Paddling Yellowstone Solo

Need some advice about paddling my new Yellowstone Solo.

The boat sometimes seems to want to veer off to the right or left, especially when rounding bends with very minor eddy currents. I have not quite learned a good technique of breaking the boat out of this. Its like, why is this boat doing this and why can’t I steer it back on track more rapidly and easily?

Has anyone else experienced this with the Yellowstone?

check your trim
Are you hauling any gear? If you’re bow heavy, you could be experiencing what you describe.


– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 8:14 AM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Yup, sounds like ye be skidding de stern out due ta de aforementioned heavy bow.

Fat Elmo

Is the current (whether minor or not) catching the stern on turns? I think you are describing a technique issue, not a problem with the design of the boat. Like most other canoes, these boats need to be paddled with proper strokes to get the most out of them and to be in control. How’s your draw and pry strokes?

Trim and Technique
Trim: Only a dump bag (fairly light) in the bow. The boat still seems to sit higher in the bow than the stern, but maybe I need it a bit higher in the bow.

Technique: I have mainly attempted to steer back with an outside sweeping stroke, but an inside bow sweep or rudder or stern pry might be more effective. (Sorry if my terminology doesn’t jive with the proper definitions…I am assuming you get the point, but this does sometimes lead to munication failyahs).

Thanks for the quick responses.

technique revisited
The front has more rocker that the rear, so you will find better response drawing from there. Once you do this a few times, you will instinctively do an inside-turning c-stroke, beginning with a draw at the bow, to a forward stroke and ending with a slight pry at the rear. Once you “get it” you are well on your way to total boat control. I believe that’s what you meant by a sweep?

you have described what I would instinctively do when I get all the mental cobwebs erased and I am not thinking about it. That is what is so fun about paddling, when you get in the zone, and your arms and hands become one with the paddle and evolve into fins. Thanks for untangling my words.

When a river flows around a bend there will be some sort of an eddy on the inside of the turn. If your bow gets into the slow water in the eddy while your stern is out in the faster water it will do what you describe. In light current the eddies are not always obvious but they can still try to spin you as the faster water pushes your stern past your bow.

When it happens you can plant a static draw on the inside and let the boat spin as you pull it into the slower water. Or you can crank a big fat pry on the outside and keep going downstream.

Idealy you learn to anticipate and either stay outside enough to avoid the eddy or drive in and spin.

Have fun,


Another thought
Most of our paddling in the past several months has been in very shallow water caused by long term drought. In a lot of cases, you cannot get much paddle in the water to execute some steering strokes. Maybe I just got in the habit of doing shallow, sweeping type strokes that are not as effective as the draws and prys recommended here. I am also used to paddling my Wenonah Sandpiper which almost seems to respond to my thoughts alone.

Lefty or righty?

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 11:06 AM EST –

Don't know if you're a lefty or righty, but just for awhile, let's pretend you are a righty. I will also assume you are kneeling. You are on a river in the Ozarks.

You are in moving water; entering a sweeping turn to the right. More than likely there are eddies present on your right. Typically, the stronger eddies will form on the inside of the curve.

All is going well; you are sitting up straight, and you're hitting power strokes, making "minor" corrections. You start to pick up speed.

There are a few obstacles in this section, and guess what? The obstacles are most often found where there is current; on the outside of the curve.

You start to put a little more power into the power strokes; trying to drive the bow to the left. Angle gets worse. Stern starts to swing towards the outside of the curve when corrections fail.

Now, you may not be sitting up as straight as you were; you may even be leaning away from the outside of the curve where the obstacles are. You may be leaning forward, maybe even raising your butt off your seat on those power strokes. You are loading the bow. You are paddling "righty" and you may be unknowningly applying more pressure on your right knee.

Now you are: moving at speed, you may have your body weight forward of the seat "loading the bow", you may be leaning to your right(away from obstacles), you're "paddling righty", and probably applying more pressure to the right knee than to the left when you dig in with the strong power strokes,(you are now edging the boat). You may actually have your body in a j-lean position. You hit some slower water; it catches the bow, stern swings downstream, and you perform a beautiful, though unintended eddy turn.

You loaded the bow/stern breaks free
You leaned upstream
You applied more power to attempt to correct
You applied more weight to your right knee
Your bow hits slower water
Your stern is in faster water
Boat angle changes
Current progressively got faster
The eddy sits & waits


righty vs. lefty question

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 11:06 AM EST –

Bob, Can you help me understand what difference being left or right handed makes in your illustration?

Thanks, I love this stuff!

Ok, I read your post again after you edited it. When you say "righty" you mean paddling on the right side. I got cornfused since I thought you meant "right handed" which could imply that you are more comfortable paddling on your left.


– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 11:17 AM EST –

Yep, you got it..........
My strong side is my right side; I typically paddle about 90% of the time on the right side of the canoe.

The other 10% of the time I'm paddling on my left side, in a half assed attempt to maintain some sort of ability to paddle on my off side.

I'm not a hit & switch paddler.
About the only time my paddle is on my off side is to perform a cross draw(quick correction), a cross forward (attainment), or sculling (sideslip).


are you left handed Bob?

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 11:54 AM EST –

I am the exact opposite of you. I am right handed adn paddle 90 percent of the time on my left. I too force myself to paddle on my right side to try to maintain some level of skill balance.

Isn't it true that a paddler's best paddling side is more often than not the opposite side of their dominant hand?

To me the answer is somewhat related to this question, "If I gave you a shovel and asked you to move a pile of sand, which hand would be on the top hand on the shovel handle." To me, this is most likely to be the top hand on the single blade paddle as well.

eddy turn
I think bob is refering to the dreaded unplanned eddy turn that comes from poor technique rounding bends in the river. Powering through turns=poor technique, backpaddling and maintaning bow to outside/stern in eddy=good control.

NOT a lefty…

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 12:03 PM EST –

My left hand is on top of the t-grip of my paddle.
My right hand would be on top of the shovel.

Typically what happen when someone gives me a shovel is it falls out of my hand after about 5 minutes. For some reason ??? I can't maintain contact with a shovel ??? Same thing happens with a swingblade, hoe, rake, broom, and paint brush. My wife is puzzled by this physical quirk more than me.........How can you hold that paddle all day long & not complain? Blah, blah, blah!!!

I know right handed people whose strong side is on their left & vice versa. Explanation of that is beyond my is much..........


P.S. Lou.........didn't mean to hijack your thread with off task b.s.; you can whack me with a paddle the next time you see me.......hopefully on a river.......

yea, I know
My question was unrelated to the original topic. I must have attention deficit disfunction.

power = good or back paddle = good

Rounding a corner under steam in moving water is not necessarily poor technique! In fact, beyond a certain point in “pushy” whitewater, paddling with strong forward strokes can be the most reliable option.

It can be tough to hold your own in a back ferry.

There are many ways to skin a cat. I think it’s somewhat limiting to only believe in either powering or back ferrying. Ideally you want to develop the strokes that give you the most options, so that you can choose either technique.

This post is a complex question to answer for anyone who wasn’t there. So many factors, as discussed: trim, micro eddies, boat tilt, sharpness of turn, speed, approach angle, what side you’re paddling on, bow vs. stern correction, and more.

Once you pay attention to your trim, body positioning and boat tilt, to ensure that things are “normal”; then consider whether current differential is the issue; then pay attention to whether you control it better to your onside or offside, and adjust your strokes accordingly, maybe you’ve got a weakness of a certain stroke on a certain side and should try something different; also try different speeds and angles to learn what happens when.


You have edited that together frame by frame pretty well.

I think you got a lot of it pictured right. But this veering I initially described is taking place downstream from the strongest part of the eddy. I have been pulled into many eddies involuntarily (including inside the tube at the Prongs at Jack’s Fork when the main current was entering the tube from an angle, and I was trying to stay inside instead of bouncing off the outside wall,and where I discovered that the diameter of the tube is exactly the same length as my Sandpiper – I safely exited…backwards and humbled!). But this seems to be occurring where the current is mixing more and where you would not expect there to be much of an eddy.

I would guess that you are probably right about my weight shifting toward the bow and to the side. I have noticed that moving weight from my butt to my knees while kneeling does move the trim considerably forward. I do tend to anchor more weight on the knees while moving in faster water. It is possible that the seat on this boat needs moving back a bit (or putting my pack behind me as some have suggested). Also, weight shifts from one knee to the other seems to affect this boat more than my Sandpiper. It is possible that I am counteracting my paddling stroke with a weight shift to the opposite side and this is making the boat go in the same direction I am trying to steer out of.

I am sure that an expert would have this boat drilled in short time, but it is taking me a little while to get the feel of it.

Putting the pack in back

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 2:39 PM EST –

I had always carried my contingency dry bag in front of me in my Supernova. And that worked just fine for trim.

Recently however, I installed a saddle. I did not move the knee pads. They are in the same location they were pre-saddle.

The first time I tried the Supernova with the saddle installed, I placed my pack in front as I always had. However now the canoe dove and skidded left or right in the slightest differential current. I had to fight like hell to stop it and bring it back.

For some reason the saddle altered my weight distribution. As soon as I tossed my pack behind me, all was well again, just as it was pre-saddle.

Maybe your weight distribution and trim are also right on the edge. Try the pack in back.

i’ll agree, with an addition

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 3:05 PM EST –

It's bad technique "TO ME".

Many paddlers power their way around bends sucessfully. It seems to be the norm among the WW crowd. Lots of wasted effort to my way of thinking. I have also seen a few slide into strainers when they couldn't make it, and just as many eddy out wondering "what happened?"

I agree there are many ways to "skin a cat". I prefer to use a sharp knife as opposed to a hatchet.

I enjoy playing the currents and letting the river do the work, approach a bend at an angle, stern in, bow out and gracefully coast around the turn sideways, and in control.

Of course my powering buddies are always running up on my rear wondering why or how I put on the brakes...