Yet another double paddle question

-- Last Updated: Mar-24-04 10:47 AM EST --

Okay, here's another take on the current double-bladed canoe paddle topic. Unlike most folks here, I'm happy with a very short double paddle for my solo canoe because it keeps the blade right alongside the boat, reducing wig-wag and giving me the most power, and taking up less room in tight quarters (with a short shaft the stroke covers the same route as does a standard single-blade), but today I discovered a new worry. What about the effects of blade size and shape?

Today was the first day I've taken my solo canoe onto a really tiny creek with lots and lots of fallen trees to manuever around, and I find myself thinking the blades on my kayak paddle are too small and improperly shaped for horsing a canoe around. I have a fiberglass Werner Camano, which has blades that are roughly 6.5 inches wide and 18 inches long, with a dihedral profile to prevent fluttering and a curved tip to provide a better catch. During strong steering strokes or strong power strokes, these blades cavitate terribly, and even during easy cruising they seem to make way too much sputtering noise, even though I am extremely careful to get a good catch and maintain a good "grip" on the water. I also find that the curved tip is lousy for low braces unless I use the non-power face of the paddle (maybe that's really the proper way), and I really doubt that it does any good during the *majority* of each power stroke. I started thinking about this stuff after I got back from my trip, so I have not yet directly compared this paddle to my regular single-blade, which is an inch longer and 1.8 inches wider. I DO know that the oars on my rowboats NEVER slip as much as the blades of that darn Werner kayak paddle (they are absolutely silent most of the time - I never hear anything but the drips during recovery).

I figure that more surface area would help. I also figure that the dihedral shape, though it may indeed prevent flutter, encourages the blade to slip, especially when extra power is needed. Maybe a kayak paddle that's specifically designed for touring just isn't able to provide anything more than low levels of thrust. Any thoughts from the rest of you?

Finally, what's the difference between a high-angle paddle and a low-angle paddle. I can SEE the difference in blade shape, but so what? As long as the entire blade is in the water, BOTH of them provide equal surface area on opposite sides of the shaft, so I can't imagine how a person could actually feel a difference. Any comments about that, too?

Maybe there really IS a difference between a kayak paddle and a double-bladed canoe paddle.

Thanks in advance.



I took a closer look at the Camano blade and I've reassessed the purpose of that curve (which is actually *continuous* for it's length). It looks like it lets the blade change angle in the water more efficiently as it "reaches" farther following the arc of your turning body. Looks like a well-thought-out feature.

similar experience
I noticed last night that the curved blade cavitates on verticle strokes and is easier to get caught under the boat. My 240cm needs to be 250cm. I’m going to a flat, stiff blade that is medium width. I would go with a wider paddle, but it puts more stress on shoulders. Physically stronger folks could probably handle a wide paddle. Since I use my doubleblade in the ‘long haul’ situations, I need something that won’t wear me out. I like the smaller shaft and it must break down. I’m looking at Werner paddles, so your input is very useful.

Forgot to mention…
I don’t like the curved blade for backstroke and bracing. Using the non-power face lets a lot of water by and I don’t want to have to flip the paddle to the power face. Tried a Duffeck with the curved blade last night and a straight blade is more precise. I can make it work, but why? The double blade is supposed to make life easier.

My technique for single and double blade is in the beginner/discovery phase. But our instructors are observing the same things that I have mentioned.

I’m not smart enough…
…to answer your intriguingly complex questions, but I always carry a single as well, not only for backup but for occasional narrow passages. I have used a more standard 6-8’ double, but don’t like the drips, so stick with my 9’. I don’t reach far forward nor

maintain pressure far back, so wig-wag is minimized.

Think sidewheeler. But it does, as mentioned, give

humungous leverage when desired, particularly when held near one end.

For those with any interest in this,
…I’ve done some paddling with a basic Mohawk double, and it works SO much better than the Werner Camano when any amount of power is needed. I’m not “bashing” the Camano. I think the Camano is designed to be very efficient at delivering the small amount of thrust needed to keep a sea kayak at cruising speed. However, when a great amount of thrust is needed, the Camano just can’t deliver. A bigger, flatter blade is much better for making my canoe turn quickly. Today I was “up the creek” again, only this time with the Mohawk, and maneuvering inthe tight spots was much easier. It also drove me into a stiff wind quite effectively. I was really lucky with the speedy delivery of the Mohawk, too. It was waiting on my front doorstep when I got home from work on the day I left to do the Buffalo River trip, which was just in the nick of time!! I would have had a rough time of it on the Buffalo without that paddle. Eventually I may look for a lighter paddle with the general blade size and shape as that of the Mohawk.

hey ,gbg
Welome back from one of our favorite places to paddle. You were gone for the fake abduction silliness. lol

I’m checking into Lightning paddles. I have to drive to Chicagoland Canoebase to see one. They are light and tough and have a similar blade configuration to the Mohawk.

I said something similar about a single blade once and was informed that unless you are Lou Ferringo you aren’t cavitating. You have Air intrusion.If you look at a Pro-Racer there is aslight heasitation after they put the paddle in the water before they pull. If there are any air bubbles on the blade you will Get an effect that seems like cavitaion. So if you slow down your caddence slightly, or just plant the paddle firmly and deep(not always possible) the flutter will go away.


Air Intrusion
Yeah, that must be it. Air intrusion sounds like what it was, since the air “flowed” down behind the blade from the surface. But a poor paddle plant can’t be blamed for this. As I said earlier, I took great care to see that a poor plant was not part of the problem I even tried holding the paddle stationary in the water, and then doing a strong sweep or a strong forward stroke, and the next thing you know the whole upper half of the blade would have air behind it and the resistance would just fade away. If I put the blade extra deep (way deeper than you ever would when paddling), there’d be no air intrusion, but it still would slip far too much for my liking, and far more than any standard canoe paddle I’ve ever used. By the way, I never said anything about having a problem with flutter, just excessive slippage. I really do think that the blades of the Camano are just too small to stay anchored in the water during power strokes. I think it’s a kayak-cruising paddle, and it’s just not made to make a canoe turn on a dime.

with the Plaidpaddler on this board. He has had interesting results using an oversized blade on his races. More “torque” . I think it tough trying to trouble shoot with out the paddle and boat.( we all still try though :wink: