Following the Path
I spent an hour and a half out on Shadwell Basin last night trying to perfect my open boating strokes.
Having studied Bill Mason on the bus, I was determined to get the hang of the Canadian, or knifing J, stroke. After several minutes of uselessly slicing the blade out of the water, I suddenly got the feel for how to angle it such that a slight upwards pressure would provide the necessary steering correction. After a bit of practice it was working reasonably well on my on side.
I was also determined to improve my regular J stroke on the off side and this too came quite quickly. Next I tried some bow cuts and jams. Bow cuts are just like bow rudders in a kayak and presented no problems but bow jams are more tricky and tend to stall the boat and leave me in an awkward position.
I ended up with some support strokes which, again, are quite similar to the kayak equivalents and were easy enough. I chickened out of my plan to practice climbing back into the boat unaided from deep water as it was just too cold.
Overall I am pleased with my progress and paddling with a single blade is feeling more and more natural but I would still like to get some coaching from someone who really knows what they are doing.