Probably a dumb question but...

I’ve been reading up on canoes here, for personal growth. Is there any reason why one person can’t paddle a tandem canoe by themselves? From the rear seating position perhaps? Or is it just horribly inefficient?

This site is cool because it’s opened up a whole new paddling world for me. This upcoming season I may just branch out and come in off the sea kayaking thing and check out some of this other stuff. My planning for a river trip has been helped enormously by info off this site. I even found a link to a Canadian canoe manufacturer that builds a 41 foot canoe! Never knew canoes got that big.

Nope, no reason at all

– Last Updated: Dec-27-07 8:58 PM EST –

not ta paddle solo. Many of us paddle tandem canoos all de time. Ah' persoonitly like paddlin' my Prospectors an' OT Tripper Canadian style - from de middle, heeled over be thee way.


You can…
sit in the front seat and paddle the boat from that end, or if too high in the bow still, kneel in the middle of the boat.

The only inherent disadvantage of solo paddling that I can see is riding somewhat higher in the water on a windy lake.

So take the dog.


Tandem as a Solo
You probably have already surmized that some tandem canoes are more suited to this than others. Also, if solo paddling is likely to be a primary use, you should certainly consider a solo instead of a tandem.

As far as paddling from the rear seat, that’s not so good, as it puts the bow up out of the water to catch the wind, and it leaves you supported by a very narrow portion of the boat, so it can be precarious. A better option is to paddle from the bow seat facing backwards if there’s not a thwart preventing that, and if the canoe isn’t asymetrical and thus not friendly to backward travel. Better still is to install a kneeling thwart just aft of center and paddle from there.

I test paddled PJC’s Novacraft Prospector this summer, and was pleasantly surprised at how nimble a really big tandem can be when paddled solo. Now, put yourself solo in a big ol’ aluminum Grumman, and that might not be so much fun.

kneeling thwart?
I believe I have one in my Wenonah Escape. I thought it was a foot rest for the stern seat. It is front and back adjustable. It is lower than the thwart across the gunwale. How do you use it?

Kneel in front of it

– Last Updated: Dec-27-07 10:01 PM EST –

on a pad (facin' away from it, of course) an' rest yer tailbone up a'gin' it. Now yer have a 3 point contact wit de canoo.


Paddling - no problem
but getting it up on top of the car. That can be an issue.


Thanks, FE
Would you believe it that the owner’s manual does not mention this, like you are supposed to know.

That might really be a footrest
I don’t want to sound too prejudiced, but it would be very unlike Wenonah to put a kneeling thwart in a canoe. You were probably right the first time when you thought it was a footrest. Is it a bar that’s down low where you can easily rest your feet against it? If so, it’s a footrest.

A kneeling thwart would probably not be more than a two or three inches lower than a regular thwart, and it would be very broad, perhaps four or five inches across, and it would have a bit of a downward slope from the the back edge to the front edge (just like a canoe seat made for kneeling is mounted on a slope).

Maybe, just maybe, Wenonah puts a kneeling thwart in their version of the “Prospector”. A true Prospector is already about as unlike a Wenonah as anything could be, so what the heck…

kneeling thwart pic.

– Last Updated: Dec-28-07 5:44 AM EST –

the thwart right next to the "left" grafitti is a kneeling thwart. Helps me solo this 16'4", 37" wide Queen Mary quite easily. Hey Swordfish, we're from the same state and it's a small one. If you want to get together some time, give a shout.
The thwart with the helmet on it is a portage thwart,and that one my favorite when the canoes on land.
Center seats are also great, but portaging is compromised.

solo for tandem
There is a specific form of solo paddling that developed around tandem boats. It.s called omering or sometimes referred to as Canadian style. Kayamedic, a frequent contributor to this site is quite expert in the style and will likely chime in with more info. I believe she can also point you to some instruction if you’re so inclined.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

From my forays re canoes so far…
We have been all kayak for the last several years - got into it as a result of wanting to get to those islands we could see offshore from where we vacation in Maine, and like many others here the fleet just keeps getting bigger. We added WW this last season because we wanted to be able to train in some conditions without the 4 plus hour drive to the ocean. It is a tremendous amount of fun by the way, and after some good work even in class 2 WW you’ll just toss off most ocean tidal races on the east coast anyway.

Then there are canoes - I have wanted to get back into one after discovering how neat the newer solo boats were compared to the camp clunkers of my youth. But with job and music and other stuff it was one boat more than I’d have time to use, so I left it out there for later when I had time. Later should be this coming summer.

So to save you some time - if you are used to the responsiveness of a kayak in ocean conditions, you probably should at least get into a good solo canoe. You are likely to be really pleased by how well these things manuver and handle. A tandem will also work as above, but there are some nice solo canoes that come up used as well that you might love. Some of the older Sawyers, the original Mad River canoes, that kind of thing.

It gets a little confusing in detail - do you want to be able to sit, or just kneel, do you want to be able to use a double blade paddle which sends you towards a pack canoe, that kind of thing. But do yourself a favor and get into a decent solo canoe if you are thinking canoe anyway. YOu can figure out the rest later.

A dedicated solo
boat for one is easier to make the transition into. Whether you kneel or sit you can start with a double blade. (most likely your kayak one will be too short so plan on getting wet)…then you can take off and have the knowledge that you have the skills to get back with the double while learning and experimenting with a single blade.

If you have the tandem and thats what you have, you can double blade facing backward from the bow seat. The bow seat is closer to the center( your goal) than the stern. Sometimes it gets messy; there may be a thwart in the way.

So you know you can get home.

Like in a yak, the object is to be close to the center of the boat because you have to do strokes(pushes and pulls) both in back of the pivot point and in the front.

(those guys are talking about a footrest; a bar that is just in front of the stern thwart…

Canadian Style centers the paddler cozied up to the center thwart and the boat is heeled over as our arms arent long enough to make a vertical stroke plant unless its heeled. The hard part is that people kneel. Its critical to have a good foam pad under your knees. There might be a kneeling thwart in your boat about 3 feet behind the center thwart but its not on all boats. Its butt support; you lean against it, dont sit on it…(crack!)

However its a pretty big leap from kayaking and the kneeling position might seem to you like waterboarding. I made a little T shaped support for my butt, to keep the pressure off my knees.

Some of my students after a while prefer to sit in the bottom of the boat amidships…because the sides of a canoe are a little higher you might want to sit on a beanbag chair. That allows you to stretch out your legs while you work on this funny single blade thing.

foot rest
The fact that it is adjustable fore and aft is another hint that it is probably a foot rest.

Solo elegance in a tandem

Check the video clips…

Canoe dance

41 foot canoe
For the man with 18 inches

ever done that?
Its fun to participate in. Its about as interesting to the spectator as watching elephants dance. Canoe dance is not done to music. It is more like synchronized swimming to silence. Its awfully hard. People participating tend to bite their tongues and squint.

Omering, the flashy precursor to American FreeStyle sometimes is done to music and has lots of static mysterious strokes. The boat spins fast sometimes. Its like ice skating to music. Its a lot of fun to do and see.

Lakewater is the fussy basis for all of it. Its doing things solo in a tandem boat within two or three inches of a point or one or two degrees of angle. You must be able to paddle a straight line with a maximum total yaw of three degrees. Pivot three times clockwise and three times counterclockwise with your head in the confines of a hula hoop. Go completely around a stationary buoy clockwise and counter clockwise with your bow always touching the buoy. Now again with the stern touching.

Any takers?

Cool beans
Thanks for the great info. While I probably won’t get into canoeing I do like to read about paddle sports. Main reason I won’t get into canoeing is cost. I only make $7 an hour at the environmental group I work at. The work is very rewarding and there’s flexible scheduling for other activities. Heck I had my sea kayak on lat away for 2 years before I was finally able to strap it to the roof of my minivan and take it home! Took another 8 months before I finally had all my gear paid off and was able to take her out for her maiden voyage. I didn’t buy absolute top of the line, but close and I’m glad I did. The wait for good gear was worth it. My Cannondale mountain bike was on lay away for 14 months and I’m really happy with it.

Not that I’m complaining. My job makes a difference and is spiritually rewarding for me. Cup O’ Noodle soups are cheap and leave money for my passions. Biking and sea kayaking. My old minivan is tough as nails and gets good mileage allowing me to travel places to ride and paddle. Yeah, I’m happy.

If I could find an independantly wealthy, brunette, 36D, nymphomaniac who owns a chain of liquor stores I’d be ecstatic!

Kneeling thwarts
In all the canoes I’ve seen, the kneeling thwart is usually about 3- 3 1/2 " wide with about a 3" drop. Most of them are slightly curved and angled to allow you to tuck in tighter to the gunnel.

I solo my 16" scott and 16’6" swift several times a year and on the swift I had the thwart moved back about 2" to allow me to use it as a foot rest.

I’ve never seen a canoe with a 5" thwart- do you have any examples? I’d like to check one out