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Thread: 'Canoeing (Canoe & Kayak Techniques)' by Dave Harrison

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Just of J14 M5

    Question 'Canoeing (Canoe & Kayak Techniques)' by Dave Harrison

    Has anyone read this book and is it any good?

    Are there others you would recomend?

    Having tried and failed (learnt lots though) the three star some time ago, I thought a good book on the different paddle strokes would be useful.

    Alec aka Wayne

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Llanddarog Carmarthen
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    Yes I have this book - I like the drawings. However I would still recommend 'Paddling Your Own canoe" by McGuffin.

    Perhaps you have an experienced SOtP member living close by who can help on one to one. It can be time saving and worthwhile to have some paid for coaching.

    Bob Andrews

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Just of J14 M5

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the information, I will investigate further.
    Alec aka Wayne

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    London, England

    Default Lots of books, too little time to read them

    Personally I would NOT recommend Gary and Joanie McGuffin above so many other books, as Bob Andrews so confidently does ... but perhaps everyone to their own choice.
    How about Bill Mason's incomparable 'Path of the Paddle', (Key Porter Books, 1984, 1995), revised and updated by his son, Paul Mason?
    'Path of the Paddle' has so many canoeing and journeying tips, covering a lot of ground. For example, the dozen chapter headings tell you the coverage: Introduction; Basics; Paddling solo; Solo paddling strokes; Paddling double; Rapids; Whitewater maneuvers (Am. spelling!); Wipeouts, or when things go wrong; The alternatives to running rapids; Whitewater and wilderness safety; Types of canoe; Wilderness.
    Of course, 'Path of the Paddle' is a little dated in terms of photography and printing, but then inevitably things move on in 20 years, both in technique but also in publishing format.
    My serious difficulty with the McGuffins' book is that, although it has plagiarized the exact same sub-title as Bill Mason's book, "An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Canoeing", it nowhere mentions any of the previous pioneers on the canoeing trail. I re-read the McGuffin book on a long train journey recently, and although the acknowledgements extend over two pages (206-207) it starts with thanks to Nissan Motors and ends with thanks to their, then, five-year-old niece Mirabai, and has no mention of the vast canoeing literature that must feed into any paddling book. Wonderful photography, practically all of it on bright, sunny days, and much detail on Solo Whitewater and Tandem Whitewater fully outfitted specialist boats, but not exactly a full or even balanced coverage of canoeing techniques. However, there are certainly some quirky, memorable points in the McGuffin book: for example, Chapter Three on 'Balancing the Body' has nineteen photos of Joannie (with bare feet) in various yogic postures. Perhaps our friends from West Wales start the day on the riverbank with the 'Full Bow' lying flat on their stomachs? But I rather doubt the climatic conditions elsewhere in the UK (or Canada outside the summer month) allow for this. But then we move on to Chapter Four for 'The Fundamentals of Paddling' and get the starting line 'As a gymnast, I learned while doing handsprings that the spring and power did not come from my arms but rather through my shoulders ....' Well maybe we can understand the point Joannie is making about torso rotation, but I am not sure we need the full "our ams outstretched, palms flat, 6 inches (15cm) from the wall" details of her gymnastic routines.....
    Incidentally, if you are still chasing BCU Three Star, an excellent little book was produced by Bill Lodge, 'Learn to be an Open Canoeing Star: a theory guide for the BCU Open Canoe Star tests' (BCU, 1996). I understand that Bill Lodge has sadly retired from authorship, but maybe someone will be updating this gem for the new BCU Star Tests? I showed the Lodge book to a visitor from Alaska last summer and he was amazed at the seriousness with which we were analysing canoeing theory in the UK, so was very keen to get hold of a copy. On the other hand, when I started paddling I found the basic guide to Canoeing produced by the American National Red Cross to be a mine of useful information - no buoyancy aids shown then, so plenty of things have moved on.
    Try also the Ray Goodwin chapters on open canoeing in the BCU 'Canoe and Kayak Handbook'. Plenty of us are keenly awaiting Ray's long-expected Magnum Opus on Open Canoeing, but talking to him last week about it, he is obviously spending too much time on paddling to write it all down!
    However, as Paul Mason indicated in the Acknowledgements to his revised edition of 'Path of the Paddle', when thanking his publisher and editor, 'there's never a last word or photograph when it comes to canoeing'.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ledbury, Herefordshire


    I'd have to second 'Path of the Paddle' what an informative book. One of the best canoeing books I have read.

    Are you just looking to have a go at the relevant strokes or at having another go at your three star?

    Life is short, break the rules.
    Forgive quickly, kiss slowly.
    Love truly, laugh uncontrollably.
    And never regret anything that made you smile.

    Food for thought........ Perfection is a sign of bad progress

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