Rethinking 30 years of soloing tandems

Joined
Sep 26, 2013
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
501
Location
Colrain MA
I took my 15' center seat down the Allagash last year, and felt I had limited control especially when I went to my knees to the point I just stayed in the seat on the lower river.
This year in Algonquin battling the wind I was glad I was sitting in the bow seat facing the stern. I felt I had a lot more control in the large waves and when gusts tried to blow the bow out of the wind.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
Tripping from the stern seat is one thing, and I think a good thing, but when I started this thread it was about paddling an empty canoe for pleasure. I found that I got more joy and comfort from that position. You are close to the water on both sides of the boat and you are mostly balanced in the center of the boat which is easier than balancing heeled over. Because the bow is out of the water the boat pivots at the stern and is very easy turn and lots of fun. I also found that because the boat is narrow back there I got very little water dripping in the boat during the switch.

When the breeze picks up it is fun and challenging to paddle into it this way and it also takes less breeze to affect the bow and it takes longer for it to come around making switches less frequent. I always use the wind to help keep on course with either less switching or less correction. When the lake is calm it is very serene paddling with what feels like just the weight of the paddle moving the boat forward. The beauty of this is that you can increase your speed just by using a heavier paddle;). It does feel like I'm gaining more than the effort put into it but I have no proof.

One thing about paddling an empty canoe is that you can move to any position you need to for conditions which I do frequently. My point is not to neglect the stern seat as an option.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
In this photo, my buddy Pat is paddling from the bow seat looking back( the boat is a 16+ feet Hellman Kootney 55lbs of durable tough composite) the red canoe is mine and I paddled from the stern seat both with heavy loads(the great canoe with all our camp and mine with a moose and some gear), the red canoe is a Composite Creations Expedition about 55lbs composite and really tough, I don't know where the design come from, but one hell of a tripping canoe, low ends so little windage, carry a heavy load easily, track well turn well, dry running class II-III rapids!

This was this year fall trip on our way back to the truck only on flat!
 

Attachments

  • photo10568.jpg
    photo10568.jpg
    234.8 KB · Views: 5
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
Messages
4,507
Reaction score
807
Location
Ontario Canada
I talked about canoes, their construction and their handling characteristics with a wood-canvas canoe maker last year (John Kilbridge of Temagami Canoe Co.).
It came as no surprise he preferred wood-canvas over more modern hulls for many reasons. Lightly loaded in less than ideal conditions was one of those reasons. Even sitting centrally with a light day paddling load in my low profile kevlar canoe it doesn't take much to get pushed around on a blustery day. Whereas paddling something more solid brings more stability. Not sure I want to portage it though. But maybe John is just a little bias towards his 17' Temagami w/c model. Next visit I might ask to test paddle one of his finished projects if there are any left in the shop.
Good thread. I still have much to learn.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
I would replace any of my tripping canoe by a w/c... One day One day!!
The one I have in mind is a freighter, 17', 39" @gunnels, 36"@ water line, I think it is 17 inch deep! A real boat for moose hunting!!
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
960
Reaction score
277
Location
Pickwick, MN
I have a 14.5' tandem that I paddle solo a lot. Empty or really windy I use the bow seat but if I'm loaded up or it's calm I use the stearn.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
Odyssey, they are great in the wind. That's probably why I enjoy playing in it, especially with my 18 footer.

Canot, I want a 20' double ender. I think it would be big enough to haul a moose and be more fun to paddle the rest of the year.

BWCA I would think the shorter the boat the more unstable the stern seat would be when empty.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I just remembered what got me on this stern seat kick. The lake was dead calm and I told my 7 year old grandson to take a boat out and I would take another one. I said which boat do you want. "The blue one" he says. 3 w\c boats and he picks the Spirit II. It has a sliding seat that's not usable as a bow seat facing the stern and the thwarts are high because it's a deep boat. I told him there's no where to sit, take another boat. He says "How about the back seat". He paddled that big boat all around with control using forward strokes and his new stroke, the sweep.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
Messages
4,507
Reaction score
807
Location
Ontario Canada
Last summer while my wife and I were second guessing the paddling conditions and ourselves safely on shore I spied a competent confident looking paddler well out from shore heading down the lake and teeth into the wind and waves. What first attracted my attention wasn't that someone was paddling in those conditions, we'd done quite well ourselves, but his position in his canoe. He seemed to be sitting in the stern, an unusual place to see a solo paddler nowadays. Now I might easily have been mistaken, he was a good 1/4 mile away, but it struck me as different and interesting to see. Also what grabbed my attention and admiration was how well trimmed he was with bow dead level out of the pushy wind and wave action. For all I know from that distance he might've been a bit bow heavy. It was easy to see he was in a w/c canoe, and he had a sizeable wannigan sitting up front. I could see the top of it sitting proud of the gunnels. I was confused and impressed that he could trim with just that wannigan; it wasn't well up in the bow where I might've needed it? Maybe he had a fuller load than I could see from shore. Pack and other supply below gunnels and out of my sight? I'll never know. I've looked and can't find any photo of this. Foolish me, I'm lazy with a lens. Anyway he didn't take long to cruise through those conditions and out of sight. Seeing this is what lead me to my conversation with the w/c canoe maker later in our trip into town. He likened it to a battleship pleasurably steaming through minor wind and wave.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
Odyssey, they are great in the wind. That's probably why I enjoy playing in it, especially with my 18 footer.

Canot, I want a 20' double ender. I think it would be big enough to haul a moose and be more fun to paddle the rest of the year.

BWCA I would think the shorter the boat the more unstable the stern seat would be when empty.

Maybe, a 20 foot would be better, but I go in pretty narrow stream and I think a 17-18 feet could be more maneuverable... Especially when not in the boat like tracking and lining!!
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
Maybe, a 20 foot would be better, but I go in pretty narrow stream and I think a 17-18 feet could be more maneuverable... Especially when not in the boat like tracking and lining!!

If one comes up for sale go check it out. At a good price I don't think you'd get hurt, with your skills and shop you could even add value.

As far as the narrow creeks, I once had to load all my gear as far as possible to the stern and stand behind the stern seat to pop a wheelie to float my 36" boat down a 30 or so inch meandering creek in a beaver meadow.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
If one comes up for sale go check it out. At a good price I don't think you'd get hurt, with your skills and shop you could even add value.

As far as the narrow creeks, I once had to load all my gear as far as possible to the stern and stand behind the stern seat to pop a wheelie to float my 36" boat down a 30 or so inch meandering creek in a beaver meadow.

I wish there would be a chance for one comping up for sale... But in my neck of the wood chances are pretty much inexistent!! ho and my shop is only 20' long.... So maybe not such a great idea!!
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
Canot, are you planning to store the boat in your shop, if not you can always work on it outside.

Here is what Bill Mason said about paddling from the stern seat," Most people who fall out of canoes do so from the stern, some of them drown, because if the canoe doesn't capsize, which it often doesn't it will be quickly be blown out of reach."

I should have emphasized that I did this in warm weather and left my cell phone,ect. on shore until I got familiar with how the boats handled. In cold water or weather I would be less likely to paddle my 16 footers from the stern than my 18 footer, a twenty footer would be even better, this is refering to an empty boat. I don't think I would have a problem sitting in the stern in a loaded boat in cold water, but as always "safety first."
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2016
Messages
58
Reaction score
18
Location
Woonsocket, RI
And some of us prefer to paddle true solos from the middle as you can adjust the loads a little easier..

Nobody is right or wrong but back in the day of Bill Mason there were not dedicated solo canoes.. He ran on traditional Canadian designs.

I have to agree with this. For me, if I'm paddling alone, it is so much easier to be in a dedicated solo boat.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I have to agree with this. For me, if I'm paddling alone, it is so much easier to be in a dedicated solo boat.

I haven't paddled enough dedicated solo boats to make that call. My only solo boat is a Mohawk 13, which is probably too small for me, and I'm sure doesn't paddle as well as the most popular solos out there. The one thing I think that is hard to deny is that it is easier paddling where the gunnel width is about 20 inches compared to around 30 inches for a sleek solo boat.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2013
Messages
989
Reaction score
65
I still haven't tried paddling solo from the stern. I've been neglecting my tandems lately, except for the one that has no seats (my dedicated poling canoe). It's not unusual though for me to be standing about where the stern seat would be, when poling up drops or surfing a wave. Stability is not a problem when standing there once you're used to it, and it is easier to control the bow against the current. But it's definitely not as fast as the boat can go when trimmed flat. Typically, when topping a ledge, I hop up toward the yoke to lengthen the waterline and immediately increase speed against the current as I pull away. It's a noticeable change every time I do it.

As for paddling from the middle - in a canoe with great secondary stability, heeling on one side makes the reach over the gun'l as short as that from the stern. I do that all the time in my tandems, and even sometimes in my solos (although not to the same degree ).
 
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
79
Reaction score
10
Back before the internet told me I needed to paddle Canadian style, I spent a lot of time tootling on flat water from the stern seat. I would put a 20 pound rock in the bow and heel the boat over on to its chine. I could get the paddle under the boat and with so little wetted surface in the water I could get going pretty quick. Bow got blown around a bit though and it was a bit like walking on a train rail as far as control and efficiency.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
1,059
Reaction score
230
Location
Heart of the Shawnee Nation
With a load on small water, I can see it. I’ve paddled my 16’ prospector reverse and empty and the wind can be an issue. I wouldn’t hesitate to paddle the right load on the right water from the stern. Maybe some moose quarters.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
631
Reaction score
57
Location
Aberdeen, MD
I think it's largely a matter of personal taste/comfort, weather, and type of canoe. I have worked my tandem Yankee (36" beam?) both ways, and prefer the fore seat facing backwards technique with it, especially when it's windy. You need to front load then, and it just seems to work better for me if I'm in the middle vs back in those conditions. I have also worked my Chum both ways, and while it's narrower beam (32"?) makes paddling 'backwards' from the front easier, I still felt off balance or uncomfortable when it was windy; I was working entirely too hard. As I own two canoes, I removed both of the Chum's seats and my father made me a webbing seat for it, the front edge of which is now bolted about 2" aft of center. It's perfect for me and requires very little in the way of correction when there's no wind, and is easier to front-load when it's windy (just move my pack to the windward end.)

I've also taken up the heresy of carrying a kayak paddle with me sometimes. I still prefer to use the single stick, but will use the kayak paddle when needed because fighting the wind on the way back from somewhere is no fun at my age.

Eclectic. that's the word i was looking for.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,548
Reaction score
778
Location
Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I just got back from almost two weeks of paddling back East and even though I mostly paddled my 16' OT Guide, my most tippy boat, I did so kneeling from the stern. It confirmed what I discovered last year about it, that it is a viable position to paddle from and not the unstable and uncontrollable one that I had thought it was for thirty years. Like Seeker said above it does depend on your boat, conditions and personal preference.

I'm really glad that I had this revelation because when I brought my 18' OT Chippawa home that I purchased from Robin I knew that I would be paddling it from the stern. Despite convention thinking the boat was very easy to turn with the bow out of the water as it pivots on the stern. As far as wind goes it only takes one step forward to put you ahead of the stern thwart in a position similar to the bow seat. I also get an advantage from even very light winds by paddling on the downwind side needing less correction strokes enabling more energy to be put towards forward strokes.

Now that the water is warming up it is a good time to try this out, you just might like it. The bigger the boat the better the results will be I think. Big guy, small boat may be too unstable so be careful. My guess is that at one time paddling from the stern was the norm and that if 100 years ago someone opted to have only one seat in their boat it would have been the stern seat.
 
Top