Committing to the single blade

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Jan 22, 2012
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Wyoming
Just returned from a lovely week paddling the canyons of the Flaming Gorge reservoir area. Took both a Wenonah Wilderness and a WS Zephyr kayak. Weather was spotty, intermittent thunderstorms with scatterred periods of beautiful sunny autumn skies. And hardly a soul there to disturb my adventuring.

Wind can be a serious issue in these deep canyons thus I had my double blade along in the canoe for such an event. Never used it. When the wind would hit the 30+ mph mark I just found a get-out, sheltered up and made a cup of coffee while I watched the storm blow through. I could have fought it with the double blade but why?

During this trip I thought a lot about the double vs single blade thing and I've decided I'm going to commit to the single for one year. No double blades at all in the canoe for that period of time. I'm going to seriously focus on my offside skills and I'm going to do a deck for my boat.

Part of this is also my desire to do more tripping via canoe than kayaks. I'm so tired of packing ultralight in a gazillion little dry bags, packing and unpacking the hatches each day during the trip. I'm tired of wearing neoprene skirts and having to wrangle my camera from within the cockpit when I want to snap a scene. I want to carry a more comfortable camp chair and real food.

And I want to do this with a single blade.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
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Schenectady, NY
A wise choice!!
Over here in the Adirondacks, on the waters that I prefer, a single blade in an open canoe is the only way to travel.
There is often no room to swing a wide double blade, and the number of beaver dams and drags make climbing in and out of a cockpit impractical.

While I don't know much (nothing at all, really) about your area, I applaud your commitment!! So....where's the photos??
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
I'm all for it - do what works best for you. I'm a big fan of canoes, single blades and photos too.

Stripperguy nailed it, where are the photos?
 
Joined
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You da man! On the inter web, they have sites called things like "The Temple of the Double Blade", where kayakers fight with each other like donkeys and monkeys arguing over the price of oranges. Us dedicated single bladers hang out on sites like this and never argue ;). You're in good company!
 
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Raymond, ME
You da man! On the inter web, they have sites called things like "The Temple of the Double Blade", where kayakers fight with each other like donkeys and monkeys arguing over the price of oranges. Us dedicated single bladers hang out on sites like this and never argue ;). You're in good company!


aaah aaa ah.. Its a Church .. not a temple . I have never before become excommunicated from a church.
 
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Minden, NV
Nice post Holmes. I used to live in Wyo and always wanted to fish Flaming Gorge. You raise a great point about committing to the single.
 
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Scituate, RI
Welcome to the light, lol!

Be patient, and you will find yourself liking that single blade more and more. But don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't ever use a double blade occasionally...there is a time and a place for those infernal sticks!
 

Glenn MacGrady

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there is a time and a place for those infernal sticks!

Really? What's the time and place?

Consider that the context is tripping, which could be urban tripping, canoe park tripping or really remote wilderness tripping. The practical issue boils down to whether one brings a double blade on these high risk trips in the first place. Many paddlers do. But a committed and confident single blader won't. That paddler will bring two single blades, one perhaps being bent. Therefore, there will be neither time nor place for the double blade on the trip . . . because, when the biggest bet is down, it won't be there. The paddler will adjust to any circumstance that arises with those single blades.

Further, if one doesn't need a double blade on a wilderness trip, on what day trip or in what time or place would one be needed? Never, I suggest. Oh, a paddler may want to play with a double blade, or feel like using a double blade for a change of pace -- just as that paddler may sometimes want to play with or feel like using a pole or even an outboard motor. But the committed and confident single blade paddler never needs a pole, or a motor . . . or a double blade.

More simply, a canoeist who has never touched a double blade will never feel the need for one -- just as committed and confident bow hunter will never feel the need for a Buck Rodgers ray gun.

And a guy who has never touched Sophia Loren will never . . . ah . . . hell . . .

. . . this rant has petered out.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
"More simply, a canoeist who has never touched a double blade will never feel the need for one"

This is true for me.

As far as decks, I agree with Mike, DIY here,





the finished product on the Montreal River in Ontario,



or Cooke Custom Sewing, my ex-Argosy with one, very nice rig, pretty versatile, windy lakes where not a problem.

 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
I have to be categorized?. I am not a canoeist because I use a double blade on the ocean in my sea canoe? Or kayak..

ACA says I am a canoe instructor. With a single blade. I'm confident with a single but not so much so on the ocean with whirlpools and clapotis. Yep I spend a lot of time with the single. Yep I spend a lot of time with the double.

Maybe next weeks canoe trip on the Allagash can result in a TR. I won't be taking any double blade for sure. And the canoe will be open.. With a nice spray cover.

No I am not mad at anyone lest they think so. My trips are my trips and lately none of them have involved rivers or anything less than lakes 400 miles long!

Holmes the time spent on the water dedicated to the single will pay off. I take it you are on more of what we think of as normal canoe lakes.

Maybe I have to learn more Photoshop so I can play tricks with my Superior photos to eliminate....kkkkayakkkks...! so I can post them here!

I think it would be a better world if paddlers were paddlers and not segregated into categories. But the canoe single stick industry needs to stay alive!
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
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Ontario Canada
Damn. I was left hanging, wanting to know what I've missed never having touched Sophia Loren. You know what they say about ignorance being blissful. Trust me. I'm pretty blissful most days. But, I'd kinda like to know what I've been missing, also on the single blade/double blade side of life. Having a choice is nice. Having the knowledge and experience to make that choice is even nicer. Maybe one of these days I'll get there. In the meantime I'll sit around this fire and listen, and learn. I've been happily paddling along using only a single blade. Blissful? You bet. Ignorant? Perhaps. Trying a yak blade this summer in a canoe felt pretty weird, but feeling weird is standard operating procedure for me. I prefer the kayak blade sitting in a kayak. I enjoy that too, but I'm not about to deny myself the double blade because some people in a pulpit are spouting fire and brimstone. I'll scuffle off to a lakeside and play with a borrowed double and try not to feel guilty about it. I'll work on the ignorance thing, and hope a paddle preacher won't catch me. If I'm persistent, I'll learn for myself about the stick choice thing. If I'm half paying attention, I'll erode the ignorance thing down enough to make some knowledgeable choices for myself. And if I'm lucky, really lucky, Sophia Loren will come cruising up in her sleek and voluptuous Italian canoe, expertly stroking a single blade, and whisper "Here, let me show you something. Place your hands here on mine, like this." And just as we touch ...I'd better end my daydream right there.
I've probably sinned enough for one day.
 
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Envision the horror movie of the future..A canoeist goes into a paddling store and finds nary a single canoe paddle to buy but cases and cases of doubles.. all by Carlisle.

Robin and Glenn don't spout fire and brimstone but are beacons of history and tradition and keeping the single blade alive. So too some others like Charlie..

Is the Sophia Loren of today like the one of the fifties? If so that is some remarkable miracle.

http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-...ears-of-national-treasure-sophia-loren-2014-9

Miracle...!
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2012
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Illinois
During this trip I thought a lot about the double vs single blade thing and I've decided I'm going to commit to the single for one year. No double blades at all in the canoe for that period of time. I'm going to seriously focus on my offside skills and I'm going to do a deck for my boat.
I hope you keep notes in the coming year and let us know what you learn. I think it is all about the pleasure we feel while out on the water. I took a shorter double blade out today. It was a 3 mile upstream work-out and then a fast cruise back to my vehicle. I enjoyed every minute of it and was being careful to see what I did to compensate for a paddle that was not ideal for me. IMHO the paddle is a tool that everyone will use in slightly different ways to make it work for them. Thanks to everyone here for having an opinion but also being accepting of others with different ideas.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
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Ontario Canada
Envision the horror movie of the future..A canoeist goes into a paddling store and finds nary a single canoe paddle to buy but cases and cases of doubles.. all by Carlisle.

Robin and Glenn don't spout fire and brimstone but are beacons of history and tradition and keeping the single blade alive. So too some others like Charlie..

Is the Sophia Loren of today like the one of the fifties? If so that is some remarkable miracle.

http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-i...a-loren-2014-9

Miracle...!
I envision the future horror movie to be where no paddles are to be found, but instead little battery powered gunwale mounted motors...for our futuristic non-paddling "pleasure".
I'm all for keeping history and tradition alive. I'm also all for exploring the world in both directions, looking forward to the future and looking back to the past. ( There's nothing "backwards" about looking back IMO.) Both work for me, as they do for everyone here, if they'd just admit to it. The use of past materials and methods can be pleasurable no doubt, but modern materials and methods can have a place too. No? I currently enjoy paddling a kevlar boat with a wooden single stick. I wasn't aware that anything was being lost and needed to be preserved, but maybe I'm not paying attention. Are single blades being swept away to be replaced by the dreaded yak blade? If so, please give me an almighty shout, before those damned battery powered gunwale mounted motors rob me of my paddles...and my paddle choices.

ps In case my use of (il)literate liscence has been misunderstood, I'm not ranting or arguing. I have no steam to let off. I value and try to learn from all people coming from all backgrounds espousing all advice coming from all directions. I'm also looking forward to hearing about Holmes's year. It'll be a personal journey exploring his single blade. I wanna learn from him too. I learn heaps of stuff from Charlie (he helps me with unlearning some bad paddling habits), Glenn (when he's not making me laugh, he's making me smarter-not an easy thing) and Robin (I'm living the history and traditions he embraces, vicariously and joyfully)...and many others. And you too YC. You too.
ps Sophia is well past her youthful glow I know, but so am I. Don't mess with my daydreams.
 
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Joined
Feb 14, 2013
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I'm all for exploring the world inn both directions too - which is why I disagree with Glenn's remark about never needing a pole. ;)

Good luck on your experiment Holmes. I'm sure you will learn something from it. Personally, I only use a double blade when sitting on the floor....which isn't often.
 
G

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Guest
"I envision the future horror movie to be where no paddles are to be found, but instead little battery powered gunwale mounted motors...for our futuristic non-paddling "pleasure"."

Odyssey, the future is now. I know this is heresy, but how about an 8 pound motor that is amazingly quiet and 8 pound battery with a 2-5 hour range depending on speed? You can, and we do, paddle along with it, single stick. Getting older, out of shape, nagging repetitive injury, and taking very young children, steered me to the Propele Electric Paddle on my canoes for certain day trips:

(I cannot seem to get the link function to work) My review is at accessory reviews, boat accessories/boat outfitting. Apologies if referencing another paddling site is poor form.

www.paddling.net/Reviews/showReviews.html?prod=3476
 
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G

Guest

Guest
I tried to race one of those motors. They are faster than paddling too. Oh the horror!

It's hard to beat the glucose motor though. Fuel is abundant and cheap. It fixes itself. It lasts up to and over 100 years. The best and most sophisticated engineering can't even begin to compete with it.

I'm going to stick with the blade ;)
 
Joined
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NW Iowa
Like most people I started life canoeing big old aluminum boats with my dad. Into my early 20's I'd take them out once or twice a year with a friend. Short day trips fishing on the local river. Never took it seriously. Then I discovered kayaks (short, fat, and heavy) and it was a revelation. Quickly progressed to 17' sea kayaks and then 20+' racing kayaks. I was taking boating seriously for the first time and was developing proper technique.

But then I needed to take my dog along and that wasn't much fun in the kayak so I did a lot of research and bought a Bell Magic. My single blade technique was quite terrible looking back but after a while I started to figure it out and developed a decent hit and switch technique. Soon I started concentrating more on canoe racing than kayak racing. Even in my kayaks, which I paddled less and less, I tended to use a short single blade rather than double. They were ruddered so keeping a straight course was a snap.

At this point I had a good hit and switch technique but not much else. After taking a winter trip to Arkansas and paddling with a group down there on the swamp and seeing how easily they were able to control their boats without switching sides I started paying more attention to different strokes and learning new things.

I'm pretty much out of racing now but still prefer a hit and switch technique when I want to cover ground. But I've also started to enjoy paddling slower with more "turny" boats and it's fun learning new ways to control them. Even in my straight tracking boats it's nice to be able to stay on one side when I just want to cruise.

7 years ago I would have said I was an intermediate paddler. I've learned a ton since then. Mostly I've learned that even though my skills have greatly increased I'm still an intermediate paddler with a lot to learn. I'm far from an expert with a single blade but I'm having fun learning as I go.

For me the single blade is more enjoyable for nearly all conditions. I could never paddle slow with a double. Going slow made it drip on me more and once I got into that nice rhythm with it I'd unconsciously start paddling harder and harder until next thing I knew I was going all out. With the single blade I find it easier to relax, just taking a small stroke now and again or paddling slow but steady. But if I want to go fast you still can. With proper hit and switch technique you give up very little, if anything, to a double blade. A good hit and switch technique (which few people have) will beat a poor double blade technique (which most people have) any day.

Enjoy!

Alan
 
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"The future is now." http://www.electricpaddle.com - DaveO
Wow. That's incredible Dave. I musta just thawed out of an iceberg or something. I've never heard of an electric paddle. Motors yes, but something so small, and with a rechargeable battery? I read your review (nice trip and photos btw) and am intrigued. I can see it's appeal and application. I think I like it.
WHOA! Hold it! Does this mean I'm in my own future horror movie?
 
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