single paddle with kayak? (indian style)

Hi, and thank you to the board for all the help so far. I’m narrowing down on my decision of my first paddling vessel.

I am currently narrowed down to the Sevylor inflatable Tahiti Classic kayak. Supposedly it’s traveled the entire Amazon River, and the Orange Torpedo has proven itself as the flagship for a whitewater business.

Anyway, I’m satisfied with it’s durability relative to my intended use.

My intent of use is on lakes, or still/gentle rivers. I plan to exit the water at the same place I entered… without needing to do much paddling back upstream or against current.

I am intending to sometimes carry a small amount of gear/weight for overnight camping, but usually it will just be my 6’1" 150lb self.

I like to paddle casually, relaxed, effortlessly.

I believe I’d prefer the kneeling position mostly, what I’ve read called “Indian style”/ “sitting on the heels”.

My question is that I find using a single paddle more relaxed than using a kayak double-sided paddle…

Can a single paddle be used on this sort of kayak?

(picture of the Tahiti Classic & measurements)

why not ? …
there’s no law that says you cannot. Certainly the Seylor is no worse than a wide canoe. Just make sure the paddle is of correct length.

Why more relaxing?
It appears you have paddled with a single blade - to better answer the question, in what situation did you do so and why did you find it more relaxing than a double? Inflatables tend to be pretty wide, so for me a single blade would be a whole lot less relaxing than a double because I’d have to work harder. Working harder does not seem to be something you want to do. But there may be something in your experience that changes this.

A general comment - from your posts, it seems that you are focused on the “relaxing” part of kayaking to the point that you don’t necessarily understand the situation in which various equipment works the best. Or is there some background that you haven’t provided?

how much time do you have on the water?
Please don’t take this as an insult or a put off, but from your posts it seems to me you have a few false concepts going on and your questions would indicate you are lacking even the most basic experience. You’ve gone from “imagining” you’d like a canoe to thinking about paddling a kayak in an unorthodox fashion with an emphasis on how relaxing it’s going to be.

I do not normally advocate the “rent everything before you buy it” approach, trial and error put a man on the moon. I say buy what you can afford and hit the water (and yes,get your feet wet). But in your case I seriously recommend taking a few rental trips this spring before you buy anything. Seriously.

Looking at the picture of that kayak
no way does it look like you will be able to get a vertical paddlestroke in. Unless you really enjoy a J stroke (which you will have to do constantly) you will find yourself switching sides constantly.

I dont know how you would be able to kneel with those integrated seats.Looks like a craft designed for pure sitting. For sure its not King Island kayak,

casually, relaxed, effortlessly
Other people have commented on this. I’ll throw in my 2¢.

You say a couple of things that are at odds. On the one hand, you say you want to paddle casually, relaxed, and effortlessly. On the other hand, you say, “I plan to exit the water at the same place I entered without needing to do much paddling back upstream or against current.” If you stay on a lake, that’s one thing. And I think we can all relate to wanting to lollygag and just relax. But if you’re talking about going down stream, and then paddling back upstream without effort in a Sevylor Inflatable Tahiti Classic, I think you’re kidding yourself. I won’t include a link because anyone can cut and paste and find the boat, but that thing looks like a real pig. NOT the kind of boat that would make paddling upstream “effortless”. Especially paddling upstream with a single blade paddle. If you want effortless in a stream, you’re going to have to get a different boat. As far as the paddle is concerned, I guess I would echo some of the other concerns. If you’re just lollygagging, then it doesn’t really matter what you use; a single blade or a double blade would be equally effortless if you’re putting no effort into it. But with just one person in that boat, with one blade I imagine it would take a bit of work to paddle a straight course. It costs a fair bit more, but if I were ever going to buy an inflatable, I’ve been tempted by the Feathercraft Java:

Java looks good. Probably could
handle more different kinds of paddling than the ww tandem I carry around the country. Would have to check the capacity for long legs.

Hmmmm, sounds like you need a canoe. Just curious if you’ve tried one?

Hate to say it!
I feel like I’m the one always promoting using the single blade here, but in this case I’d say it is a waste of time.

If you are getting a Sevlor use the only type of paddle they sell with it. I’ve had several sevlors. Now I prefer rowing the rafts, their kayaks were aweful to paddle.

You might be able to do it, but I doubt

– Last Updated: Feb-22-11 7:24 PM EST –

if you are going to be a happy paddler.
My wenonah Jensen 17 canoe was advertised as the only tandem canoe that could be paddled solo, and it is about an inch wider than that Sevylar. I am 5'9" and gave up trying to paddle it solo. It was just too uncomfortable.
It will be even hard for you since you want to do it kneeling.
You will have to be doing a continuous J stroke or constantly shifting your body a few inches in either direction.
If I were you I would put some more thought into it.

Lastly. I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but if some one offered me that boat for free, I wouldn't want it. It is a beach toy !

Jack L

thanks all
I can see now why a wide body makes a single paddle difficult… you’d be turning he vessel so much on each stroke that you’d need to switch sides paddling very frequently just to keep straight.

last poster… I know right. Why not change the color scheme a bit? The “orange torpedo” version (orange body, blue floor and seats) is basically the same exact kayak, but looks like a real thing. …But given that it’s the same kayak (gone down the amazon, and is the sole boat used for one whitewater kayaking business)… it just shows how appearance triggers mental associations.


From a previous post I see your from PA somewhere near Lake Nockamixon. L.L.Bean in Saucon Valley has kayak (and canoe I think) demos at the lake on weekends. Its like $10 or $15 and you can try out whatever boats they have. I think the demos start in a few weeks.

There is also Paddlefest in NJ coming up in a month. I think the website is there should be a bunch of stuff there to check out and “experts” to talk to.

Single Blade
Many Inuit used single bladed paddles in Greenland, it seems. The double blade isn’t as massive improvement in efficiency as people may think. The double paddle is heavier and may cause more tendon injury (if feathered). I have taken my paddle apart and tried paddling with a single blade when in really tight overhang and was surprised how little difference it made to me (aside from the fact that there was no place for the top hand to grab).

That said, I no longer feather my paddle, either, so I may well be an oddball case. It probably will not be hard to find a paddle to borrow and experiment with, but there are some things to consider if you’ve trained with a specific blade configuration. For example, I still roll better with a feathered paddle and have to remind myself what I have to do differently to recover from capsize (most of which are intentional so that I can cool off on hot days, but sadly, not all of them :)).


Do some paddling first …
Look into renting some canoes and kayaks and take a few lessons.

There are paddling clubs in your area that will help you get started.

Inflatables look like a cheap/easy way to get started especially when you don’t have a good way to transport them or storage, but they have their own limitations.

Lots of paddlers on the lake there, Tohikon Creek and Delaware River … ask around a bit and see the equipment experienced paddlers use. They made those choices for a reason. You can buy used gear very inexpensively so look around a bit.