paddling from the bow...why?

Discussion in 'Paddling' started by chansta, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    I've heard some conversation regarding turning a boat so the bow is in the rear and paddling from that position. I'm just curious why this is done and if there is any particular advantage?
     
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  2. leghog

    leghog Guide

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    When solo paddling a tandem boat, paddling from the bow thwart facing the stern puts the solo paddler closer to the center beam for better balance and performance (paddler's center of mass closer to boat's center of mass.).
     
  3. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    Right on! Would this in any way explain why skulling is more difficult in a 16 foot canoe from the stern? And would steering be made easier with this setup?
     
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  4. mjh

    mjh Supporter Supporter

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    Specific canoe design may also effect paddling from the bow. Some canoes are more symmetrical end to end so when you paddle from the bow one generally gets better performance.
     
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  5. leghog

    leghog Guide

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    Control is easier/strokes are more effective.
     
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  6. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    "The answer" is mostly already given... I do want to squeeze a bit more juice out of it though, with some comments about paddling in the wind... when it's really windy, your canoe can becomes a bit (ok, more than a bit) of a weathervane. The trick is to have the front heavier than the rear, which is difficult with the traditional method described.... you're still back of center. the solution is to put something heavier up closer to the front. This is usually a pack, water container, or logs/wood. Another way of changing that balance is to simply turn the canoe around again and paddle from the bow without someone in the stern seat... this creates the same bow-heaviness that you need to weathervane correctly.

    If you set your canoe up with the seat just aft of center, you can actually paddle into the wind without much trouble, as leghog mentioned, because of the control you get from being in the center. I did that with my formerly two-seat Chum. My Yankee is still two-seat, and I'd paddle it "backwards" if i had to solo it.

    With the solo setup, you just angle a tad off the wind, if possible, and don't correct with a J... the wind acts as your paddling partner, pushing against you and offsetting your stroke. You can do this effectively provided your heading into the wind, or off by not more than about 30*, windspeed dependent, before the wind wins due to leverage on the hull. In that case, I load the front heavy with either a shift in baggage or adding logs as mentioned.
     
  7. Yknpdlr

    Yknpdlr Scout

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    Of course it is about the very important fore/aft trim. If you are sitting in the traditional location of a stern seat with no other load in the canoe, the bow will be noticeably elevated from the water surface. As seeker explained, you have become a weather vane. Not only will the wind tend to blow the high empty lightweight bow around, but you are sitting in a very unstable bathtub with stern heavily down, bow up, prone to unusually easy tipping. The canoe was not designed to be stable to paddle in this configuration. Skulling has nothing to do with it. All strokes will be more difficult and less effective. If you choose to use extra weight in the bow to correct trim, be sure to use something that is neutrally boyant, water in large water bags or wood is best. Do not use rocks or bags of sand. They could become stuck under the seat in the event of a capsize. Guess where the canoe goes in that case.
     
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  8. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    Yes and yes. You have also mentioned you’re having trouble with the sculling draw. Really get your torso rotated in the direction you want to go. Your shoulders should be facing the direction of travel, your grip on the paddle in a normal position. Get both hands out over the water so the paddle is vertical. The path of the blade is much like a figure 8. You will achieve more pulling power by opening the leading edge of the blade on each scull, fore and aft.

    Other fun and useful strokes are the cross bow sculling draw, the sculling pry, and cross bow sculling pry. These are a great workout for getting that rotation in the torso, and really learning of your blades edges.
     
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  9. nomad orphan

    nomad orphan Scout

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    I dumped a big gun in the rio.
    The excuses were amazing.
     
  10. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    The idea behind that was the seat position. If you sit backwards in the front seat you come a bit closer to the center of the boat, especially if you’re a long armed paddler -- your reach and catch is closer to the middle of the boat than it will be from the rear seat. I usually just kneel in the hull and rest my butt on the center thwart when paddling a tandem solo.
     
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  11. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    One problem with some of the old town boats and the molded plastic seats is you can't comfortably sit backward in the bow seat.
     
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  12. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    Another reason to replace those dang molded seats!
    What? And lose my drink holder????
     
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  13. Yknpdlr

    Yknpdlr Scout

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    Grumman Aluminum canoes are also difficult to paddle backwards because there is a thwart immediately behind the bow seat. Older BSA canoes are almost always Grummans ,though that is changing, slowly. I will often sit backwards in the bow to observe a new paddler in training so I can see how they are using their paddle. It is an uncomfortable way to sit.

    I actually prefer bench seats over molded or "tractor seats" in a canoe. To get your paddle the most vertical while paddling (for best efficiency), you need to get your butt and hip right over to the gunwale. Easy with a bench seat, impossible in a molded seat. Otherwise there is too much of a sweep angle introduced. Secondly, if bow and stern paddler are as they should be on opposite sides in a C2, sitting way over on opposite sides of their bench seats is a much more stable position for anti-roll.

    In my C4 and voyageur canoes with multiple seats, all middle seats (except bow and stern) are designed to alternately slide side to side as paddlers change sides upon each call of "hut", so that they can best hold their paddle vertical in the water for efficient application of power. Those sliding paddlers have to be careful to slide oppositely in unison to keep the entire canoe stable. it takes some practice, but is easily mastered and commonly done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  14. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    I noticed my friend's mad river 16 wanted to track to the right quite a bit today. So much so that with a slight wind I didn't need a J. I don't like that the gunwhales are plastic.
     

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