Angle paddling into a turning wind

Assume you’re solo, single blading an open lake canoe on your right side. You’re positioned on a typical solo seat, which is fixed not sliding, slightly behind center.

Strong wind and waves are coming from your right front quarter (about 2 o’clock). Your canoe isn’t trimmed all that well, and the wind and waves keep pivoting your canoe leftward away from your paddle side. If the wind and waves win, you will not only be off course, but you will be broadside to the waves with your paddle on the upwind side.

Assume you can’t change trim by shifting gear or position.

Two technique scenarios:

  1. You want to keep paddling on the right (upwind) side, yet defeat the wind/wave forces pivoting you to the left. What kind of stroke(s) do you use? Do you heel the open canoe into the wind, or away, or not at all?

  2. You switch the paddle to your left (downwind) side so you can do sweep strokes. Do you heel the open canoe into the wind, or away, or not at all?

A Pitched or C-Stroke Works For Me
In windy (20+ knots) Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, when paddling solo rudderless outrigger or my Reverie. The pitched stroke even keeps me going straight as an arrow on my rudderless fixed skeg SUP. Also, with the outrigger, you got to overcome the pull of the float (ama), usually mounted on the port side. If the float was mounted on the starboard side, your common variety j-stroke would do.

Partial answer

– Last Updated: Jun-08-14 5:31 PM EST –

If I find myself in a situation like that, there's nothing that will keep me paddling on the side that's more difficult. I have no "preferred" side because I deliberately practiced to eliminate such preference. Sure, a strong C will keep the heading under control in that situation, but wastes too much energy in relation to forward push, so I'd just switch sides. Having done so, I rarely find that much sweeping is needed. On the contrary, I usually find that little to no correction is needed, sometimes making paddling even easier (but only in terms of correction) than when the wind is calm. I normally only need to sweep to control the heading when travel speed is extremely slow, such as when starting from a stop. Once underway, the bow doesn't get blown so badly, and maybe part of the reason is because the stern starts to have a lot less "grip" and slips more easily as the boat moves faster.

As to heeling the boat, I may or may not, and if I choose to, I usually lower the side that faces the wind. That seems to be more effective than the reverse, and part of my reasoning is that when out in my guide-boat in winds that are far too strong for solo paddling a canoe, lowering the upwind side of the boat seems to reduce the wind's effect a lot more than lowering the downwind side (I think lowering the downwind side makes the wind's effect even worse than what happens with a level boat). However, one has to be constantly vigilant regarding each wave that comes along.

I would immediately switch to the left

– Last Updated: Jun-08-14 7:10 PM EST –

side, and if it was still a battle, every so often as necessary switch to the right and do a rear rudder.
Needless to say I would be doing my normal cursing!

Jack L

Not possible
Canoeing and cursing are totally incompatible. Polar opposites. Doomed for divorve. Inversely proportional.

switch to the left. I may, if I feel like it and the wind isn’t too strong, do a few C strokes on the right, reaching as far forward and outward as I can to start the stroke, so that the first part of the stroke is actually pulling the bow into the wind. This works okay if the canoe is bow light. If it’s bow heavy, forget it. But most of the time it just makes sense to switch to the left side.

And I’d heel by dropping the right side, if at all. However, if the waves are pretty significant, heeling can be really squirrelly.

The cursing only comes after the …
hundred and tenth stroke on the same side and the boat still wants to turn the wrong way!

I’ll bet even St Peter used a few choice words in some of paintings I have seen with him and the guys battling wind and waves.

Jack L

a little bow heavy
Id throw the mermaid up front. Heel,eeh, to the left would make the bow swing right better but there is more sail effect then.

Paddle on the left. Why anyone would do a J or a C in these conditions is beyond me.

Of course Glenn left out the imaginary rudder…

Tell me your stories of having to do this actually and I’ll tell you mine!

a little bit more…:wink:

– Last Updated: Jun-09-14 12:40 PM EST –

In that position I want to go with kayamedic's direction of momentum. Of course at the top of the decision tree is not to get into that position, if possible, although that's not always possible. Think choice of stroke can also depend on your torso/arm_length and gunwale width. It's why a paddle, with a little more length is great for my 33" sleeve length and super short bentshafts, for me, are useless...on windy days.
You have to reach into the trough now & then on the windside as Inclinating into the wind, to maintain hull balance, while stroking on the leeside just doesn't make it for me with my arm-length.
If the wind isn't really heavy, in the past, I've trimmed slightly bow-heavy can help, but my experiences in heavier wind/water has been that, while using some judgement from your amount of rocker, weighting towards the midships has always worked the best = just gives more options for the emergency sweep or accellerated_J/Pry.
Often a rightside J with a strong pop and quick, forceful pry (off the gunwale)off the J(makes my purist friends cringe..;-)) works best in keeping your momentum more constant.
If you're paddling a somewhat heavy boat the last thing you want to do is "regain" momentum from a sweep that as soon as it ends...the wind buffets the canoe around more than what a constant momentum would put you in. A Canadian stroke serves this purpose nicely as you're in touch all the time and flow into a draw and J without any delay. talk about rambling...jeez.

some of us seek that condition out
I know I do…

Lake Superior is my playground. I use a bent shaft paddling on the downwind side exclusively. No J no corrections… Sweeps per se are weak strokes. The bow wont change directions much with sweeps… What does work is uncorrected forward strokes on one side (downwind). When you get too close to paddling in the trough…stop and do a very efficient cross bow draw or bow draw as the direction dictates.

All of this finagling is made so much easier by adding a rudder… then the boat does not even seek the trough.

No Rudder Brother

– Last Updated: Jun-09-14 4:04 PM EST –

These guys make paddling in the wind (3:00 - 9:50) without rudder easy:

These canoes should enhance your Lake Superior Playground experience?

ps: Notice the use of double bend paddles that Gillespie created 30 years ago.

No rudders, no double paddles, no . . .
. . . weight shifting, no decks, no self-bailing Venturi drains, no outriggers.

You are staying on the upwind side simply because it’s there. A training exercise. Practicing a skill. Manning up to nature. Taking risk. Having fun. Or … you just stink paddling lefty.

I was mostly interested in the heel, which I think is key. The responses were somewhat wishy-washy on that issue. Heeling changes the wind profile and can alter the center of lateral wind resistance. That, in turn, can alter the amount of wind- or lee-cocking. Heeling can also affect stem lift, stern sliding and hence turnability. Of course, heeling into the wind also means heeling into the waves, which risks water intake. Wave blocking must always be kept in mind in an open canoe.

Course corrections in the stern will cause the canoe to stall much more than corrections in the bow quadrants. You don’t want to stall in this situation. You want to keep up your velocity and momentum.

Time to change boats.

Situation 3: You are no longer in a centralized seat in a dedicated solo canoe. You are seated backwards on the bow seat of 16’-17’ tandem. You thus have difficulty reaching the bow quadrants. This is a very practical and common situation for trippers. How do you paddle on the upwind side and how do you heel, if at all?

Situation 4: You’re back in a central seat in a dedicated solo canoe but it’s decked and you are skirted. Water intake is no longer an issue. How do you heel, if at all, when paddling on the upwind side and downwind sides? Kayakers could chime in on this situation.

Good heavens Glen
Just don’t go out on windy days !

Jack L

I’m asking serious technique questions
If one were asking about whitewater boat angle when running wave trains or ledges, paddle side switching in rapids, upstream vs. downstream J-leaning, or hull heel direction when entering or exiting eddies, would the answer be, “Why not just portage?”

No, these kinds of basic technique questions asked on a whitewater forum would likely receive technical or nuanced responses. Paddlers might say heel direction can be dictated not only by river conditions, but by the shape of the hull bottom, the sharpness of hull chines, and whether the sharp chines bite more in the stern or bow. They might talk about whether the hull is so-called cab forward or swede form, or how differential the rocker is.

Paddling on smooth, flat water is easy. The real challenge for an open canoeist comes from wind, waves and rapids. That’s where technique is important. That’s where good technique becomes really effective and safer. Where Newtonian physics is important. Yet, unlike for sea kayaking and whitewater canoeing, I’m not sure there are very many courses taught for open canoeing in rough wind and wave conditions.

The side profile of a swede or fish form hull could be symmetrical to the wind. Yet, when those hulls are heeled, they have asymmetrical wind profiles. Heel into the wind with a swede form hull. Which end of the canoe will “scoop” more air? How will that affect lee- or wind-cocking. There is an answer in physics.

Does the same thing happen if you heel a swede form hull away from the wind? The asymmetric profile is now shedding wind not scooping it. Does that make a difference? Physics has an answer.

Why is the open canoe in my OP tending to turn away from the wind (lee-cock)? It may because my big, heavy pack is stowed behind me and my bow is relatively empty, making my boat stern heavy. If I heel into the wind, the wind will deflect more off the pack (like it would off a deck), while the wind scoops more in the bow. All these effects may be different depending on whether the hull’s water line, sheer line and rocker line are symmetrical or asymmetrical. And it may be different if the hull is heeled away from the wind.

Switching paddle sides, even in the hardest whitewater, is usually not advocated even by expert whitewater canoeists. They emphasize the ability to make all moves from one side, employing on-side and cross strokes. So does freestyle flatwater instruction.

I’ve never agreed with this mono-dextrous approach, nor does the avatar of paddling ambidexterity, Nolan Whitesell. Nevertheless, the mono-dextrous teaching is almost universal, resulting in legion good paddlers feeling very uncomfortable and incompetent paddling on their off-sides. Hence, I find it somewhat disingenuous to suggest to such a mono-dextrous righty paddler that she should just start paddling lefty in a big, scary, wavy blow out in the middle of Lake Titicaca.

Especially when there are up-wind side paddling and heeling techniques that can do the job. But these techniques do vary depending on the shape of the canoe’s wind profile when heeled and unheeled; on the dynamics of wind scooping vs. wind shedding during a heel; and on the paddler’s position in the canoe (central or astern), which can affect the availability of bow strokes.

But JackL is ultimately right in my case. I now do sit out windy days. And unwindy ones. C’est la vie.

Agree with bentshaft on leeward side but
jackl’s thinking is the best…:wink: especially if the lake is a big one = big waves…and it’s ridiculous to contemplate another route(the other side of the lake…etc).