Paddling "backwards"

Can you tell me something about paddling backwards by sitting/kneeling next to the bow seat and facing the stern? I don’t think I’ve read the reasons for doing so, only that some boats are especially good for this. You all were great help on my question about “Canadian style” paddling. Learned a lot on this apparently artistic form of navigation. But what’s the need for paddling a boat forward while facing backwards from the bow? Ahh, the great mysteries of the sea bewitch this old land lubber.

In the book, “Path of the Paddle” by
Bill Mason, when paddling solo,he refers to sitting ahead of centre in very windy conditions using the wind to assist the paddler.

bow seat
is closer to centerline than the stern seat so if you’re soloing boat will do less of a “wheelie.”

mysteries of the sea???
methinks you might be over thinking this one friend. there was a time when canoes were symmetrical and general purpose craft, if you wanted to solo them, you would just sit on the bow seat and face the canoe the other way (aka ‘backwards’) . the hull was not designed in such a way as to have a dedicated forward direction for tracking and efficiency as modern boats do- like most Wenonahs.

funny thing these old timey boats have made a comeback with the super fast forward companies Bell and Wenonah. are they really behind these designs or are they just out of fresh ideas and wanting to capitalize on beloved designs? who knows who cares, they make nice boats.

but if you want a quiver of canoes, you won’t need these old designs, and if you always paddle tandem, ditto, but if you fancy yourself a full on canoeist and do some of all, including solo, tripping, rivers, play, etc, get your self a Prospector and call it a life…

Fore and Aft Balance
The fore and aft ballance of a canoe affects it’s handling. Paddling into the wind is easier if the bow is a touch heavy. Paddling away from the wind or up into current is easier if the bow is a touch light. The key word here is a touch.

Most canoes are soloed from as close to center as is reasonable so that you are only a touch in either direction.

Since the bow seat in a tandem is closer to the center, it’s easy to just turn the boat around and paddle backwards. No mods needed! Unless of course you have a seat or thwart that doesn’t let you sit that way.

I agree that it’s best in a boat that is symetrical bow to stern but it’s worth trying even in an asymetrical boat. Hey the price is right!

sitting as close to the middle
of the canoe, unless you have some ballast in one end, keeps the boat from doing a ‘wheelie’, as stated above. When that happens and you get even a light wind the thing becomes very hard to keep straight.

Another option is to sit in the stern and place a large rock, or one or two 5 gallon pails of water (covered of course), in the bow.

Don’t use rocks for ballast
In a boat without air chambers or foam, if you capsize or get swamped, and the rock doesn’t manage to fall out of the boat, it will take the boat right to the bottom. Water is a much safer material to use. A large container full of water provides plenty of weight to balance the boat, but it weighs nothing if it becomes submerged so it won’t affect how the boat behaves when swamped.


– Last Updated: Sep-07-06 2:42 PM EST –

If you use a rock for ballast, and you stick it under a flotation bag; be sure you don't forget to take it out when you load your boat at the takeout.

If you don't; when the takeout vehicle is braked hard, comes to a fast stop, or make a hard turn, coupled with braking........the rock has a tendency to come forward, and out from under the flotation bag.It will likely slam onto the hood & slide across the hood of the vehicle as gravity takes affect. Usually, the bigger the rock, the deeper the dent & the more paint loss.

Been there; done that,

P.S. I do not endorse rocks as ballast.

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Wait a cotton pickin’ minute! Yer still be paddlin’ “forward” but wit de stern (which means nuttin’ in a sy-met-rical canoo) pointed “forward”. But den de stern becomes de bow an’ de bow becomes de stern… Unless yer be backpaddlin - then it be de bow is still de stern an’ de … ‘Gad Zooks! Now ah’s gone went an’ gots me noggin’ all confoosed wit bow an’ stern, forward an’ backward, port an’ starboard, ying an’ yang, Ginger an’ MaryAnn…

Nevermind… jus’ listen ta dem other guys. (Except fer de rocks thing)

Fat Elmo

Fat Elmo
Ye be a strange one alright wid a one-eyed, wood legged parrot on yer shoulder named “Brandi.” But I 'preciate yer explanations as good as the next swabie. Whaaa-ho, lad.

Not be a Piroot

– Last Updated: Sep-08-06 8:23 AM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Ah's not be one o' dem one-eyed, swashy-bucklin' gomers sailin' de seven seas, makin' folks walk de plank an' such (even though ah' take a hankerin' fer rancid salt pork an' hardtack). Don't even say "Arrrrrrrrrr!" too much neither (well maybe, a few hours after ettin' dat salt pork). Did go ta de Joisey 'shawww' once or twice though. Ye want ta see piroots, go rent a house thaar fer a week....
Fat Elmo

hadn’t thought…
of the rock sinking the boat in a swamping. Only did it a couple of times and it was in shallow river, mostly anyway.