Any whitewater canoers here?

As it turns out, the canoe I bought on the cheap was designed for whitewater use. It is a Blue Hole OCA 16'. My family is excited to put it to its intended use, but we're not experienced or edumacated on the topic.

If you have any insightful online resources or people to contact for on the water help, they would be much appreciated.

Ideally, I would love someone who knows about this to take me on a float down the Class 1-2 sections of the Methow sometime the 3rd week of July as we'll be staying out that way. We'll never hit water rougher than this.

I've contacted a guide service to see if they can supply someone but have not heard back.


Active Member
That is a rather old school ww boat and probably wouldn't be a pig on moving water like a current purpose built ww canoe, so you may not be totally outta luck. Based on where you are and the number of lakes around you it should also be a decent craft for fishing smaller lakes.

As far as progression of skills, I'd encourage you to first seek out a certified instructor to work with you a bit on flatwater to insure that your fundamentals are solid. In my ww classes we spend the entire first day on flatwater. The skills easily transition over and in fact drills in flat or easy moving water is the best way to improve your ww skills. The best ww paddlers in the world train on a gates course called The Feeder Canal, and the waves are about 5" (inches) high.

I don't know of any open boat instructors out here, but if you call the American Canoe Association office they might be able to refer you. If you want to come out to Gig I'd be happy to take a few hours on a local lake with you. Bring a way to video record yourself.
I've done one and two in my Coleman 15 foot without proper training. It has a keel so is meant for lake water. River canoes do not have a keel so they can be manueverd more easily. Not advisable but I had no problems.
Even I & II water can be dangerous and change to 3 or 4 depending on conditions.
First thing you need to know are the various strokes to steer and control a canoe. Then you need to learn to READ THE WATER1.
This short film is from 1977 but still applies to today. He's doing more than 1 and 2 water but the rules and techniques still apply.
If you google canoe strokes you'll find many sites showing the various strokes. Still advisable to get live instruction and don't go alone.


Not to be confused with freestoneangler
Jason, I would take Marty up on his generous offer even if it requires a long road trip! I am sure you won't regret it and it will be time well-spent. I used to run class IV in open canoes back in the day and I am also very familiar with the Methow. I would not recommend it as anyone's first float on moving water, especially if they had fishing gear and kids along. From other posts, I think you have a toddler. Some might disagree, but I would never, ever take a toddler or child who couldn't fend for themselves in the water on the Methow in a canoe - or any river with more than the mildest current. If you do take your toddler, get a type 1 or 2 pfd so that it will hopefully turn them face up (if they don't fight it) and take them to the lake and river to 'play' with it on and get used to it.

Follow Marty's recommendation of skills progression, starting with flatwater and progressing to gentle moving water. On moving water, at first, leave the fishing gear (and kids, dogs, etc) home and focus on building skills. Play around, have fun, get wet and practice, practice, practice. Figure out what the boat (and you) can and can't do, do eddy turns, ferrying, try out those new strokes to see what they do on moving water. See how far you can edge it. Flip it and recover (you'll quickly learn to lash everything down, keep a death grip on your paddle and to always wear a pfd). Since it sounds like you'll be paddling tandem, it is critical to learn to communicate and coordinate actions with your paddling partner, unless you want to swim even more. I say even more as I always plan to swim and rig to flip, even if I don't. To mix it up, leave the boat on the shore and practice swimming in your life jacket and even swimming rapids (on your back feet first) This has the side benefit of teaching you to dress for immersion and what dry clothes you'll want to have in a dry bag for remainder of the trip after the swim. Mostly, have fun but be safe! In the right hands, canoes are way more capable than people in the NW realize. Kayaks and rafts dominate the scene here but back east and in Canada, you'll find people doing the same stuff in canoes. Heck, I used to even take mine out to the ocean and surf waves!

In addition to the ACA, there is the Paddletrails Canoe Club in WA (mostly Puget Sound based but all over the state). They do trips and have occasional classes, including an upcoming "Intro to Moving Water" class 7/21-22.


Human Being...a work in progress
I have many years of WW in an open boat, both solo and tandem - lots of Class III, some Class IV. I travel and fish from canoes all the time. I strongly advise you to take a hint from Marty and Freestone; in a word, DON'T! You are dealing with an inherently dangerous situation where beginner skills might leave you and yours at considerable risk. Class I-II can flip you over just as surely as the more technical runs. In fact, the easy-looking big and smooth reaches are likely to lull you into a sense that there's no danger at all - WRONG! Learn first, and then you can safely venture forth. Your boat is familiar to me, having paddled that hull back in the day. It's a real good all-rounder for lakes as well as rapids. I am in the Arlington area, and if you are near we could talk about how to get a start.
Wow...thanks all for the great insight and advice! And thanks for the offers Marty and FW. I am in Kitsap so meeting in the Gig may be an option at some point in time. We are heading out on Saturday for a week in Chelan/Bridgeport/Coulee and will keep it to just lakes on this trip while we get our feet, uhmmm, wet. I bought supplies at Home Depot last night to make a stabilizer/outrigger to make certain we stay upright given that, yes Freestone, we have a toddler.

I only thought about that stretch of the Methow because REI listed it as a "Flatwater Class 1+" run on their website so I thought it would be basic. The reason I never have and never will river kayak is because of the danger. We would never do anything stupid by any means.... but great information indeed.

Glad to hear so many experienced boaters talk about the versatility of a canoe- I think I found just the right family boat for now.


Active Member
I grew up white water canoeing in WI and Canada. Did quite a bit on the East coast before moving out here. Sold my canoe. Thinking of picking up another and trying local rivers.

feel free to pm if looking for a partner on the E side. Plenty of easy class 1 and 2 water.

If zero experience as mentioned spend a lot of time on flat water practicing strokes, flipping boat, recovery, rescue.


Active Member
Jason - between WW canoe and WW kayak I'll choose WW kayak any day. I want to be glued into my boat.

Look me up if you are on the KP. We can hit Cresent Lake. It is warm and convenient.