First canoe paddle

G

Guest

Guest
I have done a lot of paddling, but never in a canoe. I loaded my, new to me, Old Town Canadienne on top of my VW Westfalia (no easy feat) and headed for my local harbor. I am so green I had to stop at the sporting goods store to buy a paddle! I am still trying to decide on a nice paddle and suggestions are wecome. I bought a cheap Carlisle economy paddle I will give to my son so he can practice before I buy him a nicer paddle too. I made it to the harbor and got the boat to the waters edge. Off I go and the cane seat gives way after a couple of strokes. The PO gave me replacement cane and I guess I will be replacing them sooner rather than later (any tips?). It was not good sitting in the stearn seat anyway with the bow way in the air so I switch seats and paddle the canoe backwards....much better. My canoe does not have a sliding front seat like some Canadiennes I have seen. The forward thwart is right behind the front seat so when paddling backwards it it right in front of and slightly higher than the seat. Not too uncomfortable, but is there anything I can do about that for solo paddling? Kneeling wasnt very comfortable for me. I paddle a couple of miles and it was a beautiful evening and lots of fun. Very relaxed, slower kind of paddling than I have done in the past. I noticed the wind really likes to move the boat around. I had a great time and can't wait to get out there again. Thanks for reading.
 

Attachments

  • photo1087.JPG
    photo1087.JPG
    38.9 KB · Views: 0
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Hi Beck, Those first paddles in a canoe are memorable no matter how disorganized. That thwart, if I understand you, could it be made into a kneeling thwart? And I'd guess that you might like to use a nice kneeling pad to help make it more comfortable.

When I'm in my canoe with no load, I bring the bow down using a five gallon plastic jerry can full of water. (fill it at shore side) I use a short line to tie it to the bow so it stays in place up forward.

Hope your life vest fits well and is comfortable, these first times are when you discover all kinds of things not to do, the wettings will make for great stories later but you must be around to tell them.

If I was going to re-cane a seat I'd use that synthetic nylon/plastic coated cane. Lasts a bunch longer. I did notice that Robin used some wide plastic webbing to replace the seats on his new plastic canoe. Not sure if it works better than cane or not. Actually, I'm not sure what's going on with Robin and these canoes; he's such a traditionalist, beautiful wood canvas canoes, and now he's gone over to the other side. It's kinda like the Pope bringing bongo drums to mass.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
Soloing a tandem always works best from a kneeling position just behind center. Even backwards on the bow seat gives you less control over the new bow. ( the old stern) I understand thats probably not going to happen. Its possible you can make that bow seat a slider to some degree and track it further aft so you can sit closer to the middle. Or add a seat in the middle.

If I were to cane a seat (and I have you) can buy manufactured cane . Not the plastic kind. I have natural cane seats that are fine after twenty years of use. The key is varnish the topside and never the bottom. The webbing that Robin used is not plastic. Its polyester. I don't care for it personally over cane because while you can see when cane starts to go the webbing gives all at once and usually at a catastrophic time in a paddle. It does not show ahead of time that it is getting brittle. I have had it fail twice. Once in the Ozarks and once on the French River.

Kneeling is something you grow into. The first time if you last ten minutes its good. The second is fifteen etc. build up. And a good kneeling mat is essential.. You wouldn't want to wrestle on concrete would you?

Now as to your paddle. Are you on rivers or lakes? Shallow water or deep? We have to measure you for bongo drums.
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2014
Messages
1,133
Location
Minden, NV
Beck,
A Canadienne on a Westphalia has a nice ring to it. You are having fun before you ever even get to the water. Transporting canoes can frustrate people. You will get better at it. You are going about paddle selection in the right way. Borrow a couple of paddles or rent some and see what you like. Keep the Carlisle as a spare and a loaner. Recently I took some inexperienced people on a couple of tune up day trips before a week long trip. I let one of them use a good paddle I made 20 years ago. After 2 hours they had worn all the varnish off the shaft by scraping the gunwale with it. Boo hiss.

Front thwarts tend to be higher than bow seats. Usually you can add a boat cushion, (which is required on some waterways as a rescue device) to sit on to get some clearance above the thwart. We all miss Ralph the designer of your most excellent canoe.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2013
Messages
334
Location
Eastern NC
Regarding paddles. Low swing weight can help on a long day. On a day of 1000 strokes, a paddle 4 ounces lighter will have you moving 250 pounds less that day. The Bending Branches Sunburst is a very light single paddle. Of my single blades I prefer to use it, unless I'm in real rocky river and need something beefier. The blade is your motor - get a good one. You may sell your canoe for another later, but you'll not likely sell a really nice blade.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2014
Messages
87
What year Westy, Beck? I load my canoe on top of my lifted '91 Carat...first load after adding the lift springs and shocks was a little eye opening! My toes have gotten a work out this season, but it's so much easier after all this practice.

I kneel almost exclusively (only sit for breaks, and to stretch). I have terrible knees (fluid in one!), but have been amazed at how well they've handled the kneeling...again, with practice.
Welcome to canoeing!
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,457
I'd say pop that front thwart out. If you have a center thwart and a stern thwart, the integrity of the hull should be fine. Paddling from the bow seat facing the stern is the preferred way to do it in a tandem. I don't kneel either, never will, only do in big white water or very big waves.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
3,338
Location
NW Iowa
Regarding paddles. Low swing weight can help on a long day. On a day of 1000 strokes, a paddle 4 ounces lighter will have you moving 250 pounds less that day.

1000 strokes/day is pretty conservative. When I'm going hard I'm pushing 70 strokes/minute, though admittedly I don't generally do that pace when tripping. But even at 50 strokes/minute, which I think of as being an easy cruising cadence, it only takes 20 minutes to reach 1000 strokes.

Alan
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2013
Messages
334
Location
Eastern NC
Racing is not my forte, so I have never focused on counting my strokes/minute and I have no idea how many strokes I use on a 5 hour paddle. 1,000 strokes is just a number I selected to make the math easier.

You're info makes an even stronger case for a low swing weight. Thanks!
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
1000 strokes/day is pretty conservative. When I'm going hard I'm pushing 70 strokes/minute, though admittedly I don't generally do that pace when tripping. But even at 50 strokes/minute, which I think of as being an easy cruising cadence, it only takes 20 minutes to reach 1000 strokes.

Alan



:) I thought I could reach the far shore in 1000 strokes today. Admittedly after 800 I had lost track of what hundred stroke I was on. But I wasn't near the far shore. It was a two hour paddle.. so a short day and the lake was about a third of the paddle.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Thanks for all the input. I already have two replacement cane seats that came with the canoe so I will use those. From the instructions, it looks like they are Old Town OEM so it should be pretty straight forward. Yellowcanoe, Any specific kind of varnish? Why varnish only the top?

I'm not sure exactly what a kneeling thwart is. I assume you can lower the thwart and you half sit on it as you are kneeling? I will not be paddling solo all the time so I'm not sure if I want to make any radical changes to the boat.

Kneeling in the center seemed weird because the canoe is so wide. I saw a video where the person was kneeling over to the side and the boat was heeled over a bit. It just seemed way more comfortable to sit on the seat. Also, does sitting and kneeling change the length of paddle needed?

Shanks, I have a 1991 Westy Syncro and I have to use a step ladder. My process is to set up the ladder next to the van, go pick up the canoe, walk to the side of the van and up the ladder and then press the canoe off my shoulders and on to the racks. I'm not sure how much the Canadienne weighs, but it is not light. Would be much better with two people, but then we might need two step ladders!

As for paddles...I have read a lot and there is A LOT of info out there. The only store near me that sells anything resembling a nice paddle is REI. They carry Bending Branches and Sawyer. Actually they don't even have any canoe paddles in the store, but I can ship it there for free and check it out. I might also be interested in making my own paddle some day.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,667
Location
Appleton, Maine
I'd remove that forward thwart too if I was going solo the Canadian from the front seat reversed.
Speaking of seats, pressed in cane won't outlast webbing, I've had cane that looked fine at the start of a trip but gave out by a rain filled trips end. Hand caning lasts longer and shows it's wear better, I don't treat/cover the cane with anything, and I only use real cane.
Heavy paddle vs light paddle? I get into a groove a few hours into the day, my heavy beavertail paddle feels weightless, but by the end of the day I'm tired. I think if I used a lightweight paddle I would be tired too at days end, but I like the look of ash over a bent graphite in the north.
I bought the Royalex canoes to use on rocky rivers here in Connecticut, it's just not worth bringing the wood canvas canoes into that environment unless I'm on a trip.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Will removing the front thwart have a negative effect on a loaded canoe with 2 paddlers?
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Well Beck, You've got a bunch of ideas here, probably all of them will work, just not at the same time on the same canoe!

I'd like to speak to the advantages in kneeling; by kneeling you lower your weight and by having each knee snugged into the chine and your seat resting on a comfortable thwart the whole act of paddling becomes so much more stable. Now, it's true if I had the level of experience of Memaquay (above) I might change my tune.
During those times when I'm giving my knees a rest by setting on the seat, I'm aware of my paddling stroke tending to pull me off the seat.

I did a Google search for photos of your Canadienne, where I could see, they had those sliding bow seats. Given that the guy gave you those extra seats, I wonder if there might be holes already to where you could re-install the sliding seats? Old Town might have the parts or at least the dimensions of the parts needed.
I'm wondering what was the idea behind the sliding bow seat? Was it to use to trim the canoe depending on the distribution of weight? But then that would mean that the paddle length would be compromised? Too much for my brains.

I have found those issue Old Town center thwarts to be killers when carrying the canoe. I replaced mine with a yoke from Teal Paddles. I wish I could find a kneeling thwart sculpted like those yokes only to fit my fanny.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
Top