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April 25-28, 2024

Drôme river, France


How not to get divorced during a canoe trip!

Some basic psychology to avoid giving up canoeing after the first descent… and save your relationship!

By Paul Villecourt /

In North America, canoeing is often called the “divorce boat“! You will understand why. When a few friends embark on the river for the first time, logic naturally pushes couples to form crews. At first sight, this reassures the ladies and the egos of the men are inflated since they are suddenly the guarantors of the couple’s safety on the water. Big mistake! We are all equal when it comes to technical ignorance, yet at the first (or rather third) mistake in the trajectory, all couples have the same reflex. At the beginning, we embark on this unknown boat, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. Mister seats at the back of the canoe, Madam takes the front and off you go! After 5 seconds, the boat starts to move sideways. The strong man doesn’t take it personally and tries to get the boat back on course, usually relying only on his muscles. The canoe returns to the desired course, 2 seconds before starting again on the other side. Without any technical adjustments, the crew will paddle 30 km, whereas the descent is only 15 km. The first “freak-out” is bound to occur before the end of the first half-hour.

  • Him: “What are you doing?
  • Her: “Can’t you see we’re turning?
  • Him: “paddle on the other side for f… s… !

In short, the crew is going crazy. Add to this the fatigue, the headwind and the sunburn, and the descent becomes a nightmare.

Rule number 1: never go on a trip as a couple if you are new to canoeing. Mix crews because you will have more restraint and you will be more positive with someone who is not your partner in life.

Rule number 2: before getting on board, be aware that although canoeing is not very difficult, it does require a minimum of technical skills that can be acquired in half an hour. Take the time to discover the boat before starting the descent.

Rule number 3: Canoeing is a team sport. No one is more responsible than the other for flipping or bumping into rocks. Acknowledging this from the start creates a positive atmosphere in the canoe. It is important to recognise mistakes made by the crew without blaming the other, and above all to try to solve technical problems together.

Conclusion: you like canoeing? You care about your relationship? Come to the Open Canoe Festival!

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