Double-blading a canoe

Is there any specific difference in paddling technique in a kayak and a canoe to minimize the amount of water that gets into the canoe. I normally use a GP in the kayak so it may just be really bad technique when I use the Euro in the canoe. However, I thought I would ask in case I should be trying to alter the Euro technique I was taught for the kayak when paddling the canoe.


Paddle length
I find that if I use a low angle stroke and a 265cm paddle with a 40 stroke per minute cadence the paddle drip happens about 1 inch or so outside my gunnels. Some folks think that’s too long for a paddle, but it works for me if canoe is from 30" to 36" wide. I’ve used it for many many miles in a Bell Prodigy X whitewater canoe, a Esquif Vertige whitewater canoe, a Swift Raven solo, a Swift Shearwater solo and a Nova Craft Pal tandem paddled solo. It is too long for the Prodigy X but still faster than a single blade when I get to a lake.

I’ve used a Lendal 5 piece and a Bending Branches Day Breeze 2 piece. They work equally well but the Day Breeze is quieter with less splash I think.

I end my forward stroke at my hip and start it at my toes. With a minimal to moderately rockered canoe there isn’t much yawing when I paddle this way. I get less paddle drip from my double blade than my buddy gets with his hit and switch bent shaft single blade. He’s a good paddler but I have to either slow my cadence or stop and wait for him when he drops too far back.

I tried double blading one of the sit on the bottom canoes for a while but just couldn’t keep the drip from hitting my feet. I guess the position is all wrong when you’re sitting on the bottom.

Low angle
the only way I know to lessen the amount of water in the canoe is to use a Loooong paddle and a low angle stroke. That and windage are why I’ve pretty much quit using a double in my open boats.


That squares with my experience.
Drip rings help also, but a somewhat shortened stroke taken “forward” tends to sling water somewhere other than in the boat.

Really long paddle
I go for the really long paddle. 108" or 274cm with drip rings for my 36" wide canoe. I do take on some water, but I would have to paddle forever to actually take on a significant amount. The longer paddle is very comfortable and I often stand up for better scouting, and the long paddle works great standing.

Long paddle as stated and…
slow the stroke way down. This doesn’t work for windy days or high current when you are fighting it. But I call it the pause stroke. Instead of the steady cadence, pause and let it drip a second. It helps but hey, my Discovery is wide, it is going to collect some water. But I prefer the double to single blade for most instances.

Double blade paddle drip w. canoes

– Last Updated: Jan-22-09 8:49 PM EST –

As mentioned above, a longer paddle, a low angle stroke and drip rings all help. Some paddles seem to drip more than others. My Aleut and Greenland paddles drip more than my Werner. Strong wind from the certain directions will result in paddle drip in spite of all steps to avoid it.

I keep a sponge in front of the seat and squeeze it out as needed. On cold days wearing waterproof pants really helps being comfortable. On warm days I don't care about the drip and wear nylon pants- they dry quickly when I get stop. On very cold days I still use my double paddle and just wear a kayak.


wear a kayak…
yep, when it’s cold, windy, raining cats and dogs, wind waves, breaking waves, surf, the kayak is a good thing to wear…since I’m now down to only 1 canoe and up to 3 kayaks I’m probably gonna have to change my screen name to kayakdancing sometime soon.

One other thought about double blading a canoe, foot pegs or a foot brace help immensely. I’m just guessing but I’d say my foot pegs extend my range by several miles each day due to increased speed, more efficient paddling and less fatigue. It’s almost impossible to engage the legs and do torso rotation without pegs.

Absolutely agree on the footbrace.
I posted about how my friend bought the one Argosy at the shop out from under me. It did not have a footbrace. I had to wait a couple of months for a delivery, but I got a factory installed footbrace. The first time we switched canoes so he could try out the footbrace it only took about 10 strokes and he decided he had to get one.

It does not make as much difference single-blading as double-blading. However, I like to keep the seat tiltled so I can switch between keeling and sitting. Sitting with the tiltled seat would be a lot more stressfull without the footbrace.



– Last Updated: Jan-23-09 9:15 AM EST –

The issue with a horizontal stroke is that it increases yaw: each stroke is basically a sweep.

You may find, with the better paddles; Werner Kallista & Ikilos, AT's Exception, and a few others, that there will be a cadence where water is thrown up and away. This starts with a blade shape that holds less water.

The stroke needs start as far forward as you can reach and end mid thigh to keep the blade +/- 10 degrees to the stroke. It will probably be a faster cadence than is comfortable recreationally, but it's dry and you fly.

Charlie, have you ever seen
someone doing the VanDoren style GP stroke? What you are describing sounds a lot like what he taught with a GP. It was about 1.5 times the Euro cadence and all torso rotation. Arms never got tired, but it killed the core muscles the next day.


Forgot about foot braces
Excellent point on foot braces. My Rapidfire has them “factory installed” and I paddle with torso rotation, so I have and use them.


I agree with the ‘pause’ stroke
For many years I’ve taken courses with paddling legend Bob Foote and he teaches a tiny pause just before the blade enters the water. Karen Knight teaches it as ‘quiet paddle, use your back’ which is a mantra I repeat when I’'m faced with a wind or rough water, or just miles of tedious flatwater before the next camp.

The ‘quiet paddle’ begins with finishing the forward stroke about mid-thigh and by mid-hip allowing the blade to float to the surface and exit without splashing and carrying excess water. Then to begin the forward stroke a slight pause before knifing it back into the water without splasing. There are some paddles, the Werner Kalliste is one, that can be absolutely silent during the whole stroke and recovery.

The ‘use your back’ part is important to get all the muscles in the legs and back working and to enable a better reach forward for a longer stroke. Not leaning forward, but rotating forward. Watching the Greg Barton forward stroke video helps me a great deal, too. I’d love to take a strokes course with Barton someday.

Why Not GP with Canoe & New Splash Guard

– Last Updated: Jan-26-09 8:01 PM EST –

I've been using a borrowed yak GP with my W-Vagabond solo and really like it, so having a longer one made for my canoe. Splash pants take care of the drips in winter, and also just found the Premier Kayaks neo stretchy splash guards w/velcro seem to conform to the the GP blade well and will experiment with them Sunday. They apparently hold water between strokes and should work on euros too. Just thoughts. Rick

Velcro attached neoprene drip guards on the GP worked better than none but with a highish angle stroke still dumped good bit of water on the into the canoe as the blade crossed over due to canoe's width. Will keep experimenting. R

Use a canoe{single-blade} paddle to paddle a canoe.

I just get wet and don’t worry about it.
Tomorrow I’ll wear dry pants and Chotas.

I’m not afraid to ask
This is a fascinating post. As someones who takes long trips and learns things the hard way, this info may be very helpful to me. But what does “gp” mean when it comes to paddles and paddling?

GP = Greenland(style) Paddle.

– Last Updated: Jan-25-09 10:05 PM EST –

Lots of references here and on-line.

Greenland Penetration
the phenomenon by which anything to do with kayaking as practiced traditionally in Greenland is influencing other forms of contemporary paddlesport.

a new religious movement affecting the sport of kayaking, based on the perceived superiority and sanctity of how ancient Greenlanders practiced kayaking.

I added a removeable backband.
Combined with Yakima footpegs and foam knee braces at the gunwales, I have a pretty good connection with my boat. As far as drips, I dress for getting wet and sponge out the water. I use a 240 aquabound Manta Ray on moving water and get maybe 1 cup of water from the paddle in a 6 hr paddle. Most of the water in my boat is from getting in and out.