Double Paddle Canoe

for your helpful comments. When it comes to little boats, I’ve always been a push-over for a sweet sheer line and comely proportions. And, thus, I’m greatly attracted to the PB Spitfire. I note that they offer, when available, a recycled version apparently made up of salvaged scraps from the fabrication of other boats. That version is considerably less expensive and, though it weighs 30 pounds, it’s still a lot lighter than my 53 pound sea kayak. I also see that Bell Canoe shows a 12 foot Dragonfly on their site. It, too, is a very handsome little boat and I like the foot bar rather than kayak type footpegs but the placement of the footbar, judging from the photo, seem no more than a foot or so forward of the seat. Very odd.

I’ve been paddling sea kayaks for more than a couple of decades but have never paddled a canoe of any kind. The thought of a double-paddle canoe for small waters that can also be used with a single blade paddle is something that I want to consider. From a physical standpoint, with a couple of after-markets hips in place, I’m probably not a good candidate for paddling from a kneeling position but perhaps there are other ways to single paddle a double-paddle canoe.

Bell and Bell Dragonfly don’t exist

– Last Updated: Sep-19-12 12:11 PM EST –

Bell canoe is out of production as the company that bought Ted Bell's boat works (ORC) has been trying to sell it (for too much money) and has now mothballed the molds.

But the Bell Dragonfly was never produced anyway. The photo on the Bell site was a Photoshop job. That is why the foot brace is ludicrously close to the seat.

Sure, you can paddle a canoe with a single bladed paddle from a sitting position.

This term is much understood. It means that your knees are TOUCHING the canoe bottom. The amount of weight on your knees is up to you and how the boat seat is set. I have heard that orthopedis back surgines favor this position. My statement on entry exit goes for sitting on a high seat also.


What do knee surgeons think of kneeling?
I find it easier to get out of a canoe from a high sitting position than from kneeling.

I can certainly walk better after exiting a canoe that I’ve been sitting in than I can if I’ve been kneeling in it.

Since you’re on the east coast…
also look for used Hemlock Kestrels or Curtis Lady Bugs.

My Lady Bug zips right along with a 225cm kayak paddle.

Why? There is no stress on the knees
Long ago the human race spent more time squatted and on their knees.

With the advent of chairs we have lost lots of mobility. If you can’t kneel it might be because you never do and you have tight tendons and muscles. It does take working into with gradual time increments.

Getting in and out of the boat should be as easy kneeling as sitting. Again a lack of flexibility is often an issue.

The back and hips are often in better alignment above the knees and many old geezers report that after a while kneeling is much easier on them than sitting. Most likely their sitting posture is rotten, but that’s another story.

My knee surgeon in 1971 was of the flay and slay variety. He took out all the medial cartilage. I cannot sit for long without knee pain. I do much better kneeling.

The nice thing about canoes is their adjustability. You can have the front edge of the seat just where you need the butt support to take pressure off knees if needed.

You might ask the Pope about kneeling in church…I don’t see any repetitive stres injury from being a good churchgoer…but maybe there is. I am not qualified…

However pack canoes are not generally reinforced for kneeling paddlers so this is a tangent. Upon request Placid as far as I know will add fabric layers for kneelers to reinforce the bottom of the boat at the knee pressure point.

I olike Sawyer paddles out of Medford, OR and have used kayak paddles successfully for solo canoe trips.

I like Sawyer paddles out of Medford, OR and have used kayak paddles successfully for solo canoe trips.

I like Sawyer paddles out of Medford, OR and have used kayak paddles successfully for solo canoe trips.

No stress on the knees? Try mine.

double paddle canoe
jmyers, you should talk to Placid Boats again. My rapidfire has ths sliding seat which allows me to sit with double paddle, feet on the foot pegs. Also I can sit and use a single blade or kneel and have my feet on either side of the seat mounts with ample clearance for safety. It’s a great company, fantastic boat both in performance and light weight. I saved up a long time for mine but it’s well worth it. You can try mine if you swing by Colorado…jesse

Ned Ryerson?

Double-Paddle Canoe
Got a return e-mail from Bell Canoe confirming that their Dragonfly never existed and, furthermore, that Bell Canoe is, at least for the moment,is also non-existent. Talked with Joe Moore at Placid Boat Works and, after about five minutes, I began thinking that it might be the Rapidfire that could put paddling joy back into my life. If I didn’t hate driving so much I’d get in the car right now and drive up to Lake Placid and give both boats a try.

Why Rapidfire, not Spitfire?
My recollection is that you’re small of stature.

Did you have a chance to try both before buying?

I don’t own one but the Rapidfire is a delightful boat if you have the money for it. Well built, light, and very fast.

You would have to decide what seat height to get with it.

Actually you can be flexible
about seat height.

There are several seats available. Some nest over the existing low seat that is glued in. I have a RapidFire and have for years. I started with the standard low seat and decided I wanted the option of a higher seat. There is one of those…it nests over the low seat and is secured snugly with shock cords.

There are other seat options. It is worthwhile to go to the shop for a test paddle of many boats and get a look at the seats available and find what work for you.

Make a weekend of it and enjoy the fall color now sprouting up in the Adirondacks.

You might wind up with even a Shadow…Screamer of a day tripper…I got Rapid as its long enough to hold two weeks of water and camping gear. Its a little more of a utility boat than Shadow. Its still fast enough especially with for some reason a Dave Niles Aleut blade.

keep your options open
If you get a canoe with a high hung seat,you can lower it and sit feet in front if you want using either a single or dubble paddle. I have done this for several people. If you get a dedicated sit on bottom boat your stuck with that and a dubble paddle.(I know some paddle a single sitting on the bottom-I find it akward)This might be an oportunity to try another position style regardless of which type of paddle you use. My Hemlock Kestrel,which has been described as being a very close hull to a Rapidfire,works great kneeling or sitting with either a single or dubble blade.


Sure you can take most any solo
canoe with a narrow gunwale length and lower the seat. A friend of mine did that with a Curtis DragonFly but she is quite tall (the boat is quite deep)and paddles with a single blade.

I too paddle RF with a single blade in confined areas. I have a short bent shaft paddle. It is not awkward for me but I am used to heeling hulls. Height does play a part. I am too short to do as Turtle does in anything more than an eleven inch deep hull. Simply because of reach.

Y ou can also just grab any solo canoe…even an OT Pack and see how you like double blading a canoe. Fine tuning preferences can come later. Sometimes we overanalyze and sometimes we learn a lot personally from trial and error. Fortunately boats have less of a depreciation curve than cars and there is always a market.

Surprising speed in 13’8" solo with
225cm kayak paddle.

Slightly lower circuit time on our local small city lake than with my sea kayaks (10 minutes instead of 11) and 3 minutes faster than my fastest time in the same boat with a ZRE bent.

My recollection is that my longer solos, such as the Sawyer Summersong, felt like slugs with a double blade compared to my sea kayaks. Maybe it’s because I was using a much longer paddle (240cm) to reduce paddle drips and wasn’t getting good mechanical advantage with my previous attempts or maybe it was the greater skin friction of the longer boat or the shape of the hull or a combination of all three.

I actually dripped less water on my legs using this shorter paddle with fast cadence than I used to with the longer paddle. I still sprinkle quite a bit on top of my head, just like I would in the kayaks.

The little Curtis Lady Bug zips right along with the 225cm Epic Relaxed Tour.

I was really quite surprised how well the Lady Bug moved with this paddle and how fun and comfortable it was, and I was only carrying it in the canoe to serve as an alternate for my wife in her kayak if she decided she didn’t like the paddle she had. I was quite a bit behind the rest of the group after seeing them all safely off from the put in and picked up the kayak paddle to catch up. What a happy happenstance. I have the seat in this boat high and canted for kneeling or sitting and using the foot brace.

This gives me new food for thought when considering which Placid boat my work best for my day paddling (I don’t do any tripping. The Shadow has the most sex appeal for me, but the Spitfire might be a better match for my motor. I’ll have to make one of the canoe gatherings where the Spitfire, Rapidfire and Shadow are all available for test paddling.

I may already have the right boat for my most common needs.

Advice: Try any relatively narrow solo canoe with relatively narrow gunwales that has foot braces and see how you like it. Try as many as you can and try different lengths of paddles with each boat, as well.

Have fun in your search.

The Shadow is tugging at my heart.
Must…resist…temptation. (Must also sell some boats)

At normal cruising speeds (3.5 mph to 4.5 mph), is the Shadow more or less effort than the Spitfire or about the same? I realize the Shadow will have much higher top end speed