Want to canoe, but not sure how?

Canoeing is a Canadian pastime. No trip to the lake is complete if some type of boating isn’t included.

Local resorts have a healthy supply of different canoes available, often with all necessary equipment: life vests, paddles, and safety kit. That`s all that`s needed, besides good weather.

If your canoe does not come with an introductory lesson, you will need to find your own personal paddling style while already on the lake. That`s how we started.

A 14-foot canoe we rented easily accommodated two normal sized adults, a 10-year old child and two full size golden retrievers.

I do not like wobbly things

I do not like wobbly things, so I used extra caution while getting “on-board” for the first time. It was a novelty for all of us and our excitement and hesitation infected the dogs. Initially they did not want to get in. It took some coaxing and directing before they ended up in the middle part of the canoe. Panting and shaking was obvious.

First minutes were difficult, as the dogs were shifting in the canoe with excitement trying to assess the situation. This made the canoe go from side to side and balancing the canoe wasn’t easy. The wind was high and the waves got even worse when motor boats came close at full speed. I clutched their leashes tight, which was a smart move as Leo even tried to leave the canoe in the middle of the lake.

Found an island

After forty minutes of paddling we ended up on a small island. Nobody else was there, so we let the dogs off their leashes. They had a great time swimming in the cool lake and rubbing themselves in the wild grass. We sat down to relax as paddling gave us a great arm and shoulder workout. Both of us are exercise enthusiasts, so we really put some muscle into moving swiftly.

Since we were staying at Spring Rock only for a few days, we decided to really make a full use of the canoe. We visited several islands and watched amazing lake-side cottages. The weather was excellent, until…

Dark clouds ahead

… we saw a dark cloud approaching quickly from the north. We were on an island some 50-min away from our campground. It was obvious that high winds and heavy rain was inevitable. We packed up in a hurry and pushed the canoe into the water. The sky looked angry, and was getting angrier by the minute.

Aching shoulders did not stop us. We put whatever we had left to move the canoe as fast as possible towards our camp. The wind got high, pushing the canoe in the wrong direction. The waves picked up rocking and flooding us.

There was no time to spare. Battling wind and waves was getting harder and harder. I looked back and heavy rain was just behind us. We were hopelessly racing against time. The wrists and shoulders were extra sore and tired, yet giving up wasn’t an option.

The canoe kept rocking, the wind worked against us when the first drops of rain touched us. White manes on the waves grew larger as we kept on paddling through exhaustion. Suddenly a wall of rain hit us without mercy and within less than a minute we all got soaking wet.

Fortunately the canoe was a few strong strokes away from the docking site. We unloaded quickly and ran into our tents. We were wet, but happy we made it. We will celebrate that victory with a bottle of raspberry wine tonight.

It is awesome to be fit. Without the endurance we would not be able to make it back safely. And although canoeing can be real fun, we made some conclusions about it.

Canoeing is not for everyone

Canoeing requires a moderate level of shoulder strength, moderate level of stamina and relatively good ability to balance the weight. People with poor health should not attempt canoeing. Balancing may be an issue. Some may fail to safely get in and out. Slipping is a very real possibility.

Certain prescription drugs may cause extra photosensitivity, leading to skin rash and sun stroke. The canoeist can be exposed to sun for prolonged periods. Paddling may not be enjoyable for people with joint problems or people that are not physically conditioned.

People with good health can fully enjoy canoeing, as even  land portages are of no issue. Battling waves, swimming in cold water, and prolonged paddling can be challenging, but it is what fit people live for.

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