Paddling tandem solo from stern seat vs

Compare solo paddling from stern seat in a tandem canoe as opposed to from the bow seat facing backwards. This assumes sufficient weight is in the front to keep the canoe level.

I’m wondering if steering strokes from the stern seat would create less drag as compared to steering from the bow seat, since stern seat is further back.

Any problems associated with solo paddling from the stern seat, i.e., wind, waves, etc. (assuming boat is trimmed). Thanks

Efficiency vs Manuverability
No, there are no problems paddling from the stern seat.

However, this would assume a load in the bow roughly equal to your own weight, to get good trim. If you have this, your canoe will run true and steering will be a bit easier(bow light, though, and turning into the wind is difficult), with a narrower paddling station, and a paddle stroke closer to the centreline of the canoe.

Beyond having to carry that extra weight, though, there is one other difference. If you were, for example’s sake, in the middle of the canoe, you would be at the pivot point. You could reach forward and do bow strokes. A full sweep would turn you quickly. By comparison, out on the end, you will not be nearly as maneuverable. That is fine, of course, unless you are somewhere you need to turn quickly.

Many trippers do the bow backwards thing, and then in rapids kneel and move the center of mass forward a bit more.

For the best control, kneel near the middle of the canoe, and heel it when turning. For comfort and efficiency, sure, put all your cargo in the front and paddle from the back.

You will be doing all your turning by
skidding your end if the canoe is properly trimmed.

You lose control of the bow as you cant reach it.

This is fine for approximate courses and not fine at all if you need to navigate a twisty river.

I am guessing you have to solo something with a rotomolded seat with the butt imprints going one way that makes sitting backward painful.

Personally I would prefer sitting on something more amidships. A cooler would do.

paddling a tandem solo …

– Last Updated: Feb-05-09 9:33 PM EST –

...... do it all the time , or at least more than 1/2 the time . I sit in my normal seat , the stern and paddle for hours all by myself ... then every once in while I ask her to set the fishing rod down and pick up the paddle for short while (she's in the bow) .

I'm her combination fishing guide , paddle engine and slave ... but when I get tired of pushing the load upstream by myself , I ask for some help .

So you see , it's no problem to paddle a tandem , solo , from the stern seat ... it's done all the time , and I'll bet I ain't the only one guys .

why not balanced?
Well, yes, all of that is possible, but I have to ask why not sit in the middle where the canoe is properly balanced? You can get a 6-pack cooler of the proper height and put it in the proper position and with a little care, it won’t slide around when you are on it. If it seems prone to slide, get a big metal file and rough up the bottom of the cooler - for even more security, use a thin sheet of rubber between the cooler and the canoe. I’ve been sitting on a cooler for years with no problem.

In fact, it has several advantages. You can set it up so it’s against or tied to a thwart, then you can kneel against it without worry of foot entrapment as when your feet are under a seat. The space inside can serve as a dry storage area, emergency equipment storage, extra ice for the regular cooler or even replace the regular cooler if you only need a little space.

Or, if you want to go cleaner and more functional, put in a pedestal there. Using D-rings on the floor, you can make the pedestal removable for when you are travelling tandem.

So there are lots of choices, but you really owe it to yourself to develop your paddling skills with the canoe properly balanced. Not doing so is, in my opinion, like that thread the other day where people were talking about modifyng their kayak paddle strokes so water doesn’t drip in the boat. It’s reinforcing bad paddling habits for a very small aesthetic gain, and not worth it IMO. And then next year you’ll be asking why some of your more advanced friends don’t seem to want to go on float trips with you.

Of course, if it is still worth it in your opinion, then you’re free to do as you wish. I’m just giving my 2 cents here, and your priorities may differ from mine.

“Steering Strokes”

– Last Updated: Feb-05-09 10:41 PM EST –

You wondered if steering strokes would be more efficient by creating less drag if you paddled from the stern. Well, for "ruddering", prying and drawing strokes, the answer is yes- the stroke will have more effect relative to the effort you expend, and when ruddering, there will be less drag.

On the other hand, there are a lot more ways to steer a canoe than those three strokes, and there are more ways to "maneuver" a canoe than simply by steering, and in those cases, you want to be closer to the center of the boat. Examples of non-steering manuevers would be side-slips, eddy-turns and peel-outs, as the motion of the boat in these cases is not analogous to the turning of any typical device that is steered. Also, initiating a ferry in cases where you start in slow current but must enter a swifter zone are best done from near the center of the boat. Finally, sweep strokes, bow draws and pries, and cross-bow draws, which really are "steering" strokes, won't work well if you are too close to the stern. I don't know the name of the stroke that you use to yank the front of the boat around while moving at speed, in much the same manner as when grabbing the other side of the eddy line in an eddy-turn or peel-out, but that's flatwater steering stroke that also won't work if you are too close to the stern.

I'm sure there are more examples, but the bottom line is that there are SOME strokes that will work better if you are positioned near the stern, but on average, you will have more control from near the boat's center.

Besides, putting yourself near the center eliminates the need for ballast, so you are paddling a lighter boat. If you are hauling load of camping gear that's mostly in one pack, even a very heavy load, you are better off achieving proper trim by placing the load a short distance in front of center and yourself a short distance behind center, because keeping the weight concentrated near the center and well away from the ends has two additional advantages. It allows the boat to ride waves better without "digging in", and it reduces the effort needed to suddenly change the boat's heading, which is a benefit during the majority of maneuvers.

One can do a lot of things in a canoe by many different techniques. Generally paddlers look for the most efficient way; especially if you’re wilderness tripping and paddling thousands of strokes per day, needing to reach places in a timely fashion, and getting the most out of energy expended.

If paddling a tandem canoe solo, one cannot use a sit and switch style and so by dent of physical limitations must use a one side only “correction style”. In that case, the closer a paddler is to the point of rotation the more efficient he will be. When in motion this means a bit forward of the beam. So, if stationed in the rear even when trimmed by counter-weight your paddle will be at a distance from the point of rotation as to be much less efficient. If just day tripping or puddle ducking or just don’t care, fine do it with any technique preferred. But you can’t escape the physics of the situation, ever.

If paddling from the stern were
the most efficient I am sure that Paddle Canada would not be teaching Lakewater courses with tandem canoes paddled from a center station.

In those courses(for example) you must pivot with your body in the confines of a hula hoop for six consecutive 360 degree turns. There are many other precision moves required. The boats are tandems paddled by one person. The margins of error are inches.

PC not the best indicator
OK, there are a few points here.

First of all, the Paddle Canada Lakewater course is not all about paddling forward in a comfortable and efficient way. To my way of thinking, doing pivots in a hula hoop is anything but efficient (starting point and ending point are the same therefore no work was done). The Lakewater paddling is designed for excellent control and maneuverability. While strongly linked to efficiency and actually going somewhere, this is not the same.

The point about distance from pivot point is correct only if speaking about lateral distance. For example, propulsion along the centerline of a canoe and far back would produce no yaw. Move the force off a bit to one side and the yaw rate would be minor, as the angle of force relative to the direction of travel would be minor. Correction would be easy, as the distance from the pivot point (which has now moved forward while underway) is great. Propulsion directly out from the side of the pivot point would generate more yaw (So a C-stroke is necessary to start until underway and the pivot point moves forward)

So, to sum up - I like the Canadian Style canoeing, but it is not necessarily the most comfortable and efficient for going forward, and sitting in the stern will work but not for precise turning.

Further note: Canadian style was credited by some to Omer Stringer, who used it because he couldn’t/didn’t want to load rocks in the bow as ballast when working as a fishing guide at a young age. All the other guides used this method, when not carrying fisherman as ballast.

One more thing . . .
There is a huge difference between a heeled canoe and a flat one.

Near the pivot point, as Pagyeur describes, is pretty good if one is also near the centerline. If paddling near the pivot point and far from the centerline (as in a flat, 36" wide canoe), the yaw will be great.

Omering is not necessarily
Canadian Style…the latter predated the former by over 25 years.

And one of the requirements I didnt like (because it was hard for me) was paddling 100 meters in reverse in a straight line.

And then there were line pivots. Another joy…its not all circles.

Line pivots
Line pivots, also, don’t seem the most efficient way to travel, especially when tripping!

So, how are Omering and Canadian style different? I always thought they were synonymous, like a tomato, and a tomato pronounced differently.

The reasons
for not paddling from the stern are listed above by others, lack of control of the bow, need for extra weight in the front to stabilize the canoe etc. I drive a 16ft Prospector (a tandem canoe) solo Canadian style, leaning against the bow seat on my knees facing the stern seat. The boat is heeled. I sit adjacent to the gunwale . This gives me excellent position, close to the water for paddling the straights and narrows and tuning. When the wind picks up, I adjust my position towards the center flattening out the canoe which gives me better control. When the wind blows, I migrate towards the centre thwart and away from the bow seat and sit on my haunches.

I use the Canadian stroke for correction and various strokes such as the sweep, draw, one handed pry, inside turn, throw etc for turning. You will see the inadequacies of paddling from the stern once you learn these techniques.

My guess is that you are from the South. Unfortunately, few canoeist paddle Canadian style in your neck of the woods and many are paddling with a double paddle or have migrated to kayaking as they cannot keep a canoe straight, I suggest you find a book or video on paddling a tandem canoe solo. It is worth learning and it is very rewarding.

Did you know that a Prospector (and other canoes with good secondary stability) paddled Canadian style will sail when slicing into the wind?

canadian prejudice?
That sounds like an interesting and possibly efficient style of paddling you have adopted. I’d like to see you in action – are there any videos of you paddling on the internet? Even your terminology suggests a different approach: “I drive a 16ft Prospector” rather than “I paddle a 16ft Prospector.” And your comment about sailing is quite understandable in that context, a most beautiful consequence and something that I now feel an urge to attempt to duplicate.

However, I was a little bit put off by your prejudice against southern paddlers in general and double-blade users in particular. I wasn’t really surprised, I guess, as my own pre-judgments tell me that advanced single-bladers in general and Northerners in particular fail to appreciate the potential benefits of the double-blade. However, it’s pretty rare that I come across someone who thinks the main advantage of a double-blade is that it’s easier to go straight. I would think that someone who appreciated the aesthetics of one type of unorthodoxy would be able to impartially evaluate another unorthodox method.

I won’t bother to repeat the arguments here for when it’s advantageous to use a double-blade. We’ve discussed the topic many times on this board and I’ve made my opinions clear on those threads. However, let me just urge you to keep an open mind on the topic.

In a nutshell
Omering is embellished Canadian Style paddling.

Canadian Style was started back in the early part of the twentieth century as a group activity for canoeists at canoe camp. There were tons of those in Ontario and still are many.

Canadian style is all about precision and little fiddly tweaks of the paddle to do things likes a 360 turn around a buoy with your stern or bow touching all the time. Sometimes lumbering dances were developed, like a canoe touching two others bow and stern like an H and then the whole H rotating while holding the shape.

Omer wanted to have fun… My first canoe instructor was an apprentice to Omers and she demoed what Omering is at my first lesson. I was enchanted…Essentially its making the canoe move in any direction using invisible static placements. The force is generated with paddle angle and momentum.

Its shown in Path of the Paddle…running pries and draws…makes the large tandem rotate all the way around or you can cut it off.

Its the precurson to FreeStyle. Which is nothing more than canoe physics in a way/

Watch Wreckreation Nation on the Discovery channel for that.

Canoeing isnt all about going straight…sometimes there are course corrections to be made and it pays to be able to get your boat exactly where you want it with minimal effort.

To sum it up Omering is big movements in bigger spaces and Canadian Style (Lakewater) is fiddly little paddle manipulations to get the boat within an inch of something. Big dramatic turns are not done.

Omering is lots more fun to watch!

Actually, I don’t buy the sailing idea

– Last Updated: Feb-09-09 11:19 AM EST –

There's often some predjudice along these lines, but sometimes I think it's good to be careful about what experts say too. Regarding the sailing idea, I've been in that exact situation plenty of times and it certainly can feel like you are sailing, but figuring out the forces on paper or using a GPS don't support the idea.

First of all though, if you look at what a sailboat does when tacking at an angle into the wind, the sail that drives the boat needs to be just a little more in-line with the wind (in other words, have a shallower angle of attack) than the centerline of the boat or it won't work. In actual fact, the sail may be cranked-in nearly in-line with the boat, but due to the trailing edge stretching out under the strain, the alignment of the sail remains at a smaller angle to the wind than the axis of the boat itself. It also is necessary for the hull to have very good "lateral grip" on the water for the force on the sail to be translated into forward motion, and canoes side-slip very easily. Drawing out vector diagrams shows why this sail angle relative to the hull is necessary, and why having no sail at all, but just a hull acting as a sail, won't do the trick in this case.

Now, as to why it "feels" like you are sailing upwind, your speed will be significantly greater going at an angle into the wind than straight into the wind, and you can see and feel your boat dancing through the waves at a quicker pace and paddling effort is reduced. That's part of it. The other part is that the wind adds a substantial sideways componant to your direction of travel, which again is quite noticeable, and that by itself adds to your total velocity. Trouble is, that wind-generated drift is not in a direction that really helps you (you are paddling in the wrong direction to take advantage of what the wind is trying to make your boat do). It sure feels like it helps, but out on a lake it's very difficult to percieve your actual direction of travel, and you end up gradually correcting for your sideways drift more and more, the closer you get to the visual reference you've been aiming at on the far shore. This non-helpul drift is much easier to observe in a rowboat, because your actual direction of travel is much easier to see, since you can see a sharp line of turbulence trailing off behind you at an angle to the axis of the boat (the turbulence is caused by the sideways componant to your direction of travel, and it gives you true indication of your direction of travel), and there's no way to watch that happening in a canoe. I suggest that anyone who thinks you are sailing upwind in this situation make use of a GPS to see what's really happening. I've done that, and the GPS readings (actual travel direction relative to boat alignment) were in agreement with my observations of stern turbulence (while rowing) and what a vector analysis suggests should happen.

For some final proof, try this. Align your boat in the direction that you think helps you sail upwind and just hold it at that orientation, and watch what your GPS says about your direction of travel. It won't be even slightly in an upwind direction. It'll be downwind, with a noticeable crosswind componant. The force pushing you in that direction is the same force at work when you are paddling. Things change slightly, as far as the ways in which the boat resists sideways motion when underway, but that's primarily a change in sideways resistance within the rear half of the boat (and it's a reduction in sideways resistance too - not what you need in this case). I don't pretend to understand every detail about this, but I've played around with it enough to be pretty certain of the outcome.

over my head but I kinda see it
This is fast getting over my head, but I’m inclined to think that there will be a bernoulli effect from that setup, and that it’s about 50-50 chance that it will be noticeable.

I wrote and discarded about 2 pages of ruminations, but the bottomline is I just don’t know enough about the theory to say yes or no without trying it.

Eric, you are probably right. You seem to have analyzed it pretty extensively, and you’re usually right when you do that. However, I still can’t quite rule it out.

It comes down to 2 things to me. (1) Is the shape there that will generate a bernoulli effect, and (2) is there a keel that will convert it to forward motion. And I really have to say “yes, kind of” or “yes, in a way” to both questions.

Now, clearly the effect is going to be weaker than it would be for even a small sailboat, and since the size of that force is fairly weak anyway relative to the size of the vessel, it could be that there IS an effect but it’s just so small you don’t notice it. However, by the same token, the force could be big enough to add a knot or two to your speed, under ideal conditions.

Your argument of factors that might mislead one is especially persuasive. However, even if true, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of a real effect. It’s like the paranoia thing (just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you), just because there is this big source of perception error doesn’t mean that your perception is wrong.

Your idea of a stationary GPS test is a good one. However, after thinking about it, I’m not sure that’s a fair test. Consider the following:

First of all, since you are heading into the wind, a portion of your forward speed would increase the effective wind speed. Second, your effective keel consists not only of the portion of the canoe which is submerged, but also your paddle and possibly the path it travels.

(Note - I’m still thinking about the second point there - it seems to me that an active paddle might provide more effective keel area than the mere surface area of the blade. From a physics standpoint it seems that a stationary paddle in the water held rigid against the side should be an equivalent, but intuitively I want to give credit for how hard I’m paddling and the fact that I’m able to vary the angle of my strokes to “hold” the canoe at a certain angle to the wind.)

Third, (and I’m not sure on this point, just reaching) doesn’t your momentum increase your “lateral grip” on the water? Fourth, there will be a sweet spot with regard to the wind, and if you are trying to get a measurement without paddling forward I don’t know how you could hold the canoe to that sweet spot – it’s going to immediately blow you over and past it. Finally, fifth, (this is a question, I don’t know as I haven’t done much Canadian style paddling) can you heel the canoe as steeply when stationary as you could when moving?

Mind Puzzles and Real Observations

– Last Updated: Feb-09-09 9:48 PM EST –

Well, I'm answering some of your questions mostly because I enjoy trying to figure these sorts of things out. I still don't pretend to know all aspects of this, but I'm working with the things I have some familiarity with, and in a way that makes sense to me.

Topic #1
You say "It comes down to 2 things... (1) Is the shape there that will generate a bernoulli effect, and (2) is there a keel that will convert it to forward motion. And I really have to say “yes, kind of” or “yes, in a way” to both questions."

I'll save your point #2 for later and deal with point #1 here. I assume you are thinking about "lift" generated by the wind passing over the hull from an appropriate angle, and that lift would consist of a force that's applied in a direction which would aid your progress into the wind. Honestly, that's not something I had originally considered, but I'm considering it now, and yes, I think it makes sense that if the downwind side of the canoe were raised to catch the wind, it would generate lift if the wind hit at the appropriate angle. However, as I see it, the best such lift could do is create a force that is aligned at a right-angle to the wind direction, in the same manner as an airplane wing generates lift that is at a right angle to the relative direction of the wind passing over the wing. Well, for the boat hull, there's already plenty of sideways componant to the boat's velocity generated by the wind glancing off the windward side of the boat, but increasing that sideways componant by creating an airfoil shape and generating lift still doesn't do anything to propel you in an upwind direction. Here's why: If there WERE an upwind componant to this lift, in other words, a force pushing the boat into the wind, it would be analogous to an airplane wing generating forward thrust ("helping" to push the airplane against the air resistance it encounters) as a result of being pushed through the air by the engine, in effect, creating a perpetual-motion machine. In actual fact, on an airplane, the generation of lift creates resistance to the engine's forward thrust, and the more lift that is produced, the more engine power is consumed by resulting drag. Of course, the same would be true of a boat hull obtaining lift from the wind. That resistance will "fight" your attempt to paddle forward, or it will push your boat downwind, depending on whether you are paddling forward or just drifting and holding your alignement to the wind. This means that any lift generated by your hull would only compound the wind resistance you are already working aqainst. The bottom line of all these considerations is that the best an airfoil shape and boat-orientation could do for you is to generate a force that is at a right angle to the wind, or in other words, there can be no force pushing you into the wind that is generated by lift alone.

Topic #2

Now, on to your second topic, about the hull providing lateral resistance like a keel, as well as something about wind speed. You said "First of all, since you are heading into the wind, a portion of your forward speed would increase the effective wind speed. Second, your effective keel consists not only of the portion of the canoe which is submerged, but also your paddle and possibly the path it travels.

"(Note - I’m still thinking about the second point there - it seems to me that an active paddle might provide more effective keel area than the mere surface area of the blade. From a physics standpoint it seems that a stationary paddle in the water held rigid against the side should be an equivalent, but intuitively I want to give credit for how hard I’m paddling and the fact that I’m able to vary the angle of my strokes to “hold” the canoe at a certain angle to the wind.)"

Okay, here goes. First, I don't think the increase in relative wind speed is important. At best, you can only go 2 or 3 mph into a brisk wind anyway. Ignoring complete accuracy during addtion (rounding-off the answers) due to the fact that we are not talking about paddling straight into the wind but at a slight angle, would paddling 3 mph and changing the wind passing over the hull from an actual speed of 15 mph to an effective speed of 18 mph be significant? What about increasing a 20-mph wind to a relative speed of 22 mph by paddling forward at 2 mph? How about changing a 25-mph wind to 26 mph by paddling forward at 1 mph. See where I'm going with this? I don't think this aspect matters, especially when experience shows that paddling into a wind becomes increasingly more difficult as wind speed increases. If that were not true, it's back to Topic #1 and the need for a perpetual motion machine to make this system work.

As far as having an effective keel, I'll side-step all your thoughts about using the paddle as a keel for reasons that will be apparent. However, you CAN use a paddle as a keel (they call it a leeboard) if you actually have a sail, but I still maintain that the axis of your sail, or whatever you are using that acts like a sail, must have its axis closer to being in-line with the wind than the lengthwise axis of your boat in order to convert the force of the wind on that sail into forward thrust. The better a keel you have, the more efficient this conversion to forward thrust will be, but without that difference in angle between the sail and hull, you've got nothing to work with in the first place to push you in the "proper" direction. Without that critical difference in angle, the wind can only push you in the "wrong" direction. Because the hull is curved from one end to the other, PART of the raised side of the hull could act like a properly-aligned sail, but this will always be cancelled-out by the hull alignment within the other half of the boat which curves the "wrong" way.

"Third, (and I’m not sure on this point, just reaching) doesn’t your momentum increase your “lateral grip” on the water?"

I don't think so, based on countless hours and miles of rowing and watching my own wake slip off at an angle behind me during any kind of crosswind, but even if it did, we'd have to go back to the main point of Topic #2 and the need for a difference in alignment between the sail and hull to convert the direction of the wind's force to a direction which helps you rather than hinders you.

"Fourth, there will be a sweet spot with regard to the wind, and if you are trying to get a measurement without paddling forward I don’t know how you could hold the canoe to that sweet spot – it’s going to immediately blow you over and past it."

I'm not sure what you mean here. If you mean that maintaining a certain orientation to the wind would be optimum, but you don't believe you could maintain that angle without forward motion, I would say yes you can maintain that angle. If you can pivot your boat in-place while stationary, you can maintain a particular angle to the wind while stationary too, at least until the wind gets too strong for you. In a rowboat it is especially easy to do this, and in really strong winds it's fun to generate very high speeds in a cross-wind, sideways-so-the-hull direction and not actually aiming the boat into the direction of travel, but using this technique to go even directly crosswise to the wind rather than diagonally downwind requires me to provide plenty of my own power in an against-the-wind direction.

"Finally, fifth, (this is a question, I don’t know as I haven’t done much Canadian style paddling) can you heel the canoe as steeply when stationary as you could when moving?"

Yes, you can lean the boat whether moving or stationary (or when spinning, as the canoe-dancers like to do).

I’m not convinced - but thanks
I’m pretty sure that the difference you described is just your interpretation.

The Lakewater course is not the end all/be all of Canadian style, and it does require dock landings and turns. I don’t know anyone who took the lakewater level that cannot do a running bow pry. Most can do a 180 degree turn through just setup and weight shift.

Thanks for sharing your understanding though.

I started paddling Canadian style, but
I learned differently. Possibly this is because with shorter whitewater canoes, Canadian style just does not work very well. But it was quite effective when I was paddling longer boats.