Canoeing alone presents a few more challenges than canoeing with a partner.
Aside from the fact that
a couple more hands are useful when things go wrong, a canoe is
designed for balance. Centering all the weight in one place along a narrow
boat makes balance that much harder to obtain. Two people tend to spread the
weight and stabilize the canoe along both axes (keep it from tipping).
Traditionally, a person canoeing alone will sit in the rear section of the
canoe, the aft, so that the bow tips out of the water. There are a few ways to account
for this difficulty. Careful and measured paddling can prevent the solo
canoeist from overcorrecting and tipping the canoe. If conditions make it
difficult to maintain course or balance, one may move toward the center of the
canoe and kneel to even out the weight distribution and lower the bow of
the canoe. Adding weight to the bow will also simulate the presence
of another person, but be sure to secure it properly.
Had I done it alone by canoe I might have boasted a little."
-- Sergeant Farrar, RCMP
The first time I canoed sans partner, I tipped five minutes into my
journey. There was a relatively stiff wind that day and I overcorrected.
Luckily, the bed of the river was soon under my feet and I held a canoe in one
hand and a paddle in the other. I quickly realized two things: the unique
aspects of single-person canoeing should always be respected and I was in one of
the best places along the Tahquamenon River to learn that lesson. After
gathering my things, including the wayward-floating water bottle, and
uprighting the canoe, I continued down the river, shivering a little bit
from the wind and evaporation. The rest of the trip was difficult, sitting
in the rear of the canoe with a good crosswind. Everytime a breeze came
along my canoe would turn sharply, sending me off course and into the bank.
Eventually, though, I crawled out of the river two hours behind schedule
and called for a ride.
With a pinch of common sense and some good experience on the water though, solo
canoeing can be thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.
momomom reminds me that canoeing all alone is considered risky. When one considers canoeing alone, it is always best to tell at least one person where you are going, or even better, bring someone with you. Naturally, all of the information above still applies if you are the odd man out in a group of boats.