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When we think about what dangers that can arise when you go canoeing, almost all of them revolve around tipping over. To be honest, there are plenty of things a paddler can do to tip over a canoe – being too eager when stand up casting springs to mind – and even experienced canoers can tip (trust us, we’ve seen it).
Our goal in this post is to give you great tips and tricks that will help you not tip over while you’re canoeing. We’ve compiled a list of some things to keep in mind while you’re canoeing that will help you prevent tipping or stop it if you feel like it may happen. We even have a video that will help you visualize it. So let’s dive in!
Your Guide for Preventing Tipping
1. Center of gravity: This one is pretty simple, but when people are canoeing for several hours or days at a time, they may get sloppy or too comfortable, this may lead to bouncing all around the canoe. This is by far the easiest way to tip over; it happens when your center of gravity is too high.
One of the easiest ways to fix a high center of gravity is to paddle while kneeling. You can find padding that is made specifically for kneeling; if you kneel with a wide stance between your knees, that is half the battle of preventing a tip. This stance is surprisingly comfortable as well.
2. Lean forward: More specifically, lean downstream. This is mostly for when you hit obstacles like rocks or branches. If you are leaning straight up and down and you hit a rock, you’re likely to tip over. However, if you lean downstream and hit a rock, the weight distribution will likely counteract the tip.
It’s possible that it may get uncomfortable after a while. Sure, to be safe, you can lean downstream the entire time you paddle. However, we understand that might not be too practical. If you understand the risk, but you still want to benefit from the tactic, be sure to lean forward mostly during periods when you are going through rapids or by rocks.
3. Ignore hanging branches: This one is pretty simple; just don’t do it. When you see that low hanging branch or large rock that you think you can use to propel yourself, ignore all of your intrinsic desires to use it to guide yourself or “stabilize” yourself. Remember that low center of gravity thing we talked about? Standing up and leaning over to grab the obstruction is sure to throw your center of gravity off and you will certainly tip over.
Instead, stay inside the boat, keep your gravity low, and lean downstream. You’ll thank us.
4. Enter and exit like a pro: This isn’t as simple; it’s very easy to tip over when trying to enter and exit your canoe. The best way to enter your canoe is to launch from a beach or some sort of land mass. The best tactic to use is to lay your paddle in the canoe, put one foot in, and push off with the other foot. Trust us, this will take a lot of practice, and there is still plenty of risk, but if you can make a smooth transition from launching to lowering your center of gravity, then you will be much less likely to tip over.
If you have to launch from a dock, do not try this tactic. You will almost certainly end up in the water. Instead, try to get both feet in the canoe while it’s parallel to the dock. lower your center of gravity and use your paddle to push off of the dock so that you don’t have to compromise your center of gravity.
As promised, we included a video that consolidates all of the tactics we showed you. Enjoy!