canoe school

I am traveling east from Indiana to Massachusetts in August and would like to know about canoe schools in the western part of that state--or in New York State or PA or even Ohio, all of which would be enroute. I am a novice, and am interested in learning about tandem canoeing in flatwater and very low key whitewater. A one or two day clinic would be just the ticlet. I'd be grateful for any advice on places to check out.

Where in Mass will you be
and in what time frame?



I’m headed toward

western MA, the second week of August.

What part of Indiana are you in?
I live in Fishers, and paddle White River in Hamilton county a couple times a week. Let me know via e-mail if you ever want to go. Probably going in the morning in my kayak. I also have a canoe.

ZOAR is on the Deerfield River in
NW Massachusetts. I believe they have an excellent instruction program, and the Deerfield is dam controlled, with river sections of varied difficulty.

I hope to get to run the Deerfield in August, but as for ZOAR instruction, as they say, you can’t teach an old dog…

my thoughts exactly

Yes, I’ve been talking

to the Zoar folk. And that might work fine. My only reservation is that their canoes have no seats. And I’m not sure my bum knee can take the constant kneeling their canoes seem to require. Any suggestions on how to be relatively comfortable in such canoes for a few hours if you have a knee problem? (Alas, as I’d be fine on a regular canoe seat…)

Well, kneeling is de rigeur for WW
canoe paddling. After 34 years of kneeling, I would never describe it as long-term comfortable. However, I think ZOAR will have their foam pedestals set relatively high, and you will have good knee cups. Just don’t over-tighten whatever thigh straps are in the boat.

I injured a knee twice in my paddling career, and each time it meant temporary switch to kayaking, and then back in canoes with higher kneeling, and finally back into decked c-1s with seats at about 6" off the boat floor. I paddle by myself a lot, which means whenever the knee is hurting, I can pull over to the bank and take a break.

One of my boats, my MR Guide, was set up by the original owner so that he could kneel in whitewater, but swing his feet forward to paddle sitting when on flatter stretches. Of course the Guide is not a true whitewater boat, but my MR Synergy banana boat could be set up the same way, and a banana boat is actually less affected by trim changes associated with kneeling or sitting than a semi-flatwater boat like the Guide.

So I guess what I’m saying is, let ZOAR know about your problem, take one or two Alever BEFORE you go to the river, adjust the outfitting to take strain off the knee as much as you can, work with your party so you can take breaks, and see whether your knee tends to feel less painful and more flexible with time.

Many thanks for the advice
about the knee dilemma. I will talk again to the Zoar people, and now know some questions to ask. Their clinic fits my schedule perfectly, so I hope it works. For the record, they told me they use the Esquif Vertige (I assume the tandem X, from my trolling the internet to see one). But I couldn’t find an image for the interior so don’t know what this means about the seating/not-really-seating arrangements. Again, thanks, g2d, for your thoughts–

and dasteely, for your Indiana paddling offer. But I don’t think I can handle the canoe quite yet. Hence this wish to learn a few things through clincs, etc.

If you’re interested in flat and easy moving water, then Zoar’s playboat instruction might be a couple of grades beyond your interest. Now competence in big water will do you a world of good everywhere else, but maybe you can find something in between.

Some things are easier in playboats, but you might have to spend the first day just figuring out how to stay upright. Hint: you have to hold your tongue perfectly centered in your mouth.

I once showed up for a multi-day course at Nantahala with a completely bare Explorer, claiming I was interested in improving my WW tripping skills, and I wasn’t interested in tripping in a playboat. They let me use it, and it was a good experience. I dunno what Zoar would say.

If you have knee trouble, stand up and pole.


Advice is usually worth what you pay for it.

Well, that’s true, it might be many

levels above me, the zoar workshop–aside from the problem knee issue. And I would rather find a paddling school that deals more with flatwater at this point. But I’ve been madly searching the web to this end, with no luck. Any leads on a place in Ohio, PA, New York State, even Vt or NH or CT (and of course western MA),would be gratefully received! But I will call Zoar tomorrow, and talk to them further.

Zoar is pretty dedicated to whitewater.

The Fife brook section of the Deerfield would be a fine place to run easy whitewater in tripping canoes. If Zoar will do something like that for you I’d jump on it. Their instructors are pretty top notch.

Good Luck,


Never did the White, but our Lexington
KY paddling club took us to that Whitewater river or creek or whatever in extreme SE Indiana for a 1973 training session. Some good waves and eddy lines.