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Why has canoeing even whitewater canoeing taken such a decline here in the west the

Ihave been boating canoes and kayaks for over twenty years now and I remember when Chile Bar used to have a fair number of canoes ready to put-in and when paddling the nearby lakes, it was very common to find tandem and solo canoes paddled by local paddlers who were comfortable in a canoe as well as a kayak. Now all the retailers push kayaks alomost exclusively. So, what happened to the icon of American frontier craft? Why is the concept of a canoe associated with flat water or dull "family" style of paddling only?

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I can’t speak for everyone but here is my experience. As a new impressionable paddler in the business I have had people come at me from all angles trying to tell me "what’s best" or "what would be the "right boat for me." Never once in my paddling infancy had anyone recommended I check out a Canoe. So I, as many new paddlers, was lead to believe that canoes were slow tippy heavy and better left for boy scouts to dink around on some flat little lake. Thankfully as I grew in the sport and became a well rounded paddler I met a few good men that helped me broaden my horizon. I took a trip with Kurt Renner from Wenonah Canoe, and I could not believe that he was keeping up with me, in my 16’ sea kayak, in a solo canoe. Just the sight of him in this big ol' bath tub looking boat flying across the water with just one blade was counter intuitive to my former understanding of canoeing. My inquisitive nature got the best of me I had to try it out. First I made sure no one was looking; I have a reputation to uphold around Lodi you see, but when we shoved off from bank and I got a few stoked under my best I was beside myself with how efficient this boat was. He shouted commands and I tried to keep up as best as I could. We carved turns with a hard lean, practiced bow rudder stroke while the back person paddled. It felt like dancing in a boat! Then I wouldn’t help but think of how much stuff I could cram into a boat like this as appose to my sea Kayak. This first experience in a canoe really opened up my eyes to a whole world of opportunity.
Needless to say this experience perked my interest. So after that day I put my feelers out for a used Kevlar solo canoe. Low and behold I just so happened to run into a friend that had a older Wenonah Advantage solo canoe hanging in his garage that we was willing to lend to me so I could try canoeing out. It took a few hours in the boat to get the hang of paddling with one blade but after 4 hours of sitting and kneeling without any discomfort I was sold. The boat was just as fast as my sea kayak, half the weight, and comfortable to boot! I also like the fact that I can move around, sit up straight, sit higher so I can check out more stuff. However a canoe also has it limits as I found out on one of my first paddles. I was trying to do a hard bow rudder and I tipped the boat over. I immediately went to my set up to roll it back upright, and then thought "Shit I'm in a canoe." So I got to learn how to do a rescue and lug all the water out. So with that being said I still say Kayaks are a great choice for many people. They are easy to use, stable, very responsive, dry, able to roll, ect. However I also believe that there are way too many people in kayaks that would be much better off in a Canoe, if only someone would have know the difference. For me I feel that canoeing has helped me to become a well rounded paddler and salesman. Canoeing has helped me experience so many fun experiences that I would have not been able to do (or do as well) in a kayak. It’s been helpful for me to become experienced in many different aspects of paddling and see what works and what doesn’t work for any given situation, and then sell the right boat according to each person’s needs and wants out of a boat. So with that being said, my hope is that canoeing will make a comeback and will have a bright future in the west.
P.S. Thanks for the Canoe Bill. I feel that I have given new life to that old boat, but not as much as it has given new life to me.

Daniel Arbuckle (Sierra Adventure Outfitters, Lodi CA.)
Dan: Bless you my son, now go out and multiply the existing neophytes onto the joys of canoeing! Bill
I started with a recreational kayak but was curious about canoes. I took some Red Cross canoeing courses and decided to get a solo canoe (Old Town Pack). I like canoeing over kayaking for many reasons: It's not so main stream, it's more technical (using one blade over two) and I can carry gear and my dog. I also find a canoe more comfortable as there is more room to move around as well as more than one way to sit (I even stand, but on rare occasion, especially with dog). Canoes seem, to me, more down to earth, perhaps even more connected to the American heritage. I believe canoeing became less popular because they are generally more expensive than kayaks (entry level and recreational) and more cumbersome to control when first learning to paddle. I also believe people have a tendency to follow the crowd and not seek potential alternatives (human nature).
Darrell: Another canoeist reveals himself! We are a dying breed here in the West. Which brings me to the cruxs of your statement. With the exception of the Red Cross, I doubt that there are anyother means of instruction let alone knowledgable sales staff, excluding Keith Miller of California Canoe & Kayak, who have the breadth of knowledge about which canoe goes with what type of paddling experience, load capacity, design features, etc. Back in the East coast however, canoeing is an itergal part of the WHOLE paddling experience...it is even taught in schools! For some reason, and I don't know why, that same relevance toward the canoe as a sport craft has not caught on here...WHY? We have similar rivers, many lakes and a early history of canoeing going back to the 40's. Maybe you are right in the statement that the learning curve is higher and the cost of the boats much higher than a comprable kayak.
I can say this, I watched a Bill Mason video and not a week later I was buying my first canoe. If more up-and-coming paddlers watched WaterWalker for example I'd bet they be down for trying a canoe.

I had a party and put on WaterWalker for my friends, ninety minutes later two buddies were on craigslist looking to go dutch on a canoe, even if it wasn't red. Too bad nobody left the film wanting to paint with palette knives.

Bottom line, to get stoked about canoeing I say check out WaterWalker, it's an old school documentary. You might find it in your local library or online for $19.95 + shipping if you've got good Google skills.
well i grew up doing both and back then kayaks were seen as a oddity! canoes offer more room, space to move and a comfort zone of being in the open, i do suggest if your solo us the kayak paddle .....you'll be surprized , when fishing i can have the depth finder a trolling motor a cooler all my tackle and extra rods , if someone else wants to go no problem, i love them both and try to take advantage of both
I'm glad I was exposed to it through outward bound, and my dads wife is a former dagger/blue hole canoe rep.
Interesting thread. I grew up paddling a canoe back east 40 some odd years ago. When I moved west, I noticed practically no one paddled canoes. Here's my theory - East Coast tripping requires a "Do-Everything" boat. You have to be able to run whitewater yet still haul a load across a lake. You have to be able to carry it, sometimes for long distances. You have to have serious gear hauling capability. You have to handle very skinny water. It's the only boat that works!! Western tripping on the other hand almost always involves one or more rapids that just aren't canoeable. So you line or carry or better yet, use a raft. Many western rivers are overlooked as excellent canoe runs - Labyrinth/Stillwater on the Green, San Juan in Utah, and the canyons of the Rio Grande in Texas are fine examples. I own several canoes, kayaks, and rafts. If I had to give 'em all up and just keep one (blasphemy!!), I'd keep my good old Mad River Explorer. It's the original "Do-Everything" machine.




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