"In the Same Boat: Canoeing, Kayaking, & Waterside Camping" Archives

Dec 15 2017

How to Know a Canoe When You See One by Farwell Forrest

We recently launched SameBoat Shorts, a series of three‑minute reads for people who are new to canoeing or returning to the sport after a long time away. But before we go too far, we thought we ought to make clear exactly what “canoeing” embraces. And since Farwell had already addressed that question in one of his first In the Same Boat columns, we figured we’d dust the old column off and put it back online, in a new and improved version. Here it is.

For the better part of two decades, Tamia Nelson and I have written about canoes and canoeing — and kayaking, too, of course.* It’s a subject close to our hearts, and for good reason: We fell in love in a canoe. But before we write still more on the same subject, perhaps we ought to review exactly what we mean by “canoe.” This may not be as simple as it seems, however. Suppose you had to explain what a canoe is to someone who’d never seen one — to a recent visitor from ‘Oumuamua, for instance. He — or she, if you prefer (‘Oumuamuans, like the banana slugs they resemble, are simultaneous hermaphrodites) — has no idea what you’re talking about. What do you tell him/her? Read more…

Canoe Broachng To - 1821 - George Back - Engraving on Backinthesameboat.com

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Dec 12 2017

SameBoat Shorts: Canoe or Kayak or…? by Tamia Nelson

“What kind of boat is best?” That’s one of the first questions new paddlers ask, and if the offerings at the local HyperMart are any indication, kayaks and sit‑on‑tops are now the people’s choice, with canoes a distant third. But what if you’re still undecided? Then you’ll want to take three minutes to read Tamia’s latest SameBoat Short.

Canoe or a kayak? Which is the better boat? That depends. It’s your call. What works for me may not work for you. What do you want? More to the point — what do you want a boat for? That should be an easy question to answer, but maybe you’re having trouble making up your mind. Need some help getting your thoughts together? OK. Here goes…

Most of us are really two people. One half of us is practical, pragmatic, and down‑to‑earth. Our other half is a bit flash, a tad wild, and flamboyant. But which half do we cater to when we choose a boat? THAT is the question, but is there an answer? Sure there is! Read more…

Dec 08 2017

A Paddlers’ Code of Conduct by Tamia Nelson

Last week Tamia described the rules of the “match game” by which canoeists and kayakers find compatible paddling partners. But that’s just the start. Something more is needed — a “code of conduct” for groups. Have your trips occasionally resembled an episode from Game of Thrones? Then here’s some good news: It doesn’t have to be that way.

There’s safety in numbers. Or so the experts say. And I agree. Up to a point. But like most wise saws, this one is missing a few teeth. Safety in the backcountry isn’t simply a matter of arithmetic. It’s a matter of balance, and striking the right balance begins with choosing the right paddling partners. I described my approach to this vital preliminary last week. Now I’m going to take the next step, outlining what I call the “paddlers’ code of conduct.” It’s a summary statement of the rights and responsibilities of paddlers who choose, quite sensibly, to travel in company with other like‑minded souls.

Let’s begin with the responsibilities of the group to each of its members. A paddling party is a collective enterprise, and the first rule in the code of conduct is therefore the easiest to state: Nobody gets left behind… Read more…

Dec 05 2017

SameBoat Shorts: Choosing a Guru — How to Tell a Good Teacher from the Other Kind by Farwell Forrest

Can you learn to canoe on your own? Sure you can. But it’s much easier with help from a good teacher, and that raises an obvious question: What makes a teacher good? Well, three minutes is all it takes to find out. In the latest SameBoat Short, Farwell tells you how he’d go about choosing a guru.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t learn to canoe* without the help of an instructor. You can. Or at least you can if the conditions are right — quiet water and warm temperatures — and if you have the necessary prerequisites: minimal fitness, reasonable patience, and sound judgment. These are very modest demands, of course, and as luck would have it, Tamia and I took our first strokes without benefit of instruction, joining the thousands of other self‑taught canoeists who’ve taken to the water over the years.

OK. It can be done. That doesn’t mean it’s the best way, however. A good teacher can make learning both easier and safer. It goes without saying that children should never be left to learn on their own, I suppose, but most adults will also benefit from competent instruction. Hmm… “Good teacher.” “Competent instruction.” That’s the rub, isn’t it? How can a beginner distinguish between a good teacher and the other kind? And how can a novice canoeist judge the competence of a stranger? Those are important questions, as I’m sure you’ll agree — but like most important questions, they don’t have simple answers. There are almost as many kinds of good teachers as there are beginning paddlers. In the end, choosing a canoeing guru is a little like choosing a doctor or a plumber. It’s largely a matter of common sense (that rarest of virtues), personal chemistry, and informed intuition.

Perhaps it’s best to approach the problem the other way round. It’s hard to define what makes a good teacher good, but it’s not too difficult to see what makes bad teachers bad. Let’s take a look at some of the danger signs… Read more…

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