Unswamp a Canoe

Unswamp a Canoe


Every canoeist manages now and then to swamp a canoe, so
it’s important that you know what to do. In fact, it’s best if you intentionally swamp your canoe in
calm water and practice the techniques you’ll need. That’s what I’ve done here. Son: “yeah, stick to that story, dad!”
Hey! I don’t need your help! Well, actually, I do. Since even a canoe full of water will float, stay with it.
You’ll be safer and more visible to other boaters. If it’s upright, swim it to shore. If the canoe is upside down and you’re in flat
or slow-moving water you can stand in, raise one end of the canoe to the water’s surface. Push down on
the opposite end while lifting one gunwale to break the water’s suction. then roll it upright and guide it to shore. You can re-enter a canoe in deep water, but you will need
to practice this. Place your hands on both gunwales, near the wide section of the canoe, or in the middle of
the bottom, depending on your arm length and strength. Pressing down with both hands and using a strong kick, lift your
body upwards until the hips are across the nearest gunwale. Roll onto your back and sit in the bottom
of the canoe before bringing your legs in… then use your paddles or hands to propel yourself to shore. If you swamp in swift current, get to the upstream side of
the canoe, grab the end nearest the safest shore. This position will prevent you from being pinned between
the canoe and anything it may hit. If you’re thrown clear of the canoe, flip onto your back, and point your feet
downstream to act as shock absorbers from any obstructions you might meet. Never attempt to stand up in swift-moving water. Worry about catching
up with the canoe after you’ve reached safety. Remember that life is always more valuable than
property. You can always replace a canoe. And don’t forget the basics: wear your lifejacket and don’t boat alone.

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