At the recent Adirondack Canoe Symposium a student (of another instructor) insisted that a side slip was not a static maneuver. He insisted that after the placement, the paddle had to be slowly moved toward the bow, while still loaded. When asked where he had heard this, he cited me as the source.
I don’t recall ever having said or taught that, but if at some point I did, I stand corrected. There was apparently some mention of the instructional thread that ran on this site a couple of years ago. I looked up the old thread and found my opening post (no pun intended) on the side slip. I’ve copied it below.
"The maneuver I use most, is the side slip. There are two variants, drawing and prying. For now we’ll stick to the drawing side slip.
The great thing about side slips is that they allow your to move the canoe laterally, without changing course angle. You can use it to slide up to a dock, slide past a stump in the middle of a lake or line up on that perfect slot at the head of a rapid. The neat thing is there is no zigging and zagging as would be necessary to maneuver using turning strokes.
So let’s get started.
The canoe must be moving forward with relation to the water. This may be obvious on flat water but in moving water the canoe must be moving faster than the current. If paddling upstream you need to be making some progress against the downstream current.
There is no initiation necessary for a side slip though a brief short draw can help to get things moving. With the hull running straight the paddle is simply sliced or placed neutral (blade parallel to the keel line)at the center of rotation. The leading edge is then turned slightly away (opened) from the gunnel. The trick is finding the center of rotation. It will likely be at or a bit behind your hip. Too far forward and the boat will turn toward your on side. To far aft, and the boat will turn toward your off side. The exact point will be a bit different from hull to hull and will also vary with your stance in the boat. With practice, you’ll develop a feel for it and make an almost instantaneous adjustment when necessary.
You can ride the slip as long as the canoe has any forward momentum. As the boat slows, you can open the paddle angle a bit. A neat trick if you need to turn toward your offside before you’ve run out of momentum is to slide the paddle forward a bit and change from an open angle to a closed angle (forward edge pointed toward the gunnel). You’ve now converted the drawing side slip to a wedge.
- The boat must be running straight at the time the paddle is placed. If the hull is turning, it is likely to keep turning.
- No heel is required however, raising the onside rail just a bit helps, especially on hard chined boats.
After placing the paddle but while it is still neutral (before opening the leading edge) a short quick draw (just a couple of inches) will help to get the boat moving.
Like all other maneuvers, side slips can be done in all quadrants, but that’s for another time.
I’ll try my hand at a riddle here (though I don’t think I can compete with Charlie’s).
Why does converting a drawing side slip to a wedge work well, while converting to an axle does not?"
The only exception I can think of pertains to the prying side slip. I have found that it may be extended a bit, by moving the paddle forward as the boat looses momentum.