Paddling solo in a tandem canoe

My wife and I went on a nice trip this weekend. She went home after paddling and I stayed to camp. This canoe is brand new and I never had to paddle solo for that long. I only got about two strokes per side before I started traking badly. Any suggestions on how to keep my line better and get more speed?

Solo in a tandem canoe
My two suggestions would be - (1) move forward in the canoe (check your “trim”) and (2) I find if I use a double bladed paddle (ie. kayak paddle) I can both move quicker through the water and reduce tracking.

Leave no trace.

Sometimes it works to…

…turn the canoe around and paddle from the bow position.

Assuming your right handed …go to

– Last Updated: Jun-07-04 10:41 AM EST –

center of the canoe and kneel.. scoot over right of center and touch your knees to the right side (at a slight angle) of the canoe and lean slightly to heel the canoe over to the right and use a j-stroke...If you don't know what a j-stroke is then ask someone who knows to show you or you can check it out in a book store..if you have some idea of how to do the stroke you can pretty much teach youself good enough to get around and have fun until you can work on improving ...many tandem canoes paddle quite well solo...

Good advice…
from the other posts… A lot depends on the type of canoe. A round bottom prospector heals well(kneeling to one side) a coleman or flat bottom rec boat won’t do too well that way.

Assuming you have a somewhat symetrical boat, the best universal fix is probably the comment you already recieved to turn the boat around. You’ll kneel, leaning against the back edge of the front seat. In most boats this will move you forward and maintain a small amount of bow rise. A typical J-stroke correction stroke should keep you tracking well.

OK… here’s my controversial comment s… if you’re in a canoe, I prefer to use a canoe paddle. I use a kayak paddle in a kayak :slight_smile: While I would never break that etiquete (though I did try once and didn’t like it) don’t loose sight of your prime objective. If that objective is to be on the water having fun… use what ever works for you… I prefer a broomstick :slight_smile: (or two lashed together if I need a double)

Paddle Safe

It would help to know
what kind of canoe we are talking about…keel, no keel, flatbottom or round, rocker…?

Turning it around…
…sound like it may be the best solution. I noticed that when I was kneeling forward of the seat it was better (my legs fell to sleep, makes getting out tricky, love dry bags). Should I pack of the weight forward in the canoe, I had it pretty evenly distributed (not that I took much anyway)?

The canoe itself…
…is a mostly flat bottom (there is a bit of curve) it has a keel and it’s pretty wide 38" (I guess).

In the long run…
…you might consider having two solo boats. My wife and I enjoy paddling separately together, and I can go out easily by myself while she’s working to support my hobbies. Also, I think “Guidelines” on the left of the screen may have info on J-strokes and C-strokes (useful in solo boats).

Right. If you’re going to solo then shift the gear to keep the canoe level.

Thanks for you help everybody, I’ll start experimenting…I feel a sick day coming on.

I was just out experimenting…
paddling solo in our 17 foot Jensen this morning.

It is supposed to be the only 17 foot canoe on the market that is made for both solo and tandem, but you would have to have mile long arms to paddle it from the center seat.

I tried a couple of years ago and gave up.

Recentely I added a sliding rear seat to it, since my wife and I race it, and like to keep it trim.

This morning I tried it solo with the rear seat as far forward as I could get it, and I was able to paddle pretty comfortably. The only problem I was really bow light. I am going to add some ballast in the bow, and try it again later this week.

You might want to try some experimenting with a temporary seat, someplace a little rear of center.



Good idea
I’ll give that a try. Did you build you own seat?

Travel light
I travel pretty light when I camp. I’ll have to look around for rocks to throw in there. Thanks for the advice.

solo in a tandem
You can get either a snap-in plastic seat or a sling seat. I have a sling seat but prefer to use it when one of our kids wants to sit in the middle between wife (bow) and me (stern).

For solo paddling in my 16 ft. OT Penobscot, I do what a lot of the previous posts say. Turn the boat around and paddle from the bow. This puts me just back from center, but still leave plenty of room. If I’m on a larger body of water, with some chop, I will also put some ballast in the bow. For ballast, think simple, rocks, cinder blocks, or water jugs all work well.

Watch you stroke so that the paddles goes into the water straight and comes back straight. End with the J stroke, or easier yet with a rudder. Current issue of C&K has an article on the J and rudder strokes.

Good Luck.