Some Experienced Thoughts, Please?

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Jan 30, 2013
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Hello, so as I see, the vast wealth of skill, talent but mostly spending time doing something you, like on the forums. I wanted to inquire as to which basic top life long, paddle strokes, I should learn. Lets, all have a smile, I have bought the basic books, You-Tube, plus the other zillion web sites, etc. I am in over load. So I put on my carpenter knee-pads, put paddle in my hand?? Think; ZEN Canoe mode? Any Basic patterns, would be helpful. Quick history about the person, asking for help. I bought, my first canoe 16 years, old from 1st job, as a busboy doing tables, dishes etc. It was a Coleman Ram-X 17. Put it on a 65 Fairlane and off, we went. Now, know one knew, what a J-stoke was, but we did know what a j was; smile, girls, cars, and hunting, soon replaced the canoe, and by 21 it was gone. So, as you can see thirty, days from my 50th B-day, the question is thus posted. Best to you. and yours; Ravenwolf;
 
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Ravenwolf,

Welcome! This is a real nice site with a lot of great folks here. I am sure someone will be able to help you get started. My first question to you is what kind of canoe will you be paddling and where will you paddle? I am by no means an expert, so I am hesitant in offering much in the way of paddling advice.

I paddle a tandem canoe solo and J-stroke with a staright paddle. I used to paddle a solo canoe on both sides of the canoe with a bent shaft in a sit and switch style. I think if you offer a little more info you may get a better answer to your question.

Good luck to you and welcome to a great canoe site!

Bob.
 
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Hi, Bob the canoe is a Nova Craft prospector 16, and I will be a stern guy, when tandam, but I will be solo, alot also. Mostly south central Pa./ Md. Thanks, ravenwolf;
 
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If you can make the W Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous in June we can get you off to a great start. Informal instruction always available there.

http://www.wpascr.org/

Doing is better than watching and watching better than reading...!
 
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I would second yellowcanoe's advice. Also, the Nova Craft Proscpector is a great boat. I love to paddle that boat solo. But man it is a lot of boat. I would really encourage you to go to the solo canoe Rhondy and start there. Especially with that boat, learning about trimming it out and confortable kneeling in the bilge makes a big difference with control. Congrats on a super boat. Have a ball getting back to your canoe roots.

Bob.
 
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Well, you have a bunch of folks here who know just about anything you'd want to ask. Me....don't know much and most of that is made up.
But if I was starting; first I would get a well fitting life vest (PFD) and wear it, the way the world works is the greener you are the easier it is to die.
Maybe classes are for you; me, I hate to show stupid in front of people. I'd pick the one book you like best and zerox the pages about the J stroke and put them in a plastic baggie. There is less pressure if you go alone, so that means solo paddle. (not all that much help either) In the usual position of solo, empty canoe, the bow will be too high. I use a five gallon plastic water container to bring it back down somewhere near level. Take it empty and fill it there, leave a little air in it so it will float when you spill. Small pond or lake and stay very close to shore at the beginning. It seems to me that this business of paddling is action-reaction. Study the zeroxes from the book, see what happens when you paddle, the canoe will respond, is that what you wanted? More or less? Make your adjustments and then just work it out. That's one nice things about being alone; what ever it was, you did it. Be of good cheer; people all over the globe paddle well and some of them are dumber than stumps.
I'd bring a change of clothes, towel and I hope you car heater works well.
Yellow Canoe knows the canoe backwards and forwards and I'd listen to her long before I would give any credence to my blab. (but I do have enough sense to stay away from alligators!)
Best Wishes, Rob
 
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I also have a bit of experience with the canoe not only backwards, forwards, but also upside down! I never got the hang of reading while trying to paddle and always soaked those Xeroxes....!

But as Rob says mess about in your boat for sure. Paddling is not rocket science...just pushes and pulls here and there.
 
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Ravenwolf,
Some great advice, and implied or explicitly expressed is to get out and paddle. Getting the basic hang of it so you don't swim is the first objective, then refining your technique. Most of us aren't looking to get into the major leagues of paddling but are always trying to improve.
 
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Thanks, friends great advice my wife and I took a day class, on the bay this past July. The boat we where in was a 15ft. Nova craft prospector, which I have been back and forth on, as to would that be the better choice to start on? But other than 1ft difference it is the same width etc. The cenius at the time was stay with the 16 cause I am new here and would not know the difference. We just had are first grand child last, Wendsday, and the wife is not a good swimmer?? so my vision is I will be solo mostly? Time will tell, farm work now brush burning today, Love it,:eek: Ravenwolf;
 
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Advise so far has been spot on...
Do buy AND wear a PFD suitable for your weight.
Spend a LOT of time just dinking around, you'll figure out quickly what works and what doesn't.
Take the time to intentionally swamp your boat (preferably when tandem) when the water is warm and mild. get the feel for it when it has 900 lbs of water in it. Practice self rescue, again, when the water is warm.
Practice dipping your gunnels in the water, if your hull allows, some don't!
Solo self rescue can be a tricky thing, especially so if your boat is very slender/tender.
You didn't say if you plan on any whitewater paddling, my guess is you're not.

The best advice I can give is to just get out there and enjoy the water!!
 
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So, Ravnewolf - your NC16 is a great learning platform. It isn't very specialized and it's very forgiving. Good choice. One thing your canoe is also very good for is to learn poling. Since you figure on soloing a lot, you should add poling to your repertoire. I find it is often easier to pole a tandem than to paddle it solo, even going down a river. If you can't get yourself into the company of an experienced poler for instruction, Harry Rock's books and video are the best things going...
 
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Hi, Steve I have seen some pictures on the poling, my confidence would have to grow, maybe if I see someone in person? Ravenwolf;
 
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Well, you're in south central PA - so I bet someone here can arrange that. Or at least knows someone closer who can.
 
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Western PA Solo Canoe Rendezvous usually has some polers..

http://wpascr.org/ Its an informal gathering, so polers cannot be guaranteed. One year there was an informal class IIRC.

There is also a whitewater clinic nearby the same weekend but I don't know if there are any polers.

Maine Canoe Symposium www.mainecanoesymposium.org has at least half a dozen poling clinics and most of the attendees as well as the leaders can give you some help.

Sorry for the duplicate of information.
 
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Ravenwolf - I'm from Western Pa myself but, moved to Tennessee eleven years ago or there bouts. I am a flat water paddler only. Too old to learn or do white water. I am a self taught canoeist so, if I can figure it out you can also. I, however, did it all wrong. I started out in kevlar boats and they are challenging to a new paddler due to their stability quirks. But, back to your questions about paddle strokes and I'll make a suggestion on a super boat to buy that is priced great. I think the J stroke is an absolute to know how to do. After you learn it - you'll find yourself adding your own little variations to it. et: that little kick you give the paddle at the end of the stroke or the attitude of the blade to the boat as you pull it back. It just happens. Draw strokes are a must as are strokes used to turn and slow the boat. Get those down and hit the water. Practice, practice and more practice. I'd tell someone new to put as much effort into learning how to paddle as in the boat itself. Paddle strokes have names but, names are only names. Learn how to maneuver the boat, with the less effort possible, with the paddle strokes that work for you. Perfect your strokes and you're there. A great boat to paddle, and one I wish I'd have started with is the Mohawk royalex. It comes in 16 & 17 foot lengths. The boat has super primary and secondary stability and is very easy to paddle. Really it is. I just got a 17 footer and I am amazed and this is from a guy who has two 16 foot kevlar trippers. One more thought and I'll shut up. Don't be intimidated about buying a long boat, 16 foot. You can buy a 12, 14 footer and will become competent. You can paddle a 16 footer just as easily and the longer boat will carry more and is fast, depending upon the model. The longer boat opens up a lot of opportunities to expand you paddliing. Tripping, expedition, daily paddling, flat water and I expect fast water with the right purchase as well as taking a second person to paddle. Dogs like long canoes too.:rolleyes:Or, ya can buy a second canoe if bucks aren't an issue. I have a blog that shows the Mohawk Canoe I just purchased and have paddled extensively as well as the kevlar canoes. It's more of a wildlife site with stories than a canoe site but, I like photography and a canoe gets me close to the critters. Hope this helps a little. http://garysoutdoorwanderings2.blogspot.com/
 
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Hello, nice post thanks for your insite on paddling. I like your blog, nice pictures. Best to you; Ravenwolf;
 
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You're not alone Ravenwolf, I've been reading & practising for years. As YC suggests, a course or two would be a good shortcut to proper technique (note to self - follow my own advice). Although I know and practise many strokes etc, I'm sure I've picked up many bad habits (let's not go there!), a course would be invaluable. I'm trying to cut down on correction strokes; when I match my bow paddler's slow and less powerful cadence, my need for corrections diminish - and my enjoyment increases. Relax, enjoy, explore and practise. Brad
 
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Something to try on a twisty small river, creek or spring run is having to bow paddler do most of the steering. The bow paddler can see what is coming better and hence miss a lot of logs, banks, rocks, manatee, and other obstructions. There are many styles of paddling do not be afraid of mixing different styles into one that feels good to you. Do not feel afraid to try turning your canoe by leaning it on its side. This will change the shape of the canoe and give it much more rocker. Please be wearing your life jacket and be in warm water. These things will come in time with practice. Trying these things will build trust between your canoe partner and you. (Good for a marriage) Just go out to fail and have fun falling into the water and see what works for you.
 
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Bow paddlers are closer to the pivot point than the stern paddler. Hence they cannot initiate a turn. Turns initiate with stern skids. However once the turn is started the bow paddler influences entirely how sharp that turn will be. The stern paddler can stop paddling and put the paddle in their lap. The proper term is heeling the boat not leaning. It might seem like petty semantics, but you would be surprised how many paddlers mistake boat heel for people lean. When the second happens without a good deal of practice cantilevering out of the boat as a tandem pair, wetness happens.

Now in whitewater the bow of course has better visibility of those invisible rocks and CAN initiate sideways movement. The sterns job is to follow the bows sideways movement and have any discussions of "fault" later.

Here is Bob and Elaine illustration boat heel and synchrony. Going forward Bob is initiating turns but you have to watch closely

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d_ecs7h184
 
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My wife and I are prying, drawing etc to negotiate winding streams, and do okay. With practise we hope to require less effort where ever we go, but it'll take time. This couple in the video seem to carve around some turns, is that correct? Also, does less wetted surface (leaning) play any role? We both watched this clip, and were really intrigued. Thanks. Before our spring trip, we'll kneel in front of the big screen TV and watch videos of tandem strokes. It's been a long winter. A paddle is that dusty stick leaning in the corner, right?
 
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