Paddling from rear deck sit position ...

… I’ve been playing around with this some recently , and when going down stream I have more control authority (tandem) . As some may know she (in the bow) is heavier than I , and I sitting on the rear deck seems to make it much easier to make turns and technical manuvers , in the down current phases .

The boat is a flat bottom 169 canoe . On the rear deck , it almost feels as though the boat has some rocker . Our boat is very stable , and I never feel like it is going to flip when I’m up there . It’s not a lot of seat space (but my skinny butt don’t need much) , and it’s a little difficult to stay in the right spot .

So the quetions are :

1., Anybody think I could be setting myself up for something I’m not aware of , that may cause an unsafe condition ?? (ie., me taking a dive and leaving her up in the bow alone wouldn’t be to good in quicker waters , lol)

2., I’m thinking about rigging a seat back there (maybe a tractor type), so when things get more bumpy (rougher waters/winds) I can stay planted . Ideas ??

I wouldn’t be up on the stern deck in cruise , because when up there I am forced to make side switches while paddling , which I do not do normally .

I do like it up there , sharp turns are very easy to maintain with simple broad sweeps , and leaning over (tilting) from up there is way cool .

I used to do that all the time in our OT

I thouroughly enjoyed paddling from there.

I could hook my feet under the side gunnels and really lean.

I also enjoyed the view from up higher.

I wouldn’t think it would be adviseable on anything more technical than a straight through class II.

Just thinking about it makes me want to get back in the OT, (which is now at one of my daughters lake house)and paddle it that way again.



Just play around and see what happens

– Last Updated: Jul-10-08 8:56 PM EST –

I can't imagine what's going on that would make this seating position better in the ways that you describe, but why not experiment with whatever you wish to try? The worst that can happen is that you'll flip over, and it doesn't sound like you are paddling anywhere where this would be a problem.

As far as my "not getting it", my thoughts are as follows. A boat with an underweighted stern will turn much more easily when going forward (it will become directionally unstable) than one that's properly trimmed or stern-heavy, so sitting farther back shouldn't "help" your steering in any way except by reducing pry/draw effort because you are applying the paddle force a little farther away from the boat's centerpoint (explanation: the closer a draw or pry is performed to the boat's centerpoint, the more it makes the whole boat slide sideways. The farther that stroke is from the centerpoint, the more it makes the boat spin).

Whether or not you are going downstream shouldn't make any difference either. This is a theme I will always harp on (Mythbusters just had an episode applying a similar principle to airplanes, and even their own volunteer pilot (admittedly, he was just an ordinary guy who owned an ultralight, rather than a trained pilot) failed to understand the test results. This is something that just plain confuses a lot of folks): The boat is either going forward or backward "through the water". The direction the water is moving does not affect boat-handling within that moving water - it only affects what you must ask the boat to do so that it's velocity (that's speed and direction) combines with that of the current in a desirable way. Actual handling *relative to the water that's floating you* never changes. Localized turbulence will complicate things, but that's true whether going upstream or downstream. You could be out in the ocean in a 15-mph current, and you'd have no way of knowing the current was even there without a visible non-moving landmark to relate to. Without that landmark, that speedy current would look just like still lake water and you'd have no sense of motion. If you ever get a chance to talk to an airplane pilot about navigating upwind, downwind, and crosswind, it may make the upstream/downstream concept a lot more clear.

How does sitting higher or farther back "force" you to switch sides? If steering is easier from that position, that would mean your correction strokes must be more effective, which should eliminate any need to switch sides. Clearly there's something I'm missing regarding this point too.

The bottom line is that no part of this made any sense to me, but who cares. The way to get better at making your boat behave is to "do" stuff, so have at it.

You’re gonna be in Tee rubble
when she finds out you told all of us she is heavier than you are.

Don’t forget to duck.

Paddlin’ on


Na , everyone who knows us …
… already knows that . We enjoy going out in the canoe together , acually that’s why I got one “just for us” . As a tandem team with her , it is different . I’ve done a reasonable amount of river tripping over the years past , I mostly took the bow seat because I was usually the lighter compared to my nephew who road stern . I’ve taken stern a number of times as well when the bow paddler was equal or lighter .

In all the previous canoe time (except for once) , fishing/camping was involved . The love of my life for the past 10 yrs.(she) has grown heavier than I and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change . She told me she has always wanted to do the things I have told her all the stories about (the guy outdoor stuff), she wanted to be in that story also “so to speak”.

So I started her walking fair distances (hand in hand evening walks) , that progressed to hiking the wood . I had her climbing 45* ridges up to bluffs , dancing through the rock steps in the cascades , sliding on her butt to get down sometimes . On one cool autum day she put 16 mi. under her belt .

Then a pair of matching mountain bikes , started her on the road , and she worked up to 15 milers . When I began to take her into the wood trails , it was too much for her . I don’t enjoy road riding at all , I love downhill through the wood and the harddriving climbs , the jumps , technical ballance stuff , mild crazyness .

So here we are canoing together also since late 06 .

At first the best I could do with her , was be her chaperone , paddle her around and put her on fish (she gets great excitment from catching a fish) .

But the more we went out the more I told her something has to change , she’s got to work harder at getting that paddle doing what it’s suppose to , or we will be stuck limited to “peter pond” .

The best canoe thing that has happened for us , was a decision I made this year . I’ve taken her to open reservors and said , stretch your wings , take that paddle make it carry you . She did her part over 27 miles during a 3 day , and the confidence factor she gained has been a God send for us both .

I want to take her into the rivers this year , and have been trying to work her up to it . She still gets confused in moving waters though , and right or wrong , I need to be confident in her as bow paddler because I know the difference between quick water , rapids , compared to that of flat water .

Like I said , she loves this stuff I get her into , but she knows her wieght causes some limits for us , and I know it does too . So for me , it’s seeking the right ballance in our activitys , always wanting to go the extra mile , push a little farther , up the bar .

The canoe (tandem) , is a team effort , and “she is” heavier than I by a good 30 lbs.

That means I also have to find ways to deal with it , just as she does . Neither one of us wants to allow the horizon to be out of reach just cause she’s a bit too heavy , so we keep on going for the gold .

I do it because she gets such a big time out of it , and I love her that much !!

Guideboatguy …

– Last Updated: Jul-11-08 2:45 AM EST –

......... I don't know why sitting back up on the stern deck seems to make a big difference in the effort needed (which is less) for more responsive turning in moving water , that's one reason why I posted this post . It also makes a difference in still water .

I understand a body of air and flying in it , and it does have simularities to a body of water and a canoe , but "is not" the same .

I hold the privliges of a SEL certificate , and have time in complex .

I do understand your example of a controlable moving body (canoe / aircraft) , moving within a moving body (water / air) , but there are many differences in forces at play between the two . Yes , they are simular , but the aircraft has ample power to overcome all but the severest weather/air conditions . The canoist is limited to "paddle" power . The aircraft works within a three axis enviroment , the canoe within a two axis .

Something "is" going on in the manuverability effort required (it's easier to turn) , and there has to be some reason for that , although I'm not sure what it is yet .

Sounds like true love to me
Even though I completely understand your sitting on the stern deck, and can understand the “control of the boat” while others above can’t, another option is to change the trim of the boat, by either changing her seat, or adding weight back in the stern.

Naturally adding weight is not the best option, so why not experiment with making a make shift seat, back a foot or so from where her seat now is.

You could use a cooler or even a small stool that you could hold temporarily in place with duct tape and then just try the boat out in calm water just to check the trim.

If it works out OK, then remove her existing seat and install a permanent one back farther.

Ideally a sliding seat is the way to go, and if you are handy, you can build one yourself

My wife and I love paddling tandem, and have three different tandem canoes, and I have revised all of them so that we can be trim.

You will be absolutely amazed what beautiful music you two guys can make when you are in a trim boat and paddling in perfect sync mile after mile. - It also carries on after you get out of the boat !!



We’re on the right track then

– Last Updated: Jul-11-08 4:09 PM EST –

I'm glad you've got a handle on that stuff. The "differences" you percieve are most likely due to turbulence (eddylines and the like). Everything else is the same. I might add that one thing that I've noticed regarding "percieved" differences in turning when going upstream versus downstream is that the paddler is focusing on the stuff he can see and must maneuaver around, such as logs, rocks and the like, all of which are immovable objects. The boat may be behaving exactly the same relative to the water, but it doesn't ever feel that way to the paddler unless he pays very close attention to the path and speed of the water "going by" his boat. It can be as simple a problem as the person paddling harder going upstream, and therefore using a different technique and having a faster in-water speed, even though all other aspects of the situation make the boat look "slower".

Your point about an airplane being able to overcome the effect of wind is valid. It just occurred to me that a glider might be a good example of something traveling through air with limited power (gravity is the power sourse and the air speed is severly limited), provided you look at the problem in two dimensions. I've seen gliders get in serious trouble by doing a circle to lose a bit of altidude before final approach and getting quickly blown "almost too far away" from the runway to be able to make it back upwind to make a safe landing. Viewed in two dimensions, that's exactly the same situation as a canoe paddler who attempts to turn around and paddle away from a river-wide strainer, and in the process of turning ends up being carried right into the blockage or nearly so. This of course brings up an additional difference between canoes and most other craft traveling through a fluid medium. Canoes are very good at going backwards, diagonally, and even sideways relative to the water that floats them, and in many cases, especially "oh-sh__" situations in strong current, this gives the paddler a lot more options for dealing with current and fixed obtacles than a motorboat in current or an airplane/glider in wind. The boat's course is STILL dictated by adding vectors, but with the boat's velocity (speed and direction) not being seriously limited by its orientation, whole new worlds of maneuvering options become available.

Anyway, I still think any "fooling around" and experimenting that you do is a good thing. When I was a kid in Boy Scouts, I saw one of the other kids stand on the gunwales near one end of of a tandem canoe and jump up and down, and though the river's current made it diffucult to be certain, it appeared that this "gunwale hopping" provided a small amount of propulsive force. What good is a skill like that? It has no value at all, in and of itself, but it DID contribute to that kid's extrordanairy degree of confidence regarding boat-handling.

Don’t see…

– Last Updated: Jul-11-08 10:14 AM EST –

Don't see any problem with you sitting on top of the stern decking as long as you are paddling on rivers where there is necessary clearance from tree limbs that may be hanging over the river.If there are tree limbs hanging over the rivers where you paddle; I think it would be just a matter of time before you got knocked out of a "fixed" seat,or a tree limb caught on the "fixed" seat, and capsized the canoe.
Therefore, I would suggest a non-fixed type seat.

Saw exactly such a situation occur when a lady refused to reconsider sitting in a lawn style chair in the bow of a canoe, on a cold winter day paddle(air temp about 35 degrees & snow on the ground). Within the first mile, she was kneeling & ducking into the bilge of the canoe to avoid an 8 inch tree limb hanging over the river. The tree limb missed her, but caught on the chair. The bow of the canoe did a submarine like crash dive, and the stern of the canoe & the stern paddler actually rose out of the water as the current continued to push the canoe downstream, into & under the tree limb. The lady hit the water(remember 35 degree air temp), and swam to shore. The lawn chair back folded & broke.The stern paddler ended up on top of the tree limb with half of the canoe submerged in the river, under the tree limb. The stern portion of the canoe was sticking up over 2 feet out of the water, pressed against the tree limb. Stern paddler attached pull rope to canoe, and was able to climb off tree limb onto shore. Canoe was quickly recovered. Lady cold & wet; lawn chair retreived & retired from river paddling, aluminum canoe no damage whatsoever.

I had vision of her hitting tree limb & folding backwards with the lawn chair; perhaps getting impaled when chair back broke. We were miles & miles away from nearest highway.

Why not try something like a Crazy Creek, or Sitbacker chair?????

Just a thought,


Jackl , I’m glad you can understand …
… what I’m talking about with the sitting on the rear deck . It really does seem like I have much more turning control power in the paddle , or the canoe seems lighter , or something is going on here !!

I also think , maybe I’m raising the bow some too .

Remember the leaning (tilting) thing we talked about , how you can really heel it over , and how neat that is ??

I wonder if that ability to lean it over so easily has something to do with the ease of turning also ??

It seems best to me in the 169 , that if I want to go right , I lean to the left , also paddling on left which is comfortable and feels natural in the lean .

So far it doesn’t seem from the responses that I’m setting myself up for an unseen trouble . I’m going to keep messing about with this some more , and try to understand why such a difference , compared to the stern seat .

It really is neat up there , and I’m glad you have done the same thing with practically the same boat , and liked it too !!

I’ve been trying to spend more time just for the sake of paddling with her , and not always just to be fishing . At first she couldn’t imagine leaving the rods behind , and neither could I , but there’s a whole different thing happening when you aren’t stopping at every good place to cast .

Thanks Bob , real good thought …

– Last Updated: Jul-11-08 4:39 PM EST –

........ because most of the moving waters I've had her in so far , haven't been full fledged rivers . More like streams and feeders into the rivers .
I'm trying to work her up to rivers right now , but she still gets confused when the water moves to quick , and some how does just the opposite of what she should be doing , which is "way fun" from my end , lol . But she'll get it soon enough , she's come along way with still and slower moving waters .

As you might know , they (streams and feeders) always seem to have more downed trees and tangles that you have to weave through , than say an open river with all the rocks and ledges .
So the "non-fixed" seat idea seems like a real good one .

I was thinking a tractor type seat on a quick remove short post (pull the seat and post right out). The stern V (just under the plastic deck) , ought to be a real solid place to fasten in a good solid block of Mahogany about 2' thick . A standard alum. post mount into the mahog. (setting level under the deck), and a gusset hole in the plastic deck , ought to make for a real quick removal if I determine I have to get down quick .

I've also been giving thought about moving the bow seat back some , or making a nice comfortable slider up there for her too , just like Jackl was mentioning . She says she would like a seat that's farther back , and I say , "you got tons of room up there" . Heck the next thing ya know , I'll be designing a canoe recliner for her up there in the bow , before ya know it our canoe will need a trailer just to get it to the water , lol .

I love those old pictures of the lady with her bonnet and fringed parisol sitting in a high back deck chair facing the stern , while her beau in his stiff brim hat and bow tie paddle her around golden pond on beautiful eve .
I can see myself doing that someday , but not just yet , I'm still trying to go places over the horizon , and she's got to be some of the engine right now ..

I'm glad no one got hurt or worse in the scenario you detailed so well . I have to admit though , I had a very humorous picture of the whole scene in my mind . I guess it's OK to laugh about it after the fact beings no real harm came out of it .

Tell you what…
Why not move her seat back. Buy a wider seat and hang if further aft in the boat. That will compensate for the weight differences plus she will have added leg room. You might even put in a foot brace or foot braces for both of you.

the turning difference… I am supposing you are using a rudder motion to turn instead of a paddle stroke. Considering you are “bow down”. I would say you are getting the rudder further aft, therefore more leverage over the boat.

Sloop , actually no …
… no rudder required at all when up on the stern deck , really . That’s part of what seems to make it so easy to maintain a nice tight turn , paddle strokes only , add a little J and it really tightens it up .

If I do fix her up a new bow seat a bit farther back , it will have to be very comfortable and strong . The roto mould she’s in now is strong , but I wonder how well one of those wood and cane butt moulded shapes would hold up ??

I’m politely trying to say , the gunnels buckle some up there …

A good laugh…
Yes, later that evening we all had a laugh at the “lawn chair lady’s” expense. She had not been injured.

Just prior to the trip, the lady had purchased a brand new pair of gore tex boots. She was very proud of her “waterproof boots”. Of course when she “bailed out” of her canoe, her new gore tex boots bailed out with her.

Around the campfire that night I asked her if she minded if I asked one question regarding the incident. No, she didn’t mind…

My question, “When you bailed out of that canoe; did those new gore tex boots keep your feet dry”?

Her response, “Bob, you are such a dick”!

Yeah! I know…


In that case…
You can get extra heavy web seats from Ed’s canoe and I would custom cut minicell foam under the seat wedged in to assist in supporting the seat that way the seat has the rails as well as the bottom of the canoe itself supporting it.

If you add a back to it(Ed sells canoe seat backs) and a seat pad it will be as or more comfortable than the bucket seat.

As to the control issue, it’s still leverage… You are turning the stern easier because you are further back. I had to think about it, but a J stroke is a type of rudder stroke. It’s still pushing the end of the boat around.