Gently paddling your canoe across the lake in the early hours of a morning sunrise can really open your eyes to the world around you.
You can hear the birds singing from across the lake and you might even get to see deer, wading birds, or even a coyote coming to drink at the water’s edge.
One of our favorite pastimes at Tara Wildlife is canoeing on the lakes and ponds. One of the best canoeing spots at Tara is Forest Home Chute. Both of these lakes have concrete ramps for easy access. During the Mississippi River Nature Weekend, Quapaw Canoe Company provides canoe excursions on the Mississippi River, which is an experience not to be missed!
But while we’re out paddling on the water, we have to remember that safety on the water is a top priority. Staying safe and taking some precautions can make your more enjoyable and fun!
Before Getting on the Water
Before you get out on the water, make sure that the staff at Tara knows where you are going and around what time you plan to return. This helps us seek you out more easily in case of an emergency.
- The first rule of boat safety is to always wear an appropriately sized life jacket (personal flotation device or PFD) when you’re in the canoe. This is your lifeline if you happen to fall into the water.
- Don’t canoe by yourself. Just like walking in the woods, it’s always good to have a buddy. The buddy system means that someone is there to help look out for you in case of an emergency or just in general.
- When you are getting into the canoe, keep low and have someone steady it for you. Don’t stand up in a canoe on the water. Standing up in a canoe makes it very difficult to stay balanced and may cause you to tip over the canoe.
- Avoid paddling under low-hanging branches – this is to keep your canoe from tipping over and to avoid any unwanted guests in the boat. Sometimes snakes rest in these overhead branches and may fall into the boat. This is pretty rare, but nevertheless, a good thing to avoid. Also, if the branches are low enough, people in a canoe may lean away from the branches and, as a result, the canoe may tip over.
Tips For Your Comfort
- While enjoying the outdoors, be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the weather and use skin protection. This includes sunscreen, appropriate shoes, and insect repellent. You’ll want to be as comfortable as you can be to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride.
- Even though you’re on the water, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. It might be easy to forget when there’s so much water around you, but it’s important to stay hydrated.
- Before you get into the canoe, consider doing some stretching exercises. You might be sitting for a while, and this will help you be comfortable while paddling using the muscles in your upper body.
Tips For Your Gear
- If you bring gear with you – like your cell phone, a camera, or binoculars – pack it in a waterproof bag and tie it to the canoe. That way, if your canoe tips over or water is splashed into the canoe, your gear is safe and dry.
Online Canoeing Resources
These are just some basic tips for canoeing, if you’re interested in more safety tips or basic canoeing tips, there are several online resources dedicated to boating and canoeing. Some of these resources are listed below:
- American Canoe Association’s Top 10 Safety Tips
- Field and Stream has some tips on what to do if your canoe tips over (fieldandstream.com)
- National Safety Council tips for canoeing
- Environmental Education for Kids: Canoe Safety Tips
This video by St. Cloud University takes you through the basic steps for selecting clothing, choosing a paddle, fitting your PFD, and more