Bad Canoe Demo


– Last Updated: Feb-25-08 4:54 PM EST –

Thanks a lot; that was a fun & informative write up about your canoe demo day. I enjoyed it immensely, and had a few really good laughs.

I am not going to give a long dissertation on the technical aspects of solo canoeing. All the words in the world will not resolve your problem in my opinion.

I will offer these suggestions:

1. Don't give up & don't expect miracles. Skill in solo canoes requires time & effort. A solo canoe will offer you lots of fun options when your skills improve.

2.The next time you go demoing/paddling in solo canoes; use a large kneeling pad. Bell Canoes makes a good one. If you are sincere about getting a solo canoe it will be a good investment for the future.

3. The problem is "not" with "any" of the boats you demoed. The problem is your lack of experience in solo canoes. The only ways I know to resolve that problem is to spend time paddling solo canoes, and get some training.
I'm sure you'd really be surprised at the change in "your" skill level after 5 or 6 hours with an experienced/skilled/patient instructor.

Any of the boats you tried will most definitely handle class 1 & 2. I'm sure you'd be very surprised at some of the things those canoes can do with a skilled solo canoe paddler aboard.


P.S. Using a kayak paddle in a solo canoe is not the answer to your problem. A kayak paddle may flatten out the learning curve, but it can also get you into trouble, if used as a substitute for skill with a single blade. You can always use a kayak paddle "after" attaining some skill.

I recently bought a road bike after
years of mountain biking. I demoed road bikes but didn’t get much out of the demos either. It helped however in learning the differences between the different type bikes. I bought a carbon frame model which was so light that I had trouble steering. I would wobble through turns, etc. Anyhow, after a few weeks I got use to riding it and love it now.

I have trouble switching from my large tandem tripping canoe to my solo canoe even though I had them for years. On a loaded tandem you can do things that you’d go swimming doing on a solo canoe.

One of the reasons why I never bought a yak is that I figured it would hurt my canoe paddling. I even have trouble when I change from the sit-and- switch style to using the J, etc on moving water.

That’s the problem with demoing, it might convince you not to buy something that with a few weeks of using you might really get to love. It would be wise not to discount any canoe until you can be sure it’s the design and not the skills that make the paddling characteristics undesirable.

dont be so hard on yourself
yes its you, no its not the boats fault.

Relax, breathe ( so you dont stiffen up…then you for sure will fall in) and invest in a lesson.

Its well worth the time and money and will bring a smile to your face.

Welcome to a new learning curve! It DOES get easier.

You didn’t lose a buddy; you got a
canoeing buddy.

Funny story. My sitting observations.
I sit most of the time in canoes and here are my observations:

  1. A foot brace helps tremendously for both power and boat control while sitting.

  2. A molded tractor style seat or some kind of back band or Coleman canoe seat back combined with a bench seat is very helpful for keeping you in place in the middle of the boat and prevents you from sliding off the back of the seat when pushing off of the foot brace, much like when paddling the kayak.

  3. #1 combined with #2 result in the ability to drop a hip to heel the canoe somewhat similar to heeling a kayak tht doesn’t have either thigh or knee braces.

  4. You now have your buddy’s Argosy close by to practice your single blade canoe technique so that you will be better prepared to test paddle other models the next time you’re able.

  5. Which single blade paddle you’re using can make a huge difference in your comfort in the boat and your ability to control the boat - just as much difference or more than which paddle you’re using in your kayak. The total paddle length, grip size and shape, blade shape and size, total paddle weight and swing weight.

    I don’t have any good advice to offer you regarding kneeling comfort. I haven’t found a way to be comfortable kneeling in my canoes. I have paddled somebody else’s royalex Wildfire/Yellowstone that was actually comfortable for me to kneel in. Outfitting and seat height are the key, but I haven’t gotten mine outfitted properly yet for kneeling. I sit 98% of the time.

    One hour of total test paddling time in three different canoes isn’t much time to get acquainted with solo canoes, so don’t give up and experiment with your buddy’s Argosy as much as you can and try a variety of paddles if possible.

    Good luck and have fun with your search.

I thought my experiences were bad…
Did the same thing you did when I first looked at solo canoes. Since I mostly paddle flatwater bought the Vagabond from Wenonah. I had them put the footbrace in and with my kayak paddle and dropping the seat height on it, was just like in a rec kayak.

It took a good year for me to totally let go of the kayak paddle and work up to the next level…a bent shaft paddle for sit and switch paddling. Another year later and went to kneeling canoes and straight shaft paddles plus numerous books, videos and help from these wonderful people here at P.Net.

So get a solo canoe you can sit and kneel in and preferably with an adjustable seat and start out with what you know and work up from there. Use it mostly in flatwater until you get some more experience.

For me kneeling with straight shaft is a wonderful way to paddle. Unfortunately, due to arthritis in my knee I have gone back to sitting mostly but still love the solo canoe.

Hey Mark,

Lots of good stuff…been said. The JLean IS universal…kayakers are faced with it from day #1. Give yourself the needed padding to make things comfortable, and I really like using a ww pedestal/saddle for sitting on during the paddling phase(with the canoe’s seat for simply stretching out on a sunny day to get some rays).

Planting your butt on the pedestal(wherever you put it) allows you to use your legs/knees for tweaking balance, although you can raise yourself off the pedestal whenever.(just an example of with the expansiveness of an open canoe…you can get a little more creative)…but as said, it’s all about the paddler. Most hulls can do their job pretty well…one just has to learn how to operate them. As far as your top hand on whatever grip the paddle offers, you shouldn’t be gripping the grip;-) at all…simply cradling it…and using the larger muscles/bones…namely your forearm…using the base of your hand(just above wrist) as the endpoint for applying power from your forearm. Using your hand muscles to apply power is overstressing a group of smaller tendons/cartilage.



Buy a Rapidfire, use your kayak
paddle and blow the doors off most canoes.I tried sit and switch in it for the first time this weekend and it responds nicely to a bent shaft Zav. Then the wind came up and I switched back to the kayak paddle.

try this
buy a used oldtown guide for about $300 and paddle it till you get some skills and confidence. Then move on up to those high quality canoes you tried out. The oldtowns are heavy and not as manueverable in the small tight rapids on southwest Texas rivers, but they’re durable and great canoes for a beginner or novice to learn in.

I converted mine to a solo by removing the molded seats and putting a cane seat just aft of center.

This was good
I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor about the situation. I enjoyed your post. I can’t add much that hasn’t already been said. Practice will solve most of your problems. As far as kneeling comfort goes, I have no way of knowing what might help your comfort level, but make sure the seat is good and high (in most boats, I like the rear of the seat to be flush with the bottom of the gunwale for kneeling, with the front of the seat perhaps 1.5 inches lower). Some people just can’t kneel, and others are the opposite. I kneel almost 100 percent of the time, and for me, it’s much more comforatable than sitting. If you end up being a sitter, make sure you get a footbrace, as that will totally change the character of the boat (for the better).