Remember back to the days at summer camp filled with s’mores and ghost stories around a campfire? For those of you who received a coveted canoeing merit badge as a kid, canoes seem like a bit of a forgotten mode of water transportation in our current world of stand-up paddle boards and flyboards. Canoes might not be the newest kids on the block, but it’s tough to beat a nice, classic canoe for a fun day out on the lake.
A quick search on Craigslist will yield numerous canoes on sale for prices too good to pass up. All you need is a vessel that doesn’t leak, a few paddles and a couple of life jackets and you’ve got a good time just waiting to happen. Here are a few tips to make sure your first outing is a swimming success (and not a failure meaning you’ll be swimming back to shore).
Round Up The Crew
Carrying a canoe from your car to the water can be tricky when done solo, unless you’re a Canadian or a Yooper, in which case you’ve probably been carrying canoes on your shoulders since you could walk. Luckily canoeing, like most things in life, is more fun with your friends. So get that group text chain going and hit up the crew.
Don’t forget the paddles and lifejackets.
Unless you have webbed hands, those canoe paddles are going to come in handy. Bonus points for mastering how to properly use a paddle (J-stroke what?!?!). Perhaps most important of all, always bring life jackets. Canoes can be more prone to tipping compared to some other watercrafts, so it’s always a good idea to be ready in case one of your passengers decides they want to demonstrate their dancing abilities with an impromptu rendition of the “All the Single Ladies” dance.
Fill Up That Cooler
Think of a canoe like a mobile picnic on water. No picnic would be complete without some proper refreshments. Sandwiches, chips, trail mix and cookies all make excellent canoe refreshments. And don’t forget the liquid refreshments. La Croix, beer and White Claw are all great, but for a truly authentic canoe experience, grab a Bota Bag (GSI even makes a Bota Bag for the 21st century) and fill that sucker with some wine. You’ll feel just like Daniel Boone!
Be careful when making that cast.
Canoeing is the perfect opportunity to bust out that old fishing pole that’s been collecting dust in the closet. Unlike fishing from shore, a canoe gives you the freedom to explore anywhere on the lake and find a new fishing hole. A word of wisdom though… pay attention to what’s behind you when you’re making that cast, especially if you’re the front passenger. You’ll have a tough time ever getting invited on an evening fishing expedition again if you hook your boat mate on your back cast.
Watch out for rapids
Canoes love the open waters of lakes and the mellow flow of a lazy river, but rapids are where things start to get tricky. It’s entirely possibly to run trickier rivers on a proper canoe, but it requires a whole different set of skills and equipment compared to a lazy Saturday afternoon at the lake. So before you step up to the big leagues of rapids, perfect those skills on some mellower water.
Just follow these tips and you’ll be happier than Ron Swanson paddling a homemade canoe across a pristine lake! Now go hit up Craigslist and score a new weekend party barge. It won't be long before you feel like the king of the world.