8 Quick Canoe Tips
Wether you are a seasoned canoe veteran or just getting started, these eight quick tips are always worth remembering.
Share Your Canoe Plans
Out of all of these canoe tips, this should be the most important. Despite all precautions you take, accidents can and will occur. Make sure to communicate your plans with someone including location, time, expected return, etc. In these smartphone days, cell coverage is mostly everywhere so if you make changes to your plans, let someone know. If you are going to be off the grid consider something like a satellite communicator, which have become quite affordable in recent years, should be considered a must have.
Know Your State Regulations
The state regulates canoes and other personal watercraft a little different from boats. You do not need to register canoes or add running lights unless you intend to have it out at night. However, you must have personal floatation devices (i.e. life jackets) in the boat that fit each person at all times. Failure will result in fines. Even more critically, if you cannot swim, keep a vest on you at all times when you are on the water.
Reservations may be required. There are lots of beautiful state and national parks in the United States that encourage kayaking and canoeing, most of which allow only trolling or very small outboard motors. But be sure to check with the park to see if there are restrictions and, more importantly, if they require reservations.
Balance is Critical in a Canoe
When you first start, take it easy. Balance is critical in canoes. Always put your feet in the middle when getting in and keep your weight close to the middle of the boat as much as possible, lest you go for an unintended swim. Generally, you need to move cautiously in canoes and try to make deliberate movements. Most beginner models don’t tip easily, but they will tip if you aren’t careful.
Finding Good Canoe Launch Points
There are loads of great spots to launch, even in places you might not expect like bayous and creeks you may otherwise think aren’t accessible. Paddling.com has an outstanding map of launch points, many of which have suggestions on how best to get there, where to park, etc.
Google Maps can also help out. Google Maps will typical have a green map icon for a canoe launch so make sure that is one of your first stops if canoeing in an unfamiliar area.
Prepare For Weather On The Water
Because you have to handle your boat with just your person strength, you should make note of weather and water conditions by checking weather apps and some of the aforementioned websites. The last thing you want is to be out on a lake when a thunderstorm shows up or as a cold front blows through and forces you to attempt to paddle against a stiff breeze, which can also stir up some rough water.
This is especially true if you plan to paddle in any larger body of water more susceptible to the elements. Sticking relatively close to land as much as possible is a good rule of thumb, especially if you are relatively new and aren’t sure of your strengths and weaknesses.
Enjoy The Views and Sights
One of the most enjoyable of these canoe tips of getting in the boat is the ability to see things from a perspective most of us rarely do. Whether that is a river or creek running through an urban area or a vast stretch of nature, there are always loads of things to see. Bird watchers will find a particular paradise from the vantage of the water. All types of water fowl abound. And because there is no motor, birds will often allow you to come relatively close before flying off.
Prepare For the Heat
Besides the aforementioned issues with wind and rain, don’t forget the heat. Not only does the water reflect the sun’s rays, it can also warmer at the surface level than the air around you. If there is a slight breeze, this will help, but on a calm/still day, you will definitely feel the heat. As we approach autumn, that will be less of an issue, but for now, it’s rough out there. Still, if you use sunscreen and bring plenty of water, and bring wear a shade hate you’ll be fine. Also, in many spots, depending on the time of day, you can paddle near the shore and find shade in the tree line.
Plus, canoes are certainly big enough for an ice chest. Who doesn’t want a cold beverage on a hot day on the boat? You might even find some appropriate items from our earlier post What to pack for adventure travel.
Canoes require balance and the wakes from larger boats certainly upset that balance. Fellow anglers were routinely angered by speed boats passing dangerously close to vessels much smaller. We watched boats inundated by water from water skiers and all mode of powerful watercraft.
This is why it is best to avoid areas that could become crowded with motorboats. Canoes are no match for the waves generated by those boats and, unfortunately, not everyone who operates them does so with courtesy and safety. Best just to avoid them at all costs.
I hope you enjoyed these canoe tips.