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Canoes and paddles

What is the general consensus concerning ausing a double bladed paddle with a canoe?


  • Canoe paddles
    The double increases speed through higher ,potential, cadence and eliminates the need to learn corrective strokes. It is heavier when made of the same stuff, widens total footprint in narrow streams and tends to be wet, the high blade dripping in to the boat. With every stroke including the recovery for the next, there is no rest cycle and the paddler is holding the paddle's weight in the air.

    Single sticks are lighter but often require complex corrective stroke endings. They are lighter in weight, minimize the boat/paddler footprint width and, with in-water ot horizontal recovery, are dry, drips staying outside the canoe. The recovery provides a rest and the paddleblade floats the paddle's weight through the stroke.

    It is also possible to not look like a Nancy using a single stick, whereas with a double there is no doubt.
  • Well said
    Well said Charlie and glad you spelled Nancy with a "y" so Jack L isn;t going to jump on you. His Nanci is the poster lady for good paddle form and maintaining racing speed well into the senior years.
  • Hilarious
    "It is also possible to not look like a Nancy using a single stick, whereas with a double there is no doubt."

    That is why you should single blade ^^^ (that made me laugh a lot, although some sprinters and surf skiers look pretty bad ass)

    More on topic, you can do it in any canoe, but it is easier to double blade in a canoe that has a low seating position, narrow gunwales, narrow beam, and or low sides.
  • General consensus?
    I'm not sure there is a general consensus? Some folks are passionate about using a double bladed paddle in a canoe and others hate it.

    For myself, I own both canoes and kayaks so I have nothing against double bladed paddle use per se. But I have never liked using them in a canoe. Granted, I haven't tried it that much.

    I really don't like the paddle drip into the boat. Also the higher sheer line of a canoe along with the generally higher seating position, usually mandate using a longer, heavier paddle and lifting it higher than one would have to do in a kayak with a low deck. These issues are mitigated somewhat if one has a pack canoe with a low sheer and low seat that is designed for double blade use.

    I pretty much agree with everything Charlie said. I would add that a double bladed paddle is generally going to cost more than a single bladed stick of comparable quality.

    The one time that I occasionally wish I had a double bladed paddle is heading up into a strong headwind. The higher stroke cadence of a double blade can really be an asset then. Even then, I generally still prefer grabbing my bent shaft paddle and using a hit and switch technique and find I can nearly match the stroke cadence of a double blade that way.

    If you choose a double bladed paddle bring along a single blade as well and make sure the double bladed paddle is a take apart job so you can stow it in the boat easily when you get tired of using it.
  • I like to use both
    I use single and double paddles in my solo canoes and my kayak. When canoeing, I use a single most of the time, but why fight a strong wind with a single blade? I'm out there to have fun. Slogging against the wind with a single blade is work.

    In my kayak I use doubles most of the time and switch to a single for a change of pace, or where there are low-hanging branches.
  • I'll echo
    what Pblanc and Canuka said regarding the double blade in a stiff headwind. Additionally I did once use the thing going upstream when the current was strong and the river was shallow. I could not get the single blade deep enough in the water to make headway in the current. The double, of course, went in at a shallow angle and put enough blade in the water to get the job done.

    I usually carry a broken-down one when I expect to deal with strong wind.


  • From my HS majorette career, I learned
    to twirl a baton, so now I just twirl a short, low feather angle, double blade like a prop, and I'm off like an airboat in reverse!
  • With a big long double blade
    ... everyone will know it's you coming from a long way away
  • Consensus
    You will see more canoes powered with single blades, so there's your consensus.

    I sometimes pack along a double blade. My usage is much like previous posters: I use it in a head wind and maybe going up stream. They are also handy for propping up a tarp. I hate the drippage into the canoe.

    There's almost always some wind, and if it is from the side, you end up paddling mostly on one side of the boat. With the double, you swing a lot of extra weight and only use half the paddle. I also carry a single blade when I kayak, to use both for a change of pace and sidewind situations. But, that's another topic.
  • There isn't a concensus.
    I use either single blade or double blade depending on my mood, energy level and situation/conditions.
  • I prefer higher seat in canoe with kayak
    paddle - it's easier to reach the water over the gunwales and a more vertical stroke is possible.
  • I use a 225cm, 21oz double in my solos
    with normal kneeling height seats and prefer that to the same canoe with a lower seat - I get more power and easier gunwale clearance.

    Yes, water drips on my head, just as it does when paddling my kayaks with double blade paddles, but more water drips in the canoe with a double blade than in the kayak, but feathering the blades at least 45 degrees greatly helps reduce the amount of drips in the boat for me.

    Of course - I am using foot braces when using a double blade paddle in my solo canoes. Without foot braces, you can never achieve your maximum drive while sitting, whether using a single blade or double blade paddle.

  • Man I just turned on the net
    and was going to jump all over Charlie.
    Thanks bill
    Nanci is the best bow paddler a man could ask for.

    Jack L

  • Using a double blade in a race
    Is against the rules. - that should tell you something.
    I love paddling with a single.
    Paddling with a double takes all the finesse out of it.
    On the other hand some of the higher end narrow light weight ones are made to paddle with either.

    Why not learn with a single (all the correction strokes, etc) and then decide for yourself.

    jack L

  • C-1 Rec
    Actually Jack, in the 90 Miler in C-1 rec you are required to use a double bladed paddler whether you paddle a solo canoe or solo kayak.
  • Hey! Look at the dweeb!
    usin' the kayak paddle in his canoe!
    HAW! HAW!

    Seriously, the LAST thing I want when I'm powering into the wind is that stupid extra blade getting knocked around by the gusts.

    There is no consensus. But I know what I like.
  • Magic
    I forgot my favorite reason for using a single blade, best captured in a quote I only partially remember:

    "There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe..."

    I don't feel the magic from a double blade. Well, maybe the Greenland paddle, but again, I get off topic, and I don't use a GP in a canoe.

    And a final note on "consensus" is that it is generally defined as majority, but also a general agreement with no strong dissent. I think if you do a count, the majority of canoeists are single bladers. However, there will be strong dissent from the non-majority, so in a sense, consensus is unattainable.
  • Magic
    Okay, I started to give my take on this topic earlier today and then backed out. But at that time I was going to write something about the "magic" that Chip mentions. To me, the magic of single-blade paddling is that feeling that the boat can be made to do just about any useful maneuver (far more than just the "turning" that double bladers usually limit themselves to) at a moment's notice, and that's part of the paddler-boat connection that some people are talking about when they say "canoes have soul". There's that feeling of CONSTANT connection with the boat and water that comes from the need for infinitely variable correction actions. By comparison, double blading a canoe makes it look like one of those old-time windup mechanical toys. Windup toys do not have soul.

    That said, I can understand why there are so many solo canoers who just don't want to learn how to do well with a single blade. It does take a while to get reasonably good at it. What I don't understand at all is the practice of using double-blade paddles when paddling tandem. That's a case of "just not getting it" if there ever was.
  • Don't use a double blade in a canoe!
    If you don't want to take the time to learn how to make the boat sing with grace while using a single blade, then just mount some oars!

    Oars are not graceful, but you will go faster and turn faster with them starting from day one.

    Canoe rowing is so easy that I cannot figure out why it is not more popular.
  • Take yourself back
    to the 1890s and the Charles River in Boston. You'll see tandem canoes with a decked-out damsel in the bow, complete with a parasol to keep the sun off her. She is not paddling.

    In the stern we see a guy in a blazer, white slacks and a bowler hat. He is moving the whole shebang with a double bladed paddle.

    Some years later, the woman put down the parasol and picked up a paddle. The guy in the back put down the double blade and picked up a single blade. Both wore sensible clothing for what they were doing.

    I believe the next time we routinely saw double blades in canoes was after the solo canoe hit the paddling scene.


  • Hmmm
    Actually, I just saw some photos of that sort of thing, couples in their Sunday best, with only the guy in the stern paddling. They all had single-blade paddles.
  • Hey that was me a few years later
    At Norumbega Park right by the Totem Pole.
    I was in the stern with my charcoal gray flannel pants, my pink and gray knitted argyle sweater, and my white bucks doing a proper "J" stroke while my pretty young damsel was in the bow. It was love (of paddling) at first sight.

    jack L
  • The single canoe paddle excels
    in control,
    the double canoe/kayak paddle excels in consistent power.
  • I'll profess my ignorance,
    until I visited this website I had only knew of one person who used a kayak paddle in a canoe. That bein' said I ain't a boat snob. So I say "try it out and see what you like." Who cares what other folks think. I know I like kayakin with two blades and I like c1in' and canoein' with one. As far as bein' a Nancy, we used to say in jest "twice the paddle, half the man." Total macho bs but I had to compensate for being slower and cause I could barely walk after kneelin'.
  • I'll pick a double everytime in the
    tidal flats of the Everglades. Heck there isn't a single blade around that won't pillory in the mud when there is six inches of water under the boat.

    On Lake Superior I ignored the double. I used a little Zav bent shaft single for most of the 250 miles.

    Agreed..things are way more precise with the single.
  • It's a matter of preference, period.
    Canoes have been paddled with double paddles to a lesser or greater degree since at least the 19th century (the Rob Roy, the Wee Lassie, early racing canoes, etc.).

    Kayaks have been paddled with single and double blades since God knows when by the Inuit and other indigenous peoples.

    Just use what you like and forget about it. Enjoy canoeing. And if you like to paddle using an eight-foot pine 2X4 from the Home Despot, well, so be it.
  • You must have been there at mid tide
    Heck, at low tide, you need to get out of the boat, put on a pair of snow shoes (so you don't sink up to you hips) and pull the boat!

    Jack L
  • the Magic of the Canoe
    anybody who thinks there's no Magic in a double blade hasn't seen Karen Knight (or any other highly skilled paddler) kayaking. The magic is in the skill of the paddler rather than the tool they use.
    I've never been more than a slam bam get it done double blader. So I certainly feel the Magic more with my single blades.
    I'll argue that folks double blading a canoe are less interested in developing that skill than they are at getting it done. Which is why I've never seen Magic from a double blade canoeist. But I'd be surprised if there are no double blade canoeists who find the Magic.
    As the previous poster notes it really does come down to personal preference.
    But I'll still point and laugh at anybody double blading an open boat.
    Unless they show me the Magic.
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