Trailing wind

That is a surprising statement to me also but I’ve had surf skis with little keel that tracked very well.

Yes. Plus a kayak paddle basically only does sweep strokes so if you’re stuck paddling on one side due to wind it’s partly because a power stroke on the other side causes too much turning…whereas with a single blade you can do a power stroke that actually makes the boat turn toward the paddle.

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@TomL that’s my impression as well. Physics and all, that’s a strange notion about the keel.

Surf skis’ rudders are always engaged, and they are positioned more forward of the stern than in sea kayaks.

You have to manage the rudder to keep it going straight, if desired. It is not a passive tracking aid, as in a sharp-keeled, low-rocker kayak.

I’m not a boat or canoe design expert. I always assumed any kind of a canoe with a V hull and or a pronounced keel line was there to help with tracking and was doing so by limiting how shallow of water the boat could pass thru without hitting bottom. A wider flatter bottom displaces the same amount of water needed to offset all the weight of the boat and what’s in it. Getting the displacement by going deeper into the water adds tracking along with speed. Stability, primary and secondary are a different issue.

I prefer a double blade lower angle paddle because I paddle a good amount in shallow water and just feel my stroke is more efficient. I know it is nowhere near as quiet though. It may not be more efficient for someone well trained in single blade I was just saying how I feel my effort / reward works. I have often went to a deep angle stroke to turn still using the double blade.

Sometimes when we are just doing a relaxing river float I wish I had a rudder on my canoe one that I could drop down.

I think it’s just semantics. I think the little keels they put on some canoes have a negligible effect on tracking and may be there primarily for durability.

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keels were common on livery canoes. Sports would drag them onto shore so the bottoms needed protection.

If keels aided tracking don’t you think Jensen/Scarborough would have put them on racing canoes?

A keel on a sailboat is entirely different… Of course it helps the boat keep on course. Also a tad bit bigger.

A keel on a sailboat is entirely different… Of course it helps the boat keep on course. Also a tad bit bigger.

The physics is the same.

Tom might be right about semantics.

All canoes have keels. The keel is the structure that forms the bottom centerline of a boat.

Are you referring to keel strips? They are for protecting the keel, not for tracking.

I once had a canoe with a distinct keel strip. That boat drove me crazy because it tracked straight ahead so well; it was nearly impossible to turn.

A keel or centerboard on a sailboat is to keep the boat from slipping to leeward when sailing upwind. You literally can’t sail upwind without a keel or centerboard.

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While a 30 inch kayak is very wide, 30 inches is narrow for most canoes. The shallower draft of the canoe probably offers less lateral resistance. A kayak typically has the load near the center, while a canoe has the weight to the rear of center. A kayak with a lot of rocker turns easily, while one with less rocker tracks straight. My aluminum canoe had a central rib down the center line, but my Penobscot is completely smooth on the bottom. As TomL mentioned above, I can also paddle solo in wind with a canoe paddle and it seems easier if I have a 13 year old kid up front. I’m not that book smart, but I know that from practical experience. There might be a solution in my ramblings, but I don’t know enough about canoes to figure it out. Someone also demonstrated to me how a sailboat can be steer by trimming the sails and moving weight forward and aft. The answer is certainly in the above details. Its probably explained in a book somewhere.

Not in any of my canoes… And I have 12 now… I have had many more( I think about 50). LoonWorks, Swift, Hemlock , Wenonah, Colden ,Placid have NO structure that runs down the middle of the hull

Exactly what canoes have you seen that on? Pelicans and Colemans have such a structure as their hull layup is deficient and they need a strengthening member. Grummans had keels too.

So where are you referring to all canoes?

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Ok this thread sent me down a rabbit hole as I googled (canoe with and without keel).

I won’t post all the links from this forum and others along with most canoe makers have weighed in on the subject as well. Go ahead and do the search if you want a lot of opinions.

Most have a feeling they help with tracking and wind. Other opinions say anything hanging down when you get turned 90 to the current can catch a rock and actually roll or flip the canoe. Some say there is benefit when using a tandem boat solo or in a solo boat maybe not perfectly trimmed but they act as a negative in a tandem boat being used as a tandem because they work the bow person too hard trying to turn.

In general it looks like many people feel they do something and a lot feel they aid in tracking in wind, but on the flip side it looks like far more people say no to keels.

I agree. I have 9 canoes, 8 have perfectly smooth bottom hulls with no hint of any keel. My very old Grumman does have an exposed bottom “keel”, which is there only as a manufacturing structure, simply to hold each stamped metal half of the canoe riveted to the other. As far as I can tell, it does not do anything useful for me when on the water other than to be a difficulty as it catches and gets hung up on rocks and logs.
A well designed canoe and a capable single blade paddler does not need a keel, skeg, or rudder to track the canoe in a desired direction.

OK, this is definitely a semantics argument. I was always taught the keel is the bottom of a boat along its longitudinal centerline. That’s the definition of the word anyway. A boat keel can be flat, rounded, V-shaped, or a combination. It can have rocker or not. It can be reinforced or not. The shape in the water definitely affects directional stability. Generally speaking, for the same amount of water displacement, a boat with a longer waterline will be more directionally stable. And for V-shaped hulls, a more steeply angled V should be more directionally stable. Make sense?

Anyway, I know you’re scratching your head about why you’d want to ballast the front when the canoe is being cocked by tailwinds. But I suspect it will help because it will increase the length of the hull in the water, and engage more of the bow’s V section. Keeping the load the same and just moving the center of mass forward to balance the boat might make it worse, as you mentioned.

I had a Bluewater Peterborough with a shoe keel that was only about 1/2" tall and an inch wide and it sure didn’t have any dramatic effect on handling so I thought it must be for durability. Nova Craft offers shoe keels as an option on their composite boats so I checked their site and they say it helps tracking. I wonder how noticable it is.

I’m with RedMC. The geometry of the keel line at a given displacement, from the cutting edge of the bow to the trailing edge of the stern (whether or not there is an actual keel, skeg or rudder), will have a significant impact on tracking. Of course, wind has a huge impact, but a boat with a well-defined keel line will track better than one without in all conditions.

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It’s physics. A displacement hull with the paddler in the center station will naturally turn perpendicular to the wind every time. If a paddler can move in a direction against the wind (about 12" +or -) the hull will turn parallel to the direction of the wind. Having a kneeling pad can be valuable here. This tactic can actually assist in tracking.

I agree

Paddling into the wind you want to sit in the bow to prevent weather cocking. Paddling with the wind at the back you want to sit in the back to prevent weather cocking. It is more simple than a lot of people seem to make it.