Hit and Switch technique

I am starting to really get the bug for solo canoeing, I have been using my Penobscot 16 as a solo and have just recently picked up a Sawyer Autumn Mist. So how many strokes should I be able to take before I need to Switch to the other side? I can do abou 4 strokes on one side before I need to swith to keep the boats going reasonably straight. Is that average, poor? I think my J stroke is probably fair, but not terribly efficcient compared to Hit and switch. thanks for any advice.

sounds about right
Four strokes is about right for that boat. Most boats will only handle 3-5, although there are a couple that will handle more.

what I’ve found
When I started solo canoeing I would use hit and switch but found i was using a lot of energy without getting anywhere because the tracking wasn’t very good. I changed to one side paddling with a J or a short stern pry after

my stoke and it worked out much better.

Seems Good
When I need to make some time either racing or a short burst it’s hit & switch for sure. That count may be right for your boat, I paddle a couple of straight keeled Wenonahs and get one to three more per side, but that depends on wind & currents, too.

This may lower my credibility on the board, but if I’m in no hurry I’ll paddle the Wenonahs Canadian style (gasp!). My dance boat isn’t made by that company & I’ll still alternate styles (& paddles) according to need. In the Slipper I won’t come close to your count when switching.

What is a dance boat?
Have any of you tried a kayak paddle?

Sounds about right for the Mist
I paddle sit and switch almost exclusively in my Mist and my O.T. Pack. The Mist averages 4-5 strokes per side with 4 when putting some power into the stroke and 5 for loafing. The pack on the other hand is 2 to 3 strokes per side because it tracks so poorly. I also use a 14* bent shaft of various commercial and self built designs. I use a spray cover to keep water out of the boats when switching. Makes quite a difference over a hour and a half paddle. I’m also convinced it reduces windage problems too.

some thoughts
I’m just getting started with my new 14’ solo canoe. Before that, I paddled loaded 17’Grummans solo on rivers and lakes. I was in really good shape back then and it was a whole different deal. I got along fine and didn’t dump, but learned a lot of bad habits. Paddling my solo boat is much different than the old Grummans.

Some things I’ve noticed:

Sit and switch can make time on flatwater. It may also be useful occasionally for acceleration on rivers.

Sit and switch is usually wetter, as other posts have mentioned.

Sit and switch has a delay factor that works against you in moving water. This problem increases as difficulty increases.

There is more chance that you will fumble a switch at a really bad moment. Especially in rough water, high wind, and cold. Ok, I know this applies to any paddling style, but I have run into this problem more than once.

If you don’t know how to control the boat from one side, you will probably find yourself in situations where you wish you did. Ex: Rapids often have rocks in places that make sit and switch difficult because there is a rock on the side where you want to put a paddle. Ex: Shallow water on one side of the canoe means you need to paddle the other side to get a good bite with the paddle. Ex: Windy conditions on a lake sometimes make sit and switch an unstable method.

I’m currently learning all over again. I hope to be able to combine various methods to enhance boat control and safety, comfort and endurance, and enjoyment. I also plan to carry a double blade for flat or shallow water. But I hope to be able to choose my ‘weapon’ and have a varied ‘arsenal’.

ahh, the joys of a
new stroke… learning to hit-n-switch is fun and it will vary greatly depending upon conditions and skill.

I primarily use this stroke, but for obvious reasons it does not work in all conditions.

The joy is learning a stroke that will work well in some conditions to enhance your paddling pleasure.

When I first started I would be able to do like 5 strokes on the right and 2 on the left, then as I improved on the left, I got worse on the right… The best advise I recieved was to quit concentrating on my stroke, but to focus on a distant point - say a specific tree or rock on the other side of the lake, then paddle to that. As the bow begins to near the center, switch… eventually I learned to control my strokes in an even tempo. I still use this technique and my paddling is much more effecient. I dont count stokes anymore… I just paddle.



Thanks all for responding, appreciate the info.

hit and switch
I have used the hit and switch for years and don’t have a set number of strokes per side . It also does depend on the boat - my Wenonahs are very good at tracking, so I don’t have to switch quite as often . For instance, if there is a slight crosswind, I will paddle more on one side versus the other . One of the many nice things about solo paddling is that you don’t have to have a preset number of strokes that the other person has to synch up to :slight_smile:

It also balances out strain on your arms . I also have never dropped a paddle while switching hands -once you get into a rhythm, it is second nature .