This year I wanted to try and learn this new skill, so during the most ridiculous heat wave of the summer when dunking into the lake wouldn't be a concern, I tried it out. Quite happy with my cedar canvas canoe and how it performs. Most chapters about poling in books mention not to bother with canoes less than 17ft in length. My 14 footer tracked well enough and the hull design has outstanding secondary stability. The main trick was to be as loose and limber as possible - tension in the legs seem to translate into quick loss of balance and control. Here is a sequence of shots my wife took from the dock while the boy excitedly looked on...
Of course, right after I got my confidence up, I wanted to go faster to impress my boy...I sped up right to the dock with the intention of jamming the pole ahead of me to do a quick stop. All was going well and the canoe slowed to a snail's pace but the bow still nudged the dock slightly. Guess I forgot I was standing for a second because the force knocked me off balance and I face planted into the water right below his feet with the canoe shooting behind to the beach. Of course, now he thinks canoe poling is about belly floping in the water so he keeps asking if I am going to use the pole. Luckily the camera wasn't fast enough to catch me going down...but here is a shot of the aftermath
After an embarrasing fall, there's only one thing to do...get back up!
In any event, I'm eager to learn more and get out of the safety of the cottage shore and try poling up some of the local rivers which really get too low for enjoyable upstream paddling by late summer. We'll see.