Fighting the wind

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I'm going to make some sensitive comments here, so bear with me... I don't want a battle to start but I'm darn confused...

I'm having some trouble really understanding why the symmetric Eagle/Northstar canoe seems to do much better in wind and waves than, a similar, yet asymmetric Keewaydin. Most will contest that the modern design will be better all around. I keep finding the opposite.

I thought part of the issue may have been an adjustable bow slider vs. a fixed bow seat causing weight ballast issues.

I had a chance to paddle in some pretty heavy wind and waves this past weekend and tried a lot of different stuff with the bow slider. It worked out, in every case, that the position we had always been using was the best. That is, the most weight off the bow.

Now here's where I lose it. Same two humans, in the same positions yet the Eagle has the seat fixed farther forward.

The other big difference is weight and material. Eagle is glass, Kee is Kev. There is about a 25lb difference in weight as well as a noticeable difference in stiffness. Compared to our body weights, 25lbs seems pretty negligible. Is it possible it is just extra flex in the hull that is really contributing to it's darty, or drifty behavior in the wind and waves?

I've paddled a Carbon/Kev Eagle is some pretty good chop on a demo and I didn't notice much of what I experience in the Kee, but it was a short paddle, so maybe I just didn't notice it.

My theory thus far has been the asymmetry causing unbalanced forces on the bow and stern from the wind, as well forces from the water due to rocker differences. It may be quite possible that it is just easier for ME, in the stern, to correct those movements due to less stick. But I'm still a bit baffled by the fact that adding more weight to the front of the Kee makes it worse while the bow seating position is more forward on the Eagle. I would maybe have expected the opposite.

I also had the chance to talk to a couple last year who were renting a Kee. I don't know what their paddling experience is but I distinctly remember the comment that they didn't like the way the boat tracked. I didn't have a ton of experience with the boat at that time in windy conditions, so I didn't put much stock into what they said... I had never noticed it myself.

The classic line I hear these days is that assymetric boats track better than symmetric ones. I could see that being the case in calm water, but is it true in rough water as well? Or is there something else at play here?
 
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I've never paddled either boat and don't often get to paddle tandem on anything but short day trips, almost always solo.

One thought that comes to mind is how rocker is measured. I've read something by Jonathan Winters about how everyone seems to measure it differently and when he was trying to figure out where to measure it he asked all the other designers and they all had a different way. So just because the specs give similar rocker it might not be measured at the same spot and could be quite different.

I guess I would expect the bow of the Keewaydin to get pushed around more than the stern due to the differential rocker and I can imagine it would be a bit difficult to bring it back in line from the stern for the same reason. But isn't keeping the bow in line the job of the bow paddler?

As for seat position I really don't know. Moving the seat back on the Keewaydin should make it more prone to being blown around by the wind but also make it easier to bring back on track.

Alan
 
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Alan,

You are correct about that. The bottoms of the boats are entirely different. I'm not sure I'd put much faith in the numbers other than to say one is asymmetric and one is symmetric (both in section, rocker and sheer), and the general beam, length, etc, are similar.

I guess the problem for the bow paddler becomes how to effectively correct to their offside. It is very easy for them to draw in the bow, but a sweep doesn't do much, and having to cross to correct is not a viable option to keep moving in the wind. Switching sides is the obvious solution but I generally try to paddle into the wind and waves if I can, and I've noticed it will switch.

One is going to say the stern paddle is sweeping and yawing the boat to the offside. I've thought that since the beginning but it isn't (and it doesn't happen in the other boat). A hard stern sweep will barely affect that boat moving at speed. And cessation of paddling in the stern still shows it yaws the same way. A heavy pry/J hardly corrects it. The stern seems to stay put and the bow wanders.

I'm not saying the other boat won't do this at all, it will... but I've just had less issue with it... or like I say, maybe it is just easier to correct.
 
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Coming from a flatwater paddling background in the upper midwest both paddlers switching sides would be the obvious choice for me with the stern paddler calling the huts to keep it on track.

In any case, whether switching sides or not, I'd think both paddlers should have the skill and leeway to make any quick corrections necessary to keep their end under control. If the bow paddler has to do a cross bow or switch sides and do a couple forward draws so be it. I would think that no matter what it took any way the bow paddler can make a correction for the bow blowing off course would be more efficient than you trying to do it from the stern, especially with the lack of rocker back there you seemed to be fighting.

That being said I don't get to paddle tandem very often and I don't think I've ever had to do it in heavy winds. My normal paddling partners also aren't very skilled in correction strokes (I'm no expert either) so if I was in the stern I'd be stuck trying to make the majority of the corrections from there, which I know from some tandem river paddling can be a bit frustrating.

I don't like paddling in the wind so when I'm faced with it I just put my head down and go as hard as I can to get it over with. And since I'm in a solo that means switching sides, which can get annoying when you sometimes get 10 strokes/side and other times only 1 or 2, but it's faster than doing it any other way. Switching sides in calm water when I'm paddling hard costs less than 1/2 stroke and many times costs 0 stroke. In the wind it's a bit slower because I need to be more deliberate so the wind doesn't take my paddle away from me, but even then it's under 1 stroke lost in the switch.

Alan
 
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Good advice. I'm going to have her switch and control the boat. I'll just put my head down and power on.

We've been stuck on thinking we can make it through anything keeping sides... we can, but it's brutal at times.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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In line with the sensitivity concerns of the OP . . . one possibility is that the Eagle/Northstar is a brilliant rough water design and the Keewaydin is a piece of crap.

Of course, there are many, many other sensitive possibilities but, not having paddled a Keewaydin, I have no empirically based opinion on any of them.
 
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One of my most embarrassing moments was in the Dumoine in a headwind.. I was in the stern and could not hold a course at all. There was an old Coleman stove right in the front of the bow paddler...jammed all the way in the stem. The stove was about 20 lbs.

Move the stove back.. which we did after someone not in the boat said.. "is the stern of the boat supposed to be two inches out of the water?".. Then all was fine.

I am theorizing there is a fine balance between bow down and too much bow down,.

The Dumoine is asymmetrical.

Its been my experience tandem in the headwind that the stern paddler has very little effect in being able to change the direction of the boat. The bow paddler can do far more.
 
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I've seldom had a problem tandem going into the wind, other than having my speed greatly reduced. I do remember paddling a strong headwind tandem in a Kipawa (Winters design, asymmetrical), and when big waves came at us, we had to slow the boat down. If we were given 'er, we would simply slice right through the big wave and get a hair wash. The kip, the winisk, all those types of canoes have very fine entry lines, and are not as good at bobbing and weaving as a traditionally shaped canoe. I like lots of rocker in big waves, added ability to manoeuvre. I remember the dumoine being pretty good in some big stuff, although unlike Yellowcane, my stern is never two inches out of the water, thanks to my genetically engineered arse.

So L'oiseau, are you talking about just going straight, or speed, or all those things? You will reach a point in your paddling career when you won't think so much about this kind of thing, and you will be able to make just about any canoe do any thing you want it too. Now if only the same could be said about wives! BUt that is really delving into sensitive areas!
 
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It seems to me we can get the canoe, either one, to do what we want... but at times it is considerably more difficult.

I often like to move things around in the boat and see what it does. This frustrates my wife because she seems to think she knows what's best, at least when it comes to moving her!

Speed: I really have no idea in the waves. Seems we can make decent headway with either boat. Neither is enjoyable. On calm water we did a back to back race which I get flamed for mentioning the results. All design aspect points the Kee being faster, but that wasn't the result. I've not really cared enough about speed to try to duplicate or reverse the results. For the amount of effort I want to expend on a day of paddling, both are probably about the same.

Tracking: We are usually deadset, as I mentioned, on keeping our sides. My wife only cross draws if we are on a river. I think we have this notion that we have to stay that way, but it's probably not the best method.

My stern is never out of the water either, if I am back there. I've got enough heft to keep my boats stem firmly under water.

And I'm thinking that maybe this possibility is not the case:

"one possibility is that the Eagle/Northstar is a brilliant rough water design and the Keewaydin is a piece of crap."

but that is only because I've read other cases where people thought that wasn't the case. It makes me think:

1) they don't have a point of comparison
2) they compensate by using a different technique
3) they don't actually have any experience in wind or waves

Most likely the answer is #2.
 
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When we did the Green in early May, we just threw our stuff in the Souris River Wilderness 18 in our haste to start the trip. We had a heavy toilet and lots of water and were focused on getting all the stuff in the canoe somehow.. (you would think there would be enough room in an 18 foot canoe to have many options...nooo). We took off and because my stern paddler had his legs literally wrapped around the toilet ( way too big) and could not push off anything we suffered. A headwind came up..enough to rip hats off heads and make three feet waves on the river ( standing waves...big things with the current being as quick as it was). It didn't help to be bow heavy.. which we were.. (damn the 14 gal of water and 60 liter barrel..up front) that with every big standing wave the bow knifed through and we got more water. Control was a hope

Finally we had to stop, empty and rearrange packs and water.. It was amazing what just rearranging the load did.. Now we could steer!
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I think it's very possible that an asymmetrically rockered canoe will, in general, be harder to control in wind and waves than a symmetrically rockered canoe. The sticky stern is the problem.

The two solo canoes I paddle the most are an asymmetrical Hemlock SRT and a symmetrical Bell Wildfire. I have more problems in stiff wind waves with the SRT, especially when the wind is coming from the stern quarter. With the the more turnable Wildfire, I can more easily correct my direction with sweeps or stern pries. It's similar in whitewater: the gnarlier the waters, the better off you are with more rocker to maintain or quickly change the boat's heading.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Glenn, you may be right. But my Mad River Independence, with 2.5" of rocker in both ends (same as the Wildfire on a 20-inch longer frame) was hard to control in an oblique wind of 15 mph or more. To me, this picture sort of says it all. I was using a stern sweep/draw but could not keep it from yawing in a 15- to 20-mph wind coming over my left shoulder from behind. The stern stem was only barely in the water even with a 50-lb pack behind me. If I could have put more weight back there I would have.


Well, canoes will always have an element of mystery. Sometimes nothing seems to work well in wind. The question is whether your boat would have behaved any better or worse if the stern had less rocker. I don't know.

If you were yawing left, it may have been because of the wind profile presented by that big blue pack. When trimming a canoe by shifting ballast there are two variables: the weight of the ballast and the wind profile of the ballast. The simple rule of the heavier end of the boat turning into the wind assumes all the ballast is below the gunwale. If the ballast sticks up above the gunwale to present a "sail", the wind profile effect can overpower the weight position effect. In other words, while the weight effect of the blue pack should make the stern turn into the wind, the sail effect could be causing the wind to push the stern away from the wind. Just speculating, but it would be interesting to see what would have happened if you threw that pack into the bow (or maybe you did).
 
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My limited solo experience has shown me that, unloaded, an asymmetrical boat does OK. I've yet to try with any significant mass other than my own. I've also not been in any REALLY rough water.

It may also be that one can feel the direct impact of the wind in a solo boat as the body acts like the biggest sail, and that the sail is near the center of rotation of the boat. I feel like I'm translating more than yawing in a solo boat. Getting good speed seems problematic, but tracking has been less of an issue for me. Maybe the more time I spend in my solo boat, the more my opinion will change.

But that said, I've also paddled my Kee solo in some good wind and it was horrible. I was heeled over a good bit to get my paddle in the water - I'm sure both my stems were out of the water as I had no other cargo in the boat. I spent most of my energy trying to direct the boat rather than going in the direction I wanted to go... anyway, sticking was not a problem... it was lack thereof. But also I don't believe the kneeling position of a tandem is as ideal as that of a true solo boat.

Another random comment. The SRT, from what I can recall paddling side by side with them, is very tall in sheer. I'd expect that might compromise it's wind performance somewhat. Judging by it's name, I don't think it was optimized for windy lakes though.
 
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All hull designs are different.. Some are asymmetrical a little bit. Delta designs like Wenonahs are very very trim sensitive. Its not a big surprise that what works for one doesn't for another.
 
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Our family headed north to cottage country for the July long week end. I took our canoe, just in case I might slip away between swims and baby sitting. It's a busy cottage lake, with folks rushing back and forth between the four arms of the large lake. You'd think people would slow down at the cottage, after a busy time at work and commuting? I had to pick my moment between dashing jet skiis and tube towing ski boats. I got to try out my new solo thwart, and was impressed by how solid it felt under my ample arse. My canoe was empty, so it was a tad bow light. It leaned better than I'd anticipated. I'm also a bit better paddler than I'd given myself credit for. There's always lots to learn though. I wandered behind a large island, and enjoyed the quiet lee side away from crowds and increasing wind. Ah! The wind! When a couple hours later, as I emerged into bigger waters the gusts pushed me around. I wished I'd had a kayak blade. In any case, I picked my way across, but got blown down a bay a bit. When I got into the real light chop, I needed to move into the bow, to better paddle upwind. I could've simply pivoted in place, to reposition myself, but the wind unnerved me. It seemed easier to step over the thwart and splay my knees for balance. Things worked fine as I fought my way across the lake, till half way there. I saw a speed boat bearing down on me, and he gave no indication of altering course even just a little. I let the wind sail me back 50 yards, and smiled as the Mr Dad dude sped by. He could've backed off just a little on the throttle, but no. He wasn't in the mood to share the lake. I managed the considerable wake just fine, and called it "more practice, no problem". The little girls on the towed tube waved wildly and screamed something to me as they flew by. I smiled, waved, and then paddled hell bent for the opposite shore. No problem.
I got to practice a lot of different strokes and improve my confidence. Of all the things I'm most afraid of in a possible solo trip, is whether I'm actually able to get myself from a to b on the water. The variables of trim, wind and waves, my fitness, and paddling ability far outweigh any other concerns I might have. It was only an afternoon paddle, but I'm a little closer to a possible next step of going solo.
 
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Differential rocker is included in hull designs to stymy poor paddling technique, specifically the tendencies to not get the top hand outside the rail, directing the stroke along the rail and carrying the blade behind the body. These sins are exaggerated in the sterns of tandem boats. The stern inadvertently turns the hull away from his paddling side, the designed drops the stern profile deeper in the water to correct. The designer had reduced stern control over direction.

An issue in wind and waves is cadence. We should all up our cadence and use shorter strokes, kneeling paddlers ending forward strokes at the knee, sitters at mid thigh. More, when things get hairy, we all tend to let that top hand creep safely inboard of the rail, which induces turning force. When the going gets tough we should concentrate on technique. Solo paddlers are well advised to eliminate the traveling C/ J stroke because it slows cadence and turns the boat offside before the J correction brings it back in line.

There's plenty enough already said about trim, above.

While agreeing about the need for standardized rocker measurement, I have never seen a MRC Indy with 2.5 inches of rocker, or any rocker at all. Please acquire 18 feet of string, a couple friends to stretch it and a camera to capture an image. A Indy with 2.5" of rocker is something I'd enjoy seeing.
 
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