Solo canoeing beginners

Learning to paddle a canoe solo is a liberating experience. This solo canoeing beginners course will teach you the fundamentals of paddling a canoe solo. Learn paddle techniques, adaptations to equipment, safety, environmental challenges and how to control your canoe all alone.

Become a skilled paddler and pirouette your solo canoe around any obstacle. Flatwater practice hones the paddle skills which are essential for performing complex maneuvers in rapids. Indeed, to confidently paddle whitewater you must first master flatwater!

Not for weenies

The term, flat water, is really a misnomer. Indeed, “flat water” contains no discernible rapids. But powerful currents? Yes! Rock-strewn riffles? Absolutely! Dangerous white caps, undertows and tides? You bet! Power dams, whirlpools and motor boat wakes? Of course. These hazards are all part of the “flat water” experience.

Flat water canoeing is not a low skill sport for unadventurous weenies. It is precision paddling at its best. The best way to master it is in a solo canoe. During this course we will get you started to paddle solo with confidence.

What to expect?

Solo canoeing beginners:

  • Gear overview different solo canoes
  • Paddle talk, otter- or beavertail? Or something else all together?
  • Carrying a canoe solo and getting it safely in the water
  • Basic solo canoe maneuvering: paddling forward, backwards, turning around, stopping, launching and landing
  • Basic solo strokes: forward stroke, j-stroke, c-stroke, reverse, stopping, draw and pry strokes, sweep strokes, post and wedge
  • Leaning your solo canoe
  • Sitting or kneeling
  • Trimming your solo canoe


€ 75 per person

Course dates

February 4
May 5
August 4
November 10

The fine print

Minimum age to participate is 12 years with an adult or 16 years without. We reserve the right to cancel any program with less than 24 hours notice due to changing weather conditions such as strong winds or thunderstorms. Please check your email for cancellation notices before arriving. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but your safety and well-being is our top priority.

Course prerequisites

For this course some basic canoeing experience is a plus. If you’re a novice paddler it might be advisable to take our Introduction to canoeing course first.

What's included?

  • Paddle
  • Lifejacket
  • Canoe

What to bring?

  • Water/sports drink.
  • Active clothing you don’t mind getting wet.
  • Secure footwear you don’t mind getting wet.
  • Extra layers in case it cools off during the day.
  • A change of clothes and shoes.
  • Sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses with floater string.
  • Snacks.
  • Bagged lunch.
  • A rain jacket/pants

Course location

Solo canoeing beginners courses take place from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in Mol (Belgium). We have a choice of open water and several beautiful canals to enjoy. The exact location is selected depending on weather conditions and will be sent to you a week prior to the course.


The Open Canoeing Skills A Diploma is intended for people who have mastered the basic strokes and paddling techniques. The emphasis is on achieving the desired movement of the canoe and developing an understanding of cause and effect, rather than focusing on strictly defined strokes. The holder of this certificate is able to safely paddle a short canoe trip on sheltered, quiet or slightly moving waterways in moderate weather conditions. Candidates can take the test while paddling solo or in tandem and must be able to demonstrate that she or he has sufficient swimming skills. To take the exam the candidate must have paddled a canoe trip of at least 6 km.

Upon successful completion of the tandem canoeing beginners course it is possible to take an exam. Your instructor will advise you at the end of the day whether it is useful to participate in this exam. It takes approximately two hours and consists of practice and theory. Upon successful completion the participant receives an official certificate from the Royal Dutch Watersports Association. This demonstrates that you have mastered the skills below.

Skills practical – paddling technique

  • Transport the canoe over land to the water
  • Properly lift the canoe into the water
  • Set correct trim
  • Get in, for tandems in the correct order
  • Select an appropriate seating position
  • Demonstrate an efficient forward stroke
  • Backward and stop
  • Correct execution of draw and pry strokes (including cross strokes)
  • Correct execution of stern rudder, rudder stroke and J stroke (for solo: bow rudder, C stroke)
  • Correct execution of sweep strokes, forward and backward
  • Changing the paddling side
  • Mooring and disembarking
  • Prevent tipping over with the low brace (stationary and dynamic)
  • Acting upon capsize
  • The paddle strokes in tandem are coordinated (visible taking into account each other in the paddle rhythm)
  • There is a good balance while paddling (regularity and in tandem cadence)

Skills practical – safety

  • Self-rescue after a capsize: Swim to shore with boat and paddle, bail the boat correctly and climb back into the boat without assistance
  • Assisted rescue after a capsize: the canoe and crew are towed to shore by another canoe.
  • Assisted rescue after a capsize: another canoe helps to bail the boat and assists the paddlers to climb into the boat

Skills theory

  • Paddle terms for techniques
  • Types of open canoes
  • Name parts of the canoe
  • Function of buoyancy
  • Types of paddles
  • Paddle lengths and their effect
  • Difference between PFD and life jacket
  • The effects of wind and waves
  • Elementary knowledge of currents
  • Cleaning, drying and storing gear
  • The outfitting of an open canoe
  • Correct use of a PFD
  • Clothing appropriate to the conditions
  • Recognize and take appropriate action in case of hypothermia
  • Correct group behavior during trips with a trip leader
  • Regulations