Canoe Speed

While my wife and I were paddling our tandem kayak yesterday, an elderly (anyone older than us) woman pulled alongside in a canoe. When we paddle tandem on flat water, we are usually very fast.

The person in the canoe (Wenonah) was paddling solo, and very leisurely, and was nearly keeping up with us until my competitive urge took over.

What was interesting was the manner in which the front of the canoe was displacing water; it was shooting the water in the air, almost like a drinking fountain. I had never seen (or noticed)that before. Would that account for the speed?

That was the Jet drive we canoeists
keep secret from you kayakers so you can feel superior until we pass you.

I would guess that the canoe had a plumb(perpendicular to the water) bow with a leaf or other junk stuck on it.

Also checked the Wenonah listings on this site and found that all of them were lighter and longer than our tandem which might account for the speed.

Are you sure…
… she was using a paddle and not a broom? Those old gals realy fly with the brooms!

It was a paddle
and she was just gliding beautifully through the water without exerting herself.

Well, you need to tell us
what “very fast” means in your double. Numbers, you know, always comes down to the numbers.


so I don’t really know what very fast is. I just know that we easily pass almost all kayaks at our location; even longer sea yaks where the paddler is exerting him or herself.

It appears to me that tandem yakkers in sync can move quickly on quiet water. I couldn’t begin to guess if we were going 4, 5, or 6 mph (but I would estimate we are somewhere in there by the ground we cover).

It may be slow to some of you experts but to a beginner, it feels like we’re moving.

Having spent most of my canoing in 70 pound grummand canoes, I’ve always been really impressed and drool over the kevlar beauties. I’ve seen a couple races, and even got a chance to paddle one once and they can fly.

Watching someone (or a pair) who paddle well is like watching birds soar - it looks completely natural and organic.

Good paddlers fly… don’t discount the secret silent drive like in Hunt for Red October though.

I am guessing that it was a leaf also.
When we are racing our C-2 the water from the bow cutting through the water comes up three or four inches, but the second a leaf gets caught there, it will squirt up twice that high.



what kayak?

– Last Updated: Oct-26-04 8:39 AM EST –

What type of kayak?

Tandem sea yak? rec?

Any tadem rec yak would have a very hard time keeping up with one of wenonahs solo touring canoes (prism, advantage, encounter, etc.).

Say a typical wenonah is about 28" at the guns and around 24 - 26" at the waterline and maybe even less for a typical female (~140 lbs.) (and 0" rocker). So essentially we are talking about a canoe that is at least 16' x 24" that is actually touching the water. Now as far as tandem rec yaks most of them are under 16' and will have all of their 28 - 30" beam in the water (and up to 5" of total rocker). Also tandem rec yaks (mostly) have a very flat bottom whereas the wenonahs (mostly) have a shallow arch which is more efficient.

If it were a sea yak then maybe you're pushing the capacity or the canoe paddler has a great stroke. That's about the only things I can think of because a decent tandem sea yak should keep pace or even outpace a wenonah solo touring canoe - given that the paddlers are all at the same skill level.

As far as the drinking fountain effect, I have noticed that on canoes that have fuller ends (especially plastic). But I can't recall seeing one on an efficient composite design.

Tandem Rec Yak Bsia
is a WS Pamlico 135T and approx. 13.5’ long, 70 lbs. and as you indicated, a relaively flat bottom. The beam is in the 29" range.

The canoist also had a very fluid stroke and seemed to glide a good distance with each stroke.

You explained the differences very well and now I think I understand.

Thank you for the detailed explanation.

Yeah, I knew you might
be in trouble when you said your yak was shorter than any of the canoes Wenonah sells.

Oh well, at least you are getting a workout…


that’s a SLOW boat
you guys should be getting passed by a lot paddlers in that kind of boat.

Actually Not
We actually do not get passed by anyone when we are both paddling the tandem in unison. That’s why I was surprised when the Wenonah pulled up alongside of us.

I guess I’ll have to ask the Mrs. to paddle harder from now on.

It’s a slow boat, however
you folks could really be paddling the heck out of it. Get yourselves a nice 22-footer and then you’ll surprise some people.


22 Feet?
I might not be able to hear my wife speak from the front. Hey- maybe you’re onto something.

Still pretty close,

– Last Updated: Oct-26-04 5:25 PM EST –

however, a possible drawback would be the lack of possibility to easily kick her to speed up.


Great Looking Boat Mike
However, I think our next models will be a pair of solos.