Can anyone tell me what design characteristics make a canoe, kayak or a paddle quieter than others?

If so, can you project that characteristic to have an effect on efficiency or speed?

Can you cite any source of information on this?

Start with the bow ‘cutwater’…
I’ve got three yaks. The one with a ‘sharper’ and more angled ‘cutwater’ (the leading edge that cuts through the water) is the quietest. Two of the boats have a much more blunted bow causing a bit of a standing wave, which breaks over and causes noise.

Interestingly, there isn’t a noticeable speed difference…but it’s certain that making noise takes energy. A skinnier boat should also be a quieter boat…like a surf ski.

My boats don’t make noise…
but my paddles do.

My experience…
All the paddles I’ve used make noise, but all can be made quieter through technique…

There is an area where I go up a creek and know where the whitetail deer bed down. I like to sneak up as close as I can before they know I’m there…

I assume that is the kind of thing you mean, rather than an obnoxiously loud paddle that ruins every outing?

When in stealth mode… At the end of each (gentle) stroke, I ‘feather’ the blade by rotating the power face straight up and pulling the blade forward out of the water. This eliminates most ‘pop’ and ‘splash’ noises…

(I will) See You (but not hear you) On The Water,


the one holding
the paddle.

All boats and paddles get quiet
as your speed goes to zero. Above that, generally the sharper the entry, the quieter the hull as you build up speed. Paddling hard will make a good bit of noise in most boats, but you can maintain speed without making a lot of noise with good paddle technique.

The telling factor is generally the wave you leave behind. If you are making a big wave at 3 mph in one boat and little wave in another at the same speed, it’s pretty obvious which one is more efficient and therefore a quieter hull.

Small touring blades can be pretty quiet and allow you to paddle a long time without tiring.


Look at ab-original designs
Those that used the boats for hunting were quite aware of the difference. The beavertail canoe paddle is the quietest. Round end, sharp edges, and also very important there is no hollow “cheek” where the shaft transitions to the blade. I gave away my first bentshaft because of that annoying gurgle. I have a Mitchell now - still square-ended but much quieter. Greenland type kayak paddles have the same characteristics as the beavertail. Hmm…

A paddle stroke where the blade never leaves the water can be silent. Trying to paddle quietly improves your stroke: careful entry, strong pull midstroke, careful exit.

On the other hand, there is also an ancient design of both types of paddle with a very sharp pointed tip, also supposed to be for quiet. Haven’t figured that one out yet. Maybe it’s for poking prey in the eye. :slight_smile:

Keel or reverse keel
I have found boats with a reverse keel tend to gurgle. Going very slowly, this can be reduced. But add speed and the gurgling is very noticable. Regular keel will gurgle more than no keel but not as badly as reverse keel.

Therefore, when looking for quiet hulls, avoid these features.

Paddles with a shaft design that you can see the shaft protrudes onto the paddle face, will make more noise than paddles that blend the shaft at the blade connection, so that the paddle faces are smooth. But the biggest factor will be techniques as stated above. You can get any paddle to quiet down, some more easily.