How To Take A Girl Canoeing

The canoe, perhaps one of the most universal and time honored means of marine transportation, is slowly falling out of style and its operation becoming a lost art in today’s society. There is no man-powered craft better to take a girl on a date and, in this article, we’ll cover enough basics so you can do so confidently.

Canoes are, in modern times, typically two person boats made for inland waterways and are around 15 feet long. Although it’s more stable and higher performance to kneel, most people sit out of comfort. Canoeing is easy to learn, and, provided one has a grasp of physics, straightforward to master. Fortunately for us here at ROK, if you know what you’re doing, you can take a girl on a date canoeing without her ever having sat in one before, and you’ll have a great time. The trick is that, with a canoe, you want to be a back seat driver. Put her in the front, teach her to paddle and backpaddle on command, you take care of the rest, and the boat magically goes where you want it, resulting in a good time for all and maybe her riding the front of something else later on.

Canoes beat rowboats because they’re more elegant and nimble (and you can see where you are going as opposed to sitting backwards), but, most importantly, she’s INVOLVED and not just sitting there. She gets ownership in the “we did this” activity of the day, and gets all the exercise endorphins, too.

Canoes also beat kayaks, because, while she gets exercise from them, too, you don’t get to control where she goes if she’s got her own boat; and kayaks are more straightforward than a canoe, which robs you of your mastery over something she doesn’t know. Paddle boards are just stupid.

Anatomy of a canoe

Canoes are simple craft; new ones are plastic or aluminum, old ones are aluminum, fiberglass, or even wood. I’d go with a new plastic one, or get a Grumman aluminum. Pointed at both ends, the only difference between the bow and the stern (front and back) is that the stern seat is right on the stern, and the bow seat has room for your feet.

The struts across the top are thwarts, the rails are gunwales, and the ridge on the bottom is a keel, designed to keep you from sliding sideways in wind. Most canoes have a flattish bottom, which makes them relatively more stable. If your canoe has a rounded bottom and no keel; that’s a whitewater boat designed to sideslip, and is more unstable than a lake canoe. Your paddle’s components (made of either wood, or plastic and aluminum) are a blade that has a tip and a throat where the shaft joins on, and a grip at the other end of the shaft. They come in varying lengths, if you put the throat at your nuts, the grip should be at about your forehead.

You need two paddles, one canoe, two personal flotation devices (lifejackets, use types 2 or 3), sunscreen, and a woman, and you’re all set to go canoeing.

Moving the boat

Basic Principle

The basic principle of a canoe is based off of the idea that the guy in the stern is further away from the center of the boat than the girl in the bow. This gives you more leverage than the girl, and means that, if you both paddle equally, the canoe will turn away from the side on which the stern guy is paddling. This is by design, and allows you to control the boat. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, swap sides to turn the boat. That is for idiots and actors, and is something called the “Hollywood J stroke” for that reason.

The money in controlling the canoe lies solely in the real J stroke and, through it, you can do everything you need to do from whatever side you are paddling on. Put your girl paddling on whatever side she wants, you paddle on the other, and switch every so often for fatigue.

Bow Strokes

Let’s talk about her job. She has five strokes to know, and all are simple. Always put the hand of the side you’re paddling on on the throat, and the other on the grip. The forward paddle consists of leaning forward, inserting the blade into the water up to your hand, and pulling back smoothly alongside the hull of the boat till your bottom hand is past your waist, then removing the paddle from the water and going back to the start. The Back Paddle is the opposite of this. That’s forward and backwards.

If you need to turn the boat away from the side she’s on, you have her do the “quarter sweep.” Lean forward, stick the paddle into the water pointing forward, and sweep away from the boat to 90 degrees out. Do not go further than 90 degrees as any further is actually stopping your turn. To turn the boat towards her side, she doesn’t have to do anything other than paddle forward normally; you’ll do it.

Sideways movement of the canoe, like getting to a dock, is either the draw, or the push, depending on which way you want to go. If she’s on the right, and you want to go left, she’ll do the push, which is putting the paddle straight into the water, parallel to the side of the boat, and pushing away as far as comfortable. The draw, designed to pull you towards the side you’re on, is the opposite.

To pivot the boat, have her either do the quarter sweep, or the backpaddle, depending on which way you want to spin, and you’ll do the opposite on your side in the stern. There’s some other bow stuff I’ll cover in a later article, but that will do for now.

Stern Strokes

Hold the paddle in the same way, and most of these are the same, or almost the same, as the bow strokes. The big one to know is the J stroke. This is the stroke you’ll do 90% of the time in the boat, and, through it, that boat does what you want. Know it, and rule the boat; don’t, and you’re going in circles.

Since it’s named J, the stroke is the basic forward paddle, along with a flip at the end. Insert the blade normally at the front of your stroke, pull alongside the hull, and, when you get to the end, with the paddle extended behind you, curl your wrist so that the blade is sideways in the water, and give a little push away from the boat.

Remember the leverage I talked about earlier? You have three things you want to do while in forward motion in a canoe: go straight, turn away from the side you’re on, or turn towards the side you’re on. The J cancels out your natural leverage to turn the boat away from the side you’re on, so, if you want to turn that way, omit the J, or employ the same quarter sweep we talked about in the bow positions.

No J would make the canoe turn right. A lot of J would make it turn left.

If you want to go straight, use enough J to cancel your leverage. If you want to turn towards the direction you’re on, give it more J, and maybe even leave the paddle in the water at the end of the J, leaving it dragging at an angle, which is something called a “stern rudder.”

Back paddle works the same way as in the front, as does the draw and the push. There’s something called the reverse sweep, which is a backwards quarter sweep, and done like you think it would be; by putting the blade in sideways by the stern, and sweeping out 90 degrees. Coupling a reverse sweep on your side with a quarter sweep on her side is the preferred way (and fastest) to pivot a canoe, although pushing and drawing together works too.

You can tell her to stop paddling and let it run, and she pulls the paddle out and you coast, or to hold water, and that is to stick the paddle in and hold it there against the flow, which is the closest thing you’ll get to brakes.

Entry and exit

The preferred method to entry and exit is on land, but we’ll cover water methods too. To launch a canoe, carry it into the water, one at the bow and one at the stern. You will get your feet wet. Get it floating, bow out, then come back to the stern, cross your arms over the stern, and hug it with your legs. Your girl will walk down the center of the boat, holding onto the gunwales and sit down. You then push off a bit, stand beside the boat, and step onto the centerline in front of your seat and sit down.

To land is the same thing in reverse. Hit the shore, have her get out and stabilize it for you as you move down the centerline in the same way as above. Getting into the boat from a dock involves lowering yourself, standing on the centerline facing forward, and sitting down. You get in first and get out last so you can stabilize it for her.

Exiting a canoe while underway is as simple as standing up and rolling sideways. Don’t jump, just roll and tuck your feet. Your partner can lean the opposite direction and put their paddle in in a push position to counteract the tilt of your departure.

Getting back in from the water is a little more challenging. If you’re both out, have her hold her side down while you reach in above the gunwales and do a push up off the inside of the hull where it curves to be the bottom, and roll your ass over the gunwale in. Once in, lean sideways away from her side, and she can do a pushup on the gunwale to enter, which is easier than you just did. Do not lean over to help her, else you’ll capsize. I’ll cover solo reentry at another time.

Capsize recovery

You need to know what to do if you swamp the boat. Canoes have flotation, they won’t sink while swamped, so make sure your girl is ok, then collect all the floating away stuff (make sure that cell phone is double bagged before you go.)

If you’re near the land, grab the painter line on one end, and swim towards shore towing the boat. Once there, turn it sideways, pick it up, dump the water, set it down, and off you go. If you’re with another canoe, once they get done laughing, turn yours upside down, point it perpendicular at the center of their boat, and have them lift the end of yours over theirs, sliding it onboard, doing what is called a T rescue since that’s the letter it resembles. Once totally out of the water, flip it right side up, slide it off, and have them hold it parallel to theirs while you two board.

If you’re in open water with no buddies, you get to do it the fun way. Turn the boat upside down, and swim underneath it, popping up in the air bubble inside the thing. This, incidentally, is a good position to maintain if you are in such rough water you can’t resume navigation; keep it upside down, and hang onto the gunwales.

Assuming you can safely right it, face your partner, and both grab ahold of the submerged gunwales. Decide to which side you want to fling it, and count three and toss it up and sideways so it chucks out most of the water and ends up right side up. Board as covered earlier.

1 Flip inverted. 2. Get under it (they put it over them here). 3 Lift above head. 4 Toss sideways. 5/6 Board.


That should get you enough basic knowledge to run a canoe in a decently competent manner. Canoe rentals are cheap, and it’s a good date. Be warned, the waterways are one of the premier places for men who are “supposed to know how to do this” to screw up royally and endanger everyone around them while trying to be macho as hell. Add to that the situation of everyone coming at it from a different philosophy; you’ve got hippies, Outward Bound types, Manly Men ™, yuppies, and former Boy Scouts, of which the Scouts are the only ones who actually know what they’re doing. I taught it many years ago at a BSA summer camp in Florida, so I may be a little biased. Regardless, unless you’re Burt Reynolds, go practice (a lot) before you try anything in open water or a long way away from others. Be safe.

Read More: 14 Essential Subjects That We’ll Teach Children At The ROK International School.

41 thoughts on “How To Take A Girl Canoeing”

  1. Always remember to keep your paddle strokes softer than you think. When I went canoeing with my wife, the canoe wasn’t going in a straight line because of the power behind my paddling.
    Save the heavy paddling for later on.

  2. Canoes are not better than Kayaks. I have a two seater Kayak, I take it on rivers and lakes, that thing kicks ass.

    1. I have a canoe. Its a 70’s frontiersman. It can carry 800 lbs. I go camping via caonoe on it and take everything i need including rifles lol.
      Protip: Dont use it in lakes or rivers where boats are..find remote spots. I like kayaks and they are faster but there is something about a canoe that makes you feel connected to your surroundings.

      1. I get that. I like Kayaks more because the’re more maneuverable, faster, and have more clearance. But then again Canoes do have a sort of nostalgic feel and you can haul more.

      2. Carrying 800 pounds will be helpful seeing that, within 10 years; most American women will be 400 pounds.

        1. Well i heard fat floats well so i could A. drag her behind my canoe. or B. use her as a canoe.?
          and mattress and party island with my buds

  3. Canoeing/kayaking is a good date activity. Its not only fun, but it allows you to filter out the women who do not like outdoor activities. Any girl that does not want to go canoeing with you is one you do not want to spend anymore time with (that is, if you are an outdoor type).

    1. It’s a good way to see how trainable a girl is too. Girls quickly learn that canoeing requires them to submit, be as a team, and not try to control a situation. Getting a girl involved in canoeing has a civilizing effect on her. Girls who’re bossy, or keep trying to take the canoe in their own, willful way, you realize will be trouble.

  4. Has anyone else ever heard canoes being referred to as “divorce boats”? In any case, go in prepared that your bowswoman may well be a lilydipper, get tired easily, and not do well in emergencies. Keep expectations low and it should be a nice day out.

  5. Nice article. It reminds me: author Jim Harrison passed away a week or two ago. He wrote articles here and there for Outside and Men’s Journal when those magazines, targeted, you know, MEN. Great insights on hunting, fishing, cooking, and women. He was best- known for the novella “Legends of the Fall”. They dont make many writers like him anymore…

    1. Next canoeing article will be called something like “Advanced and Solo Canoeing.” That should be more up your alley. You can read it and then go rub one out on your Mattress of Solitude.

        1. Take it up with the editor; I just write em. Of course you’re not MGTOW, you’re the god of thunder. Please don’t fry me.

  6. Ecc 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

  7. I took a korean girl to Sanjeong Lake once. I chose the row boat with oars over the pedal paddle boats. It was a clutch decision. Instead of kicking for hours in a boat size health club, it was more like “Kiss ‘da gurl” from “The Little Mermaid”.
    Edit: Holy shit 25 years later I realize that this song is dropping red pill knowledge on me: “Yea you want, her. Look at her you know you do. Possible she want you too. There’s only one way to ask her. It don’t take a word, not a single word, go on and kiss the girl.
    Seriously my mind is fucking blown right now.

    1. The interesting part of this you left out, so what happened after this?
      I was in Japan to meet a girl, and we had a few dates, but I only knew for sure when she asked me in a very timid way in the elevator if she could come to my room a bit later…
      She is now my wife 🙂

        1. That doesn’t say much, you know the right way to do it is put woman in her back, insert penis, rub around as necessary and blow it there… Stomach acids and it’s in the wrong pipe…

  8. Great article Luke. I began looking into boats several years ago since I’ve never owned a boat, but I focused on the inflatables. A whole ‘nother article could be done on inflatables alone. The reason I considered inflatables is because they fold up and will fit in your trunk or your back seat and no licence required. Here’s a pic of a three seater which costs around $400-$700
    I liked the flat bottom which is smooth and has little resistance and is hard to tip. They have several separate air chambers for insurance. There are also a few ‘backpack’ inflatable kayak models which are smaller one seater models with a snap together plastic paddle and hand air pump. The whole kit with paddle and pump folds up to the size of a pillow and has back straps for hiking. The pack weighs 16 lbs, great for going alone wilderness, mountain biking/crossing lakes or hiking or fleeing your bounty hunter ex. I’d go for the three seater babe boat first though. A cheap one seater I’ve seen at Target for $130. Cheap ones are vinyl and the $500-$1000 kind are tough neoprene or pvc. Someone should invent an ultralight backpack model that is waterproof coated silk that weighs two pounds. I’d keep it in my glove box with my flashlight and survival kit.
    Aside from that here’s something to consider:
    It looks like they’re about 1200 ft. I’ve never been on one of those but I keep the pic on my phone to show as an opener. I say ”check this out. That’s a 50 hp polaris motor. It’ll only go 55 mph max but twice as high as what you see.” Most girls look twice at it or are awed in disbelief. One time a girl I chatted up because she looked at me, so I said ”check this out(pic)” grabbed my arm and said ”omg, no way”. But my rule now is to ask and find out in the first convo if they enjoy or are competent in COOKING and SEWING. Afraid of heights is ok so long as shit gets sewn.

  9. “What’s the common thing between american beer and sex in a canoe? Feels nice, but it’s pretty fucking close to water”
    Totally agree about the canoe date. Did it once, great memories.

      1. Nah it was in australia. Good weather, loads of isolated spots. Quick stop with her, bang bang. Two hours more of paddling, pause, bang bang, rince and repeat. An excellent day and lay.

    1. It’s a “I write whatever I want” series. The readership of the site is mostly white. My gig is outdoors and masculine hobbies, although that’s just a guideline. Black people don’t really do boating, because they don’t really do swimming. I think it’s a cultural and physiological thing. They naturally have less fat percentage (unless they get themselves fat) so they have a harder time staying buoyant. That, and they got hauled over on slave boats, so maybe all boats got a bad rap for hundreds of years. I was a lifeguard, I can attest that most black people are horrible swimmers, but, when I was on a swim team, we had some black people who were very good, so I think it’s cultural only.

      1. It was just a joke, but thanks for the answer, even though it find it a bit confusing : which is it, “cultural and physiological” or “cultural only” ? Do I need to be a olympic swimmer to take my girl canoeing ? Were all black people’s ancestors brought somewhere on a slave boat? If I’m not white, am I automatically black?
        Anyway, looking forward to reading “How to take your girl trekking”, “how to take your girl bicycling” and “riding”, “camping”, “fishing”, etc.

        1. You are right, I should have clarified. I think it’s cultural, backed up by a physiological natural handicap. You should know how to swim before boating. Most African-derived people in the US are descendants of slaves brought over by boats. Your fourth question is patently false and trollish.
          I’m not planning on writing articles on things I don’t do because I would have no expertise. I don’t “trek” (men hike, yuppies trek, btw), nor do I bike much. I may do something on fishing and cooking it on a Coleman stove, shore lunch style, thanks for the idea.

  10. Canoeing is fun despite the fact my satanic canoe desperately tries to tip me out.

  11. Jesus fucking christ. Enough with the alpha and beta shit in the comment sections. Reads like a pack of fat bitches competing who has the most duped husband.
    This is an excellent article, as most at ROK are. Read and learn a little.

  12. I canoed 60 miles in 3 days back when I was in Boy Scouts…we camped in hammocks. It was awesome, and this article has got me thinking I need to get back in the boat

    1. That is hauling the mail. 20 miles in a canoe in a day is moving especially if you’re on lakes with no current pushing you. 3 days in a row of that is an endeavor.

  13. Most successful dates I have had have been canoe dates. nothing says you are a man better than the raw control of a boat on the water.

  14. Excellent stuff Luke. You are a rising star at ROK and I eagerly await your new articles. Your use of diagrams and photos is excellent and much appreciated.
    I’m a sinner. 10 years ago my hippy girlfriend took ME canoeing in the Everglades and I sat in the front. Heh, it was fun all the same.
    As an aside, I’m going to print out all of your firearms related articles and compile them into a pamphlet in order to prepare for my first purchase. I’ve had a “concealed weapon or firearm license” for nearly 7 years now but I haven’t gotten around to actually owning any (except for my balisong). I’m going to take another class before I recertify so as to refamiliarize myself with the basics of safety, maintenance and use. Then, I’m going to finally go shopping. My plan is to initially get a handgun and a shotgun.

  15. When I went to a lake cottage in northern Michigan with my family, canoeing was always a blast. The first time I ever kissed a boy was with a neighbor kid from up North who took me canoeing at sundown when I was 13. My family used to go up there every year, but I only met him the one year. The article is right about having a canoe vs a kayak. It is definitely more fun to be in a boat with someone else and learning something new than to be in separate boats.

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