Quite possibly the niftiest skill to be learned by the beginning canoeist is not to get wet. Though the quiet craft appears to be a simple structure and easily mastered, the reality is that the would-be canoeist must respect and understand the basic natural laws that apply.
Getting onto the water requires that the craft be carried to the water and lowered onto it. With the canoe floating free and parallel to the shore, you can enter it by placing one foot in the center of the canoe, then crouching low, grasp the opposite gunwale with one hand. As you transfer your weight to the foot in the canoe, swing the other foot on board. A canoe is an unusual watercraft in that it is outweighed by even a solo paddler, and the canoeist’s weight greatly affects stability. With this in mind, each time you must move in a canoe, crouch to keep your weight low, keep your feet along the centerline and hold onto both gunwales.
Paddling the canoe can be tricky, too. The idea is to pull the canoe, rather than the paddle, through the water. If you are paddling on the right side of the canoe, your left hand will be on the grip and your right hand on the shaft. Drop both arms to keep the paddle blade parallel to the water. Swing it forward and reach with your right shoulder, with the blade at a thirty-degree angle, stab it into the water and push your left hand straight forward to bring the blade to a near vertical position, and pull back with your right arm and shoulder until your right arm reaches your hip. Reverse for paddling on the left side. In essence, the canoe is propelled by putting the paddle in the water and pulling the craft up to the paddle.
For the beginner, a few simple tips can make your first canoe trip a great one. You should bring along a dry change of clothing and always wear tennis shoes for wading. Pack the clothing and any food items in watertight containers tied to the canoe, and bring an adequate supply of thirst-quenching drinks. Wear a life jacket at all times. Check the weather report in order to plan your trip, and protect yourself from the elements. Allow adequate time for swimming, picnicking and resting.
Above all else, don’t stand up in your canoe!
The following are some of the many canoe launching sites that are easy to get to:
On Lake George
County Home Bridge – East Schroon River, Bolton ( Map D-3)
Starbuck Dam – County Road No. 53, Chestertown ( Map D-3)
River Street, Warrensburg (Map D-3)
Warren County Nature Trail – Hudson St., Warrensburg. Portage almost 1/2 mile (Map G-3)
River Road – just north of Lake Luzerne (Map G-3)
Warren County Fish Hatchery – Hudson St., Warrensburg (Map D-3)
Glen Bridge – Route 28 (Map D-3)
North River – Route 28 (3) (Map B-2)