Trouble with hit and switch

My 14 foot canoe want to turn easily so I have to switch after just two strokes on a side. Should I just get used to this cadence, go back to J stoking , or adjust my stroke somehow to keep the canoe straight longer?

If you are racing…
…go with the two then hut yourself.

If you are not looking for speed try a modified, (slight) “J” on each side.

What canoe is it?

I borrowed my daughters Sandpiper about a month ago and fell in love with it the first time I paddled it.

Before I got in it I was guessing that I would have to switch every other stroke, but was quite surprised that I could go three, four and even five.

Where in NC are you?

There is a great fun event coming up this Saturday at Southern Pines, and there will be all kinds of helpful people there. -From the president of the NCCRA right down to the gunnel bangers like myself!

If you are interested let me know, I’ll post the place and time.

There are usually a ton of canoes so you don’t even have to bring you own.



hit and switch
Boat needs to be trimmed properly otherwise you’ll be fighting instead of paddling.

If your not used to switching sides your muscle development will fight you until muscle memory and development improve. Form plays a large part as well. Switching sides will feel uncomfortable and be inefficient until you paddle, paddle, paddle. Can be very frustrating early on but stick with it, if you paddle enough it will happen. Like trying to use your left hand to write if your a righty.

There are very few 14 foot canoes
suitable for hit and switch. You need a longer boat which wants to TRACK and not turn. I have a 14.5 foot Mad River Guide which tracks tolerably, but because it is designed for some use in whitewater, hit and switch is a waste of time in this boat. Nevertheless, I do use a mild (7 degree) bent shaft in the boat, and it works quite well.

Try a 230cm
Kayak Paddle and ignore everyone who trys to put you down or steal your fun.

Yeah, I sometimes use a 250 in my
Guide or Synergy, but I prefer a single blade. Especially in whitewater, where a single blade is much handier than a long double blade.

Get a rudder and…

– Last Updated: Jul-14-05 1:07 AM EST –

paddle on which ever side you want for as long as you want. I really appreciate the rudder on my Sawyer Summersong when I feel more like relaxing than practicing technique. The rudder is especially nice when birdwatching with binoculars and both hands are on the binoculars. I somtimes paddle with the rudder, sometimes without and sometimes use a 220cm kayak paddle with or without the rudder deployed.

I can usually get 3 to 4 strokes per side without the rudder in the Summersong.

Wait a minute......Ok, my helmet is on know. Fire away at my using a rudder : )

OK. You asked for it.Why not paddle
a kayak?

Why not
kneel, heel the boat over, and paddle on one side?

String, I do paddle kayaks, but none
of MY kayaks are as much of a pleasure to paddle on flatwater as my Sawyer Summersong canoe. I haven’t had the Summersong on rivers yet. This canoe is also more comfortable than any of the kayaks I’ve owned or test paddled. I’ve also developed a liking for the single blade since acquiring the Summersong. It’s only 23" at the gunwales, so it’s comfortable to reach the water with the single blade. Single blades in canoes are much more manageble when paddling near the shorline with overhanging trees and are easier to just set down in front or behind you in the boat while picking up binoculars or fishing pole and you don’t have to bungee the paddle down while doing hand’s free activities.

I haven’t paddled any of the QCCs or other fine and expensive kayaks out there, so I don’t know if I’d prefer them to the Summersong with rudder.

I do prefer my kayaks for small, shallow twisty creeks because I don’t have a good canoe for that application, but I do have decent kayaks for that application.

Happy paddling

I don’t understand ?

– Last Updated: Jul-14-05 11:35 AM EST –

I'm not sure I understand why hit and switch would be a "waste of time" in a rockered boat. My tripper is a Wildfire, 14 feet long and fairly rockered. In that boat, with my technique, I am usually getting 3 or 4 strokes per side, never just 2 and rarely 5. The switch is easy and smooth, and it has to be more efficient over the long haul (hours, days, or miles) than corrective strokes, yes? It sure feels that way. Sure, I can "J", but for efficiently (of time and energy) eating up miles, I'd rather switch.

14’7" MR Slipper is fine with sit &
switch. It tracks well. Too bad it’s no longer made.

I’m in Zebulon, but won’t be able to get away because I’m working a lot on weekends now. I’d love to see those guys race some time though.

String I can’t do it
I can only sit in a kayak for an hour without being a cripple for three days. I’ve got lower back problerms that I have not been able to get past. In fact I cannot sit in most chairs for more than an hour either.

Thinks for all the ideas so far!
The rudder idea sounds good but it seems like an expensive option to try out. The long double blade sounds like somethink to try. I don’t race but I’m looking for the most efficient way to cover 30 to 50 miles a day. If the wind is calm I’ll be reling solely on the paddle.

What boat?
I’m just curious what canoe you are using.

I’m a newbie to switch paddling and am finding the subtleties tough to master.

I’ve got a Swift Osprey in which I can get between 1 and 3 strokes and a Clipper Sea-1 that lets me easily get 4 or 5.


I would rather paddle the Guide mostly

– Last Updated: Jul-14-05 10:52 PM EST –

on the left, because with just me in the boat (220#), the ends of the hull are still a bit light in the water, and so the boat is not tracking well enough to make switching worthwhile. It may surprise you to learn that an unloaded Guide can be paddled on one side with only occasional correction strokes. You have to be comfortable with a long reach forward (I'm 6' 5") so that the catch is up toward the bow, and the stroke should be fairly short, ending before your lower hand gets opposite your hip joint.

This approach is so successful that, if paddling unloaded, I only switch sides for an occasional change in muscles. Otherwise, this forward stroking keeps the boat tilted just slightly into the "sweet spot," and it cheerfully runs straight.

When the boat is fully loaded, this approach works less well, and then sit-and-switch with a bent shaft paddle would be more worthwhile.

I get
about 3 per side with the Wenonah Vagabond that is 14-6 before the bow starts to waver. But again depends on wind and current too. I use a 230 paddle with the Vagabond with good results and just a bit more speed than the bentshaft. Maybe it’s just I don’t have the technique right?

Sometimes to catch up to my friends in longer touring kayaks or tandem canoes I start up with 230 and get it at max speed and quickly go from that to the bent shaft and can keep that fast pace.