Open Canoeing

Paddler Development – Open Canoeing

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to be old, have a beard, or wear a big floppy hat to go open canoeing!

We have a very active open canoe group within the club who participate in the training and local river trips, some venture on to white water, and then there’s those who do English Channel crossings! You can start off your paddling in an open canoe if you wish. You certainly don’t need to have paddled a kayak before you try opens, and it may suit your paddling desires more.

So why do open canoeing? Well …

  • They can carry other family members (which you may see as an advantage!). Personally this side is great for me as it allows me to get my wife and children afloat and still do the sport I love.
  • It may be that you feel uncomfortable or restricted in a kayak and you have much more room and freedom in an open.
  • It’s a lot more ‘elegant’ way to travel. Open canoeing is more about technique and finesse that about strength, and it is very rewarding when you get it right.
  • Carrying more gear opens up a whole heap more opportunities for you. Imagine stopping on a river trip and firing up your stove to boil water for a fresh cup of tea rather than one from your flask (maybe I can even convert Doug with that one!). Or go camping for the weekend and really get away from it all.
  • Perhaps the pinnacle of an open canoeists dreams is a multi-day paddling trip to Canada or Scandinavia.
  • Or maybe your pinnacle is to get a little electric outboard for your open canoe and let it do the work – you can get them!!

Efficient forwards paddling is the most important skill to master. Obviously with a single ended paddle you have the tendency to go round in circles to start with but with a little perseverance it’s easy enough to get the boat going straight and then we can help you work on your efficiency.

Having mastered your forwards paddling you can then work on your open canoeing ‘lifestyle’ skills. There are things such as Tarpology; the mastering of tarp skills, or the ability to rig up a tarpaulin cover in all circumstances.

And you can always improve your fire building on remote shores as there’s always a bit of kid inside you wanting to build a huge fire.

You can even sail open canoes if the wind is in the right direction and you can punt (pole) them if it gets too shallow to paddle – think Cornetto advert!

The Club has several open canoes that members can borrow and there are normally other open canoeists on our local river trips. And if you’ve not had a go in an open canoe yet then ask when we’re down the river one day and, if you enjoy it, we can get you on the training courses to learn more.

Happy open canoeing! JE

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Ref: [copied from ICC magazine article by Jim Ellis (July 2009), Paddler Development]