• Happy National Drink Beer Day! 🍺→🚽→🤪

Position of feet while poling

Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
441
Reaction score
167
Location
Maryland
Looking through the canoe art thread, I noticed several pictures of canoeists poling. What strikes me is the foot positioning of the polers. In all cases, they are standing in the center with one foot forward and the other back. I stand square to the center line of the canoe, with one foot in each chine, a 90-degree shift of the feet from the polers in the artists’ depiction.

I’m largely self taught in poling, so, like as not, I’m doing it wrong. Or, possibly, poling style has changed over the years. Is there a “right” way to stand? How do you stand?
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2021
Messages
513
Reaction score
269
Location
Florida
I haven’t done much poling from a canoe but have done a fair bit from an outboard; I turn slightly toward the side I’m poling on. But the canoe polers seem to change sides more often, so perhaps feet straight ahead means they don’t have to try to turn or shift weight to accommodate switching sides?
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,655
Reaction score
936
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I stagger my feet for fore/aft stability. I predominately pole from one side of the boat or the other only submerging the end of the pole with the shoe on it. I think a more modern way is to use both ends of the pole alternating from one side to the other. When doing it that way keeping your feet side by side makes more sense. I’ve seen people put padding on the thwart and keep their shins against it for stability.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
441
Reaction score
167
Location
Maryland
Alright! I’m a power poler! Don’t t really have much power though, so more correct to say I use the power poling position.

The depictions in the canoe art thread are all classic, so no wonder they show polers using the classical style.
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
59
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
I heard somewhere, probably during the poling workshop at Maine Canoe Symposium this year, that the fore and aft stance is much easier with a fully loaded canoe (which was probably most of the time in the 'olden days' depicted in the art). Personally I've found the squared stance much more stabile in an empty canoe as I'm self teaching. Square stance is also how they started at the Canoe Symposium workshop. Consider too that poling from the stern of a tandem, there isn't enough width for the squared stance and one is forced to a fore and aft stance.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
441
Reaction score
167
Location
Maryland
I heard somewhere, probably during the poling workshop at Maine Canoe Symposium this year, that the fore and aft stance is much easier with a fully loaded canoe (which was probably most of the time in the 'olden days' depicted in the art). Personally I've found the squared stance much more stabile in an empty canoe as I'm self teaching. Square stance is also how they started at the Canoe Symposium workshop. Consider too that poling from the stern of a tandem, there isn't enough width for the squared stance and one is forced to a fore and aft stance.
Good points! A loaded boat is so much more stable than an empty canoe. And standing in the stern, side to side is tight, so fore/aft more natural and stable.

I like the square stance, amidships because you can easily heel the canoe on its side to lift the stems and carve turns, which seems impossible with a fore/aft stance. OTOH, fore/ aft is more stable if you hit something, which often knocks me off my side-to-side planted feet!

Art is art and I didn’t want to knit pick art over in the canoe art thread. But talking poling… this guy is poling an empty boat, classical stance, and appears to be standing in the stern of the boat, which is unnaturally level trimmed. So what, it’s a cool picture. It’s art.1662048549229.jpeg
I wish I could sketch such a great picture, trim be damned.
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
59
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
Art is art and I didn’t want to knit pick art over in the canoe art thread. But talking poling… this guy is poling an empty boat, classical stance, and appears to be standing in the stern of the boat, which is unnaturally level trimmed. So what, it’s a cool picture. It’s art.
Amen to art is art!

But I'm also not opposed to looking at the body of historical canoe art as a whole and trying to learn about formerly common practices.

It's a potentially tricky business - somewhat relatedly, I saw a talk this spring on using old paintings of the Catskills (from the 'Hudson River School' of painting to art buffs) to piece together forest species composition at the time. Historical ecologists are revisiting sites of paintings and finding that many painters were remarkably accurate in terms of trees, fungi, etc. At the same time, painters at the time were deliberately omitting things like railroads and smokestacks to portray the 'American Wilderness'.

I like the paintings without the smokestacks, and I like the canoe poling sketch you shared, regardless of whether it's trimmed realistically or not.
 
Top