Sport of Freshwater and Whitewater Canoeing &
Kayaking in BC
& Canoes Explained
| River Classifications
| Skill Levels
Water Safety | Equipment
| Wilderness Camping
People Who Canoe and/or Kayak:
This sport takes in a whole gauntlet of different
people from many professions. There are bank managers,
truck drivers, teachers, sawmill workers, doctors,
secretaries, lawyers and even hackers out enjoying
this fast growing pass time. Canoeing and kayaking
is an excellent recreational family sport with
children accompanying parents on all but the really
challenging trips. Like other recreational sports,
it is best to learn as much as possible about
canoeing and kayaking. Taking a course from a
qualified instructor is step number one. Practising
what you have been taught is step number two,
and joining a local canoe or kayak club is step
number three. All three steps add to your safety
on the water.
About Canoeing and
A K-1 is a kayak, C-1 and C-2 are canoes, all
are narrow closed boats that are easily maneuverable
and do not require much water in order to float.
The covered spray deck means they can handle wild
and unruly waters. The open canoe is more difficult
to handle, needs more water to float and best
handled in waves that are approximately one metre
(about three feet) high. Rafts, whether the rowing
or paddle type, are used by groups running whitewater
1.Class or Grade 1: easy moving water with small
waves, little or no obstacles.
2. Class or Grade 2: easy rapids with waves up
to 1 metre high (3 feet) with obstructions, some
manoeuvring skills are needed.
3. Class or Grade 3: Scouting maybe necessary,
manoeuvring skills are a must, you will encounter
rapids with high and sometimes irregular waves.
This is a moderately difficult class or grade.
4. Class or Grade 4: This is difficult with long
rapids and irregular waves. Your manoeuvring skills
must be precise, advanced scouting is mandatory.
Only advanced paddlers in closed boats should
tackle these waters as rescue could be difficult.
5. Class or Grade 5: This is very difficult going
with long demanding rapids, narrow passages, long
drops, steep banks, precise manoeuvring is necessary
and advanced scouting again mandatory. When swamped,
rescues could be difficult, is definitely for
expert paddlers and not for open boats.
6. Class or Grade 6: Extreme waters that are very
dangerous. These waters must be studied and are
recommended for only expert teams in closed boats.
Not for open boats.
Make sure you know and pay heed to these International
of Skill Levels are:
Beginner or Novice: Has basic knowledge of how
to handle and paddle a kayak or canoe. Some rolling
skills in closed boats are necessary. This person
is ready for waters that are class or grade 1.
Intermediate: This paddler has moving water skills,
can line a boat around obstacles including rapids
and should be able to help swamped paddlers. Can
run class or grade 2 waters.
Advanced: If in an open boat, must be able to
make it through fast, rough paddling and is ready
for grade or class 3 water. In a closed boat,
this kayaker or canoer is able to handle grade
or class 4 expertly and able to roll at all times.
Expert: Can handle grade or class 3 easily in
an open boat and a grade or class 4 with attached
spray decks. In a closed boat, the expert can
lead in grade or class 4 and can paddle grade
or class 5 waters.
It is essential that you learn from a qualified
person how to properly paddle and to manoeuvre
a kayak or canoe. Then practice what you have
been taught on easy water. Advance to more difficult
water as your skills improve. Canoes, kayaks and
rafts are not the same, each handling technique
is different. Learn them all to fully enjoy the
waters of B.C.
When canoeing or kayaking always practice water
safety. Never boat alone, the recommended number
is three boats and always keep them insight. Learn
how to swim well and do so fully clothed. Always
wear an approved life jacket (PFD) and the wearing
of a wet suit is a good idea. Check weather conditions
before you head out, take into account the coldness
of the water and paddle close to the shoreline
as winds can come up suddenly. Know rescue techniques
and practice them. Learn all you can about the
river, lake and inlet you wish to canoe or kayak,
a better plan is to paddle with someone skilled
who knows the water hazards and conditions.
1.Everyone in the boat must have their own PFD
(personal floating device).
2.One paddle per person, or two for each boat.
3.Bailer, which is a container for baling out
water from the boat.
4.A whistle or horn
5.Painters (ropes) attached to the bow and stern.
5.A light for the nighttime.
It is also a good idea to carry a change of clothing
and matches in a waterproof container.
Purchasing a canoe or kayak can be a baffling
procedure because there are so many different
designs and materials. If you are a beginner,
a boat that tracks well should be your first concern.
The hull depth, the boat length and weight should
all be taken into consideration. Buying the right
paddle can be confusing, should you buy a one
that's made of plastic, aluminum or laminated
wood. The length of your paddle depends on your
torso and how high the seats are from the water.
The PFD (personal flotation device) you buy must
fit you comfortably so that it does not bind when
paddling. A proper fit should be the only concern
when shopping for a PFD.
This is where common sense is a necessity. You
must be self reliant when camping in the wilderness
and everything you pack in, must be packed out.
Canoe camping is not quite like camping when on
a back country hiking excursion, as you can pack
more of your own comforts. Consider your canoe
size and weight and pack accordingly. Always take
a spare paddle and carry the necessary by law
safety equipment. Maps and charters are very important,
so get the official government maps for the area
you will be travelling, and have a compass. The
type of tent, sleeping bag and mattress you use
is a personal preference, just remember they should
be light and able to dry quickly. Proper rain
gear and footwear is very important. When packing,
separate your food items from the rest of your
gear and make sure all foods are in airtight containers,
this is a precaution from bear attacks. In camp,
store foods away from the sleeping area. Practice
no-trace camping, garbage in - garbage out. Precautions
should be the norm, not the exception. Be safe,
Canoe & Kayak Adventures & Suppliers