Some expert canoeists strongly advise kneeling in the bottom of the
canoe while paddling, for at least part of the time, but the usual
method is to sit on the seats provided at bow and stern, or sit on the
bottom. The kneeling paddler has her canoe in better control, and
becomes more one with it than one who sits. In shooting rapids and in
rough weather kneeling is the safest when one knows how to paddle in
n. It is a good thing to learn both methods.
When you paddle close one hand firmly on the end of the paddle and the
other around the handle a short distance above the blade. Then, keeping
your body steady, dip your paddle into the water slightly in front of
you and sweep it backward and downward toward the stern, keeping it
close to the canoe. You face the bow in a canoe, remember, and reach
forward for your stroke. At the finish of a stroke turn the paddle
edgewise and slide it out of the water. For the next stroke bring the
blade forward, swinging it horizontally with the blade parallel to the
water, and slide it edgewise into the water again in front of you. Fig.
34 shows the beginning of a stroke, Fig. 35 while the stroke is in
progress, and Fig. 36 the ending. During the stroke bring your upper
hand forward across your face or breast, and with the lower draw the
blade through the water.
It is well to begin as bow paddler, for your duty there, in smooth
water, is to watch for obstructions such as hidden rocks and submerged
logs or snags, while the paddler at the stern must steer the canoe and
keep it in a straight course.
At the beginning learn to paddle as well from one side as from the
other. To be able to change sides is very restful and sometimes a quick
change will prevent an accident. Like many other things, the knack of
paddling will come with experience and will then require no more thought
than keeping your balance on a bicycle and steering it.