Canoeing commands

What’s a proper and effective canoe-y command to use when I wish the bow paddler to stop paddling and bring the paddle between the gunwales (to avoid accidental slippage into the “drink”)? “Cease work” sounds sort of abrupt and un-nautical, while “ship oars” (which we at least both understand) doesn’t seem quite the thing either.

Proper Command
In this situation the proper command is:

“Oh mighty and harder-than-me-working bow paddler, please rest your weary muscles for a moment and stow your paddle.”

This is to be closely followed with:

“Thank you, esteemed paddling partner.”

And finally finished off with:

“Here’s that snack I promised you.”

"stop your freaking paddling"
usually works,



Really used…

– Last Updated: Aug-09-08 4:50 PM EST –

Here are some I used (and their loosely defined meaning) when my wife & I were paddling tandem.
Totally non-technical.

Stop: Don't hit another stroke.

Chill out: Put down your paddle & relax; you can play "bow babe" for a while.

Let's go: Do some nice, slow, and steady, forward power strokes.

Paddle hard: We "don't want to hit/go under that strainer. -OR- We want to get away from this gaggle of "river dorks".

Backstroke: We are about to run into "something".

Hit the floor: Go down on your knees in the bilge & get your head & shoulders below the gunwale. We are about to go under something that is "real low".

Don't lean upstream: We are about to broadside "something".

Get out: Get out of the boat "right now".

It's "beer thirty": I'm putting down my paddle & getting a beer. You're in charge.

OK: You can relax.

Before my wife got into a tandem canoe with me; she had "never" been in any canoe.
We paddled tandem for about 5 years.
Best tandem partner I ever had.
Never dumped once.


Your other left , dammit!

Here it is
Ok, I see I’ll get little help from you dilettantes and slackers. :slight_smile: So I have consulted “Canoeing” from the Merit Badge Series published by the Boy Scouts of America in 1952. (That is not a misprint.)

And much to my surprise, on page 58, the appropriate command is given. It is as follows: “Out Paddles.”

So there. Don’t say I’ve never contributed anything to this forum.

Best command to partner

– Last Updated: Aug-09-08 5:54 PM EST –

"We're buying solo kayaks!"

Paddlin' on

correct voice commands to ship oars
That is easy. just yell catch and toss him a cold beer. Or cayatch for you southerners. I am really surprised nobody said that yet.

Comment on your context

– Last Updated: Aug-10-08 12:09 PM EST –

This request makes perfect sense coming from a traditional sailing environment, where one person is the undisputed captain and is forgiven any excesses in severity in barking out orders because that's just the way it has to be.

Paddling does not usually work that way, except in very demanding environments like tandem WW. For the relatively harmless risk of running aground on flat water or calm ocean bay areas in a canoe, especially with all the sand beaches around you, most people take it easier. Running aground in that situation is no big deal, and not worth getting anyone upset over. You just get out, shove the boat free and paddle on. At worst you catch and tip over, also completely harmless in shallow water assuming you have dressed for it and have a bailer.

While it always helps to establish clear communications, and you and your wife likely have a much better worked out relationship when it comes to following orders than most people who don't come from a sailing background, you should remember that she is going to be as unfamiliar with this as you. If she perceives the risk as less severe than running a sailing boat and you maintain the same demeanor, you may find yourself with an unenthusiastic paddling partner.
(Later add - OPer is right on this one. I was going where I shouldn't have.)
Also, check in with others who know more than me about tandem paddling, but it isn't uncommon for the more dominant paddler to spent some time in the front position in a canoe.

By the way, I have spent some limited time crewing on a sailboat, up to 30 or so feet, and as long as I only have to hold the sail or work the steering I'm not bad. I just make sure that no one asks me to handle a tiller and the sail at the same time, or be in inaided control of coming around, things that I don't know enough to manage on my own. So I do get that environment. But paddling is simply not the same, and while I crew pretty OK on a sailboat I don't tandem in a canoe at all well. I'm fairly typical.

Celia, how very presumptuous of you to think you have insight into my wife, her personality, and our relationship!! At times you can really be a condescending know-it-all, not to mention a insufferable busy-body.

I suspect if the topic here had been submitted by my stern-paddling wife concerning a good command she should could GIVE ME (in the bow) to cease paddling, the cast of much of this thread would have been quite different.

By the way, my wife has read this entire thread, up to Celia’s post. She thinks it’s hilarious.

Now you screwed up big time
My wife doesn’t read P-net.

She thinks there is too much squabbling here.



OK - you know more about paddling

– Last Updated: Aug-10-08 12:18 PM EST –

And canoes, and all craft. I hadn't realized that.

I do try and refrain from calling other pnetters who likely are much better paddlers than me "dilettantes and slackers" though.

Try this , “please” rest , I have it …
… for awhile … “thanks” , follows the 1st command . Use those words much , do ya ??

If so , it works just as well paddling …

Just drop anchor and let her keep on

If she asks what’s happening, just shrug and start “helping” her paddle.



Stop paddllin?

– Last Updated: Aug-11-08 3:53 PM EST –

We found the oarsmen could never hear shouted commands alone, what with all the bleeding from the ears, the clamor of rattling chains mixing with the incessant moans, and that relentless pounding of the oversized kettle drum. Na! But if you toss a moldy scrap of bread into the fold you'd be suprised how quickly all hands ship oars in the insuing crumb scramble.

With Duckheads before ya, tossing a cold ale into bilges there way is even more effective, though yer secondary stability is a might bit compromised fer a precarious moment.

Capt'n Conivevil
Surly Salty Solo'n Situate of the Duckhead Main and Fifth

"Cease!" delivered in a stacatto vivace blast has a halting effect. And, "Ship oars' still hs a nice ring to it.

Commands in demanding whitewater
In really demanding whitewater, commands don’t work because you just can’t hear anything but the roar of the water. In those cases, the stern paddler needs to read the strokes of the bow paddler and react accordingly.

I can never figure out why the stern paddlers is always assumed to be in charge. The bow paddler is the one that can see where he/she is going. However, it is usually hard for the bow paddler to talk to the stern paddler, while the bow paddler sits right in the accoustically correct position to have to listen to the stern paddler.

As for the form of the command, I like what coxswains use to tell the rowers to stop rowing. But I don’t know the spelling. It’s either “weigh enough” or “way enough.”

Having typed that, I think I’ve been had. The poster didn’t really want to know what words to use, did he or she?


how about
let it run

Divorce Lawyer
If you have a good divorce lawyer you can try some of the Musher’s commands: Mush, Gee, Haw!

In reality if you are in the stern and believe you have any real command of a tandem paddling situation you need to get your medication changed. Train youself to read the bow paddler’s movements and react accordingly.

The rule of law for males in mixed tandem paddling is STFD/STFU!

A sign on the river said
Canoe lessons 50 dollars

Marriage counseling 150 dollars


– Last Updated: Aug-13-08 11:25 AM EST –

"ship oars" huh TrentRiver.....ROTFL!
How about trying "WE'RE GONNA HIT!"....the paddle will either freeze or be pulled from the water.