Canoe training and courses

What to expect in your first canoeing lesson

Canoeing is a great water sport to get into if you want to improve your upper body strength and have fun doing it. However, before you get started canoeing, there are some important considerations to take into account, such as whether lessons could be useful to your canoe training. Anyone learning to canoe should be able to swim at least 50m (164ft)’. You do not need to be able to swim long distances but the ability to remain confident in and under the water, without panicking, is vital.

Learning to paddle is not difficult; it’s knowing what to do if something goes wrong that canoe training focuses on. Instructors will first introduce you to potential dangers, such as water quality and how to avoid shipping, fishermen and rowers. Beginners will be introduced to the skill of paddling, including the best grip and arm technique. You’ll be kitted out in wetsuit, buoyancy aid, spraydeck, paddle and a helmet if you’re going near rocks.

Canoe training and courses

On the beginner course, students will be introduced to the kit, different types of kayaks, how to put boats away and empty them of water. Here’s an outline of some of the skills you will learn on the first level, which take one or two days to master depending on your experience:

  • The paddle grip.
  • Lifting and carrying of kayaks and when to use each technique.
  • How to get in and out of a kayak.
  • Paddling forward.
  • How to turn around using both sides, sweep stroke, forward and reverse.
  • How to paddle backwards.
  • A number of other paddle strokes.
  • Capsize and swim to shore.
  • How to capsize in an emergency.
  • Emergency canoe capsize.

As you move on in your training you will begin to learn more about safety and the rescue kit, including how to be rescued by throw lines and towing. One of the major skills involved is being able to capsize and recover the boat in the water. This is generally referred to as an ‘Eskimo roll’, where the paddler capsizes the canoe and then uses the paddle to roll the vessel the right way up. This is probably the hardest skill to master, but don’t worry, your instructor will make sure your head is dunked in the water enough times that this skill will become second-nature.

Moving on from the basic skills you will begin to decide on what type of canoeing sport is for you. But whatever you choose, make sure you’re prepared to get extremely wet!

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