Single paddleing a packboat?


I’m still working through my boat purchase decision.I want real lite(App20#) boat but want to single paddle.I guess kneeling is out in this weight.Do any of you single blade paddle while sitting on the floor?I would think you would need a real short paddle and a narrow boat.All my experience has been kneeling and sitting on a seat.What about building up the height of the floor seat some?Thanks for all your help!


Single Blade All the Way!

– Last Updated: Mar-18-07 11:11 AM EST –

Yep, Works well.

I use either a 48" or 50", ZRE or Black Bart bent shaft in both my SpitFire and RapidFire by Charlie and Joe at Placid BoatWorks.

Go paddle their boats. Take along your single paddle and ignor them when they give you that "Oh, no. Not another one" look. You are in good company, really.

Just ask Mark from NYC and the others. ;^)

If you like really fast boats, I've hear a rumor that there is a new longer, slimmer, FASTER boat to be out soon; 16' by 24" (or less?). Rumer is it is built to be an extreme exerciser or a flat out racer.


Single sticking a pack canoe
I think part of the allure of pack canoes is the skill level required to make them track. With a double blade paddle, the learning curve is short and flat - anyone can reach their destination without instruction or long apprenticeship. Pack canoes are simply ultra light open topped kayaks.

That said, there are times when one almost has to single blade because the footprint of the kayak paddle is so wide - attaining small brushy creeks comes to mind. But single sticking a any solo canoe requires more skill than using a kayak paddle.

Traditional pack canoes are constant flare hulls because the originals were lap strake built. This requires a longish double stick, ~ 260 cm that induces a sweeping componant and hence yaw into each forward stroke. Flare increases the single stick paddlers difficulty in reaching over the side and stacking the hands to present a vertical paddleshaft to minimize yaw.

Raising the seat helps, tumblehome helps, a shorter paddle helps. Fox paddles makes a 47" straight with smaller blade specifically for use in our pack canoes. Our designer, David Yost paddles his pack canoe with a 45" Zaveral bent, and it works!

I use a riffle on the Saranac River under the Rt 3 bridge for ACA moving water courses. I often take a SpitFire because it qualifies as solo kayaks with the double paddle and as a solo canoe with single blade. Invariably, students attain the riffle more easily with the single blade than the kayak paddle!

Charlie, what about the seat?
I saw you building one that had a seat hung from the gunnels, but you didn’t seem too keen about it at the time.


P.S. Picked up a used SpitFire (2004) in January and need to come up and see you about the backband you install now.

You mean “Pakboat”?
I can’t answer your quesiton, but I’ll certainly get a couple of those to travel with. They are light!

No. We are talking about Pack Canoes.


Got a link?

– Last Updated: Mar-18-07 1:41 PM EST –

I was looking at this:

Ok, got it. It's Old Town.

hanging seat or saddle
I think one factor in weight reduction in pack canoes is that the sides of the hull and the gunnels can be very lightly built as there are no stresses of suspending the paddlers weight from the gunnels.

The two solutions to that are beefing up the hull sides and gunnels adding extra pounds or mounting a simple foam saddle like the whitewater folks use. Saddles are the most comfortable way to kneel because your most of your weight is supported by your butt and thighs instead of your knees.

I think the Hornbeck 14 would be fun with a saddle!

“packboat” is a generic term

– Last Updated: Mar-18-07 4:56 PM EST –

The original poster could be considering any number of tiny, lightweight canoes who's basic design originated in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I really don't think Old Town's "Pack" canoe counts as one of these because it's pretty wide and and is made from very heavy plastic, not a lightweight layup.

Oops, my mistake. I just checked out Old Town's website and see that the Pack is Royalex. I had thought it was Polyethylene. Still, it's not nearly as light as the pack canoes most people would think of as deserving the name.

I'm not familiar with many of these boats, but saw some made by a company called "Native" at Canoecopia that fit the bill. For another example, check out the small solo canoes made by Hornbeck. There should be product reviews of some Hornbeck boats right here on P-net.

single stick pack canoe seating
There are two issues with building a pack canoe for a kneeling paddler using a normal length single stick; conctruction and geometry.

Construction is relatively easy once one accepts what has to happen an extra carbon support band at the seat location and another kevlar blanket and the boat weighs more. It took us a while to accept the weight gain.

We had three Rapids go out rigged for kneeling. We dropped in double belly bands, 1 6.2oz cloth at the seat, the other 4" unidirectional located on the front screw location.

2 of them were fine - the customers were compact gentlemen who, after trying kneeling and becoming quit impressed with how easy it was to become wet, reverted to our low composite seat and double blade paddles, as per geometry lesson later.

The other guy was ~ 6’2" and ~210. How were we to know he’d had a gyroscope surgically inserted in his neather regions and has no trouble keeping the hull upright in ocean swells. Hence new lamination schedule and pricing and weight for dedicated kneelers.

Wenonah uses pedestals to mount sit down seating. They load the hull bottom and do reduce weight by allowing lighter sidewalls. Kneeling Pedestal seating was available for a while in Pat Moore’s and Blackhawk’s freestyle solos but has not survived because it is a single position option. We all tend to cramp up after a while.

Cane seats allow one to kneel with ankles flexed or straight or sit with legs on pack or footpegs or high kneel with one, then the other leg forward and up. Lots of options to ease cramping on longer tours.

The second issue is geometry verse balance. appropriate hull width has lots to due with thigh length. We want our thighs spread comfortably with knees located pretty much where loading our weight on that knee heels the hull close to the rail on that side.

We can cheat a smaller person into a bigger boat by lowering the seat and gluing thick foam kneepads into the chines, effectively making the hull a couple inches narrower, but the smaller person generally cannot heel the larger hull as comfortably as one that fits.

The obverse doesn’t work for bigger people. Raising the seat in a narrow hull raises the a tall person’s Center of Gravity over a narrow base. I have a 6’5" friend who used to swim out of his WildFire with regularity. His thighs were so long and at such a tight angle with the knee placement that is comrromised his balance. A solo Star fixed him right up and he’s been dry since.

None of this explains why M.Handy hasn’t come out of his Rapid to feed fish: great balance or a beneficent diety I suppose.

And yes, a backband will improve an 04 Spit. What were we thinking? We have them in stock at all times and have printed up instructions for those who do not trust us near their boat w/ power tools.

Got it!

Like Mick Says, Single Paddle
Used a single most of the time when I had a Mad River Monarch (precursor to the Seawind) and when I’ve paddled those beautifull Placid Boatworks canoes, in the Bell Bucktail, as well as my Sawyer with a lowered seat. All different, but in all I essentially am sitting within a few inches of the bottom of the boat. I’m 6’2" with a long torso and like a 48" bent shaft like a Zav or the double bent BB Viper. If I were a little shorter, I would go with a bit shorter paddle. I started out paddling canoes, so I will always prefer the single blade, although; like CE Wilson said, the kayak paddle has a faster learning curve. Here’s an example pic with me in a Placid Rapidfire with a 48" Zaveral, which worked perfect. WW

Mfgs list.
Dear WW; I can’t remember that dogtgeral “half the blade twice the man, or was it twice the blade twice”? Anyway, we’ve developed a partial manufacturers list, and in faiurness to all here;s a more complete story.

Pack canoes started here in the ‘Daks as 13-14 foot “hunter” canoes, about the time RobRoy type canoes were being double bladed as tripping canoes. GW Sears got Rushton to make several smaller hulls, but he weighed 110lbs. Many of his smaller boats are faithfully reproduced in wood and composites today. The selection is fantastic because some of us want an absolutly minimalist craft to carry uphill to fish lost pond, others want to run class 2 with tripping gear.

Pack canoe manufacturers:

Bell; - single 12’ model DY design

Grass River; 12 and 13 foot models - hard to find

Hemlock Canoe; 10.5, 12’ composite models

Hornbeck Boats; 9.5,10.5, 12, 14’, composites

Mad River Canoe; 12,14’ poly model

Native; 12’ poly, composite from Compass mold

Old Town; 12’ABS on 80’s Bart Hauthaway design

Placid boatworks; 12, 15’ DY designs

Rainbow boatworks 12’

Savage River; 12’

Vermont Canoe 12’4" Rob Frenette design

I’ve mentioned designer only if not a traditional - Rushton based - hull.

There is an auto body place in Boston that has some Hauthaway molds, but…

Charlie’s posts
I want to complement Charlie for his posts on pack canoes, solo canoes and canoes in general. What other canoe maker responds with such informative posts? Also most commendable, he never pushes his own canoes. When have you ever seen a boatbuilder freely post the manufacturers of all the competive products?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I own a Rapidfire that Charlie and Joe built for me last Fall, and have considered Charlie a friend for years. I also own 3 Hauthaway canoes and being from New England, was with Bart many times at events and his house. Still miss the old cuss.

The owner of most of Hauthaway’s molds is Dan Sheehan, doing business as Chem-Tec, in or near Plymouth MA. He has no web site and attends few events, so he is far below the radar screen. He builds finely crafted canoes in the old tech way using fiberglass and poly resin in hand layups. Nothing like modern construction using newer materials and more modern resins, vacuum bagged and possibly infused resin. Still Dan’s canoes are fine craft for what they are.

I have one Hauthaway mold for a 9.5’ long, 26" wide pack canoe and built one canoe from the mold. For people below 140 lbs it’s a fine canoe. For anyone heavier, which is most of the American population, it’s too small. Using epoxy and fiberglass, hand laid, it came out at finished weight of 22 lbs. At my 210 lb weight there was 2-3 inches of freeboard. However, My 140 lb Daughter-In-Law looks mighty fine in it. I gave the canoe to my Grandaughter. After building that one composite canoe, I have great respect for Charlie and the others who build them commercially, and have no desire to do so myself.


Hrmph, check those numbers
Charlie –

I’ll have you know that I’m 6’0" and only 205 pounds (and that’s after a slothful winter – I was probably just under 200 when you made the boat). My weight goes up just fine on its own and doesn’t need help from you :slight_smile: Also, I don’t do “ocean swells,” just Hudson River winds and wakes. And I consider myself to be less blessed with balance than most outdoorsy people are. But yes, I can keep the RapidFire upright in all conditions I’ve paddled it in. The 40-mph winds on the East River at Hell Gate in October were the major challenge so far. I don’t know why it works for me, but I’d guess it was the 11 years in the WildFire, not some extraordinary sense of balance. Do other people paddle a RapidFire as a true kneeling canoe, or is the kayak seat on the bottom, under the kneeling seat, in the way of their legs?

But about those winds: when are you going to build me a decked, low-sheer RapidFire with a pedestal seat that is comfortable for both kneeling and sit-and-switching against those excellent footbraces? I love the RapidFire as it is now, but that would be some boat. I bought a bunch of minicell and am trying to figure out how to make that pedestal…

– Mark

Daves and Mark and knees
I am truly humbled by Dave’s kind words - and this from a guy who didn’t want our micharta thwarts or for us to even stasrt finishing his woodwork!

Re Mark, I can probably prove in court that anyone who can consistantly kneel in NY Harbor in a rapidFire has exceptional balance. My last hope is that Wild Sis will loose another trailer off the Varranzano Bridge and it will fall on him

so we won’t have to discuss exceptions.

Beyond teasing a couple friends, I just thought of an issue re kneeling in pack canoes. The average lamination schedule is designed to accommodating loading the bottom with a fanny’s width of pressure. When we kneel, we spread our knees way wider than that - maybe into areas with just two layers of 5 or 6 oz fabric. This is a recipe for stress cracks in rivers, wghen the knee arrives at a log or rock.

Be sure to let your builder know you’ll be adapting the hull for kneeling so they can throw extra laminae in the chines. Yes, that will increase weight.