My paddling advice comes from trial and error and lessons I've learned on the water. These tips may help you before you head off on your next adventure.
Keep things simple
I think simplicity and economy of movement while paddling is important. Try using leverage instead of brute strength to move the canoe. A student recently told me he suffered back pain and was trying to build up his weaker muscles, and he was surprised that there was no hint of muscle fatigue or spasm while taking my two-hour paddling lesson. Leverage was the key.
Break old habits
I find that experienced canoeists may have to overcome muscle memory when learning new strokes. Try changing to your less familiar paddling side. This way the strokes feel brand new and there are not as many old habits to slip into.
Practice is good
I recommend that both new and seasoned canoeist's practice in a safe comfortable environment, be it a small lake or sheltered bay. Sharpen up your techniques with my Classic Solo video.
Yes to comfort!
Above all else, I like to stress comfort while paddling. This includes both physical and psychological comfort. If a student can't kneel we find a happy medium perhaps they sit on the seat with one leg stretched out utilizing the 3 point stabilization technique. If we are cold we put an other layer on and have a rain coat handy. It's Murphy's law if you have a raincoat within reaching distance in your canoe it probably won't rain or not for very long.
Researching your paddling trip
There are endless resources for researching a dream paddling trip on your bucket list, from blogs and websites to books and magazines the information out there is astonishing. But I do have my favorites and the following is a very short list of a few that I find myself returning to regularly.
On line paddling resources
When I want to get inspired about where to go or search out a route
I first go to the Canadian Canoe Routes. I can spend hours happily puttering around reading the forums on trips people have taken and what's happening in the Canadian canoeing community.
For UK or Europe trips I think the Song of the Paddle is swell.
And for USA Paddlenet is good too.
Some great guide books
After I've narrowed my choice down to where I'm going, the next stop is getting routes guide book. I love tripping on lakes and rivers and I plan my trips around that wish. I know it sounds old fashioned to want to have a book but it is really nice to have it along to read in the evening in the tent.
I usually go to Kevin Callan's site to see what book titles and videos he has available on the specific trip.
Before my trip I always review what Hap Wilson's guide books I have in my collection. He's been producing guide books for many years. For many of his books he does beautiful drawings for each route and they are fun to follow.
I do like travelling with the Chrismar's Adventure Maps too because along with the map they put lots of wonderful notes to enjoy on their waterproof maps.
Canoeing North into the Unknown by Gwyneth Hoyle and Bruce Hodgins is an excellent historical reference for Canadian northern trips as it details those who have gone before us on these rivers that flow to the Arctic. It's remarkable to see how much traffic these remote wilderness rivers have seen over the years.
3- Finding hidden gems on a trip.I think it's important to cross reference various people's opinions and experiences on a specific route. I really do like to hear where the raspberry patches and especially where the blueberry bogs are and do look forward to finding them on a trip. I find it interesting to read about various mishaps that have gone before me and when I'm on the spot where they have occurred. I do try to puzzle out why they happened and then try to avoid the same mistake. There are places in the wilderness that have an un-explainable bad vibe to them. I suppose for a lack of a better word "creepy". These are places I may visit, but won't stay at.
One of my favorite magazines that I occasionally contribute to is Paddling Magazine, produced by Rapid Media devoted to the wilderness tripper and and a whole lot more.