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Author Topic: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.  (Read 37099 times)

Offline Bigblue

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Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« on: September 12, 2006, 03:58:18 PM »
THIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF CANOEING TUTORIALS THAT WILL COVER A RANGE OF CANOEING TECHNIQUES.
What I'd like to discuss in this thread are some of those possible paddling positions, my choices, and why. Please add your comments, questions, photos, etc,

There are several options for positioning when paddling solo, each have pros and cons, related to different weather conditions, load size, speed, tracking, maneuverability, etc.

SEATED IN THE STERN SEAT
This is the position I commonly see employed by "novices". Seated in the srern seat, knees together, feet pulled up under the seat, and stiff as a board!!



Whats happening here is that the paddler is just doing what comes naturally- sitting in a seat. And, it is logical to sit in the rear seat, because everyone knows that's where you steer a canoe from. The problem with this position though, is manyfold:
- The paddler's center of mass, weight, is now very high, making the center of balance in the canoe very high and unstable. In an effort to stay balanced the paddler will constantly using the hip muscles to help correct the balance.... tiring them and making for very sore hips.
- By being so high in the boat, the paddler is now far above the water requiring him/her to "reach" waaaayy down to the water for each stroke. This will have the tendency to rock the boat, further upsetting balance, and requiring undue movement and energy from the paddler.
- If using this position when paddling tandem, your paddling partner, whether in stern or bow, will have to compensate for this additional movement in the canoe and also have to expend energy to compensate for balance.
- Seated in this position, you have a greatly restricted range of motion back and fore, and side-to-side as well. You are unable to reach way forward to gain better control, more power, or greater maneuverability. You are unable to reach backwards 'cause youl fall over backwards. This position also restrics several large, powerful muscles in the hips and back from working properly, placing the strain on the already, stressed and tired hips.
- One of the big problems with position, seated in the stern of the boat, is that if you have no gear, or weight in the bow of the boat, them you become a weather vane in the wind. At times, in high wind, it is impossible to paddle in any direction but downwind. The wind just catches the bow and spins you around. So, ultimately, you just end up paddling backwards on a windy day.

An improvement on this position is to place your feet out in front of you, slightly lowering the center of balance. The next step would be to kneel with legs and feet under the seat and your butt resting on the seat edge. Use a foam pad to cushion your knees and feet. You have now moved slightly forward, considerably lower, and now have much greater range of motion and use of powerful muscles in the hips and back.

KNEELING IN THE CENTER
The next step is to move further forward to the center of the canoe. This will require either gumby knees, a lot of stretching, or some sort of weight support- a rolled up foam pad, a stuff sack of old clothes - stradled and under your butt. When carrying lots of gear across a lake or down a wide river, this is the position I choose with the gear all in the forward end to evenly weight, or "trim" the boat. The boat has a long water line so its fast, and tracks well in a straight line, and I have easy access to paddle on either side.



What this position does is to get the paddler close to the center of the canoe reducing the weathervane effect. But it also puts the paddler at the center axis of the canoe alowing for greater, easier turning. The image in your head should be of one of those spinning seats at the counter of an old diner. Pull on the left and you go spinning clockwise, pull on the right and you go the other way. By the same token- pushing, rather than pulling, will have the opposite affect.

However, one problem with this position is that, being in the center of the canoe, you now have to reach waaaayy over to the side of the boat in order to get your paddle in the water and make an efficient stroke. Its just awkward!!

That said, this is also about the most stable postion in the canoe for running rapids or encountering heavt surf. it is the position I choose when paddling in those conditions.

The remedy for the problems of kneeling in the center, is to move over to one side, the side you would most comfortably paddle on - your "on" side.
In adition to all the benefits of paddling in the center(fore/aft), you now have the advantages of being very close to the water surface so you don't have to reach down to put your paddle in it, very close to the edge making an efficient paddle stroke, close to your body, much easier, but you now have increased its straight-line tracking ablilty and its agility/maneuverability. Oh, and you have also made the craft, with you in it, the most stable it can be.

For support in this position and for the next position I use a sling seat that I made years ago out of flat nylon webbing and two sheets of leather.



OFF TO ONE SIDE


HEAD ON SHOT OF SOLO


As I mentioned previously, this position can be tough on the knees and ankles, but with some stretching and practise, it becomes much easier to stay in for much longer. Notice in the last shot how the upper body is in line with the hips (well, almost), and with the center axis of the canoe. From this position I can reach with my paddle blade nearly to the bow and stern making stearing strokes very effective. This is the position I choose to paddle almost all the time whether on a day trip with a small bag, just out putzing around, or actually dancing the boat (which will be covered in future tutorials).

The obvious requirement of this position though, is that all of the strokes must be done on the "on" side of the canoe. With sound, basic stroke technique, this position affords much greater control and maneuverability than any other position.

Thanks for reading. Please add your comments.

BB
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Offline Bravo

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2006, 08:40:39 PM »
awesome - i`ll put this on the website
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Offline mistwalker

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2008, 09:27:41 AM »
I'm glad you are doing these tutorials. I am wanting to get a canoe but it will have to wait a while in this economy. In the mean time I can still study though thanks Blue.

BTW I really like that canoe, did you build that one?
 
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Offline Bigblue

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2008, 12:27:38 PM »
Misty - No, I purchased this canoe back in '99 (I think). Its a 16ft, 10in cedar canvas boat built in upstate NY.

Hey, is that first pic showing up as a red "X" for you all as well, or is it just my computer? I can replace that photo if needed.
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Offline Dark Squirrel

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2008, 12:42:00 PM »
It's and "X" to me to Blue.

What I find about this position besides the fact is looks funny is that your "on" side appears to be EXTREMELY close to the water.  Couldn't this cause a bit a trouble if you were doing light rapids on a river or in rough water on a lake or pond?
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Offline Bushwacker

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2008, 01:42:29 PM »
  8|  happy097.gif :roolling:

Offline Bigblue

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2008, 01:43:34 PM »
Dave - This position is  used almost exclusively on flatwater, and is actually a great help when paddling in wind and moderate waves as you have an enormous amount of control. If I'm in swift water I'll just shift towards the centerline of the boat to be able to paddle on either side of the boat. In swift water you ALWAYS want to lean downstream when turning, or risk the force of the current pulling (tipping) your canoe out from under you.

This style of paddling really has two components.... 1) the "lean" of the canoe which dramatically increases the boat's ability to turn swiftly and easily and 2), the array of paddle strokes made possible in that position. Those paddle strokes, though, are somewhat transferrable to swiftwater solo as well as tandem canoeing. Moreso though, is the "feel" of the water and the wind you get when so close to the water. That increased awareness and "feel" really helps when paddling in other styles or conditions.

WOW..... it just took me 1 1/2 hours to write those two paragraphs!! Little Avery believes the keyboard is her toy to play with.  wacky078.gif wacky078.gif
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Offline Swede

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2008, 08:19:46 PM »
1. You better be "aware" of the water when its about to come into your boat.  :scared:

2. You aint seen nuttin yet Blue. They dont call it terrible twos for nuttin.    scared011.gif
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Offline mistwalker

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Re: Canoeing Tutorial - Solo paddling position.
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2008, 08:24:35 PM »
Yeah...and it gets even better at three.....then wait till you see the teenage years, those can get really interesting  8|



Misty - No, I purchased this canoe back in '99 (I think). Its a 16ft, 10in cedar canvas boat built in upstate NY.

Hey, is that first pic showing up as a red "X" for you all as well, or is it just my computer? I can replace that photo if needed.


Beautifuly crafted..., I'm not going to ask the cost..., I can imagine.

Oh and yup...red X for me too.
 
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