How to paddle your own canoe (better)

By Penny Caldwell | 01 Feb 2012

Guest post by Jackie Davis, assistant editor. Yesterday, I watched paddling instructor Becky Mason’s Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing DVD—her latest instructional movie on how to perform various advanced (solo) paddling strokes.

At the cottage, I don’t go out in the canoe much. This is too bad, because the cabin is on Canoe Lake, which causes about 95 per cent of people to, upon hearing this, comment, “So, I guess you must do a lot of canoeing there, right?” Oh, irony.

It’s not that I don’t know how to paddle, it’s just that I’m not very good at it. Not solo, not with anybody else. My sister and I used to go together when we were younger, but these excursions involved a lot of crashing into things, and shouting at each other. It kind of killed the joy for me.

But watching Mason’s DVD (fyi, it includes the introductory video, Classic Solo Canoeing) reminded me that canoeing is actually pretty, you know, fun. With the help of slo-mo, and really cool underwater shots, she goes through a few straightforward strokes, a tip or two (for example, how to “shake out” the canoe if you’ve capsized and it’s taken on a bunch of water), plus fancy manoeuvres such as the Running Bow Draw, and the Box (a stationary pivot). These are moves I didn’t know existed until I spent a morning last year watching Freestyle Canoe Dancing videos on YouTube. (It was a slow day.)

Mason’s calm, narrated instruction makes me wish she had been my canoeing teacher, instead of the crabby lake neighbour, who used to yell pointers at me and my sister. Okay, so it’s unlikely that I’m going to be busting out a One-Handed Running Pry the next time I hit the lake. But I do feel excited to get in a canoe again.

To see a trailer of Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing, and buy the DVD, click here.