seating and stability

as opposed to theory–I’ve done quite a bit of solo paddling in tandem canoes. Here is what I’ve learned through that experience:

  1. Paddling from near the center is by far the best if you want speed and tracking. Paddling from the bow seat facing backwards is better only if you are going to be doing a lot of maneuvering. Forget paddling from the stern seat. It really does make the canoe seem less initially stable, and requires excessive correctional strokes to keep the canoe going straight.

  2. If the canoe is less than 35 inches wide at the gunwales in the center, it’s not too wide for either effective single blade paddling from he center, nor is it wide enough to require excessively long and heavy double blades. If more than 35 inches wide, it starts to become problematical.

  3. I’d much rather paddle from the center, with a light load that’s easy to trim, than paddle from closer to the ends, where I’ll have to “manufacture” part of my load to keep the boat trimmed. It seems stupid to me to carry stuff in the canoe that has no use except to trim it.

I agree
best summary for lightly loaded canoe.

Kneel in the center - buy knee pads
or a a foam pad or buy a different boat if you want to paddle solo.

pilot house paddlers
load canoe to the rear so hull pivots…at the rear.

In the beginning with my Solstice on Florida bay, edging into the wind with left foot forward paddle right, right foot…edging into wind…and gaining hull sail area to windward

All journeys are to windward.

increased speed, decreased effort.

Of course, a Solstice is way too cumbersome at square one so…

Over time, is edging or heeling slower with shorter edged hulls ? How your math with this ? Gotta ratio ?

stretching exercises

Agree with al

– Last Updated: Aug-31-15 9:21 PM EST –

Sort of.

When I paddle my 16' Prospector solo, it's from a bit behind the middle. My Malecite has the solo seat mounted about 8" behind the middle - and that works well. I removed the thwart between the yoke and the aft seat in the Prospector and replaced it with a kneeling thwart. That works well too.

I play around with Canadian style, but mostly kneel against the thwart with knees spread and a slight edge to one side or the other in the Prospector. When soloing thus, I use a long-bladed otter tail paddle. With that long blade, I can use turning strokes that won't work as well with a shorter paddle in that big solo boat. With my butt on the kneeling thwart, the boat is very stable.

Also have something to say about speed when paddling heeled to one side in this boat. Don't know and don't care what it does to theoretical hull speed ('cause I'm not getting near it solo anyway), but I cruise with less effort with that hull heeled when solo. Talk about the science behind it all you want - it's just a fact. Heeling brings it's own issues though with wind and turbulence and tracking. Most of the time when paddling solo in the Prospector, I'm against the kneeling thwart with a slight heel and knees spread. Easy to slide to the other side if needed.

None of that makes the Prospector a good solo canoe though (for just paddling anyway). Now, poling.....that's the stuff.

effects of heeling
Shortening the waterline length by heeling the canoe will generally reduce wetted surface area which can be beneficial. But it also has other effects which may or may not be.

Heeling a canoe typically changes the water footprint from a symmetrical shape which is directionally stable and hydrodynamically efficient to a lenticular shape which generally is not. The effect varies considerably with hull shape.

Long, sleek, straighter keeled hulls with sharp prows will typically want to turn away from the side the hull is heeled towards. More rockered hulls with bulbous stems will often tend to carve toward the side the hull is healed.

Furthermore, the effect varies with any pitch of the hull depending on how it is trimmed. Sometimes with a particular hull a certain degree of heel combined with a certain degree of pitch will result in a tendency for the boat to turn toward the side of heel which can counterbalance the turning effect of the forward stroke. But I doubt that strongly heeled hulls with a markedly lenticular shaped footprint would ever be as hydrodynamically efficient over distance than one paddled flat with a symmetrical footprint.

This short article talks about some of the effects of heeling:

Prospector/Malecite comparison bears that out. I try not to heel the Malecite for those very reasons. Fortunately it’s a bit narrower. It’s (literally) a stretch though for me to get a vertical paddle, so some correction is generally required either way. Sitting closer to an end with appropriate ballast might eliminate that, but then bow control becomes an issue. Sideslipping becomes a non-starter.


Glad I’m not stuck with that anymore.

canoe width

– Last Updated: Sep-01-15 3:37 PM EST –

The Malecite has a gunwale width of 33". I can paddle one from amidships without too much of a struggle but I have a roughly average male torso length and arms somewhat longer than average for my height.

I put in quite a few miles solo paddling a Mad River Kevlar Explorer using an improvised seat and a Dagger Legend 16 using a removable pedestal centered near amidships. It was a bit of a struggle for me to paddle either. The Explorer has a gunwale width of 34.5" and the Legend a gunwale width of 35".

I have also paddled some pretty big solo whitewater canoes, all from a neutrally trimmed position, including the the Dagger Caper, Blue Hole Sunburst II, and the Whitesell Piranha with gunwale widths of 31.5, 32, and 33" respectively. I found those boats fairly manageable but I know many paddlers who found them too wide.

Contrary to al_a's experience, I think a considerable number of smaller paddlers would have difficulty paddling a 35" beam boat from a centered position amidships.