Een lofzang op de de kano!


Al  in  het eerste hoofdstuk schreef hij een lofzang op de kano die er mag zijn. Nu na 150 jaar is het nog steeds actueel. Lees maar:

THE object of this book is to describe a new mode of travelling on the Continent, by which new people and things are met with, while healthy exercise is enjoyed, and an interest ever varied with excitement keeps fully alert the energies of the mind.
Some years ago the Water Lily was rowed by four men on the Rhine and on the Danube, and its "log" delighted all readers. Afterwards, the boat Water Witch laboured up French rivers, and through a hundred tedious locks on the Bâle canal. But these and other voyages of three or five men in an open boat were necessarily very limited. In the wildest parts of the best rivers the channel is too narrow for oars, or, if wide, it is too shallow for a row-boat ; and the tortuous passages, the rocks and banks, the weeds and snags, the milldams, barriers, fallen trees, rapids, whirlpools, and waterfalls that constantly occur on a river winding among hills, make those very parts where the scenery is wildest and best to be quite unapproachable in an open boat, for it would be swamped by the sharp waves, or upset over the sunken rocks which it is utterly impossible for a steersman to see.

But these very things, which are obstacles or dangers to the " pair oar," become interesting features to the voyager in a covered canoe. For now, as he sits in his little bark, he looks forward, and not backward. He sees all his course, and the scenery besides. With one powerful sweep of his paddle he can instantly turn the canoe, when only a foot distant from fatal destruction. He can steer within an inch in a narrow place, or pass through reeds and weeds, branches and grass ; can hoist and lower his sail without changing his seat; can shove with his paddle when aground, or jump out in good time to prevent a decided smash. He can wade and haul the light craft over shallows, or drag it on dry ground, through fields and hedges, over dykes, barriers, and walls ; can carry it by hand up ladders and stairs, and can transport his boat over high mountains and broad plains in a cart drawn by a horse, a bullock, or a cow.
Nay, more than this, the covered canoe is far stronger than an open boat, and may be fearlessly dropped headforemost into a deep pool, a lock, or a millrace, and yet, when the breakers are high, in the open sea or in fresh water rapids, they can only wash over the covered deck, while it is always dry within.
Again, the canoe is safer than a rowing-boat, because you sit so low in it, and never require to shift your place or lose hold of the paddle ; while for comfort during long hours, for days and weeks of hard work, it is evidently the best, because you lean all the time against a backboard, and the moment you rest the paddle on your lap you are as much at ease as in an arm-chair ; so that, while drifting along with the current or the wind, you can gaze around, and eat or read or chat with the starers on the bank, and yet, in a moment of sudden danger, the hands are at once on the faithful paddle ready for action.
Finally, you can lie at full length in the canoe, with the sail as an awning for the sun, or a shelter for rain, and you can sleep in it thus at night, under cover, with an opening for air to leeward, and at least as much room for turning in your bed as sufficed for the great Duke of Wellington ; or, if you are tired of the water for a time, you can leave your boat at an inn— it will not be "eating its head off," like a horse ; or you can send it home or sell it, and take to the road yourself, or sink into the dull old cushions of the "Première Classe," and dream you are seeing the world.
With such advantages, then, and with good weather and good health, the canoe voyage about to be described was truly delightful, and I never enjoyed so much continuous pleasure in any other tour.