Canoe Paddles - A Primer If you are a nature lover but are ready to leave land behind, then canoing is for you. Once you learn how to steer a canoe you can navigate still waters, rapids, and eventually take long distance canoe camping trips. When first entering a canoe you must become comfortable with the vessel so you can move around without falling. Keep your center of gravity low when walking in the boat. If you are brand-new to canoing, you should start out sitting in the front of the canoe. This may seem counterintuitive, but the real steering is done by the person who sits in the rear. As you get in have someone standing on land hold the rear of the boat steady while you grip the sides of the canoe and slowly make your way toward the front. The canoe may tip left and right as you take each step, but you will get used to this. Next, you must get used to using canoe paddles. Mastering paddling is essential because you use the paddle to steer. Place one hand at the top of the paddle and another in the middle. Take a few strokes in the water while the boat is still being held by someone on land so that you can get comfortable with the paddling motion. When you have the paddle in the water and the boat is moving it is more difficult to handle. Since you are in motion the water will try to swallow the paddle as soon as you put it in. Don't let go of the paddle or it will get sucked away by the water. In addition, you will have to use a little bit of force to get the paddle out of the water to start your next stroke. (However, you do not want to use so much force that you wind up fighting the paddle.) If you have a good teacher in the rear of the canoe they will try to time their stroke with yours until you get the basics down. Eventually, you can both work together to navigate more technical waters. There are usually two canoe paddles per boat. The rear paddle can be used as a rudder for steering around sharp turns and turning the boat around. The person up front also helps with steering by finishing his stroke width an inward or outward "S" motion in the water that points the nose of the boat in the proper direction. After you are comfortable navigating slow waters, you can take your canoe into rapids. This requires more steering skill and a proficiency with canoe paddles as well as safety equipment. Perhaps the ultimate trip for canoing fans is camping. Canoe camping is also known as touring or tripping and combines canoing with camping. You can carry heavier loads in a canoe then you can by backpack and you can encounter both rapids and waterfalls. In fact, some of the waterfalls may be so dangerous that you will have to get out and carry your boat on land (portage), but most navigation is done in the water. While the bodies of water may be quite large most boaters prefer to stay relatively close to shore. In fact, you can get so close to shore -- practically within arm's length -- that you can see another side of nature that a hiker would never witness. Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for Web sites on gardening, outdoor recreation, fashion, and home decor. Her background also includes teaching, gardening, and fashion. For more of her useful articles on canoing, please visit Canoes, supplier of interesting and useful articles on the subject of canoes.