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Choosing the correct paddle

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Thanks for all the input! I am moving the seat on the 119 this weekend to the center, for better balance. As to sitting vs kneeling: kneeling is not something I ever did paddling, but will at least give it a try, see how it feels, once I move the seat. As to paddle styles: the Sugar Island blade seems to be the best choice currently for what I intend to do with it. And, they appear pretty common, so I can pick one up this week (there is a Rendezvous store near me, which sells more traditional gear-black powder, primitive archery, canvas goods, as well as canoe equipment), and they will not break the bank. Which, at this stage, works for me. A couple years down the road, I will upgrade the boat, and go from there-but, for now, I want to get out on the water, and learn how to paddle PROPERLY-whereas my skill level currently is about......zero.
 
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Well, there sure are a lot of opinions about paddles. Bunches of folks who know more than me, so I'll just limit my input to my two rules.
1. It's generally best to put that large flat end of the paddle down in the water, hold on to the other end.
2. Hmmm.....now what was that second one?

Best Wishes, Rob

P.S. we can talk or we can paddle (with most anything) personally, I learn a lot more paddling.
 
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My first paddle was marked Allagash. That's all I needed to know. There was no internet. no research back then . You just bought and went paddling.. All this techie stuff came later.
I had a lot of fun with that club. Over the years it got heavier and clunkier.Last year I found it in the back of the paddle shed leaning on the wall. I took it to Ozark Rendezvous. Sought to give it away. No one wanted it. No one... No one.

I snuck up to the canoe livery at night and leaned it on the door and ran.. I kept thinking it would find me out.
 
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If you're moving the seat:

Symmetrical kneeling solo's usually have the seats front bar positioned 4-5 inches aft of longitudinal center. Sit down solos place the front bar at center. Hull asymmetry, usually Swede-Form where the hull is more full aft of center will move the seat aft some. Best way to test yours is to pour a pint of water in the hull and lay a board across the rails. The water should be centered with the paddler in the boat but take off aft when under way. Yeah, all this asymmetrical rocker, Swede-form, Fish-form stuff complicates that.
 
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In spite of Charlie's disdain for the animal tails, some of us have a reason (although maybe not a good one in his sight) for using one. I find the otter-tail to be quite useful when soloing a tandem canoe. It gives me the reach for turning strokes without having a too-long shaft. When I do a combination pole/paddle trip in my 16' tandem, the otter-tail is the paddle I take. In any water that is too shallow for that paddle, I'm standing with the pole anyway. The otter-tail is the perfect compliment to a canoe pole, in that regard.
 
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Charlie has a refined palette and expensive taste... we all know that...

Like the wines, some like reds, some don't... I don't think any less of anyone for their choices, although some may sneer at those perceived lesser... I do it with beers all the time, although I'm mostly just joshing.

And I like wine that tastes like grapes, not old leather and oak. If I wanted something that tasted like leather I'd wet my belt and wring it into a glass ;)
 
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Charlie has a refined palette and expensive taste... we all know that...

Like the wines, some like reds, some don't... I don't think any less of anyone for their choices, although some may sneer at those perceived lesser... I do it with beers all the time, although I'm mostly just joshing.

And I like wine that tastes like grapes, not old leather and oak. If I wanted something that tasted like leather I'd wet my belt and wring it into a glass ;)

True enough......and I prefer meade. :)
 
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i use a modified ottertail for most of my paddling solo and tandem, typically in a prospector 16 with a longer shafted beaver-tail as my backup/alternate -- i have a short-stroke / fast cadence, lots of dynamic paddle-pitch, generally in-water recovery sorta style that seems to suite the otter. the beaver, i find, is good for quick power and shallower water...
 
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Charlie has had a gal for a while that is Canadian Does Canadian style in a tandem and uses an ottertail for that And on this matter I don't think she pays much mind to a different opinion Maybe you should all just take the knowledge add it to the bank of wisdom and carry on your own trip
 
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Well, spent a good 2 hours playing on a local lake yesterday. I picked up a Sugar Island type paddle and, there is an outfitter local to me who allowed me to borrow his ottertail (provided I purchased a paddle from him). I bought the sugar island, borrowed his, and off I went. My personal observations, with the two paddles:
the sugar island was the less comfy to paddle. Now, I attribute this almost entirely to it being a low end model of it. The varnish of it, after a while, caused hot spots. It was also the heavier one-which, again, I attribute to the maker, not the model. It did allow me to dig into the water, and made for easier ruddering and J strokes. I tried using an indian stroke with it too, but, the paddle was too wide for my novice skills :). The blade worked well for quick steering though!
The ottertail was comfortable to paddle with (again, I think it was because it was higher quality), and lighter. Paddling was a little easier too, due to, I'm assuming, a slimmer blade profile. J strokes and ruddering (I apologize, maybe there is another term for it?) were easier to finesse with this one, but for large, gross adjustments, took a little more. Much easier to do a sweep stroke with this blade though.
All in all, for ME, I will likely pick up an ottertail model in the near future. As to the sugar island one, I am going to strip it & revarnish it this winter. Mass produced, I know they save money, but its really not comfy to paddle it over a couple hours. The shaft is also a little TOO oval for me-but, I will deal with it for the time being.
Thanks for all the input. Someone said the best way to learn, is to just go & do. That's exactly what I plan on doing until everything freezes over. I really enjoyed just playing yesterday, and will be doing it again on my next day off!
 
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You've learned a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of both Sugar Island and Ottertail paddles.

First I suspect from your anecdote that you are holding the paddle tightly.. one hand just above the blade and the other on top. Tightly..

Which is entirely incorrect. Look at the way a guitar player holds his guitar. Lightly so both hands can move around.. Tight grip will cause pain, discomfort, undesired results and friction blisters. Paddle should be allowed to rotate in the circle of the shaft hand . The shaft hand guides and does not grab. Never crank your bottom wrist up or down. Always hold it neutral


Some paddlers like to oil a foot long section of the shaft just upwards of the blade and oil the grip and varnish the rest for best water protection.

The ottertail can generate far less torque than a Sugar Island. That is why the latter is so superior for turning fast with a smaller boat like your 119. . The blade is wider and more force can be generated at the edges than a narrower paddle. Remember little weight on the long lever arm being the same as a heavy weight on a short lever arm? Same for paddle width.

Undoubtedly the Sugar Island was less tiring as you are learning how to use it.. In time its effectiveness in manuevering your boat will shine but right now you are dealing with working to get that torque working for you. At the outset you make (everyone does) little mistakes that you have to correct. All that twisting and countertwisting is exhausting!

Its not just different strokes for however you feel.There is real physics behind paddle design.

So its natural that someone soloing a tandem would never want a Sugar Island paddle. Now there is more mass of the canoe. Remember F=ma?
That increased mass means you need more force. Misdirect that force as in using a wide blade inaccurately and you will tire fast. Thats why you find Canadian Stylists using ottertails.. Those paddles dont generate as high an edge resistance to a big turning canoe. Response of the boat is a little slower. but the paddler less tired. Also small corrections can be quickly made.

Get a big tandem going over time with an ottertail( like in a pivot) and you can make yourself dizzy sick.
 
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