When I first started canoeing, I didn’t really follow any rules or get someone to teach me, which was a terrible mistake. When you don’t have someone to guide you, your growth will be incredibly slow, and in the case of canoeing very dangerous. It is important to have someone to teach you the basics, rules, and standard practices of whatever sport or activity you want to learn. While a few YouTube and internet articles will help, it is best to keep them as a supplement while learning with an instructor. That said here are a few canoeing tips for absolute beginners.
1.) Don’t Drink and Paddle
You might think that the no drinking rule only applies to Driving, Flying, and surgery, but far from it. Drinking may give you that great feeling, and it might make the things you do a bit more fun to do, but you’ll tend to lose a bit… or rather a lot of common sense when you drink too much. I am talking to you from experience, that it doesn’t go together, there is so many terrible things that could happen when you combine a small boat, an idiot, and booze together. Canoeing in Utah was a great experience.
2.) Wear the Right Gear
Though kayaking with only your boxers on is extremely tempting, I recommend wearing all the recommended gear. Depending on where and when you are going canoeing you might need to wear something to keep you warm or cool, the best way to know what to wear is by planning in advance and knowing what the weather is like where you plan to go. Of course the life vest is a must, and wearing a helmet goes a long way to avoiding head injury, its best to purchase your own so that you won’t need to worry about availability or compatibility.
3.) File a Float Plan
Have you seen the movie “127 Hours”, think that except on water, sure there aren’t any large rocks to pin us to a wall, but you can become one of those never to be seen again. So file a float plan, and as an extra precaution, tell someone about your plans and leave details of it.
4.) Pack Some Food
No, I don’t mean your picnic basket. What I mean is a small energy bar or two, maybe a water bottle. It is important to have emergency food just in case you run into some trouble or “forgot” to do #3 of this list. (But let’s face it, if you did forget #3, you will likely never be found, but still bring some food for a delightful last meal.)
5.) Know and Respect Your Limits
One day, you will be able to do amazing things… you will be able to do jaw dropping tricks, but today you are a beginner. If you see that the challenge might be too much for you, there is no shame on preserving your life. Do things slowly, challenge yourself on things that are less likely to kill you first and then slowly move up your game.
These are just the bear minimum of what you should do and know, as I stated above it is best to get an instructor to at the very least keep you alive on your first few steps in canoeing.