From the website of Mountain
Equipment Co-op, Retailer, Canada *
Most capsizes are caused by
occupant movement and weight shift. This is actually great news,
it means you can control the most significant risk factors.
1 Safety starts at the
shore. For stability, stow cargo securely, low down, and as close
to the centerline as possible. Keep everything (cargo and people)
centered from side-to-side and end-to-end.
2 If the canoe has a capacity plate, don't exceed the recommended
load. If rough water is a possibility, under-load the boat to
increase the freeboard - the distance from the water to the boat's
3 Don't stand up or move around in a canoe if you can avoid
it. Such shenanigans enormously increase the risk of capsize.
4 If you must move around, always maintain three points
of contact with the boat. If one foot is moving to take a step,
both your hands should be holding on to the boat.
5 Keep your shoulders inside the gunwales. Make a game
of it. Imagine the sides of the canoe extend vertically as invisible
walls that your shoulders must not touch.
6 Dropped something overboard? Don't lean out and grab
for it. Use your paddle to rake it back to the boat's side. Or
paddle the canoe over to the item you're retrieving.
7 Beyond these basics, here are several more things you
can do to increase your safety:
- Get some real-life lessons to learn balance, stabilizing
strokes, and safe exits and entries.
- Paddle in groups. One canoeing motto is "Less than
three shall never be." so that there are always two boats
to assist a third in difficulties.
- Use canoes with inherent buoyancy or buoyancy chambers,
or equip your boat with float bags.
- Wear a PFD and proper clothing to help you stay afloat
and warm in case of capsize.
Have fun on the water, and,
as the old canoeing adage goes: Keep the open side up.