upriver canoe

I am new to canoing, but I love it. I have lots of questions, but I will start with one. When my husband and I took an OT Discovery 17 5 down river to a great fishing spot, it only took 20 minutes to get there and 2 hours to get back. Would a different canoe be easier to get back upriver? I am not fond of the little motor possibilities.

Your canoe is long enough to
go upstream effectively. It’s either the current, the complications, or your lack of experience paddling upstream.

Poling is a very effective way to work your way back upstream. However, it’s easier to learn poling solo than as a pair.

The lower, slower river currents of late summer may make upstream paddling easier, provided that the rivers don’t get so shallow that your paddles can’t find purchase.

If one or both of you is good at bicycling, perhaps you can stash a bike downstream for shuttle.

Could be about right. Think math.
Let’s suppose you are paddling at 3 mph independent of the current. Further suppose that the current in the river is flowing at 2 mph.

This means as you paddle down the river you will be going 5 mph: your speed + the river’s speed. If you went down river for 20 minutes, which is 1/3 of an hour, you would have traveled 1/3 hour x 5 mph = 1 2/3 miles.

So, you are then 1 2/3 miles down the river.

Going upstream, your resultant speed will be 3 mph (you) - 2 mph (the river) = 1 mph.

Since you have 1 2/3 miles to travel at 1 mph, the return trip will take 1 2/3 hours or 1 hour and 40 minutes.

I think most experienced paddlers would usually paddle upstream first, so the return trip, when you are more tired, is faster and easier.

hiding from current
When going upriver, it’s very useful to be able to “hide from the current.” What that means: Looking across the width of most rivers, some spots will have much slower current than others. In fact, it’s fairly common for some spots to have current that is actually flowing opposite the main current – upstream current! If you learn to identify those places and to maneuver your canoe so as to be in favorable current much of the time, your upstream progress can be quite fast.

Three examples of places with slower current: on the inside of a bend, downstream of a rock or other obstruction, and very close to the shore (because the shore generally projects various small obstructions out into the current).

In other to take advantage of the favorable currents, you will need to learn some minimal whitewater skills, just enough to maneuver the boat reliably and precisely. You don’t necessarily need to learn how to deal with Class 3 rapids. There are books, web sites, instructors who can teach you this stuff. Post if you want to know more.


A faster canoe is easier, but…

– Last Updated: Jul-24-10 9:41 PM EST –

... as always, "it all depends" on various factors. In general, any speed increase that a faster boat can provide will be more noticeable when going upstream than under any other condition. This is easy to illustrate using the principle pointed out in one of the earlier posts. Let's say you can go 4 mph in your current boat. Against a 3-mph current you'll only be going 1 mph. A boat in which you can paddle 5 mph is 1 mph faster than the 4-mph boat under all conditions. On still water, going 5 mph instead of 4 mph increases your speed by a factor of 1.25, but when going against a 3-mph current, using the faster boat changes your effective speed from 1 mph to 2 mph which is twice as fast as the slower boat, and a much more noticeable improvement than the 1.25x increase that the faster boat provides on still water.

On the other hand, getting a 1-mph increase in speed by switching boats means switching to something a lot sleeker than an Old Town Discovery, which isn't hard to do but such a boat may not suit your other needs as well. Further, once you have a fairly sleek and efficient hull, any additional speed increases by switching to faster boats become harder and harder to attain, since the kind of power generated by non-racing paddlers will not make a boat go faster than "hull speed", which is simply related to boat length. For a 17-foot boat, hull speed will be just a little more that 6 mph (it works out to 6.1 or 6.2 mph for a 17-foot boat having 6 inches of overhang at each end). If you are already strong paddlers, you can already go that fast in your Discovery 17, but you are working harder to attain that speed than you would be in a sleeker boat of the same length.

The stuff already posted about "hiding from the current" is every bit as valuable or more so, than having a faster boat. Learning to read the water will increase your upstream travel speed.

Try a double bladed canoe paddle
You can get them from Mohawk Canoes.

Thanks for all your input.
Thanks for all the input.

First of all, the OT Discovery isn’t ours, it is borrowed. I am researching buying a canoe, and don’t want to overkill, but do want the best for the job.

I agree with the idea of going upstream first and then down later, but the good fishing is at the mouth of the river, not upstream. I would like to go upstream with my (wait for it) 5, yes 5 children, ages 2-8. No, I am not kidding. The canoe would be rather loaded, and I am starting to kick around the idea of two canoes, after reading a few other posts.

Leaving a bike at a takeout point sounds like a great idea for a different location, but the starting point is also the nearest ending point. The rest is pure bush. Some of you can start drooling now. We live within striking distance of the Nahanni National Park in northern Canada. It is time to get out and enjoy the mosquitoes. I mean the land. Five small children are a deterrent to almost any activity, but I think we might be able to manage something if we are smart and careful about it.

My husband is not a total novice, as he learned to canoe on an 8 day Churchill River trip. I am, shall we say, less skilled, but very willing to learn.

Mostly we are after a canoe that can take a fair bit of weight, slightly wiggly, on a smallish river, but that on the odd occasion, if we can land a babysitter, can take my husband and I to a great fishing hole and back in a time reasonable enough for said babysitter.

I can appreciate what was said about the speed of a canoe making more difference upriver. That was what I was wondering, but I haven’t really seen any mph specs listed on the web sites I have checked. How can you find that kind of info out?

PS- and we do have a dog, for those that were wondering. She would NOT be invited in the canoe:)

makes sense
We did do a little of that kind of thing already, but it was our first trip down the river and there is lots of room to learn more about it!

5 Children, 2-8: 2 hulls, kids paddling!
Five children: I’ve my work cut out with one and a pup :0

Whilst 4-5 year olds CAN help (appreciable impact), I’ve found staying on task tends to be shortlived…

If you’ve children aged 6 and 8, I’d get them fitted out from the start as tandem partners (two canoes): the 8 year old should be as capable as many adults who are far bigger if he/she sorts his/her technique out from the start - one almost-7 year old I had out with us recently was great from the first paddle stroke!

By the time the oldest pair are 10 and 8… they can have their own tandem and the adults can train up the next in line as tandem partners - and you can start saving for the solo hulls they’ll want as teenagers :slight_smile:

Yes, a different canoe would definately
get you back up stream quicker.

Think lighter !

We have had a OT disco (weighing 80 pounds) for twenty years.

We have a kevlar 17 foot canoe (weighing 39 pounds)

Since we got the light weight one, I would never even think of taking the Discovery on a up river trip.

It’s much faster and much easier on the muscles

jack L

That’s kind of what I was
wondering. I don’t like picking up the Discovery to get it on the van either. A lighter canoe does sound altogether better, to me.

Some of my kids
could definitely help. I’ve got 8,7,5,4,and almost 2. The 8 year old girl is very helpful, the 7 year old, think blonde, and my 5 year boy already has an ax, helps carry firewood and thinks he ought to have his own matches, too. (NOT happening) But if interested, he would be very willing to prove his abilities.

Does having kids in the bow change what kind of canoe one wants? There would definitely be a weight discrepancy.

This may seem surprising, but the
fastest canoes on lakes may not be the fastest going upstream on shallower, shoaly rivers. If I wanted a tandem that could go upstream well on such rivers, I would want something with a relatively flat bottom and some rocker, or some rise at the ends.

This is also true for kayaks. Very tubular, low rocker kayaks do not attain well in shoals and rapids. My best decked boats for attainment are my old, flattish, hard-chined Noah kayak, and my slalom c-1. They don’t load down badly in shallows, and while neither is truly fast (compared to sea kayaks or downriver canoes) they have the ability to plane up when you have to drive hard into a strong jet of downstream water.

So, just as the fastest tandems may not be the best for downstream river recreation, they may not be the best for working back upstream.

flat bottom
When you say “relatively flat bottom” how flat do you mean? In my research I thought that a shallow arch or shallow vee would be best, with a couple of inches of rocker, likely a Prospector model of some sort.

Are there brands to avoid?

as mentioned…at present status…you
want to improve your paddling skills otherwise you won’t be able to utilize any efficiency perks a better canoe will give you, however if you start looking now as well as try to constantly pick up the skill level, the two should meet and you’ll be having a good time.

Nothing new…$.01

5 Kids!

– Last Updated: Jul-25-10 6:37 PM EST –

I'll have to send a file on what causes that; you'll be amazed.

That said, 7 is a load, two canoes may be a minimum now due to just two sdults, but that's a crew.

To load boats and carry them lighter is nice. Running upstream really requires bow rocker so you are less at the mercy of the current catching a bow with a deep forefoot.

Dagger/MRC Legends, Bell YellowStone and various North series tandems and the Swift hulls all come to mind as tandems suitable for running against current, but you're proposing three in one hull and four in another.

You really need two Bell NorthShores, big boats with rocker. The issue there is horsepower, That's a lot of skin friction to be overcome by hubby and the 7 year old or you and the 8 year old, the younger being self mobile burden for a year or two. When they get bigger four seats and four bents will make the big boats fly. Maybe a Bell NS and any other 17-18.5 ft from the list above would work, 4 in the N Shore, three in the smaller hull.

And read the attachment on causation.

bon chance!

What you describe would be OK.
Even a little more rocker would help.

Instruction Video and Books
Since you don’t have access to instruction you might consider some reading and video alternatives.

“The Path of the Paddle” video and book by Bill Mason is a great primer on canoe technique. “The Thrill of the Paddle” by Bill’s son Paul Mason is a book which delves more into white water. Less specific to your current needs but worthwhile.

There are others that I’m not familiar with. I’ll bet folks here have suggestions?

I do love books :slight_smile: I’ve already done some research online and will continue to do so. I appreciate all of the comments and suggestions.

I am aware that the canoe will be limited be the skill of the paddler, but I am also aware that good equipment can make things far more enjoyable.

"Paddle Your Own Canoe"
By Gary and Joanie McGuffin.