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Your UCP: National August 25, 2003
Sports & Leisure

Recreation & Leisure


Canoeing is a sport that, with the proper adaptations and training, can be enjoyed by all. Traditionally, canoes are designed for either one or two people, and can be paddled on a wide variety of waterways. Canoeing can include a relaxing trip across a flat lake or down a rampaging river. This flexibility makes canoeing ideal for people of all abilities. Because the intensity and effort can range from very mild to quite strenuous, canoeing is an ideal life-long activity and can be pursued as an active sport or purely for recreation and leisure.

Types of Canoes
Photo of a two-person open canoe moving through the waterThere are two primary types of canoes, the open canoe shown on the left and the closed decked canoe shown on the right. Both types can be outfitted for either one or two individuals. A two-person open canoe is shown at the lower left. alt=To paddle the canoe, a person either sits or kneels in the canoe. Since each type of canoe has features that can be modified to allow for individual abilities, it is important to understand the many options.

Types of Paddles
The traditional paddle for canoeing has a single blade and can be made of plastic, fiberglass, or wood. One option to increase paddle control is to utilize a paddle with a double blade that is traditionally used for kayaking.

PFD and PaddlesSafety on the water must always be a priority regardless of the skill level or abilities of those involved. General boating protocol calls for participation in groups, as there is safety in numbers. Therefore, it is important that all participants be aware of their own limitations and of the group’s capabilities. This principle allows for a trip that will be enjoyable and safe for all.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
A personal flotation device or life jacket is one of the most important items needed for individual safety. All boaters, regardless of swimming ability, should wear a U. S. Coast Guard approved PFD each time they are on or near water. There are five types of PFDs: understand the features of each type to determine which is best for you.

Number of People in a Canoe
Most canoes are built for one or two people though some canoes can be altered to accommodate an additional individual, depending on his size and ability. The third seating position is generally created by removing the center thwart. The flexibility of the open decked canoe lends itself to this type of modification. It is important to note that boats modified in this way may be less stable and are only to be used for flat water.

Selected Equipment Suppliers

Boating Courses

For Further Information on Canoeing


  • Arthur, M., Sckroyd-Stolarz, S., Canoeing for the disabled. Canadian Recreation and Canoeing Association
  • Webre, A. W., & Zeller, J., (1990) Canoeing and kayaking for persons with disabilities. American Canoeing Association
  • Canoe and Kayak Magazine

The information provided here is offered as a service only. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago do not formally recommend or endorse the equipment listed. As with any products or services, consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs and budget.

Source: NCPAD

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