Heeling a canoe

I want to start heeling my tandem 15 footer. Just curious if there are any good tips. Would the boat handle well if heeled from the center seat?
Follow up: Is heeling a no gear only pleasure cruising deal? Or, can I trim my boat with gear and still be stable in doing so?

Kneel to heel.

Hi, Jay Stroke,

If you want to see how it’s done, watch a Mason instructional video. Bill, Paul, or Becky Mason do a good job of demonstrating how to heel a canoe with or without gear. Bill in particular has (had) a very traditional approach.


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heel ya! be prepared to get a bit wet, practice without gear. Practice sinking the lower gunnel in the drink and bracing back up, low brace in particular works well. Try filling the entire boat up with water. This will increase your comfort level with having the boat up on its side and you will no longer be worried about flipping. Not all boats heel equally and depending upon the boat and your fitness level, some boats can even be heeled with your weight completely off the seat with most of your weight on the side of the boat (big tripping canoes). The tricky part is to get the grip hand out over the edge of the boat. Think about at least using a therma rest, ensolite or yoga mat to spare the knees. Initially, think of heeling as an activity unto itself, practiced at the campsite, put in, take out and an immersion activity. The only way to truly learn the tipping/flooding out point is to totally submerge the boat a few times.

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Guranteed way to learn to be a canoe heeling expert.

Find and buy an old, Perception HD-1.
Practice heeling it until you are fail safe.
Then your 15 footer will no longer present a heeling problem.
Be sure and wear your pfd when practicing with the HD-1.
Having a “spotter” nearby to assist you might be a good idea :wink:
Good luck!


P.S. One of the 3 photos shows the HD-1’s favorite on the water position…upside down.