Today is National Canoe Day, a time to take the time to reflect on our country's backwaters.
If you haven't tried canoeing, it's a wonderful sport. Before you try that journey down the Missouri from the Three Forks to the Big Easy, though, here are a few tips.
Can you swim? If not, get a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket that's rated for your size. And make sure it's buoyancy rated for an extended time in the water.
If you can swim, see the previous paragraph. EVERYONE should wear a life jacket, regardless of swimming ability.
Know your limits. Canoeing for long distances can be hard work. Know what you're capable of and don't exceed your limitations. If you think you can just jump in a canoe and paddle across that 10-mile lake, understand that it's going to be more work than you think.
Allow yourself time to return to shore. It's a good idea to plan on being back ashore by an hour before sunset, and in some states, that's even the law.
Paddle with a partner and know your equipment. If you're using a watercraft with which you're not really familiar, try it out before you take it out for any distance.
If you're going out, tell someone. Let another person know your itinerary and where you plan to be and when.
Take plenty of water. It can get really hot, paddling all day. And that river or lake water might not be the best thing to drink.
Following just a few common sense rules can help you enjoy what is becoming an increasingly popular sport.