n. A light, slender, open boat that has pointed ends and is propelled by paddles. (Dictionary.com)
This is a basic, two seater canoe—the most common variety out there. There are many different sizes of canoes, solo (one person), tandem (two people), multi-man (seating 3 or more people). There are also many types of canoes for both recreational and racing purposes (lakes, ocean, white water rivers, flat water rivers, etc.). They are made from a variety of materials including wood, aluminum, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), polyethylene, fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber.
Please make note that a canoe and a rowboat are not the same thing. Notice in the canoe above that the paddlers are facing forward, holding their paddles in a more or less vertical position.
Now notice that the rower in this rowboat is facing backwards, and he is holding his oar in a more or less horizontal position.
In a racing style rowboat like this one (like what you’ll see in the Olympics), there is a “coxswain” sitting in the back who faces forward and works the rudder.
To get started canoeing, check your area for a canoe rental shop or “livery”. Not only can you give canoeing a try without making a significant long term investment, but people that rent canoes typically love canoeing, and they may have really helpful advice about the local river and/or lake you’re about to paddle on.
If and when you decide to buy a canoe, try to get your first one used. Check craigslist.org or your local classifieds to see if you can pick up a boat for $50 – $200. I grew up with an aluminum Mohawk canoe that was old when we bought it from a neighbor, and nearly two decades later it’s still a good solid boat.
Once you are sure you really love canoeing, there are some amazing boat options out there. The type of canoeing you enjoy will determine what kind of boat you want to get (there are designs for white water, flat water, etc.) We have an Old Town Royalex, and we couldn’t be happier with it. The Royalex line from Old Town is a really high quality, resilient set of canoes, definitely recommend them. Expect to pay around $900 – $2000 brand new, depending on the size and type you choose.
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