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Broadside Winds

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This fall we paddled into broadside winds up on Eagle Lake, To make things worst we had an empty canoe. Our line of travel was the red and the blue the waves as we continued the waves (a foot or more) were perpendicular to our line.



My first attempt was to keep the bow just slightly beyond perpendicular to the waves and slow paddle out but have the wind drive us in to shore, that way we could make forward progress but not end up out in the lake.

When the wind died I increased the angle (Green) and then tacked towards shore. The next day we ran into the same thing loaded.

Any other suggestions on how to deal with broadside winds other then seating them out.
 

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You pretty much have to do like you did and angle into the wind and let the wind ferry you toward shore. Broad side waves aren't too desirable.
 
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In that situation I either sharpen my angle of attack and quarter into the waves, turning and running down wind quartering away once I feel I am far enough out to suit me. I zig zag along until I get where I am going. Of course the trick is in the turns. It can get tricky and rather exciting at times.

The other method I have used which is slower but works in really bad seas is to quarter into the waves and hold station, letting the wind push me in until I can paddle forward a bit again, repeating as necessary. This eventually moves you along the shoreline.

If the lake is not too big I will sometimes opt to paddle across to the lee shore and avoid the crosswind that way. It means a longer route though.

If the waves are really big karin just flat out refuses to get in the boat and we sit and drink coffee instead. Sometimes that is the best technique.

Christy
 
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We had a few hairy turns downwind, this was my bowman's first time in big broadsides and I made sure we setup the turn well in advance of making it.

Next time I'll make sure I at lest bring coffee on my side trips.
 
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It is a hairy situation for sure when the waves are big. I kind of stay fluid, and move with the canoe, always remembering to keep my head inside the gunwales. I find this kind of paddling takes quite a bit of concentration, as you try to make judgements between the troughs and crests. The destination often becomes secondary to keeping the right side up. However, about the only time I get into these situations is when I am following close to shore with a headwind, and then have to turn broadside to follow the shore into a big bay. If I'm on my own, I'll usually quarter the bay off, and leave the comfort of shore. But when I'm travelling with less experienced people, we'll take the full force of the broadside winds, but stay within 50 feet of shore for swimming and rescue purposes.
 
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I've only paddled twice in disturbing conditions. The first was many years ago with a group of friends, and I insisted we stay near shore. The winds were high and the water cold. They wanted to save time by straightening the route across a lake. I wanted to spend time by trying to find lee along the shore. We were fine. The second time I was with my wife, and she wisely said we should find a campsite rather than cross a biggish lake in growing seas. I didn't listen, and pointed us down the choppy lake. I soon changed my mind after we had to quarter into the wind and waves as we crawled down the lake. M was unnerved by our quartering further out into the lake, so I explained shouting how we'd need to turn quickly to tack shorewards for awhile. Like Christy says, zig zag tacking through the wind and waves. It wasn't nearly as rough as it felt, but it sure felt rough. I remember trying to get M to relax "Don't fight It! Loosen up! Loosey goosey! " She clearly didn't understand my "technical terms." So I shouted "Belly dance!" I assure you my friends, not that it's any of your business, but she's never belly danced for me. Ever. Not that I wouldn't appreciate it. She finally understood that we needed to be flexible to ride out the waves and choose when to find water for our paddles. We were fine. We headed for the first point of land to get off the lake. She was impressed we'd made it. I was impressed we'd made it and the boat had shed all water and waves. The belly dancing was a bonus. I learned two things that late afternoon.
1) We're more able paddlers than I'd given us credit for.
2) Listen to your partner when they suggest a safer plan of action.

In answer to sweeper's question, I'd first check out shoreline conditions. Sometimes wind is deflected and the water can be calmer despite the wind blowing on shore. If not then I judge the conditions further out. Chop is okay but if swells and waves are rolling in I decide whether we can handle it or not. I'd much prefer quartering into the waves than trying to ride following waves, even in a loaded canoe. That's just me. Even the long large gentle swell from the occasional prop wash from a passing motorboat can be at times a soothing roller coaster ride, at other times an annoying test of balance. It's never a bad time to sit on shore under a tarp and brew some coffee. I hate wind.
 
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For me, it all depends on the hull.
If I'm in a chubby tandem, with plenty of freeboard, it doesn't much matter, as long as we're not taking water.
If I'm solo in my DY, I have to avoid aligning with the rollers at all cost...and as if that's not enough, even quartering downwind can be dangerous. Long, straighter keeled solos have a bothersome (read: dangerous) characteristic of stern hook. Too far away from straight downwind and the rollers will pry the boat from under me, and force the hull to settle into the rollers, and then it's time to swim!!

With that being said, we did wait an extra day once to leave a site on Indian Lake...no need for excessive trauma for the teens and tweens.
 
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I agree with memaquay, wind and waves usually cause me to pay more attention and focus keeping the open side rather than finding the shortest route. This past summer I recall one trip paddling quartered into the wind/waves using a very slow stroke as to not cause me to move toward but allowing the wind to move the canoe sideways.

Also as a soloist, I paddle Canadian style, canoe heeled over on one side but when it gets really hairy I will spread my knees apart and try to keep the canoe in a level position. Way more tiring, and usually with the added wind it is exhausting, so I pace myself and look for shorter jaunts using natural features to provide respites along the route. Sometimes the path looks more like W or Z rather than -- or I if you know what I mean.
 
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Paddling parallel to waves - often have to lean away to keep the wave from sloshing into the boat. Could be a wet ride - or swim.
 
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This fall we paddled into broadside winds up on Eagle Lake,

My first attempt was to keep the bow just slightly beyond perpendicular to the waves and slow paddle out but have the wind drive us in to shore, that way we could make forward progress but not end up out in the lake.

I would do what you did, rather than take the full force of the waves broadside, I'd angle out but at a slow enough pace to allow the waves to keep me close to shore.
I would not feel comfortable quartering the waves by heading out into the lake offshore and perform a "come about" out in the lake,

Way back when, I would take one of my kids out in our Aluminum canoe during a big wind. It was summer, we where dressed in swim suits and PFD's and they got to experience the waves and just how much you could push the envelope before taking a swim. It was fun and a great experience, as long as the water was warm and the wind would push us back onto the beach in front of the cabin.

This past August, my first day of my 10 day solo trip in Ontario, I encountered some serious on shore waves. I really wanted to get going, so I used the reeds that grew just off shore to help me. I kept right up on the shoreline, bobbing like a cork, my heavy beavertail paddle striking sand and rocks under the canoe (very glad I had that tough paddle). The reeds helped calm the waves enough to make enough headway as I tried to keep the bow pointed out towards the lake, kneeling and loaded with two packs.

Here's the put in, hard to see the size of the waves out in the lake, but they where to big out past the reeds for my comfort.
 
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Sailing and paddling sea kayaks in salt water have taught a few lessons about wind driven waves. We also have some big lakes around here on the edge of the desert. People were surfing the 7 foot shorebreak last week at Lake Tahoe with regular surfboards.

Canoes travel best when the hull is in contact with at least to one wave and preferably two waves. I like long canoes over 17 1/2 feet because of the increased buoyancy and better chance of intersecting two wave crests. To travel with seas abeam puts the hull in the trough with no wave contact and then wave contact parallel to the hull. Not good. In larger waves say over two feet, it is too easy to get knocked over or ship water and then get knocked over. Changing course to quarter the waves is always safer even if it takes longer. I liked Alan's point about using reeds, grasses or kelp to dampen the wave action. I like paddling in kelp for that reason and it is usually where the otters, sealions and salmon can be found in the saltwater. Bracing becomes important as the seas get rougher, and so does the trim of the boat. A big dry canoe with flare and plenty of freeboard also helps a lot

For saltwater I would put a cover on a canoe. I have paddled sea kayaks with a cockpit cover in at least three foot waves several times with waves washing over the deck. A 17 foot fiberglass kayak with a cockpit it probably better suited to really rough conditions than most canoes. Good judgment and good technique are probably more important than anything. Avoid the exposed open crossings, and stay near shore if the wind is building. When it gets bad go ashore and wait. "I have to get home" kills people by clouding their judgment.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I primarily use one of two techniques in beam waves. The first technique is the same one I would use to accelerate transversely across a class 3 or 4 big water rapid.

1. As prerequisites for this technique, you must: (a) be proficient in paddling on both sides of the canoe (i.e., lefty or righty); (b) be well practiced in lower body heeling techniques in big waves; and (c) have the canoe equi-trimmed so it will not weathercock or leecock.

The technique is to paddle on the downwind/downwave side of the canoe. As each broadside wave is about to hit, I heel up the bottom of the hull into the wave face as a water blocking shield, while at the same time taking a very strong forward stroke on the downwave side. Keep the speed up as much as possible because greater speed promotes greater stability. Except as an emergency rescue maneuver, don't brace, because a static brace will kill forward speed and hence stability. In fact, a strong forward stroke (perhaps including a sweep component) generally has more bracing effect than static low brace.

If the waves are too big and scary, which doesn't take much for me, I then resort to:

2. Sitting on shore and sipping Uncle Lee's decaffeinated green tea. (For days if necessary. Hey, who cares or is in a rush? I'm unemployed.)
 
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....In fact, a strong forward stroke (perhaps including a sweep component) generally has more bracing effect than static low brace....

Agreed. A well conditioned paddler can navigate surprising waves using the method you outlined. Timing has much to do with the success of this technique.
 
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