Avoiding "shuttling"

I had another thread on here asking about kayaks but this is a more general querry.

Most of the threads on here, and most people i see on the river, seem to prefer to be dropped and float the river. Personally i hate the logistics i want to be paddling not shuttling cars around. Also i tend to get bored floating downstream.

As i stated in the previous thread i have an old town cannadianne and with my previous partner (both strong paddlers) we coild make good steam upstream. Im not sure but we could maintain “hull speed” for about half a day. And we could push it several mph faster for short burst (up small rapids etc).

All this on upper potomac. But now im solo and looking for something as fast / faster i can paddle solo. Or does everyone just “float”?

depends on the river I’m sure
I pretty much only paddle the ocean so my situation doesn’t apply, but clearly every river and any given day has it’s own average current speed. Depending on the current, paddler’s strength and time available going upstream is often not a viable option. If the current averages 4mph then you’ll be close to standing in place and with faster water it just gets worse.

Some get into paddling for exercise along with other things, but still others do just like watching nature and enjoying a nice day floating.

I can see it can definitely be rewarding to paddle up river and also nice to avoid the logistic hassles.

Similar MIndset
I’m with ya. I rarely paddle rivers but if I did I would much prefer an ‘out-and-back’ over the car thing.

For some folks paddling is more athletic. For others… not so much.

if flows aren’t epic

– Last Updated: Mar-23-11 4:51 PM EST –

I prefer poling. Lately the rivers are flooded, the whitewater is incredible, and poling is out of the question, but before the thaw, I got out poling, and after the melt is gone along with april showers, and the rivers settle down, i will be back to my most convenient time on the river. Poling allows a great workout upstream even in class 2 rivers, even a tad harder than that with experience and effort. After a few hours plus or minus pushing, getting in a great workout, really learning the flows of the river, you can turn around and get a nice little moving water paddle in, and end up where you started. Starting when and where you want, going as far as you want, and skipping the shuttle logistics has helped make poling a favored activity.

shuttling ain’t that bad
you can usually do a 10-mile shuttle in half an hour.

try the Violette’s Lock loop on the Potomac, if you haven’t already. downstream thru the rapids of Seneca Breaks or the Patowmack Canal channel, carry over the towpath into the C&O Canal and paddle back upstream.

That is a fun trip
Done that a few times but portaging my 70lb old town aint fun! Im mostly farther north generally point of rocks, or algonkian. I prefer to luanch on virginia side.

Whqt would you call the average riverspeed in that area? I have no idea how fast we are in the cannnadianne but we get upstream fine

Depends on the river. the Edisto
generally flows at 2-3 mph. You are still going to work to do 20 miles downstream.

So i need a 5-6mph cruise anyone know what my boat does with 450lbs for hull speed it is the long one 17-18ft fiberglass cannadianne

asking about weight
and paddling speed or efficiency could start a pretty interest debate pitting half truths from physics and real life experience. I’m willing to read.

Ryan L.

solving the shuttle dilemma
My paddling buddy and I have fantasized about carrying a compact folding bicycle along with which one of us could backtrack and retrieve the car but the Frenchwoman in this YouTube clip has the ultimate solution (helps to paddle a 20 lb. Pakboat):


I never shuttle
That fast of a river could be no problem depending on the eddies are like. I like a rudder on my solo while working my way upstream. I use a Clipper Sea 1 Decked Canoe. Best boat I ever owned! You can see me on Youtube.com. Just search Paddlingfan1. The rudder allows you to be more precise in your placement working below and around eddies.

Around here (NJ) there are many places where one can paddle upstream in slow moving rivers. Often time lakes that have rivers or streams feeding them you can make it upstream for a mile or 2 and then come back down.

Hull speed and other odds and ends

– Last Updated: Mar-23-11 8:33 PM EST –

If the waterline length of your boat is 17 feet, the hull speed is 6.3 mph. Racers in long skinny boats can maintain hull speed and even go faster, but ordinary boats aren't as forgiving when near hull speed and ordinary paddlers don't put out racing effort. Few canoe paddlers can actually reach hull speed, and for those that can, they normally can't go any faster than that. Your paddling effort must increase exponentially for each incremental increase in speed, and in typical boats, not only do you "hit a wall" at hull speed which is nearly impossible to get beyond, but there's also a situation of diminishing returns which kicks in well before you hit that wall because you reach the point where gaining an extra 0.5 mph or so is doable, but just isn't worth the tremendous amount of extra work required to make it happen.

I've fooled around with effort and hull speed in a canoe-shaped boat that has a 15-foot waterline length (my guide-boat). That boat has a huge advantage over a solo canoe because it's driven by oars, but the principle is the same in either case. Hull speed for that boat is roughly 6.0 mph. I can exceed hull speed by a very small amount, for super-short periods of time, but takes everything I've got. I can cruise at 5.8 mph, but that isn't worth the trouble either - it's far too difficult. Cruising at 5.5 mph is quite doable even if it's too tiring to maintain on trips, yet going 5.0 mph borders on being quite easy. See how the problem of diminishing returns kicks in as you go faster and faster?

I suggest that you use a GPS and do some trials for yourself where there's no current to confuse the issue, and you'll figure this stuff out pretty quickly. When I did that, I learned that I had been wasting a huge amount of effort while thinking that I was going substantially faster because of it, but in fact I was accomplishing very little. Knowing what I know now, I take it much easier but go nearly as fast. Know your point of diminishing returns (which won't always be the same, as it varies depending on your immediate priorities). It's safe to say that for solo paddling, increasing your paddling effort will cause you to reach the point of diminishing returns at a slower speed than when tandem paddling or rowing, though a person with really good sit-and-switch technique might be an exception (I'm not one of those people, so I haven't messed around with that method using a GPS in a canoe!).

Adding a big load doesn't change the boat's practical maximum speed, but it definitely increases the amount of effort needed to go any given speed, especially the kind of speeds you want to go. Surely you've already experienced this, but again, using a GPS makes even very subtle differences a lot easier to recognize. I like to do upstream-and-back camping trips on the Wisconsin River, and for that I always use my guide-boat because it's by far my fastest and most efficient boat. If I want to go farther upstream than my camping destination, I drop off my gear in the woods. Getting rid of that extra weight makes a huge difference, and the the transition from loaded boat to empty boat is a joy, and that's in spite of the fact that my camping loads are pretty light as it is. I haven't quantified this at all, but I know enough to recommend that you keep your gear load as light as possible for upstream trips of any substantial distance when the current is strong.

When going upstream, every little speed increase matters to a greater extent than it does when flatwater paddling. Just to illustrate this point, consider this example. Increasing your travel speed on flatwater from 4 mph to 5 mph will reduce the time it takes to go each mile from 15 minutes to 12 minutes, so your travel time is 80 percent of what it would have been if you had decided to keep going at the slower speed. That's a nice improvement, but it's not likely to be a deal-breaker if you opt to keep going at 4 mph instead of 5 mph. However, increasing your speed by the same amount when going against a 3-mph current makes a much bigger difference. Padding through the water at 4 mph against that current gives an actual speed of 1 mph, so each mile of upstream travel takes an hour. Now, increasing your through-the-water paddling speed to 5 mph results in an actual travel speed of 2 mph, which is twice as fast as before, so each mile takes just half as long, and that's a huge improvement any way you look at it. Not every upstream situation will be that severe, but this shows why paddling against the current amplifies the effect of whatever increase in speed your are able to provide.

I really enjoy going upstream

– Last Updated: Mar-23-11 9:01 PM EST –

When I paddle on rivers with groups, we always go downstream. When I paddle on rivers by myself, I usually go upstream and back, but sometimes downstream and back (and once in a while do a bicycle shuttle). I enjoy going wherever I want to whenever I want to, rather than approaching river paddling in the same way that downhill skiers approach a hill. The explorers didn't get a ride upstream, so going upstream can't be "wrong" in my book, but on one popular local river where I often travel upstream, rental boaters coming the other way often shout to me that I'm going the wrong way.

Late last summer I messed around with shooting some video as I paddled upstream on a small river that was very close to flood stage. I don't know what the current speed was, but it was "brisk" and if you look closely at some of the videos you can see bubble trail in the river from the water gurgling past tree branches or even a bit of turbulence. "Fighting the current" wasn't much of an issue though and it was an easy paddle, but since I wanted to go as far upstream as practical, I used a different boat than I'd normally use for small rivers, just for the extra speed it provided.

The videos are pretty much the same but only 30 seconds each, so if it makes any difference, the first one is the most boring and the fourth one shows a minor screw-up in the current.


Pole upstream, float back (nm)

I paddle the Passaic…
occasionally and always paddle upstream. Current runs around 1-2 mph, but always less closer to the banks.

I usually start in Little Falls, then paddle upstream approx 4 miles beyond Two Bridges and back to Little falls. In low water, the Two Bridges area has faster flowing water.

There is a 45 mile bike path (old canal tow path) that tuns the entire length of river. Frankly the logistics is only part of it, i just dont get much out of floating downstream. Might as well do it with a cooler of beer and an innertube!!

So i guess i need to figure out what kind of craft will get me high 5-6mph that i can sustain for 2-3 hours (eith breaks) so minus 2-3 mph current i can make it 5-9 miles up and float back.

Additional considerations looking at my past usage im not sure the “ultralight” designs will work. This river has alot of rocks, hence ‘point of rocks’ my most common luanch! My current fiberglass boat is scratched to hell. Scraping rocks in tight draws, going over logs, shallow areas dragging over gravel bars etc. And i dont like to luanch feet wet as the banks can be very muddy so i usually slide 4-5 feet when luanching. Based on my reading here none of these things are good for the lightweight boats… Im still lookin but my origional thought of a 14ft sea kayak is being reconsidered for a solo canoe. I do not want to “hit switch” or use a double paddle, if im going to get wet i might as well get a kayak

up and down
I paddle a tandem 16ft canoe by myself upstream and back. I like to paddle my guts out then chill on the way back as the “reward”

Poling - seriously, look into it.
You have a suitable enough boat. You’re in the right region to find a mentor. Poling makes you free.

Difficulty and range depends on the river. On my local river, increased flows (other than flood stage) actually make upstream travel easier because the eddies get more powerful and more useful. Poling puts you in a position to see more of what the river has to offer you and aid you in upstream progress. If your usual river isn’t suitable for poling, I bet you have one nearby that is.

Can be done
I paddle upstream and back quite a bit. Paddling against a 6 mph current is pretty tough. But in the right boat with the right skills it can be done.

The toughest upstream paddle I’ve done was on the Merrimack from Haverhill Ma. in a Bell Magic.

There were a few spots I was not sure I could ascend. But by working the eddys and paddling hard I did it.


The nice thing about up and back is that you can go as hard as you want until you run out of either time or strength. Usually getting back (with the current) is pretty easy.

IMO the Canadien is likely a pretty good poling boat. I can pole upstream against a fair bit more more current than I can paddle.