Canoe Country Wilderness Canoeing
by © Lee Hegstrand


Paddling Techniques

Bow paddlers can be a great help in guiding the craft by using a sweep stroke, draw stroke, bow rudder and cross bow rudder, or a back stroke.Photo courtesy - Jack Johnston Be sure the stern person agrees with your stroke selection, implicitly or explicitly, before commencing. Teamwork is important! Strokes should be in unison to keep the boat from rocking. Use a full, smooth, not jerky, stroke. When traveling a lake in high winds (to be avoided if possible) the bow person should always continue stroking to maintain forward momentum to prevent the canoe from turning sideways to the waves and swamping. In a head wind "feather"* your paddle to reduce wind resistance. The bow paddler usually decides when to switch sides when tiring. Keep in mind that frequent switching adds water inside the boat, wastes energy and slightly retards the progress of the craft. Always bring a spare paddle if one breaks.

*The paddle blade is rotated and brought back parallel to the water at the end of the stroke and then re-rotated to begin a new stroke. This will greatly reduce wind-drag on the paddle, reduce the paddlers efforts and reduce any retardation on the canoe's progress.

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