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Poll: What percent of the time do you use a double blade paddle solo?

Poll: What percent of the time do you use a double blade paddle solo?

  • Never

    Votes: 73 73.7%
  • 25%

    Votes: 4 4.0%
  • 50%

    Votes: 6 6.1%
  • 75%

    Votes: 6 6.1%
  • Always

    Votes: 10 10.1%

  • Total voters
    99
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I too will concede that a paddler using a double will in the general case be faster than a single with both at a high stroke rate (but is it sustainable all day?). Only makes any real difference when racing for whatever reason you have. Not a factor in most cases when recreational paddling. Also, a double may be a better more stable choice for making progress (especially for novice paddlers) when at or near their experienced comfortable safe limit due to high wind and wave conditions. But I must ask - what are they doing out in those conditions in the first place?
 
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I used to race (unsuccessfully) canoes and kayaks. The double was faster but my heart rate would usually be considerably higher as well. I detested paddling a double blade into the wind as the upper blade, out of the water and waving over my head, felt like it created a lot of resistance in the wind. With a light weight and short single blade that's feathered on the return stroke and just skims above the water the wind feels like it has no effect on the paddle.

And without a rudder I didn't like paddling the double in a beam wind either because it often took multiple strokes on the same side to keep going straight and I always found it awkward to break the L,R,L,R,L,R cadence of a double blade.

Short races (under 12 miles) I was ok going hard with the double on a surfski or racing kayak. But on long races (75 miles) I'd start with the double and switch to a short single, even in a kayak, when my shoulders started to scream. There was a small drop in speed but there was also a drop in heart rate and my shoulders quit hurting. Other people went the entire race with a double and didn't complain of shoulder soreness. Maybe it was my technique or just my body.

I have a good hit and switch technique and it's how I prefer to paddle. Even at a relatively slow cruise I'll be doing 50 strokes/minute or better. That doesn't mean I'm paddling hard. They're quick, light, strokes that don't tend to throw the boat off course. As with most things it's what you get used to and if I was using a heavier wood paddle my technique would change. I can paddle like that all day long and let my mind wander.

I found it interesting that when I began racing canoes and kayaks that with a double blade paddle I could max out my heart rate with no troubles. I found ~160 BPM was a good short race pace and a sprint would drive it up to 180+ BPM, which was not sustainable for long periods. But with a single blade, even when sprinting, I couldn't reach a heart rate of even 160 BPM. I struggled to get it over 150. As my technique improved and my single blade stroke became more efficient I found my canoe speed going up and so was my heart rate. I finally got to the point where I could keep my heart rate at 160 with the single blade and drive it up to over 180 in a sprint. The point where I used to struggle and hit a wall now felt like a cake walk. I could switch back and forth between a double and single blade in my surf ski and only suffer a .2mph penalty at race pace (around 6.5mph). At lower speeds it was so easy to maintain 4-5mph that it felt like lilly-dipping no matter what I had in my hand. Of course now I'm out of practice and out of shape so that no longer applies to me.

I guess, in my opinion, as with almost everything, the ability to make speed and maintain a straight course is more dependent on the paddler than what kind of paddle they've got in their hand. The more you practice the better you get, no matter what you practice with.

Alan
 
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Just got back from my first paddle of the year. Beautiful, saw geese, ducks, eagles and heard an owl hooting very loudly. The bridge is bout a half hour from my house.
iehaAsE.jpg

R3xE0yv.jpg

Took the Raven. You will notice that there is a DDB in the canoe. First time ever.
Still lots of snow in the bush, but at least this river is open. It is at the pre-melt level, so water is quite low. I put the DDB together and started flailing down the river. It was not a pleasant experience. Water flying everywhere, paddles up over my head, drips raining down on my head. Just seemed like altogether too much movement. Stashed it and picked up the old single blade. It was like coming back home. Paddled to where the river joined a lake, but the lake was still frozen, Fire ban in effect, so had to cook my coffee over propane.
Q2RaI9l.jpg


So on the way back, I was paddling into the wind, upstream. I thought this would be the perfect time for the DDB to shine, but I was disappointed. Alan described what I experienced perfectly, as the wind was fairly strong. Switched back to the single and life was good again.

So I gave it a whirl, but won't be trying it again. Just didn't like it, took away from my serenity mostly I guess. If I want to go fast I'll just take the freighter and a motor.
 
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OK folks, time for a chill pill. Bottom line is we each paddle what works the best for us, some like the DB some don't and like the oil on the gunwales vs varnish debate(s) no one is going to agree with everyone else, it's really that easy! I don't want to see things going south on this thread and with recent events I don't want to close yet another post. With all that is going on and most folks locked in their homes it's easy for tensions to run high, hell, I'm living in my workshop for the most part so I can go to sleep at night without a knife under my pillow to protect myself from the better half! So let's all please play nice and and choose your words before hitting Enter!

dougd
 
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True about the cheapness to the paddle. I think it was probably too short for the purpose too . We picked up a kayak and paddle for my sister in laws retirement about a month ago. While there I was looking at the carbon fiber kayak paddles. 500 bucks! If someone sent me one of those, I might try it again, lol.
 
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A paddle is a tool. Use the right tool for the job. I am an accomplished paddler of all sorts, a traditionalist but not a purist. While I much prefer the feel of a fine single blade, there are conditions where I pull out the double blade, mostly when grunting into a stiff headwind or making miles on flatwater. A properly feathered double with a vertical stroke and upper body rotation is simply more powerful and efficient than a single. Granted, I'm in a Royalex Bell Wildfire so with a different boat I might not fee so compelled to reach for the double, but, with the boat I've got, there are times when the double simply works better, and, yes, I can keep it up all day.

Monel
 
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While there I was looking at the carbon fiber kayak paddles. 500 bucks! If someone sent me one of those, I might try it again, lol.

Oh come on, quit being so greedy. I already sent you a carbon single blade. You're not that good of a friend!

Alan
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I don't see any tension in this interesting discussion. Just people stating their preferences and opinions.

I've been paddling canoes since 1952. I own three sea kayaks and paddled them exclusively for eight years, always with a double blade. I've owned a ruddered outrigger canoe for 16 years, always paddled with a single blade, although I experimented early on with a double. I paddled class 4 whitewater for 20 years in open and decked canoes, always with a single blade, and I've also paddled whitewater in a kayak.

There is no doubt that one can sprint faster and blast into headwinds a bit more efficiently with a double blade. But neither sprinting nor blasting into headwinds is of any interest to me. I'm a lazy cruiser, in no hurry. If winds or waves are too high, I go ashore and sip decaffeinated tea. The best tool for paddling in wind, if that's your cup of tea, is a rudder.

I remain convinced that if one is skilled enough with a single blade in white and flat water, there is never any need to resort to a double. Nor is there a desire, even for one who is familiar with double blades.

A single blade skill that is important but rare is to become ambidextrous -- to be able to execute propulsion strokes, correction strokes, turning strokes, and braces either lefty or righty. Nolan Whitesell was the best I've ever seen with ambidextrous skills. I've watched him paddle class 5 rapids both lefty and righty, and roll open canoes with high brace rolls, low brace rolls and cross rolls with a paddle in either hand.

I don't think of a paddle as a tool, because I don't think of paddling as a job. To me, paddling is an art form. And that's why my very strong opinion is that the single blade is far superior when it comes to the motion pleasure, aesthetic feel and emotional artfulness of paddling. The double blade may be a more efficient kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk tool in situations that are not important to me, but the single blade is an exquisite paint brush for all the situations that are. It's more elegant, more gracious, more sophisticated. It's the difference between Fred Astaire and Chubby Checker. Because the single blade is so very much more difficult to master, is the very reason why it's so much more satisfying to dance with. For me.

But let's get away from opinions and unnecessary defensiveness and go to facts. The data are in. The double blade has won. All over the USA. In flat water and whitewater. Decisively. It's not even close. Double bladed kayaks and SOTs probably outnumber single blade open canoes 50 to 1 in most places I paddle. The double blade is like crack cocaine for newbies. I really don't care what kind of paddle old and experienced paddlers use. But I do care about preserving high level single blade skills, so I strongly encourage any newcomer to open canoes to stay far away from the double blade until they become very adept with a single.

There is one outlier datum that is encouraging: 71% of the respondents in this poll say they NEVER use a double blade. That surprised me. Hoorah!
 
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I don't see any tension in this interesting discussion. Just people stating their preferences and opinions.

.

There is no doubt that one can sprint faster and blast into headwinds a bit more efficiently with a double blade.

I don't think of a paddle as a tool, because I don't think of paddling as a job. To me, paddling is an art form. And that's why my very strong opinion is that the single blade is far superior when it comes to the motion pleasure, aesthetic feel and emotional artfulness of paddling. The double blade may be a more efficient kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk tool in situations that are not important to me, but the single blade is an exquisite paint brush for all the situations that are. It's more elegant, more gracious, more sophisticated. It's the difference between Fred Astaire and Chubby Checker. Because the single blade is so very much more difficult to master, is the very reason why it's so much more satisfying to dance with. For me.

Well said Glen, more physical pleasure, and that's a big part of what it's all about.

A double would be nice to have on a trip though. More head room when holding up the tarp;).
 
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Oh come on, quit being so greedy. I already sent you a carbon single blade. You're not that good of a friend!

When the Osprey is done, I'm going to give that Black Bart another whirl. In fact, if I go out today I'm going to give it another whirl. It certainly is light. That was a pretty nice gift Alan, thanks again, the Dijon Spam is in the mail.

Glenn, you are my new wordsmith hero, you put into words the things I think but can't express.

The last few years I haven't paddled as much as i like, thought I was lazy and out of shape, but after getting my arteries expanded, I'm raring to go this year, planning to add a daily paddle to my routine. Not sure about tripping yet this year, as there is a ban on Crown Land camping that might go on through the summer. Yesterday, it sure felt good to reconnect, paddling quietly along close to shore, looking at stuff......can't wait for total ice out.
 
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Yeah it's gonna be a strange season memequay. One in which everything looks just the same but isn't. Same water, same shores, same routes and routines except we're forbade the pleasure. Just gonna have to get used to it for awhile, and I am okay with that. But it does my heart glad to see you out n about, with whatever you're experimenting with these days. Any new menu planning? sshhhh, fishing is still open this year
 
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oh no not same water at all. Will be on the ocean much more as those launches are open and the campsites are open. The canoe campsites inland are boxed up and shut.
Oh new menus: probably will include more seafood.. I have no idea how to dehydrate scallops and lobster. so I will have to buy fresh
Our fishermen are doing "deals" out of the back of pickup trucks in parking lots of shuttered stores. A 1.5 lb lobster goes for $9 ( $6 a lb no matter the weight). I may resort to just paddling up to a working lobster boat and giving them money on the spot. I hope they give me a lobster that is wearing rubber bands. Because it is poor etiquette in normal times I have never bugged a working fisherman before.
Oh so the double blade will get more use.
 
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There is a lot to learn about using a SB in a canoe, whether it is solo or tandem, go down a meandering stream with sharp bends, in a tandem, and you and your partner better be on the same page about what strokes, what side and when they are to be used .... if you aren't, you will be in the bank in short order. I have no experience in moving water, but I do realize that is a whole new kettle of learning ... suffice it to say that any water requires a skill set to navigate (moving or not).
Before you even get in the canoe, you will have already (or should have) figured out what blade shape and shaft length (sometimes handle type as well) is a good fit for you ... so there is a lot of background before the SB even gets to the water, I don't think anyone would disagree with these points, if anything I suspect a longer list would be suggested.
Experience on the water also helps dial in what is your preference in paddle characteristics, some are lucky that the first choice is perfect, some aren't so fortunate and will spend some considerable time finding what works for them.

If you jump types to the DB, there are also a lot of parameters for sizing and usage to figure out. If you grab a "kayak" paddle and head out to try DBing in a canoe, you will almost certainly be disappointed. I would suggest that if you grabbed any old SB and headed out, you would almost certainly be disappointed as well ... each requires the respect of parameters and intended use, as the other.

If you are cruising along with DB and are getting water in the boat, it is likely because you are using the wrong stroke, likewise if you find holding the paddle high is tiring your arms, again, wrong stroke. Grabbing a "Kayak" paddle from a friend and going out is like borrowing a SB from a child and then wondering why it is so bad. As I understand it, there are 2 main stroke types for a DB in a canoe, the "high stroke" for max speed and acceleration and the low stroke for cruising along .... I leave the High Stroke to the younger folk and get along just fine with a low stroke. If you "test drive" a DB in a canoe and do so with a borrowed paddle, you will likely get something that will be too short and force you into a high stroke scenario (think racing) which is not really compatible with cruising along ... you will get wet and tired and frustrated very quickly. Contrary to several of the posts, a low angle canoe stroke is quiet and dry, as much so as a SB stroke (assuming competency).

The longest DBs sold at most stores are ~230-240 cm (sometimes the longest is only 220) and are sold as and are intended for kayaks. My first DB I ended purchasing by driving to the Grey Owl factory and ordering a longer shaft (250 cm) low angle paddle, I made the second one at 260 cm and I think that is the sweet spot for me. If you are thinking of "Test Driving" a DB and can't get a proper DB to test, just stick with your SB, you won't be happy with a paddle that is not fitted to task (that is true for SB and DB). If you do get a suitable Canoe DB, don't think it is all automatic and easy, like anything else you have to put in the effort to learn and develop the skill set.

When tripping I carry both types, if we aren't in a hurry I will sometimes swap from the DB to the SB to keep the skill set up and for a change of pace and to exercise a different muscle set. It only makes sense to me, to keep both skill sets up, since I carry the SB as a backup ... I should be able to use both.

I try new gear all the time, some sticks, some doesn't ... if you are happy with what you have, I suggest sticking with it, if you want to try something new, I suggest you do that too ... but like any gear, if you decide to try something new, take the time to learn how to use it or it is a waste of time and effort.


to quote the saying from before "Hang your own hang"


Brian
 
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There is a lot to learn about using a SB in a canoe, whether it is solo or tandem, go down a meandering stream with sharp bends, in a tandem, and you and your partner better be on the same page about what strokes, what side and when they are to be used .... if you aren't, you will be in the bank in short order. I have no experience in moving water, but I do realize that is a whole new kettle of learning ... suffice it to say that any water requires a skill set to navigate (moving or not).
Before you even get in the canoe, you will have already (or should have) figured out what blade shape and shaft length (sometimes handle type as well) is a good fit for you ... so there is a lot of background before the SB even gets to the water, I don't think anyone would disagree with these points, if anything I suspect a longer list would be suggested.
Experience on the water also helps dial in what is your preference in paddle characteristics, some are lucky that the first choice is perfect, some aren't so fortunate and will spend some considerable time finding what works for them.

If you jump types to the DB, there are also a lot of parameters for sizing and usage to figure out. If you grab a "kayak" paddle and head out to try DBing in a canoe, you will almost certainly be disappointed. I would suggest that if you grabbed any old SB and headed out, you would almost certainly be disappointed as well ... each requires the respect of parameters and intended use, as the other.

If you are cruising along with DB and are getting water in the boat, it is likely because you are using the wrong stroke, likewise if you find holding the paddle high is tiring your arms, again, wrong stroke. Grabbing a "Kayak" paddle from a friend and going out is like borrowing a SB from a child and then wondering why it is so bad. As I understand it, there are 2 main stroke types for a DB in a canoe, the "high stroke" for max speed and acceleration and the low stroke for cruising along .... I leave the High Stroke to the younger folk and get along just fine with a low stroke. If you "test drive" a DB in a canoe and do so with a borrowed paddle, you will likely get something that will be too short and force you into a high stroke scenario (think racing) which is not really compatible with cruising along ... you will get wet and tired and frustrated very quickly. Contrary to several of the posts, a low angle canoe stroke is quiet and dry, as much so as a SB stroke (assuming competency).

The longest DBs sold at most stores are ~230-240 cm (sometimes the longest is only 220) and are sold as and are intended for kayaks. My first DB I ended purchasing by driving to the Grey Owl factory and ordering a longer shaft (250 cm) low angle paddle, I made the second one at 260 cm and I think that is the sweet spot for me. If you are thinking of "Test Driving" a DB and can't get a proper DB to test, just stick with your SB, you won't be happy with a paddle that is not fitted to task (that is true for SB and DB). If you do get a suitable Canoe DB, don't think it is all automatic and easy, like anything else you have to put in the effort to learn and develop the skill set.

When tripping I carry both types, if we aren't in a hurry I will sometimes swap from the DB to the SB to keep the skill set up and for a change of pace and to exercise a different muscle set. It only makes sense to me, to keep both skill sets up, since I carry the SB as a backup ... I should be able to use both.

I try new gear all the time, some sticks, some doesn't ... if you are happy with what you have, I suggest sticking with it, if you want to try something new, I suggest you do that too ... but like any gear, if you decide to try something new, take the time to learn how to use it or it is a waste of time and effort.


to quote the saying from before "Hang your own hang"


Brian

A big +2 from me on this one.

On the subject of trying something new. Beer seems to be really popular among some folks so I felt I should at least give it a try. I found a can in the garage that my brother must have left a few years ago. It was sitting in the window so seemed pretty warm but what would that matter. I sat back in a lawn chair to give it a good test. YUK! I am never trying beer again. How do folks drink this stuff!! LOL All in fun.
 
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Both are good. Before I got old and decrepit I taught canoe FreeStyle for 20 years. I got my Maine Sea Kayak Guide license too. I don't see any competition between the two . Not an either or but an and. How much and you want is up to you and your goals.
 
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