August 11, 2017
One of the greatest challenges for the solo paddler is paddling in a straight line. And, of course, wind, waves and current will only make it more difficult.
Something you should know is that not even the best paddlers can paddle in a straight line. The canoe always veers to one side or the other. When you watch a good paddler, they make it look as if they're traveling perfectly straight, because they've anticipated how the canoe will veer, and then corrected for it.
The J-stroke is the best corrective stroke. Although, when you're accelerating from a sit-still, it's often the quickest to use a forward stroke, cross-forward stroke combination in the beginning to get yourself moving.
Something to note is that wind can make traveling straight more difficult because canoes are designed to weathercock.
Weathercocking means that your canoe will always want to turn into the wind. This means that, if the wind is coming in from your off-side, you may need to use more aggressive J-strokes to keep your course. If the wind is coming in from your on-side, then you may be able to skip the J-stroke all together and just use regular forward strokes. In fact, if the wind is strong enough on the on-side, you may actually have to use sweep strokes instead of forward strokes to keep running straight.