Canoeing for beginners: getting started

Canoeing for beginners: getting started

Canoeing is a term that has been used for thousands of years, but today when we think of a canoe it’s usually a recreational craft somewhere between 14 and 17 feet long with an open space to paddle from and carry equipment. But there’s a little more to it than that very basic description, so in our canoeing for beginners article, we’ve compiled a list of things you should know before you head out in a canoe for the first time.

What is a canoe?

A canoe is a traditional craft, used for thousands of years, as a form of transport across bodies of water. These days, although canoes are still used as a vital form of transport in many parts of the world, they are also used for recreational purposes, with people using them for all kinds of exploration, adventure and some peace and quiet in the outdoors.

Where would you use a canoe?

Canoes can be used on any body of water, from lakes to canals, rivers to estuaries. You can also use them on the sea, but you need some serious skills for canoeing on the sea!

Who can use a canoe?

Anyone can use a canoe, of any age or ability. Canoes are often favoured by families and people who prefer to sit or kneel in a boat for accessibility or comfort, rather than sit down like you would in a kayak. Canoes are also favoured for multi-day adventures as you can fit a lot in them!

When would you use a canoe?

For any waterborne adventure! You can use canoes on white water or flat water, depending on what you want to do. If you’re using a canoe as a solo paddler, keep in mind things like; are there many portages? Can you move the boat easily on your own?

How would you use a canoe?

It’s as simple as placing the boat in the water, getting in and paddling. A couple of strokes on each side should do it. If you’d like some specific instructions, check out this great video ‘6 steps to get out canoeing’ from Chris Brain on behalf of our friends at Palm Equipment.

Canoeing for beginners: Tips to get started

To get started you will need:

  1. A canoe
  2. A paddle. Canoe paddles, unlike kayak paddles, have a single blade on one end, and a grip handle on the other end. This differs from the kayak paddle, which has a blade on each end and you hold the middle (the shaft). Canoe paddles are usually made of plastic (better for beginners) or wood.
  3. Safety equipment – a buoyancy aid or other floatation device should be worn when canoeing. It might also be worth considering whether you need a helmet, depending on the type of water you are paddling. Think about floatation devices for your boat too – airbags and foam blocks are very useful… they help prevent your boat from sinking or filling with water!
  4. Knowledge… and a little bit of knowledge goes a long way! If you’re brand new to canoeing and need some help to get started, check out the Paddle Awards which are designed to give you all the knowledge and skills you need to be the best independent paddler you can be! Take a look where you can take courses here.