Standing during poling

I have poled homemade rafts. No stability issues there. Planting and retrieving the pole and controlling the rafts, I understand the thrust angles needed etc. to get where I want to go.

I have a rather tender Mohawk Solo that I will be trying to pole soon. When standing, should I keep my feet close to the center line or spread them near the outer edges?

Of course, I can find this out the hard way, but given that I have NEVER flipped or tipped in twelve or so years of paddling regularly, I would like to keep that record in tact, by at least starting with the proper form.

You may not…
…stay “intact” zen

for it will move

as the NEVER can.

For me, poling 14-foot canoes (Mohawk Solo 14? Odyssey 14?) is similar to foot-working a small skateboard down a steep, narrow sidewalk of choppy, seam-heaved concrete. If you like alot of continuous leans, wobbles, and tootsie-tap-dances within the spatial confines of a phone booth, with a higher likelihood you’ll come crashin’ out of that phone booth, glancin’ formerly unbruised constituent parts off of all sorts of thwart-n-rail-n-rocks, well, you just never know, zen.

I think you’ll have fun. I think you’ll enjoy the challenge. But, then, up-n-aboard, dry spells, records, brains - I don’t really have much of any of these intact, so they say.

But I sure have fun learning, discerning by the soles, as I pole my 16-to-17-foot-or-thereabouts canoes. (That time in the 13’-7" Ladybug was a tad bit treachorous! Especially that ugly attempt at a headstand! Had McCrea salivatin’ for a wet-exit, though.)


You’d have an easier time learning
if you were starting with a 16’ tandem. The shortest tandems I know of that are used for serious poling are in the 15’ range with about a 34" beam. I have several solo canoes, and I just would not bother poling with them.

If You Ain’t Getting Wet …

– Last Updated: Nov-13-08 12:18 PM EST –

... Then You Can't Be Learning Very Much !!!!

I'm a big fan of "Experiential Education" as it applies to poling. Although I credit an afternoon of lessons from Dougd as my poling initiation, I didn't really start to "know' poling until I shed my ego and pre-concieved notions of success and began to experiment ... and get wet. I would argue that my poling skills have increased in direct proportion to my number of swims ... the wetter I get the better Poler I become !!!

My advice is to grab a stick, jump in your boat, and see which foot position works best for you !!! You might bobble, trip, and possibly fall out of the boat ... but the knowledge will be invaluable.

Sometimes Success and Swimming are the Same Thing !!!

Wow. I would work on getting wet
first. That could save your life . To say you have paddled for twelve years and not gotten wet says there is a void that needs to be filled. You sure arent pushing your boats performance limits.

I dont regularly flip save for pushing it in FreeStyle and not even then too much but flipping my boat is something I do regularly so I am ready for anything.

Do you keep your feet in the middle while paddling? Its no different poling especially when you are learning.

Save the fancy footwork for later.

Thanks for the ideas.
I can walk up and down my Old Town Discovery with or without pole or paddle. Seems like my choice of boat might play a bigger role than fancy footwork. At least I got some choices.

I have stood in that Mohawk Solo 14 a few times, albeit a rather brief and exciting time. I was just wondering what I might be doing wrong that maybe I could firm up my footing a bit.

I am either VERY lucky (which is certainly not my history for all other things) or somewhat naturally endowed as far as flipping it goes. I really have missed a ton of opportunities to swim over the years. I just plow right through stuff, none the wiser, so I can catch all my friend’s crap as it comes drifting down the rivers. I make it look pretty easy, thereby luring the unsuspecting soles for my cruel ammuzement. I can pretty much stand up through any class 2 in that Discovery with just a paddle and sometimes bracing it a bit. I use an extra long paddle and paddle standing up many times. Just never tried the pole and that Mohawk is slippery atop the water.

But I have survived upright through many a year and many a waters. Only touched a class 3 once in the Discovery, I did NOT stand for that trick.

Now if I was to try the headstand thingy, I am sure I could get wet. But I see no useful reason for learning that “skill” as a practical navigation technique. Really, I bought my boats to keep dry. Swimming is an entirely different hobby in my mind. That is why I have boats.

I appreciate all your insites and hope for more, thanks.

Outer Edges
Most folks I pole with keep a wide as possible stance, feet in the chines where the bottom transitions into the sides. That lets you hold the boat at what ever angle you choose be it flat or heeled. I’d guess that standing in the Solo 14 might prove exciting. I’ve poled a little in my Osprey. That’s certainly more of a challenge than my Explorer but I’ve swum out of every boat I own. As I see it, if ya didn’t swim, ya wasn’t having enough fun.


Feet in the Chines
as wide as the boat is and then being a tender boat I would keep a hair bent over and use your hips as a pivot point. I think that is the hardest thing to convey. Legs should be like rubber bands, use em’ to keep ya from tipping. My guess is that you’ll use the pole a lot for corrections from going in the drink. Try it just off shore. You’ll get the hang of it. I poled a 12’ x 28" canoe once and didn’t fall in but damn it was dicey as hell. Good luck.


I stood in a 28 inch wide canoe
just because Harry Rock was egging us on to Stand Tall and Be Proud. And I was holding on to someone else standing in their 28 inch wide canoe…

We didnt have the guts to do it on our own.

Looks like my days
of staying dry are nummbered.

I will be trying this next year where they are refilling a local reservoir. That SOLO is a trick to stand up and cast from for sure. I saw some great youtube vids on balance training for this. Looked like I could practice some of those exercises by setting up some stuff in the back yard. I am hoping to be able to pole this up some of our creeks as hauling the Discovery by myself is a handful. Only places I would really have to pole, I could just jump in if things got too wild.

I definitely will be adding a pole to my outfitting and skill set soon.