Canoe HIre Ireland
Paddle Your Own Canoe

Wear a Personal Flotation Device

You must wear a personal floatation device (PFD) or life jacket. A life jacket will ensure that you keep afloat if you do fall out of your canoe. It will also assist with swimming through the rapids and downed trees and will provide hypothermia protection.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Correct Equipment

The following equipment is recommended for your canoeing or kayaking trip;

•    Spare paddle
•    Bow and stern lines
•    Extra safety throwing line – at least 50 feet long
•    First Aid Kit
•    Waterproof Dry Bag – to store smaller items including; food sunscreen bug repellent etc.

•    Water baler – half soft drink bottle or small bucket for baling out water from boat

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Don’t Crowd Fellow Canoeists

Don’t crowd other boats.  Keep a safe distance behind boats especially in rapids and restricted passages.  After you have navigated a difficult section, pull up and wait nearby to ensure all boats make it through. Be prepared to stop and offer assistance to your companions if required.

Paddle Your Own Canoe
Paddle Your Own Canoe

If your friend Capsizes

Offer assistance to other capsized boats remember people first and then equipment.  If the water is cold get them ashore as soon as possible to dry off and warm up.  Be aware that they may be confused so remain calm and encourage them to do likewise.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

If You Dunk

Be ready for an occasional dunking when you canoe. Don’t panic. In calm waters, angle your way up to shore instead of paddling straight. Stay behind the boat, and hold onto it for flotation. Always wear your life jacket.

Weather Conditions

Ensure that you have checked the weather forecast; including sky and sea conditions before you depart on your trip.  It is a good idea to carry a waterproof weather radio or hand held VHF Marine radio to allow you to continue to check the conditions during your trip.  REMEMBER the weather and water situation can change very quickly so never set out or continue your trip if the weather change exceeds your capabilities.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Getting Into & loading your Canoe

The safest and most balanced way to get into your canoe is by first putting your canoe fully into the water along the bank or jetty parallel to the shore.  Then sit on the bank or jetty; put your two feet into the canoe spaced to either side and put your hands on the side rails then sit down slowly and balanced.

When loading, firstly make sure you are not going to overload the canoe.  Ensure that you load is securely tied to the canoe so it does not move around.

Paddle Your Own Canoe


Footwear is highly recommended whilst canoeing.  The terrain, especially on the river bottom can be very hazardous and bare feet will provide no protection.  Sports shoes will provide protection and will dry out quicker if they get wet.

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Overboard in Current

If you do fall into the water ensure that you stay up stream of yours and other canoes.  Floating up stream will avoid being pinned against a canoe or other obstruction.  Stay away from objects in the water including strainers (trees and parts of trees or posts submerged subject to strong currents) and sweepers (low hanging tree branches which skim the water in a current).  If the current does push you into an obstruction; lean your body toward the obstruction instead of pushing away.

Handling Hot Weather – Paddling in the Heat

During the hot weather, remember to pack extra drinking water and keep well hydrated throughout the day.  Ensure you take regular breaks in the shade and keep an eye on your fellow paddlers for signs of serious sunburn, heat exhaustion and sunstroke.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Stay Out Of Cold Water

Hypothermia is a real danger if you fall into water with a temperature of less than 98.6 degrees.  Your body will immediately start to cool down and if your body temperature goes below 85 degrees this is very dangerous.  The following steps are suggested if you fall into cold water:

•    Act quickly before you lose the use of your hands
•    Right a capsized boat of climb atop it if possible
•    Tighten your clothes and try to cover you head
•    Stay still – assume a position that minimizes heat loss
•    Don’t swim unless it’s to reach a nearby boat.  Swimming uses heat and energy and cuts survival time in half.
•    If you’re in the water with one or more persons, huddle together closely
•    If you’re a rescuer, don’t apply heat to arms or legs, or give massages or hot baths. The best way to warm a victim is with body-to-body contact and a tight blanket.

Water Conditions

Each stream or river is different and presents various challenges and dangers.  Familiarise yourself with the body of water before you set out on your trip.  Plan your trip according to your skill and ability and gradually progress from one skill level to the next.

Be aware of recent heavy rains as water levels can rise and sweep debris from the shoreline into the water.  Debris can be found on the surface, suspended or on the bottom of the water and can be very dangerous to canoeists and kayakers.  Ensure that you are vigilant and avoid debris as much as possible

Trip Plan / Management

You need to plan your trip according to your canoeing or kayaking experience.  Be honest and realistic to ensure you do not endanger yourself or others by overstating your experience or tackling conditions above your capability.  It is highly recommended to canoe in a group with at least 3 people and 2 crafts.  This will ensure if a paddler or canoe gets into trouble support can be provided by the other paddlers and canoe.

It’s good idea to let someone know about your canoe or kayaking trip in advance.  Notify them of your companion names, departure and arrivals times and locations and any destinations in between.  It is also suggested to include contact numbers for law/rescue authorities for your various destinations and instructions on what to do if you fail to arrive on time.

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What to wear

Dress appropriately for the current and expected weather conditions.  You will require a wet or dry suit for the extreme cold, however layered clothing is recommended in more moderate temperatures.  Clothing fabrics should provide warmth especially when wet.  Cotton clothing is not recommended in cold weather as it draws heat away from the body when wet and increases the rate of hypothermia.  Please also remember sun protection by wearing a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Eye Glasses & Sun Glasses

If you are planning to wear eye wear including eye glasses or sun glasses, ensure you secure them to your head as they may slip off if you capsize or fall in the water.

Stay Out Of Flood Waters

Avoid flood waters in all circumstances.  Flood waters are very dangerous and can pin a canoe under a log or downed tree trapping its paddlers.  Do not cross waterways with heavy drainage during heavy rainfall.

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If You Capsize

Don’t panic if your canoe capsizes.  Over turned canoes float and can be flipped back over.  Firstly ensure all passengers are safe before retrieving your equipment.  Stay with your canoe unless it is dangerous to do so.  Guide your canoe into calmer water ensuring that you stay upstream from your canoe to avoid being pinned.  Try to hold onto your paddle as you will need it later.  Don’t swim in the rapids just float on your back with your feet downstream.  If the water is cold go ashore as soon as possible to get dry and warm.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

If Your Buddy Capsizes

If someone else’s canoe has dumped offer your assistance. If it comes down to a rescue, remember…it’s the people first, then the equipment. If it’s cold, get them ashore, dry them and warm them immediately. It may not occur to them that they’re uncomfortable because of confusion. Above all, keep calm and encourage the “dunkees” to do likewise.