require more effort. When you've decided, take the canoe out on the water to see how it feels.
Best Canoe Vacation Destinations
So where are you going with your canoe? Here are a few of the most beautiful canoe trips in America.
- Northern Forest Canoe Trail, New England - Starting in Old Forge, New York, the trail covers 23 rivers, 59 lakes and ponds, and 65 portages, following the old Native American travel routes to Maine. Spectacular in the fall.
- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia - This one's for birders. The wild beauty of the swamp is punctuated by the brilliant plumage of the birds. Alligators are seen frequently as well, so be prepared!
- Green River, Utah - The flat, calm water of the river carries you through rugged canyons and bizarre rock formations for some truly awesome scenery.
- Buffalo National River, Arkansas - Through quiet pools and churning rapids, the river slides past huge rocky bluffs in the Ozark Mountains. Bring a fishing rod. The smallmouth bass fishing is great.
These are just four of the wonderful adventures you can have with friends and family in a canoe. Alternatively, you can explore rivers and streams close to home. It doesn't have to be in a national forest. Where you go is not as important as who is with you. Spending hours together in a canoe can forge strong bonds. Go and enjoy the waterways.