With a thwart for a backrest, a nice day, and enough flotation to fill about half the canoe, check it out! (Roughly, there is an inverse relationship between the amount of flotation you have in your canoe and the amount of flotation you may need.)

Not only can you adjust your weight and the sail, one at a time, but you can adjust the leeboard by pivoting it up and down. Both pivoting the leeboard up and down and moving your weight fore and aft are the easiest ways to affect the balance of your sail rig. Fine tuning can mean leaning forward or putting a leg on the gunwale. You may want to use your foot to move the leeboard up and down slightly as you become experienced in your boat. Sailing with the hull flat is more effective than heeling the canoe.

To bring the bow toward the wind move your weight forward. It should not be necessary to paddle in order to turn the sailing canoe around. To go into the wind, or tack, put the leeboard in a vertical position and lean forward. Shift the paddle to the lee side and hold it on the gunwale.

To sail before the wind, raise the leeboard to a diagonal and lean your weight aft. If you still have trouble steering, then you can move the leeboard thwart: towards the mast to get more windward helm.


A shorter paddle than usual is fine. Be sure to carry a spare! A wood paddle is the least slippery; cord or a leather piece wrapped and sewn around the shaft at the point of contact retards slipping. Try this in a light breeze, under 15 knots.

Place the paddle on the lee side of the boat, or, the same side as the sail. With one hand, rest the paddle shaft on the gunwale and hook your thumb under the grip. In light winds, under 10 knots, it should not be hard to hold the paddle down. If so, shift your weight. Allow time for the boat to react! To steer, hold the paddle blade in the water just as much as you need to in order to go straight.

If you find it is too hard to hold the paddle down, it is either too windy or your sailing canoe is not balanced. You can adjust the angle of the leeboard. Often, just slight changes in the angle of the paddle, or leeboard and your weight can make the correction.

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