Windage on canoes

Changing from sea kayak to Coleman vantage Canadian;I am appalled by the windage on this boat.Is there any way of paddling into a head or side wind of any strength?

Have any of you committed the heresy of using a double blade paddle? Surely it delivers more power than the single paddle; would this be the way to move the boat in adverse winds?

Or do I simply use a motor - if you recommend this, what HP would be needed for this canoe?

Very grateful for assistance - am quite disheartened at the moment. Peter

windage and canoes
first off, looks like you’ve got a beast of a canoe. haven’t paddled one, but i bet it does handle pretty badly in those conditions. one thing you can do is adjust the trim. headwind typically calls for adding weight up front. opposite for a tail wind. you can also kneel in the boat and lean the boat AWAY from the wind. when doing this, the hull deflects the wind over the canoe instead of grabbing the gunwales. as for a motor, anything would do. electric trolling, 2 hp, etc.

Coleman’s Hull Design
The number one priority with Coleman’s hull design is that they be stackable like styrofoam cups. They are transported with the seats and thwarts removed and then they fit one inside the other. This lowers the unit transportation cost considerably. Performance is at least secondary, and more likely a tertiary consideration (after cost). A double blade would probably help. Others here have more experience with them than I do. Hopefully they will weigh in.

Northern Wales. Cool. Do you paddle the Coleman in the sea or on rivers? If rivers, which ones?

Wind stronger than paddle, not oars
Windage of any lightly loaded canoe over 15’ long is difficult to manage with a single blade’s assymetrical power because the off center propulsive forces are applied intermittantly … and lots (directional changes, deceleration, etc.) can happen between strokes.

Rowing is the way to go so as to balance power inputs and take advantage of the better leverage that can be applied with the oar socket providing a fulcrum point.

Keep it simple when attaching 1/2 oar sockets to the outwale. Light weight oars of about 6.5 - 7 feet long are best … preferably spoon bladed … and can be had for about $100/pr.

My first rowing canoe was a 17’ Coleman that I “improved” by putting a 1X4 plank in between the plastic hull and keelson pipe. This resulted in the hull having more of a shallow-vee bottom and a bit more rocker. I rowed it for a few weeks while shore camping around large lakes (Murtle, Azure) in British Columbia. It worked well considering it’s low cost and only semi-efficient design. Other paddlers on the lakes were amazed that I could row solo easier and faster than most of them could paddle tandem … even with a plastic Coleman canoe … a humble but serviceable beast to be sure.

A cover helps tremendously with

– Last Updated: Apr-04-05 3:55 PM EST –

the wind . My canoe went from virtually uncontrollable in the wind to mostly controllable.You can make one yourself; a purchased one is around $300.
I often use a double paddle also but I like the rowing idea. You are moving a lot of surface area in that canoe.

I use double bladed paddles
in everything I paddle whether it be a kayak or canoe. I started doing this initially because the paddling motion is easier on my neck, back & shoulders, but then discovered that controlling the boat in wind and when paddling up stream was also much easier. My wife also prefers double bladed paddles. They also require less skill and practice for boat control than singel bladed paddles - at least in my experience.

Match your use to the hull you need.

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You did not say what kind of a sea kayak you changed from. Why did you switch to a canoe? You did not say where and in what conditions you paddle or expect to paddle.

A plastic canoe at best is a compromise of performance to gain a resilience to harsh conditions. By getting a Coleman you have put yourself into one of the worst canoes made. You really can not expect any kind of performance what so ever. I do imagine that the change is quite a shock!

If you are looking for a big, flat bottomed boat at a low cost you have found it, but have sacrificed what a canoe is all about to get it. If you want performance you will need to change to a performance canoe. It is also best if you match what you want out of your canoe with the actual capabilities of the one you buy.

FYI: ANY canoe or kayak that requires a keel on the hull and/or bracing to the lower portions of the hull to keep it on track and/or the hull from deforming is an extremely poorly designed and produced hull and just will not preform up to normal standards.

Coleman and similar canoes are decent as basic very cost effective transportation to haul a few people and gear to and from somewhere or as a fishing platform. If performance is not important, than just add your motor and do the transport/fish thing. Check with the dealer and manufacturer about motor size and mounting guidelines.

Happy Paddl'n!



Mick , I was going to say that a
Coleman is a barge, but you did it so well.

In windy conditions I use a double blade. It makes the canoe nuch easier to control. I also use the wind to my advantage and let it and the resulting waves ferry me to my destination. Quarter your bow into the wind and allow the wind to push the boat in the direction you want to go while you moderately paddle to maintain control and position. Slower, but very effective and safer than taking wind and waves on the beam.

it is much easier to go out on day 1 and make a boat go straight with a double blade than it is a single. i think that’s why many people end up choosing a kayak over a canoe, for waters outside of big oceans anyway. learning to handle a single blade in wind and waves is something that can take months, if not years to develop, especially if you’re fairly new to canoes.

I think if more people were more bluntly honest in answering new paddler’s questions there would be fewer paddlers making that initial “OH God, I bought a barge!” mistake.

Happy Paddl’n!



He’s Right
Let the canoe work with you and the wind. Many a time I’ve set the canoe at an angle to my direction of travel to compensate for wind. Think of the canoe as a sail and trim it accordingly.

Another thing I’ve noticed: When the wind is blowing hard, people paddle hard, thinking they are not going anywhere. Face it, you are moving a lot of mass, and if you watch the shoreline you’ll realize you are actually moving at a pretty good clip. The wind can deceive you as it pushes the water.

Finally, what kind of winds are we talking about? I try to avoid anything over 25 knots, but 15 knots is quite do-able. Relax, and try to get a feel for what the boat wants to do, then use that to your advantage.

I paddle a Prospector. Lots of freeboard, lots of rocker & no keel. Practice & play a little and you will find the wind is nothing more than a little whitewater you cannot see.

Canoeing reply
Htello, Chad19.Just to say thank you for your reply to my query. By the way - do we have the same surname? Mine is Chadd,in Wales. I know my forebears crossed the ocean in the nineteenth century. Thanks again.peter

Here is a nice article by Jeff Sollway on dealing with the wind.‘Upwind%20in%20a%20blow’

The advice above is all good. The Coleman is OK for what it is I guess, but it certainly is not a great paddling boat. It will restrict your enjoyment and range of canoing unless you only want to paddle in calm flat small water situations like fishing with kids on a pond or easy rivers. My brother in law gave his away, after experiencing well designed canoes of similar size. That isn’t intended as an insult and neither are any of those posts above.

But absolutely try a double blade to see if it will help in your application. Their use will raise some controversy like nearly anything else but don’t let that stop you. I bought a double blade recently myself to try out in certain situations, one of which is wind. To be honest,the double, a big ole Mohawk (The Coleman canoe of double blade paddles) tires me out very quickly. As an old dog I quickly go back to my single blade because it is what I know and am comfortable with. Because you are coming from a kayak background the double would be that for you, comfortable. If you haven’t checked yet, look at the archives on this site for some threads on double bladed paddles and their use for canoes.

Good luck and enjoy.

Great Article!
That’s exactly how to do it! I particularly liked the point about using the rounded hull as a wing and letting the wind PULL you upwind.

It does take practice, and is more difficult with a flat-bottomed “stable” canoe, but when you have it working it is a beautiful experience.

You gotta learn how to use the wind to your advantage, because, when paddling, there is never a tail wind!

I double-paddle 95% of the time…
…it’s easier, easier on the body, and you can get some humungous sweeps. This year, I’m going to use some old airbags fore and aft, not so much for flotation as to give similar wind resistance as a coverwould. (wind hits the outside and then the opposite inside without a cover).

chad is first name
how’s the canoeing going?