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Join your friends for a quiet paddle down a lazy river. Enjoy nature in peace and quiet. Go for a swim whenever you like. Paddling your way through the wilderness can be a wonderful opportunity to get some exercise, socialize with friends and explore wild places that are normally inaccessible. That is what canoeing is all about.

If you go out with a group you may want to combine kayaks with canoes and rafts for greater variety. Kayaks can escort the slower canoes or rafts which carry most of your gear. Known for their handling and seaworthiness, kayaks take many shapes depending on their desired use.

Canadian Canoes

Canadian Canoes may not be as fast as kayaks, but they are roomier and can carry a fair bit of cargo or more people. Watertight boxes can be secured in the centre to carry food, spare clothes and camping gear. They also add some buoyancy and should stay in place even if you capsize.

Canoeing and Kayaking are exciting sports if you learn them well. You can paddle to places other water users can't reach, like calm inland waters, white water rivers, and along the coast.

Boats and Equipment

The instructor may give you an overview on the different types of boats and any must have equipment, like buoyancy aids, life jackets, paddles, spray decks, and the right clothing to help keep you warm.

Learn about safety measures, capsizes, swimming in clothes, and how to carry your boat. Sometimes they show you a training video. Take good notes so that you can refer back to these at a later date.

Prepare to Get Wet

If you are the kind of person who would panic when under water, think carefully before considering taking up either kayaking or canoeing as a sport or hobby.

Anyone considering canoeing lessons should be able to swim at least 50 metres fully clothed. You should be confident in the water with your head above and below. A swim test is often done to check this and is great fun to do as you get to swim in a variety of canoeing clothes.

Balancing Act

Canoeing and kayaking is all about balance. Pratice this often. Here is how.

Position a canoe so it is not too close to anything solid. When you fall in you want to do so safely.

Dressed only in light clothing stand on the sides of the canoe and wobble around a bit to get a feel of the boat's stability. If you manage to keep your balance lean over to one side until you fall in.

While the others are having a go, change into a dry jogging suit with a hoodie top. When your turn comes repeat the balancing act. Put the hood up. The dry jogging suit should make this as easy as before.

Lean over until you fall in. Duck under to get the suit comletely wet. You'll notice that the jogging suit soaks up a lot of water and slows down your movements.

At your next turn try the balancing act in the wet jogging suit. You will find this a lot more challenging in the heavy wet clothes.

From now on always wear the jogging suit for this training and teach others to do likewise. It is a great water safety skill that could save your life.