How to white water canoe

Caution: Do not attempt this challenging sport until you are adept at flat-water canoeing. Always canoe with a partner; practice the basic strokes together before entering white water. If possible, travel with a group. Wear a lifejacket; in cold water, wear a wet suit. Tie 50-foot safety lines to bow and stern, and carry a separate throw line as well.

Canoeing in fast water calls for all the skills used in quiet water, but it takes more balance, coordination, and power. In addition, the following paddle strokes are used to change direction, to move from side to side, to slow down, and to stay upright. Work out signals for each with your partner, Including the side of the canoe on which to execute them.

A draw stroke pulls the canoe sideways; reach out as far as you can, dip the blade parallel to the current, and draw it toward you. A pry stroke reverses the motion; dip the blade nextto the hull, lever the shaft against the gunwale, and pry outward. A back stroke slows the canoe; reach back to dip the blade, and pull it forward. A brace stroke gives stability in turns and crosscurrents: reach out to the low side, lay the paddle flat on the water, and push down hard.

Reading the water

A V of rippling water pointing upstream has an obstruction at its apex. A V pointing downstream has two obstructions, one at each end, with a clear channel between. A pillow, or smooth bulge in the water, appears just downstream of a hidden rock: the faster the current and the deeper the rock, the farther the pillow is from it. A k-eeper waveforms over a deep hole; avoid it or speed through at a slight angle. A haystack, or standing wave, forms at the foot of a narrow chute or sharp drop-off; to keep the bow from plunging, slow the canoe.