Traversing reader, Ken Powell sent in a poem (and a few photos) he created while paddling the Yukon River. On the Elegance of Paddling in the Stern was conceived while watching a fellow paddler who’s paddling technique ‘needed a little more practice’.
Ken footnotes this poem with the following (tongue in cheek)…
Grip hand swings below the chin.
Low hand loose at the paddle spread.
Arm straight, swinging like a pendulum.
Short surgical stroke firm pulls ahead.
Into the butter-water the paddle pries.
No sound except soft water cries,
plus the gunwale thud that levers firm
the craft one way, with a slight turn.
Or another way, with a sweeping pull.
The first by using the so-called “J”
in steady water would be the way.
While swift full waters will demand
a different position of the hand
that turns the blade in to the craft;
there’s no time for the paddle’s shaft
to be executing the over hand wrist.
Just a goon stroke, minus the subtle twist.
Now to the critical point most don’t get.
That is the direction – and you wanna bet
that big zigs and zags take so much time.
It’s best to ply a true straight line.
The secret lies with directing the hull
with smallish moves and no big lull.
By that I mean each forward move,
whether “J” or sweep, you want a groove
that keeps you plus or minus five degrees
from a distant point amongst the trees.
These skills must be done in a style quite pure
without fatigue and pain, for sure.
It’s not a race; it’s a leisurely tour.
A minimalist style allows one to endure.
So paddling along in synch with bow,
Both the art of the stroke, plus you realize now,
how the simple canoe is a beautiful craft -
elegant, complete and wonderfully apt.
A better symbol of Canada – this grand land,
than hockey, poutine, you understand;
than the beaver, Maple Leaf, or grey jay,
or Anne of Green, down Prince Edward way.