weight distribution

I have an Esquif Champlain kevlar. I have been paddling it for months and it is a joy to paddle. It, however, is suseptable to wind. It is a 16 ft tandem and I paddle the canoe sitting backward front seat. Question is should ballast in the other end equal my weight or would about 50lb be sufficient? How much of the opposite end of the canoe “must” be in the water to take advantage of the rocker at that end. Wind is a tuff proposition with kevlar canoes. Thanks.

try this
Save a couple of gallon milk jugs and fill them with water. Next time you are paddling in wind put them in the very end of canoe away from the end you are sitting in. You shouldn’t need 50 lbs to trim the canoe if the ballast is right out at the end.

You could get and estimate of how much weight you need by sitting at your paddling position and having someone look at your canoe trim sitting in the water.

You would like to have the weight centered at the midpoint of the canoe, if it is reasonably symmetrical. Some canoes have a much higher bow than stern so the windage may not be centered at the midpoint.

Sitting backwards on the front seat, your tandem canoe is still quite stern heavy. If you are paddling in wind, the canoe will want to leecock (point to the lee, the direction the wind is blowing toward) like a weathervane in reverse.

A tandem is typically longer, and often deeper than a solo canoe, and with only one paddler, will sit higher in the water presenting more surface area for the wind to catch. Thus a tandem will typically be affected more by the wind (when paddled solo) even when trimmed.

It isn’t the Kevlar that is the problem,
it’s that a tandem paddled solo is going to blow around. Getting the boat trimmed level will help somewhat, but unless you have a bunch of weight aboard, the hull is not going to bite the water hard enough to control wind effects.

We have an 85 pound FG Moore that with just the two of us aboard, can be blown around badly. But when we carry a design weight of about 550 pounds, the boat is relatively indifferent to wind.

I suggest getting a 25 pound container of water and shoving it up or back on the bottom of the boat until you get the trim you want. A water bag can work. If the boat were to flip, a water container won’t take it down.

It should be trim or ever so slightly…
bow light.

One way to trim, it is with the boat sitting in calm water and no one in it, put a piece of black electrical tape a few inches long, on the side of the bow and another on the side of the stern, a few inches above the water line, (make sure that they are both the same distance above it.

Then add what you would guess would be enough weight in the bow, (or stern in your case) to counter trim your weight. Use gallon jugs of water, or sand bags or water bladders.

Then get in the boat where you will be sitting, and have some one shore check to see if both tape marks are equidistant from the water. Add or remove ballast until you are trim.

Once you are trim, you might want to mark where you have the ballast, or remember approximately where it is so that you can just duplicate it each time you head out.

Other option is to use a small level secured on the side of a gunnel within your sight, but that has to be secured with no one in the boat and it has to be level to start with.



wind fighting moves
You might also practice a move to fight the wind. Simply grab the gunwales, with a few fingers on one hand temporarily holding your paddle against the gunwales, and swing your body forward to a kneeling position forward of the seat. This not only corrects the weight dist, but also puts you in a position that is both more stable (kneeling versus sitting) and arguably able to deliver more powerful strokes.

If a picture of the Champlain I found on the web is accurate, it looks like you can move as far as a little ways past the centerline before reaching the middle thwart. In the toughest of wind conditions, you might want to use all of that space since a bow-heavy canoe will tend to want to point into the wind due to the weather-cocking effect.

Although you can certainly spend all day kneeling on a windy day, you can also save it for short passages directly into the wind. With careful attention to wind direction, natural wind barriers and your map, you may be able to plan a route that requires no more than a few upwind passages.

Once you have used the move and determined your own preferences, you can glue knee pads in place on he floor, or simply carry a portable knee pad.