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195) Paddle stern 31 Jul 2012

[The following is a designated ‘Laura-only‘ to-do]

Knowing how to paddle is one thing, but knowing how to paddle stern (how to steer a straight course) is something to feel really good about. According to Bill Mason (our canoe guru), it often take years to master the art of paddling stern.

First you need to know your basic steering strokes: the ‘J’ stroke – being the most popular – followed by the ‘Canadian’ stroke and the ‘Pitch’ stroke. Once you know these, you can finesse your technique, employing only minor corrections to each stroke in order to stay on course. It sounds easy enough, but when you’re loaded down with camp gear and facing strong winds and giant boats, you’re going to need brute strength to make it all happen effortlessly.

The strongest person should normally take on the responsibility of paddling stern; this is why you often see the guy in the back and the girl in the front. John is our designated stern paddler. I’ve grown accustomed to this set-up of ours. I quite like it in the front: you have a better view, and you can day dream all day.

This past weekend, however, I thought I’d take the chance to brush up on my stern skills. As it turned out, I needed a lot more brushing up to do than I thought. Seriously girlies, don’t get complacent like me: learn stern!

*I’d like to thank John for his patience (he really is the most patient person I know), and for taking over when all the big, awful boats came and stressed me right out. War on all of them, I say.