The Paddler ezine Issue 53 Late Spring 2020 - Page 12
R A Y G O O D W I N ’ S
M A S T E R I N G T H E
Text and photos: Ray Goodwin
In paddling a canoe, a solo paddler or the stern paddler is, even in easy
conditions, having to do some form of steering and generally the canoe
will turn away from the power stroke. There's a whole variety of strokes
that you can use to correct this with the J-stroke being the normal one.
We can think of there being two families of strokes we use to steer at the rear of a canoe. One
family, very powerful, we use a lot in white water or coming down a lake with a strong tailwind.
And those are the stern rudders and stern pries. The side of the blade I pull on I am going to call
the power face. I can pull through with the power face, but then I switch and steer with the back
face. So, it's a case of pull, change blade face, steer with the back face. I can do that either on the
gunwale or off the gunwale. Off the gunwale, we tend to call it a stern rudder. On the gunwale, a
stern pry. A useful marker in this family of strokes, is in the steer phase the thumb on the grip
end of the paddle is up.