What have you experienced or seen that changed your thinking about paddling

I’m a longtime canoe paddler, and came to an understanding of the ‘hydrodynamics’ of paddling. It’s basic physics, about directing the paddling force efficiently, where you need it to go. For a J-stroke, that means; rotate the shoulders to get both hands down at the gunwale, then push out with the lower hand. With proper wrist rotation, that keeps the paddle blade vertical. If you’re in the habit of pulling the upper hand into the boat, and levering off the gunwale, you’ll be lifting water, not contributing to pivoting the canoe at its centre point.

Well, given that I paddle “kneel and switch” using a straight or six degree bent shaft I think that shows how much attention I pay to folks that try to tell me what’s normal or “best”.

I’ve always lifted canoes in an unconventional way too; I remember a Swift demo day in Canada where some Swift folks were watching my odd technique.

I doubt that anything I do is the best way but I know I’m reasonably effective and perfectly content so one thing I’ve learned is to be comfortable with my own paddling style and to ignore folks that think I should want to be more like them (“you need to…”, sorry but no I don’t).

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That’s the one! Way over the top compared to me on cooking, I don’t like doing greasy dishes in the bush. And she likes to portage way more than I do.

I’m here to learn and improve. No, I don’t have to listen, but I choose to (most of the time :roll_eyes:) because I might miss something useful and/or interesting. No one likes to be “should on” but I’d probably not be paddling today if I had ignored everyone who has offered advice and refused to change from the way I used my old Grumman decades ago,

so cool that you are actually imprioving youe abilities willowleaf, what a great can do attitude. I need to learn some efficiency, better fit, easier to paddle distance, and speed.

I like a mixture of group and go it alone paddling.

an old grumman is a good place to start, sounds like you and it have evolved into something else.

You’re right. To be specific, an old cynic who still likes to go (relatively) fast but doesn’t need worn out joints.

I can think of three things that dramatically changed my perception of canoeing:

While visiting back home years ago I was invited to go out with a canoeing friend for a quick training run in a tandem marathon racing canoe. He handed me a carbon bent shaft paddle, put me in the stern, showed me how to use a bent shaft paddle, and off we went. He called out the switches and I just followed his lead and did my best to keep up with him. I was amazed at how fast you could go in a canoe. It was exhilarating, a complete change in my perception of canoes as something you leisurely paddled around while fishing. I ended up buying a fast tandem Kevlar tripping canoe for long day trips and multi-day tours, and used it to race in local multi-sport events. There’s something satisfying about going fast in a canoe/kayak.

I got to go whitewater rafting with some friends on the Lochsa River in Idaho late one May and the experience was eye-opening. I had always been fearful of whitewater so it was somehow comforting to see someone get flipped out of the raft in a big drop, ride the waves for a bit and then get pulled back in, all without fanfare. In fact, everyone seemed to be having fun with it; no big deal. I still have a very healthy respect for whitewater but that experience got me to take a whitewater canoeing clinic, buy a good solo whitewater canoe, and start running Class 3 and 3+ rapids. Such exhilarating fun.

About five years ago I stumbled upon a video of solo freestyle canoeing and was fascinated by the skills of those canoeists and the maneuvers they could do in a canoe. So I rented a performance solo sport canoe and attended a Freestyle canoeing seminar. My whitewater skills helped in learning boat control and freestyle maneuvers but it was still very much a learning experience. But how cool to be able to turn a canoe with precision and grace. Still working on those, but I fell in love with canoeing all over again. I now enjoy playing and exploring with a solo sport canoe, just for the fun of it. Functional freestyle.


Tketcham it is very cool to see the lanes you traveled down based on experiences, the need for speed, ww, and freestyle.

The Brazos was on my radar for my Texas trip last Spring. A fellow I met on the Llano said to check it out in downtown Waco. I looked online and saw some cool cowboy sculptures so headed that way for an urban paddle. When I got to four lanes of traffic heading into Waco I knew it was time to bail with the RV and long boat. Maybe next time. I’m not much of an urban paddler. I also left out the Rio Grande in Texas. A combo of low water, border issues, and my brothers limited time frame factored into skipping the Rio Grande near Big Bend.

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Yea, I wouldn’t be too up for paddling through Waco. The upper Brozos below Possum Kingdom is very nice. Once you get to Houston it is pretty muddy. There is probably a nice stretch just south of Waco. I am hoping to do the Navasota River just before it dumps into the Brazos. There is a stretch east of College Station that will probably make a nice 2 day, 1 night trip.

I sold my fast solo cruiser and white water canoes because I no longer live near anyone I know that likes to go fast or run whitewater. Plus, I’m getting older. But that’s OK, it’s a lot of fun exploring swift water streams, marshy channels and interesting shorelines in a lightweight, very maneuverable canoe.

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What kind of canoe do you have?


I have a Northstar Firebird, 29 lbs with wood trim. Also have a Curtis Lady Bug, not as light at 36 lbs in the fiberglass layup but still light enough and just as much fun.


What have I seen or experienced? 62 years paddling and every time I am out I learn something new. I paddled on the Colrado a short distance today in a recent purchase of an older 18’ Sundowner. (The gunnels need replacing. I learned that.) I also learned that the unequal bow and stern heights, can make turning into the wind difficult. I was kneeling behind the yoke (stern end), but turning into the wind would have been much easier had I knelt behind the yoke on the bow end facing the stern. The taller bow would have weather cocked me immediately into the wind.
My largest revelation of 8 years ago is do not hesitate to paddle a large, a very large canoe. 20’ MacKenzie, 42 inches wide, going to be out for 3 to 8 weeks? Carry the food and water you like, gear, and still keep the boat to less than 60% of max load capacity. It floats high and light, quick to turn, fast to rise in a Class 4 or Class 5 (Cataract Canyon, Grand Canyon). Big boats are fast and easy, and fun.


Congratulations on 62 years paddling. This is my 48th.

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Right back at you. My favourite has become long trips, camp along the way, bad food, peaceful days and star filled nights, paperback books, and layover (layabout) days.


Wow! We guys are old! We’re a tough bunch.

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I think the thing that I realized that has changed me is the fact that we don’t need any commercial enterprises the way we do for diving, skiing, even flying. It’s a little like overlanding and roof tents vs big motor homes because we can get to remote and beautiful places like private beaches. With other boats there is just a lot more involved and I feel like kayaks have a better effort:pleasure ratio.
Where we go, we can paddle away from all the people to our own secluded shoreline beach or island and let the dog run.