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Thread: "Discover Canoeing- a complete introduction to open canoeing" by James Weir. A review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Bonnybridge, Scotland

    Default "Discover Canoeing- a complete introduction to open canoeing" by James Weir. A review

    When I took up canoeing a few years ago, I looked for books on the subject. With the exception of Bill Mason's books (Path of the Paddle still seems like the obvious choice to me), all of the books I found (and bought) were at least half filled with information on kayaking. No problem, but I wasn't interested in kayaking!

    I was pleased to see that this book concerns itself solely with the open canoe. It's certainly easy to read and covers all of the subject matter you'd expect. A problem for any author of this type of work is that a complete novice really needs very little information and needs it presented simply. A book with only that information is called a pamphlet! So the author presents material which will whet the reader's appetite and hopefully allow them to begin to explore the types of paddling that most interest them in safety.

    James Weir doesn't make a bad job of it either, for the most part. If anything there's a bit more here than required, but that's better than having too little. Good sections on clothing, canoes, paddles, first-aid et cetera, are supplemented with sections of more limited interest, like the 14 pages on rolling a canoe.

    The emphasis of this book is definitely on having fun in a canoe. Plenty of safety information is given, and it's presented in a sensible and palatable way. The main thrust, however, is that you should really just get in a canoe and try it out. Can't disagree with that!

    There are of course omissions in this book as in any other. I found myself puzzling over why a detailed description of how to portage with two people is given alongside a description of how two people should lift a canoe onto one person's shoulders, but no description is provided of how one person might lift a canoe, other than the advice that you shouldn't twist your back. I thought maybe I'd just missed it, but I went back over the section and couldn't find it.

    There are a lot of good photos in the book, but they're mostly very small. It looks much better where the pages have fewer and bigger pictures. It would have made the instructional photos a bit clearer too. A good number of the pictures feature the white-dude-with-dreadlocks now ubiquitous in paddling publications, but there are pictures of white people of all ages and more than one gender here too. (For the record, I'm white and bald. )

    If you were only going to buy one book on canoeing, you should shop around and see if this book's approach suits you. That said, it's as good as or better than many books of its type, and if you're the kind of person who likes to read up on their new hobby you won't go wrong with it. Especially as you'll read several other books, spend large chunks of your life reading the words of wisdom here on SotP, watch any number of DVDs and possibly even get some formal coaching

    If we had a Q - Rating here, I'd give this a solid 3 out of 5.

    "God guard me from those thoughts men think
    In the mind alone;
    He that sings a lasting song
    Thinks in a marrowbone."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Lochwinnoch, Scotland


    Just had a look and there are some sample pages online here

    and the publisher's page is here

  3. #3


    Hi Blue Canoe, thanks for your good review!
    It is indeed very hard to know what to include and what to leave out and I am glad that you think I made the right decisions for the most part.
    Point taken with regards to the lifting and carrying, hopefully I will get a chance to improve this when I go for a second edition!
    Thanks Magikelly for putting the links in.

    Finally a quick seasonal marketing push from me...DC will make a great Christmas present for any budding canoeist! check here for a signed copy
    Paddle safe

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