Good place to start?

Mark Adams

all wood nut
Hi All,

Can anyone recommend a good book to learn the basics of sailing a canoe from? I am getting a Willits sailing canoe (a lifelong dream) and am at a loss for where to start. I think I have a tenuous grasp on the basics, but would like to read up before I go blow the canoe over doing something stupid. I pick the canoe up July 12, and have 2 wife free weeks to play. (SHE gets to go to Hawaii!) I'd like to get proficient enough in those 2 weeks to be able to take her out on Lake Tahoe when she gets back.


Todd Bradshaw's book "Canoe Rig - The Essence and the Art " available from has a good summary in the first few chapters. There are some classic canoe sailing books on line at which can also help. The main thing is to just go play around once you have the basic principles in mind. You will want to start in a light breeze and begin by working your way up wind at first since it is usually easier to come home down wind. Another good safety drill is to pick a hot day and deliberately tip it over near shore to see which recovery methods work best for you. The usual options are to: sail it to shore full of water, take everything down to paddle it back, bail it out, or some combination of these three. Another safety option is to get some of the big float bags like the play boaters use in white water and strap them inside for extra floatation until you are more comfortable sailing. Have fun,

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Any good book on sailing small craft will be helpful, after all a sailing canoe follows all the same rules as a sailboat. Just make sure you know the diffference between tacking and jibing, and you will probably be fine.

No dogs

May I suggest that you do not take any large dogs along for a ride. They get curious and thirsty. Before you know you will be swimming the blasted canoe back to shore with your "best friend" dog paddling along side.

It's the next worst thing to running class 4 plus with an inexperienced dipper.

Signed....voice of experience
Ok.. I am still looking for a basic book recomendation. I browsed around at Borders, and looked at a couple. They seemed to be mainly focused on larger, spinnaker rigged boats, with not a whole lot of focus at all on smaller craft. Surely someone has a favorite title? Thanks for the advise on dogs and manatees. Those are always a concern up at the lake! All I really have to worry about is Tahoe Tessie!