Trailing wind

I have a skin on frame canoe that I use for flatwater paddling. I use a double-bladed kayak paddle. I find that when I have a trailing wind, the boat wants to turn beam to wind. I end up paddling on just one side in an effort to keep the boat heading straight ahead. Is this normal? Any technique to help avoid turning sideways? For what it’s worth, the stern rides slightly lower than the bow. Without wind, the boat tracks straight ahead very well. There is no keel strip, so the boat turns easily.

I had a Wenonah Voyager that did the same. That was mostly cured by getting a cover.

My canoe did much the same when I was first setting it up converting it from a tandem to a solo. It was all about trim and you have two options. Ether adjust the gear you are bringing along to level the boat or add some ballast. The second option is to move your seat position. That is what I did and now that the boat is trim empty with just me in it when I add gear I’m careful to place items ahead and behind to maintain trim.

Hi String,

How did a cover help?

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I don’t know how, but it reduced the boat’s turning into the wind by a bunch. Someone here will know why.

Do you mean a following wind? ie the wind is becoming from behind you?
Trimming the boat will help. You may need to add some weight to the bow.
Your boat is weather cocking in the wind like a weather vane.

Hi ppine,

Yes, I mean a following wind. Wind is behind me. Thew bow rides about 1-5 to 2 inches higher than the stern. Should I try to make it perfectly even?


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Typically in a following wind you need to shift more weight rearward to help keep the “loose” stern from getting blown towards the bow…even if you are already stern-heavy. You can also try adding more total weight since that should help the ends stick in the water. I have one solo canoe (Swift Osprey) that’s very sensitive to strong quartering tailwinds and sometimes I just have to slow down…the pressure on the bow from a moving boat can make the bow “stick” and then it’s easier for the stern to blow around. You could probably make a simple DIY canoe cover if you want to try that, it should help at least a little.

Kayaks solve the problem with a skeg. In a canoe you can adjust boat trim, boat lean and paddle strokes. If the wind is strong and sustained and you need to paddle on one side, that’s what you do. If you were single blading it wouldn’t seem odd at all. Probably does with a double blade.

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The cover helps because in an open canoe, wind catches on both the outside of one gunwale and the inside of the other, increasing the total force applied. Applying a cover over the rear will significantly cut the force on the stern and likely keep the “loose” stern from coming around.

you got it backward… I don’t think you meant what you wrote.

As I mentioned above I have my seat location worked out around proper trim and where I normally place items I bring along.

I also have two large DIY floatation bags I always have in the bow and stern and they fill the end 4’ including the decks. I’m sure that helps with wind catching inside the boat as well and being out at the ends helps more. I normally carry at least a small cooler and sometimes a large one as well. Behind my seat I will place my kayak dolly wheels and any other items I don’t need ready access to on the water. Turning around is not my thing. the small cooler holds what I will likely need during a paddle and not opening the big one all day keeps its contents cold longer. Sometime with a large group in little kayaks I haul the drinks for all in the big one and they can come along side and help themselves.

The flotation bags are a good idea to have and in my case I do think they help with wind also. :canoe:

Either the wind is not 100% tail, you have a trim issue or have a heretofore undisclosed tendency to paddle more strongly on one side. A full tail wind - as in completely from the rear - can have this impact but likely needs help from another source to be major. That said, anything will produce a much more noticeable effect in a skin on frame than in a heavier boat.

The first question to answer is whether the bow or the stern is getting pushed over. Could be evening the bow will help. But again there is nothing like being there. Making a certain answer on this board is questionable.

I suggest that you try a couple of simple things first. The cover is an interesting idea but entails a cost. Maybe try other simple things before making that investment.

My first would be to adjust the trim to anchor that bow, see what effect that has. All you really have to do is get some weight up there. I have to do that with my primary day boat because otherwise the bow gets to a reactive state that is a PITA.

Next see about the weight around the seat, either shift yourself forward or something.

And along with these, take a hard look at the keel line. Make sure it is truly straight.

I will say it is hard to judge trim when you are in the boat. Having a second set of eyes helped me a lot. The first upgrade I did to my seating position was based around all the talk I heard about how a tandem can be paddled solo by sitting backwards in the bow seat. I had molded seats that didn’t let you sit backwards so I removed the bow seat and turned it around by making some adapters. In the process I also gave myself 8” more towards the center. Paddling the boat in the calms I thought I nailed it and we headed out into more open water with wind and I couldn’t hold a straight line to save my live, but I sure could turn on a dime to head back. I asked my paddling partner as to how my trim looked and she said pretty good but a little high in the bow. I thought I was level so I asked how much and she said well you are out of the water in the front about 2”. I went to my knees and told her to tell me when it was dead level and in the water on both ends. I had to move a heck of a lot closer to center. Once there I paddled and it was like the wind was resistance but it didn’t turn me. I went home and ripped it all out and started over. With the weight of my legs being out front and my body slightly behind center I ended up wanting the front edge of my seat about 8” behind center is all. Now when in really shallow water if I get hung on a rock midway on the canoe if I lean forward it shifts my trim enough most of the time the stern will come up a little and water will rush under and lift me off the rock.

One problem with having a flat bottom tandem with its greater capacity as a solo is it draws so little water trim becomes very important. The advantage is you can float thru areas so shallow almost everyone else has to get out and walk. :canoe:

Interesting suggestions. Thanks to all. Some think I need more weight in the front, and others think I need weight aft. I normally go paddling with very little weight in the boat, but next time I go out when I think wind will be an issue I’ll take about 20 lbs of weight and shift it around to see if anything helps. There is no keel strip, which makes the boat turn easily, and easy for the wind to push around, but the boat has no tendency to go off to either side when there is no wind. It may be that this is something I just live with.

Just bring 5 one gallon plastic jugs along and fill with water. At 8 pounds per gallon 40 pounds out at the bow should be enough to let you know. When you get done you can leave the water back in the lake where you got it. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Good idea about the 1 gallon bottles. I’ll take them but not fill them until I need some extra ballast.

if you are bow heavy the only time this is ideal is in a headwind as the bow is pinned . Stern winds are never handled bow heavy… You will spin on a dime… try on calm water paddling stern light and you will get a sense of that.

Keels have NOTHING to do with tracking.

FMI read John Winters Shape of the canoe or the new Shawn Burke book " the Science of Paddling" Its physics and not opinion

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Keels have nothing to do with tracking? That’s something I haven’t heard before.

I thought tracking was mostly a function of waterline length and cross-sectional profile.

Most canoes seem to have a profile that varies from close to flat in the middle to a sharp V at the bow and stern. Biasing the weight towards rear of the canoe extends the wetted surface rearward and pushes the stern V section deeper into the water. At the same time it reduces wetted surface up front and lifts the bow V section out of the water, so the result is a more planted stern and a lighter bow that is more vulnerable to being blown around by headwinds. Likewise, if you bias the weight towards the front, the bow stays more planted and the stern is more vulnerable to being blown around by tailwinds.

Light weight, lightly loaded canoes are really susceptible to wind because they don’t displace a lot of water but present a lot of surface area for the wind to catch. If fiddlecanoe’s body is positioned aft of center, then wind drag on the body will also create a turning force.

Keels have nothing to do with tracking? That’s something I haven’t heard before. Any sailor will say (I think) that the keel helps keep the boat from being blown sideways in wind. That sounds like tracking to me. Though the keel on a kayak (we can include skegs here) or canoe is far less pronounced than those on sailboats, isn’t the function is the same?
BTW, FB says Burke’s book won’t be published until June.