How to Paddle a Canoe
The Paddle: Place your upper hand over the top grip. With your lower hand, grip the shaft about a foot above the blade/shaft intersection. Remember holding the shaft closer to the blade only makes you work harder with each stroke.
The Power Stroke: A strong stroke is the fundamental tool of canoeing. To begin rotate your torso so that your paddle-side shoulder is forward. At the same time, plant your blade in the water up to the blade/shaft intersection. The blade should be kept close to the boat, with its inside edge just touching the side of the canoe. The shaft should be vertical. Your strongest stroke will utilize the full forward range of your torso/shoulder rotation, yet keep the shaft absolutely vertical. Your stroke ends when your torso rotation brings the paddle back to your hip. Paddle recovery is now a straight-forward matter: rotate your torso to put your paddle-side shoulder forward while bringing the paddle over the water surface to begin the next stroke.
The Efficient Stroke: The thrust of your stroke is achieved by rotating your torso rather than pulling with your arms. Using your torso muscles distributes the work to many muscles rather than a few, making your stroke both powerful and efficient. The results: more forward thrust and less fatigue.
How to Steer a Canoe
Any who has spent time in a canoe knows that they are mcuh easier to steer from the back (stern) than from the bow. But have you ever really thought about why that's the case? The answer actually provides insight into how and why a canoe reacts the way it does to all the strokes you take.