I took my almost 3 year old out in the canoe for the first time yesterday. It was the first time I’d been in a canoe in maybe 20 years, and my first attempt at paddling solo. I waited 'til the water temperature was safe for the inevitable swim, but surprisingly we had no stability issues at all, even with her sudden lurches halfway over the side to stick her hands in the water. Fortunately, she’s already comfortable in the life jacket and around water due to our other boats, so I didn’t have to fight that battle.
I paddled for a few minutes alone to get a feel for stability and such, and then we were off. We had a great time, and even as a total hack, with a crap paddle in a crap canoe, I thought we made pretty good progress. Had to do maybe 1/4 mile into a pretty decent headwind and against the current on the return trip, but it wasn’t too bad. I figured out how to use the headwind to my advantage to let me get 5 or 8 strong strokes on one side before ‘tacking’ and doing it again on the other side. I could sorta go in a straight line with a J stroke in the protected creek, but no chance into the headwind. Gonna have to work on that.
My brother and his fiance came along in their rec kayaks, and I tried one of their kayak paddles to see how that’d work in the canoe. Other than it being way too short, it worked great. Instant control and more power. Since I bought the canoe specifically for taking my daughter(s) (the 7 month old isn’t too interested in going yet) along, knowing that I’d be doing the work myself, I’m thinking that the double bladed paddle is a good plan. I have a short one for my rec kayak, but I need a longer one - or maybe an insert/extension for the joint in my short one.
Any suggestions as to how long, and possibly a source? It needs to be cheap. For the time being, performance is of little concern since the attention span of a 3 year old is shorter than my endurance anyway. If this whole canoe thing sticks around for long, I would imagine that we’ll upgrade both the boat and paddle at some point in the future.
double blading canoe
It sounds like you’ve already figured out what some of us are just getting around to figuring out: namely, that when soloing, a double bladed paddle can give better control and speed to a canoe. I’ve been using a 230cm paddle in my canoes, but, like you, decided I wanted something longer. So, last week, I just ordered a 9ft Wave by Cannon from Spring Creek, (www.canoegear.com) It hasn’t come in yet, but when it does, I’ll definitely post my impressions of it.
woohoo, it’s here
UPS just dropped off the 9ft Wave paddle. I ordered it from Spring Creek in MN last Wed., and it arrived in less than a week. And, SpringCreek only charged $9 in SH. So, for a total of only $88, I get to see if 9ft is too long.
Is it the weekend, yet?
I’m seriously tempted to order one of their canoe rowing rigs, and compare rowing to using an oversized double blade. That would be another option for propelling your canoe and daughter through the water. Rowing is fun, but you are always facing backwards.
It wouldn’t be too difficult to rig up a forward facing rowing setup, but you lose a lot of power and efficiency since you’re really just using your arms
9 ft sounds about right to me
I’ve got a Mohawk double blade that is about 9’.
I use it in my 36" wide MR Explorer when the wind comes up or I want to paddle standing up. The downside is that it drips on you.
I use one about that long too
My Old Town Pack works great with a double blade. I use an old, heavy Folbot paddle we had laying around, probably about 9 foot, and it works fine. I keep saying I’m going to buy a nice, lightweight paddle but I just don’t get around to it.
Have fun with your children. My daughter sat on a little short-legged beach chair in the front of my solo for quite a few years. We had a blast, and she still thinks of the Pack as “her boat”. She’s 14 now and a competent paddler with 4 BWCA trips under her belt. A canoe has a lot more room for kids than a kayak, and you can take all their toys too. Bring dip nets, bug boxes, and some plastic floating toys you can tie to the boat. Spend lots of time on sandbars looking for tracks. You’ll both benefit.
Paddling with kids
Never go any real distance, just sandbar to sandbar.
Swim beach, to lunch, to exploration site, to another swim beach and return home.
If paddling in the city, might stop for a snowcone.
I alway feel better paddling with other people when out with kids. More people equals more lifeguards and more eyes.
My double is 9’ (I don’t speak metric)
and has been just right in three solo canoes (Pack, Sandpiper, Vagabond. Also works well in my Wavewalk, but we don’t talk about that). I special ordered mine in graphite for lightness from a company now out of business. Make sure your little one is dressed WARMLY, besides her PFD. Kids’ body mass/skin surface ratio is different than ours, and they chill easily if dumped in the water.
You might try searching the archives for double bladded canoe paddles, etc. There have been some extended discussions on this in the past. You are in Maryland, which is “Duckhead” country. Mike McCrea, a frequent contributer here, is a ringleader of that paddling group and several of them are fans of the double blade for canoes.
Enjoy those kiddos!
I second the note about hypothermia.
The kids CANNOT come out until the water is warm enough for swimming.
Smaller bodies have less heat to lose.