The teetering canoe – or how to teach against capsizes
In what situations do people fall out of their canoes most often? On breaking waves? In rock gardens? holes? Don’t think so. Most paddlers don’t get that far. Many don’t make it six meters off the shore.
That’s where it happens. No statistics. I can’t prove it. But I’ve seen it so many times. You’ve seen it too. People fall out right at the shore, getting in and out of the boat.
Why does it happen? We teach embarking and disembarking. We teach about docks and beaches. We teach partners to work together, watch each other, hold the boat, brace. Stay low, walk slow.
What’s missing? I’m pretty sure you know. We all do. Ever find yourself watching someone about to push off or come ashore, and you know a capsize is about to happen? If you’ve had this experience, then somehow you recognized the cause.
Trouble is, we don’t teach about it because it’s hard to put into words. It happens when the canoe gets in a certain position. Picture a canoe run right up onto the beach, and then some. The stem of the bow teeters at one point on the bank. The stern sits deep under the paddler, who is already wobbling like one of those spinning plates you might see at the circus.
The rest of the canoe is on neither on water or land. The keel line forms a bridge, but not the kind you want to be on. Walk on this arrangement, and you may as well be stepping on the tines of a rake. Something’s going to flip very quickly.
Seen it before? Thought so.
A “bridge”, that’s what I’ve tried to call it. “Don’t let the canoe form a bridge.”
They nod, and do it anyway. Not effective teaching. Not the right word.
Want to do something about most preventable capsizes? We need a way to convey a skill, a word, a metaphor, something comparable to spreading paint or scraping peanut butter. Something that appeals to a good cross section of learning styles. Something visual, spatial, kinetic.
We need a good way to warn against teetering your canoe. Any suggestions?