While paddling, if you want to sneak up on a moose, or a nude sunbather, try the Silent stroke.
It’s also called the Stealth J or the Rolling J. Whatever you want to call it, the stroke is ideal for paddling a canoe quietly. The method allows the paddle to move through the water and propel the canoe forward, but without creating a splash with the blade.
The stroke begins just as a normal J-stroke, initiated by a forward stroke and then turning the blade outwards from the canoe by turning your grip-hand thumb-down. Just as you complete the J, keep the blade in the water, roll the paddle-grip in the palm of your hand and slice the blade forward through the water. Keep the paddle parallel to the canoe. The stroke begins again by keeping the blade in the water, turning it and performing a slight draw towards the canoe. Basically, you’re making a rectangle in the water, alongside the canoe, with the paddle-blade never leaving the water.
This stroke can be used while paddling tandem, but it’s generally reserved for solo paddlers. To perfect your form, position yourself near the centre of the canoe, kneeling and leaning to the side. When you rotate the grip in your palm, do it slowly. Also, keep the throat of the paddle slightly above the waterline to minimize sounds of water splashing and bubbling.
A beaver-tail paddle design is the best. It cuts through the water nicely. If you’re paddling solo, an extended beaver (or what’s called by some as an otter-tail design) is extremely effective. A square-bladed paddle is one that’s used to push lots of water, fast, but on the surface—it’s great for navigating whitewater, but not a design you want for basic canoe-tripping across open water. The beaver-tail or otter-tail pushes the same amount of water, but under the surface. Combine that with the Silent Stroke and you have a thing of beauty.