front rudder

i have an old style (1980)Aluminum 15’ Grumman double ender canoe and have recently started to want to use it as a one man unit… It’s got closed ends packed with styrofoam and with just me and me fly fish gear loaded in it rides high in the water over-all & up front. It’s a great wide flat bottomed canoe that with two paddlers is great for lakes and basically what I use it for. The only problem is handling alone is it’s a bear…the front end skids all over the place with just me in it. I spend equal paddling time correcting the direction as I do moving forward. What would the idea of putting a bolt on, flip down front rudder to keep me on the straight and true. I figured if it were flip down It may over-ride a stump or any obstacles if it were able to flip up if hit. I feel I got a good base to mount it to on the top. I wanted to try getting someone to hold a paddle straight down up front but then thought of it not being accurate because of the paddlers bodyweight affecting the test…Any ideas or suggestons would be appreciated.

have often wondered how a pair of …
… simple planer wings , small and custom built would work on a canoes’ bow (or stern) .

Shouldn’t take much wing surface area to create a positive downward or upward force in “dense water” .

front keel guide
That’s what I was hoping to hear. I was gonna heliarc a 2’L x 2"W piece of aluminum to the front as far as the original 1/2" keel allows. This can put the body in jeopardy if I hit something hard. I just thought as slow as I paddle and as shallow as i run into sometime, Something flexible that would rise up and not do any damage might sound better. In some shallow water I can’t even shut off my elec. motor fast enough before it starts to bang up the bottom.

thanxs for the reply though

Where are you sitting?
I remember the 17 foot Grummans to be manageable solo when sitting in the front seat facing backwards.

I also had one with a home-made rowing rig mounted amid ship. It would really fly when rowed, and was highly maneuverable that way.

The answer lies in where you sit.
That’s only a 15-foot boat. Granted, it’s a bit more ungainly than a dedicated solo 15-footer, but you will realize the best gains by applying your construction skills toward providing a paddling station near the center, or more accurately, just a little rearward of center. If there’s a thwart in the way of putting a seat where you want it, just make the bow the stern and visa-versa and see if that allows you to construct a seat where you want it. This is a symmetrical boat, so it makes no difference which end functions as the front.

The usual remedy to this problem is to sit in the bow seat facing the rear, and paddle the boat backwards. That will put your body much closer to the center of the boat than sitting in the rear seat will do. However, I suspect that there is a thwart immediately behind the bow seat, preventing you from sitting backwards there.

For starters, try placing any convenient object in the boat that you can use as a seat, as long as it’s the right height (a 5-gallon pail is too tall). That will give you some idea how a new seat will work, but trying this out, just remember that a rigid seat will be much easier to use than something that can slide around or tip over. Since this boat will require some ooomph to make it do what you want at times, installing a footbrace would be a good idea too, unless you want to take up kneeling in the canoe, which is even better. All that means is that the seat works better if it slopes forward a bit, and that it’s not too low.

Wouldn’t it be simpler
to either put some ballast in the bow, or try paddling it from the front seat facing backwards?



Exactly right about the thwarts (never knew what they were called to be honest)I will give putting a temporary seat up front on the other side of the thwart. Even now I paddle on my knees, i’ve always found that to be the best way to utilize the most power, but for a temporary try-out, sitting should work. The only issue i’m gonna see if i’m gonna have, is the boat widens out pretty quick and if thats gonna cause me to reach out too far to paddle.

I knew them plastic milk cartons i’ve been saving would come in handy for something. Hmmmm, maybe a cement block would be better and more stable for a test ride. Thanks for the great ideas, i’ll be out Friday morning trying it all out…

Get a sixpack cooler
The kind with the flat top.

Fill it with ice and the beverage of your choice. Or nothing.

Put it somewhere just aft of the center of the boat. Favor the side you will paddle on. Don’t be afraid to heel the boat. That will make it paddle better.

Kneel with your fanny on the cooler and your calves on either side.

Paddle on the one side only using J’s and any other correction strokes you like to hold your course.

Pause to enjoy the beverage of your choice from time to time or just to enjoy your surroundings if the cooler is empty.

Boat cushion
I used to solo a Grumman quite a bit using the front seat and facing “rearwards.” I found using a simple boat cushion (like the power boaters often carry) on the front seat raises me enough to make the pressure under my legs from the thwart behind the front seat tolerable. You can also use that thwart as a kneeling thwart to change positions occasionally. Padding the thwart a little is nice and perhaps fabricating some kind of flattened and lower thwart would be better yet.

Another option is to make a “straddle bag” ala Becky Mason’s “Classic Solo Canoeing” tape. Fill a goodly-sized garbage bag with scrap foam or even styro peanuts. Double bag that and put it in a goodly sized rucksack or large dry bag. Put the pack as close to the center of the canoe as your thighs will allow and kneel straddling the bag.

I used to put all my heavy stuff up in the “new front” of the boat. This was most important to keep the bow from swinging when paddling into the wind. Water bags or jugs worked well and could be drained for transport in the car.

All that said, a Grumman’s a big boat with a lot of free board and less “bite” on the water than a shallow V or Arched hull might. That keel doesn’t do a whole lot. It can be a handful to solo in a strong wind no matter how its rigged.

I agree…
I soloed a 15 ft. Grumman for many years. It was no problem to use the front seat facing backwards with a regular boat floatation cushion. But building a seat or a kneeling station just aft of center is probably the best solution.

However, it would probably be surprising how much a small rudder would do to keep the boat straight. I used to have an anchor system for my solo Old Town Pack. The anchor itself was simply a doubled length of heavy chain covered in rubber, and when I’d pull it up out of the water, about three inches or so of the chain would still be in the water about 6 inches to the rear of the very back end of the canoe. And that small, rounded piece made a fairly significant difference in how well the canoe tracked.

rudder in the back
I support the posts that call for moving the paddling station before adding a rudder. Staying with the temporary seat may be the best as you can move it for different conditions, like moving it forward for padding into the wind.

If you still find it difficult to manage, a rudder at the stern will likely be a better solution than one in the bow.

every idea is great
Now I just gotta try them all.

Al_A; I use a 7" rubber tire on a rim from Harbor Freight and it holds me great…the rudder would have to be minimal I agree. for the little counter steering I need without it my original thought were it didn’t need much.

I was hooked up and ready to roll this morning and there was an inch of ice and 4" of snow on the ground so I nixed the test.

Measurements; from the reversed rear im 5’ from the thwart add at least 12" of seating (permanent or temporary and i’m in the middle of the craft. This has to be optimal paddling. The only thing that worries me yet is that the thwart which would be at my back puts the canoe width at 33" and widening even more towards the center. The question again being will I be to wide to comfortably paddle to one side.

I definately like the bean bag chair approach cause I paddle kneeling anyway. This position gives me alot more room in front of me for fishing gear too. All of these ideas put a new addition to the possibilities thanks and I hope to see more.

Harness and attach your dog team
to the bow.