My brother Ted and I shot this video on the Lower Magnetewan River in Ontario, Canada. This dam marks the outlet of the Mag from Wahwashkesh Lake, as well as the beginning of Magnetewan River Provincial Park.
In this video, you’ll see what looks like me almost falling out of the stern. That’s because I almost did. When the canoe started tipping towards my paddling side, I went for a low-brace. The water beneath my paddle was very aerated which prevented me from getting any leverage on my first bracing attempt. My weight still out over the gunwale, I quickly skulled my paddle to replant it and brace again. On the second try I was able to push down on the water and prevent a swim.
My brother in the bow compensated by using a high-brace, which is the brace to use when tipping away from your paddling side. It all made for some pretty action packed footage!
Bracing is counterintuitive as most people’s instinct tells them to center their weight in the canoe and grab the gunwales when things get dicy. It’s actually throwing your weight out of the canoe and trusting it over your paddle that will keep your canoe open side up. Your body and paddle effectively become like an outrigger when bracing properly. The key, and what keeps you from falling into the water when bracing, is in using the resistance between your paddle and the water to “catch” your weight, while effectively moving the boat back to even keel.
Sometimes a much more drastic high-brace is needed than what Ted used in the video. Here’s a sequence of me throwing out a big high brace to prevent a swim on the Black River in Hastings County, Ontario. David Lee snapped these pics on a spring trip down the river. Follow David’s blog and Facebook page The Passionate Paddler.