Canoeing, the close cousin of kayaking, has been a popular sport around the world for many years.
Almost everyone has paddled or ridden in a canoe at some point in their lives.
Canoes were used by early explorers of the American Frontier, and before that by Native Americans, who fashioned these sturdy watercraft from hollowed-out logs.
The lines between canoes and kayaks are a little blurred, to say the least. Internationally, “canoeing” is a generic terms that describes both canoes and kayaks, and paddle sports in general. In North America, however, canoeing generally refers to the operation of a canoe only, with kayaking being a separate activity all together.
Many people think that the primary difference between these two classes of watercraft is the fact that canoes are open-decked, while most kayaks are closed-decked boats.
But some canoes have
closed decks, while “sit-on-top” kayaks have open-decks, so even this is not a cut-and-dried distinction.
Another distinction is the choice of paddles – canoes are usually paddled with a single blade paddle, while kayaks are typically paddled with double-bladed paddles. Canoes also tend to be wider than their kayak cousins.
Canoeing, especially in lakes, has been a favorite pastime for fisherman and recreational boaters for decades. Many people who would be intimidated by the confines and challenges of whitewater kayaking, feel quite at ease paddling a canoe across a mountain lake or a calm stretch of river.
Canoe designs and materials have evolved over the years, and modern canoe hulls are constructed from a variety of lightweight composite materials, from wood to aluminum, fiberglass, polyethylene, Kevlar and carbon fiber. There are strip-built canoes, wood and canvas, dugouts (constructed from a hollowed-out logs), outriggers, and even inflatable models.
Canoeing attracts a wide range of enthusiasts, from Sunday paddlers to sports fisherman, wildlife photographers, artists, birdwatchers, prospectors and more. And competitive canoeing includes marathons, slaloms, and wild water events.
Some regard canoes as being somewhat unstable, with plenty of scenes in movies where an actor stands up in a canoe, loses his or her balance, and then topples over into the water. But this instability is exaggerated, and canoes are quite safe when handled properly. The most important to remember is to always keep your center of gravity as low as possible, and don’t make any sudden moves when climbing in or out of a canoe.
When a canoe has two occupants, they typically work in tandem, each paddling from opposite sides of the boat. This balances the forward thrust, and keeps the canoe moving in a straght line. Steering is a more complex matter, with the person in the stern usually responsible for moving the bow port or starboard, either by dragging the paddle, or paddling with more force.
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