Bow Jam turning stroke

Since I got my Wildfire and a decent straight blade paddle, the bow jam has become my favorite turning stroke. It turns the boat much quicker than a duffek, and the paddle is in the perfect position for the next stoke – forward or cross forward. I started off thinking that you needed a lot of speed for a bow jam, but it works just as well for small turning adjustments at slow speeds. With a little more momentum, I can get a full 180° turn, which I can’t do with an axle or a post.

Why don’t you see people doing the bow jam more often? I guess it could be the boat. The stroke does seem easier to do in my Wildfire than in my Yellowstone Solo. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend when I take my whitewater boat out – bow jam eddy turn? That might put me in the drink.

It is the easiest
way to make course corrections on flatwater…and the most fun! Wildfire has a bit more stern rocker so should be more responsive. (My favorite boat of the over 30 that have moved in and out of my garage in my lifetime.)

WW is a different ballgame. Have heard it can be done but think heel would have to be opposite and I assume you better plant IN the eddy, not before. Never done it, never seen it done, but learned long ago that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Good luck and let me know how it goes!

More turn cause
It’s a carved turn. Rather than an an anchored turn

For more fun try heeling the hull down in the side of the paddle plant and come up on your knees

As this position is unbraced it’s risky

It’s known as a wedge in this form and is handy for touring hulls approaching rock studded shorelines

Momentum and fast turns
As Kim says, it can be risky. The bow jam and wedge can turn your boat 90 degrees very quickly. But your body’s momentum is still traveling in a direction where there is no longer a boat - only open water to fall into. Like turning your skates 90 just before you get to the boards. Your feet (canoe) may change direction, but your body is going in the direction of its momentum.

It is a blast as you found out, just be cognizant of the forces.

I also love the move for little course corrections.

Closer the onside heel gets to the rail
the more you can change the “turn” into a pivot and you will get your 180. When heeling that far start by putting a small amount of your blade in the water. When comfortable with that increase the depth of blade placement.

At slow speeds less blade in the water means less drag and easier course corrections with less momentum loss. Totally fun stuff!

I use it all the time… on my SUP! love it

I’m Assuming A Reverse Bow Jamb
On the onside? Depends on the boat, for I use it all the time kneeling with my Reverie, but hardly with my outriggers. Unless I’m using an old paddle and don’t mind denting, scratching and ruining my paddle shaft.

That’s right - wrong lean
Yea, it’s the wrong lean for an eddy turn, although I haven’t been doing extreme leans anyway. I may try it, but it is not as easy with the spooned blade WW paddle.

We’ll see.

Depth of the paddle also makes a huge
difference. Every once in a while I’ll plant the paddle too deep, and get that extreme turn that can send you over the rail. Hasn’t happened yet, but I have come close a couple of times.

Have to admit…
I’m doing more of a U-turn that a quick pivot, but I can pretty much get it around 180 degrees, and have the paddle in position to maintain momentum going back the other way. I need to do some of the pivots.

Bow Jam in a tandem
Works great in a tandem boat as well. About a month ago I was in the bow of an 18’ tandem paddling a little stream with lots of twists and turn. I would normally have done draws and cross draws for the turns, but the bow jam and cross bow jam worked much better - more immediate turning response.

Is a bow jam and a wedge the same thing? The wedge has a more extreme lean and your are elevated in the kneel?

essentially a bow jam
is a flat boat and no weight shift wedge, which would be normal in a touring situation.

Inverted jam for bent shaft paddles. I have no idea what a reverse bow jam is. I use a reverse stern jam on rivers when I am floating backwards and hear turbulence on the river in the direction I’m floating and ought to turn the boat around and pay attention.

When heeled over that far

– Last Updated: Sep-01-16 3:18 PM EST –

place the paddle blade against the gunnel instead of the hull. As mentioned use a small amount of the blade in water until you are comfortable with the feeling. Also if you rotate your control thumb forward when planting the paddle (power face facing away from hull) you will be in perfect position for a sweep or forward stroke to continue the turn without changing the power face of the blade....i.e. Keeping the same blade face continuously loaded throughout the maneuver.

You asked about the difference between a bow jam and a wedge. Wedge being a freestyle term, refers to the complete maneuver which consists of the set up, plant, and conclusion. It contains a bow jam as the "plant" component. In essence a jam is a stroke, a wedge is a maneuver.

Reverse or Inverted = Powerface Out
Unless paddle has dual powerfaces. Experiment as you may to to find the pitch or angle underwater to achieve desired effect. I just find it comfortable for me to flip the powerface outside before immersion, whether paddle is straight or bent.

usually but not always
folks doing this sort of thing have symmetrical and straight blades0.

But occasionally some want to use a bent. Unless you invert the blade and use the backface you will find yourself(eaad) uncomfortably over the side

Laying the blade on the hull so the shaft angles to you is so much more user friendly at the start… and then you can open the back edge of the blade as much as you wish while leaving the leading edge against the hull.

Just don’t do as I did on my first jam… Warp 1 speed a very wide closing angle a heel and a pitch forward… the boat turned(and also came to a dead stop) and I ended up sailing on to the dock

Yes Indeed
I like symmetrical blades, as long as they are designed for both faces to be used as powerfaces.

It looks crude to me to watch paddlers use the back side of a bent shaft paddle as the powerface when doing various strokes, especially going backwards.

I like to practice paddling around various buoys and posts using a variety of strokes, including the “bow jambs.” My objective is to snake around them, rather than craft around them. There is a difference.

You’d be a rich man
If everyone who paddled forward with the back face of a bent gave you a dollar

Try beginning with a neutral blade angle
By this I mean placing or slicing the paddle into position with the faces of the blade parallel to the keel line. Once the blade is in the water turn the blade inward as necessary, to effect the amount of turn desired.

By placing the blade neutrally you have much better control. There is much less chance of doing a nose dive over the gunwale. Tweaking the blade angle and degree of heel will allow you to smoothly turn the hull 18 deg. or 180 deg. then continue smoothly on your way.

stem jam

– Last Updated: Sep-02-16 9:00 AM EST –

I once thought this was a bow jam, but I guess it is really a stem jam. When I first started paddling a c6 voyageur canoe 20 years ago in the Adirondack 90 miler, as bow paddler, I would carry a heavy thick blade wooden paddle so i could switch from my expensive fragile carbon bent blade and I would cross over to the off side and jam the wood blade in front of the canoe so that it rested at an angle with water pressure pressing it right against the bow stem. That really spun the 34 foot boat around the tight twisty turns of Brown's Tract in a hurry. I don't dare try it with my thin carbon bent.

Tried it with my WW boat
but it really didn’t work with my spooned paddle - tough to get the paddle placement right. That boat spins so easy anyway. It will spin 180 degrees with just a sweep. Don’t need a bow jam.