1. The Topic of the Month for October is "Make this the Perfect Bugout Location". Please join the discussion in the TOTM forum.

Canoe Paddle Expert Needed

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by MountainMariner, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    Although I earned my canoe merit badge back in 1978 I still consider myself a novice paddler (canoerer, canoeist or whatever the proper term is.) What I'm working with now is this canoe:


    I know what your all saying. "Where can I find a beauty like that?" But it's not for sale so don't flood my inbox with pm's please. Manufacture unknown. Length is also unknown. Color is a custom two tone fade into bare aluminum with some special effects simulating large dents and scratches. So I'd like to accessorize this beauty with a proper paddle. I have no clue where to start. What I do know is my current paddle with the warped 45 degree handle and small paddle flipper thing, (look that up if your not familiar with proper canoerer terminology...) which is dry rotted and split in the middle like a snake tongue, is keeping me from achieving top speed. My neighborhood is holding the 1st Annual Canoe Rodeo Drag Race Championship soon and I intend to win the trophy. There is a good possibility I could win this coveted award as I am the only vessel entered as of this writing. There surely must be some tech savvy canoererers here on the forum to help. My stats if needed: 6'2" and 230 pounds with a 78" wingspan. (Yes I have long arms, I shoot a 32" bow and can tie my boot laces standing up without bending over.)

    Which paddle should I get? It doesn't scare me if the paddle is expensive either. Money is no object as you can tell by my vessels hydrodynamics and Chip Foose paint job.

    I'm thinking of getting Chip to emblaze this boat name onto the port and starboard sides also:


    Standing by on CH 16 and Survial Monkey, MountainMariner out.
    GOG, Joe13, Yard Dart and 2 others like this.
  2. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey++

    @MountainMariner I have a question, it's sort of off topic so please forgive... How hard is it to learn to use a canoe. I have a huge lake right across from me but I don't have a place to store a big boat. I will in the future if everything works out but I was think about something I could throw in the back of my pickup and go fishing with the wife so either a aluminum boat or canoe. I have never stepped into a canoe but many times in small boats.
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I'll stick in my paddle here just to steer the question to it's own thread if you want to pursue it. Learning is easy, conceptually, but practice is what will make you like canoes. Start with a 12 footer, max. Much larger and you will get into handling problems you do NOT need if a breeze picks up.
    Yard Dart and Bandit99 like this.
  4. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    The J stroke it the main way to guide a canoe.

  5. Meat

    Meat Monkey+

    My 36 passenger dugout cedar canoe is completely different. I can't help you much. [afro]
    Ganado likes this.
  6. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    GOG and Joe13 like this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

  8. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    To save the marriage I recommend two small kayaks.

    Now I'm even more confused. Thanks. Maybe I should just pick the coolest looking one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2016
    GOG, Bandit99, Ganado and 1 other person like this.
  9. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    Canoes are depending on the design can be a "bear" with 2 people w/o experience.

    I agree go with 2 kayaks.

    You are a little more confined and have to fish while sitting, but they are more maneuverable amd you are responsible for your own stability.

    I buy all my outdoor gear from REI. You get 10% back at the end of the year.

    They gear is lifetime guarantee. If you are EVER dissatisfied with it EVER you can take it back.

    Look into recreational kayaks
    REI – Top-Brand Clothing, Gear, Footwear and Expert Advice for All Your Outdoor Adventures - REI.com

    I have 2 Daggers that we bought from REI and they are great.

    They have 2 stores in Alaska if thats were you are from

    GOG, Joe13 and Bandit99 like this.
  10. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    An awesome post.... stand by!!!!!
    Ganado likes this.
  11. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    The J-Stroke:

    Takes practice but this guy makes it look easy. This is the style paddle I'm looking for.
    GOG and Joe13 like this.
  12. Lone Gunman

    Lone Gunman Draw Varmint!

    You certainly got that one right! I've spent 1,000's of hours running rivers, and streams all over the northeastern United States. (Class VI rapids are just another, 'thrill ride' to me.) I've stayed out of trouble on the water for a lot of years; and I've also watched numerous canoes: tip, dump, roll, and stand up on end just before capsizing.

    At least twice I've seen thin-skinned, minimum thwart canoes with thin keels fold in half - fold in half! - right in the middle of a rapid! (Awesome to see as you go flying by while doing your best to avoid going over a tossed canoeist who's thrashing around in the water, or preventing one of them from grabbing onto your canoe so that you can join, 'the party' too!)

    Only once in my life have I ever gotten into trouble in a whitewater canoe. 'Why?' Because I was bored, got overconfident, didn't stop at the head of the rapid in order to, 'read the water' before selecting my course and committing myself and the canoe to the run. In short I got stupid.

    I ran the Mongaup-Mill Rift rapids above Matamoros, PA when it was in the Spring flood stage, deliberately picked a course with the highest waves, and my bravado almost cost me my life! I was using a Grumman Whitewater canoe; (The really sturdy kind with 5 thwarts and a heavy shoe keel Grumman doesn't make anymore.) and, if I hadn't been, I could have easily destroyed the canoe, too.

    The Sparrow Bush, NY Airboat Rescue Squad was good enough to fish my valuable Grumman out of the bottom of the rapids for me! The squad launched their airboat into the river in order to save me in an incredibly short period of time; I wasn't in the water for more than 10 minutes before I heard the roar of that jet engine igniting.

    Once I realized I was in trouble I started doing everything right. I pointed my feet downstream and folded my arms across my chest. What really saved me, though, was the fact that I was wearing a helmet; and, somewhere years ago, I had bought a top-quality life vest with, 'THRU THE CROTCH' LEG STRAPS.

    It was the strapped on helmet and those large tightly secured leg straps on the vest that saved me after I, 'dumped'. Ironically, The National Park Service requires all canoeists to wear life vests; however, (and as I poignantly learned) hard hitting, fast rushing water will tear a vest without leg straps on it right off your body - Won't take more than a minute, or two; and once the vest slips off your body, in the wrong kind of fast water, you're going to be finished!

    Between the very cold, hard pounding water, the cramps, the hypothermia, and the rapid draining away of your body's energy, without that tightly strapped-on vest I know I wouldn't have survived Mongaup for long enough to be swept down into Mill Rift - Where, with my last remaining strength, I finally caught onto a large boulder and was able to pull myself out. Among the important, 'river lessons' I've learned - The ones that (usually) kept me out of trouble for all those years. - were the very necessary canoeing skills of:

    1. Stopping at the head of every rapid to, 'read the water' before selecting the best way through. (I seldom committed the canoe to a course of water that I wasn't already familiar with.)

    2. I always avoided, 'V' shaped rifts and waves that were POINTED UPSTREAM; and I always ran for the center of, 'V' shaped rifts and waves that were POINTED DOWNSTREAM. Downstream, 'V's are always the safest! (Interestingly: Anytime you see a smooth horizontal line across the water ahead, ....... you're, more than likely, headed for the lip of a dam! Once, or twice I saved my canoe - and, maybe, myself as well - by quickly realizing this! Calm water does NOT always mean that everything is all right.)

    3. I tended to pause at the end of a paddle stroke; and lightly steer, one way or another, while the paddle's blade was still in the water. The two most useful steering paddle strokes are (as has already been mentioned) the, 'J' stroke, and the, 'push-away' (or, 'pry') stroke.

    4. There are all sorts of formulas for determining correct paddle length. I used to select my overall paddle lengths by simply measuring from just above the top of my shoulder to the ground; + or - an inch or two either way didn't seem to matter. What DID matter was the width of the paddle's blade. I always preferred to use a shorter WIDER blade rather than a longer and/or narrower one.

    5. I preferred to use expensive wooden paddles; and, one of the ways I kept myself out of trouble was to always purchase TWO identical paddles. One I would actively use; and the other would be tied with a slip knot to the thwart right in front of me with the grip knob facing towards me, and the paddle blade underneath the next forward thwart.

    Only once in more than 25 years of whitewater canoeing did I ever need to reach for that second paddle; but, when I needed it, I REALLY needed it; and, without a doubt, that second paddle prevented a sudden catastrophe from occurring when I was right in the middle of the longest nastiest rapid I've ever run.

    6. In my opinion, plastic paddles stink! Paddles that are too light also stink. 'Why?' because, for me, I could never get used to the very light feel; and I always thought that the blades flexed too much for me to get a decent power stroke. If you're a lake canoeist then a paddle with a bent blade might be just what you want.

    An, 'otter tail' paddle with a (much) longer narrower blade would also work; but, I was a whitewater and river canoeist; and I always wanted the shortest widest bladed paddles I could find; and a shaft that was a little too long never seemed to bother me. In the alternative a paddle with a shaft that was below my armpit always bothered me; and I very much disliked having to use one. (It's just too difficult to maneuver and steer.)

    NOTE: Originally, I wasn't going to say anything; but, after rereading this thread I think that I will. I once went through an absolutely hellish divorce. For years thereafter I was well-known among my male friends for often saying things like, 'Once is enough!' 'I learned my lesson.' 'I ain't never going to get married again!' (or so I thought!)

    So, after I met the most beautiful, and the most highly intelligent woman I'd ever seen; and, all of a sudden, I realized that I was falling fast, 'What' did I do in order to, 'put on the brakes'? I invited her to go on a three week long backwoods canoe trip with me!

    I suited her up, gave her a crash course in how to survive after the canoe turns over in whitewater; and off we went! Rain, strong winds, fast water, slow water, cold camps, cold water, and (much of the time) cold food, too. We even spent a night, thoroughly exhausted, at a place called, 'Rattlesnake Bluff'. (Aptly named, I might add!) At the end of those three weeks I knew - I knew - that I'd finally met a woman I was completely willing to marry; so, I stopped fighting my emotions and decided to, 'go with the flow'!

    That was almost 44 years ago; and many's a time I've marveled at how much life on the river is actually like real life, itself. There are fast times, and slow times; and other times you have to paddle straight into strong headwinds. You're wet; you're dry, and it's either feast or famine; and you catch a meal wherever you can!

    (I just don't yell at her, anymore, whenever the canoe hits a snag; but, then again, she cured me of that bad habit while we were still out on the water; and, believe me, I got the message and made the peace!) :D
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
    GOG, AD1, Joe13 and 1 other person like this.
  13. Joe13

    Joe13 Monkey

    Ask someone at the boating shop (or REI) - they should be able to show you options that will work best for you.

    BUY 2! Up a creek without a paddle or a broken one sucks.

    Person in the front should be the stronger of the two or you will spend a lot more time making it go straight while the back person can paddle like regular and use the paddle as a rudder as nessecary.

    J-stroke or continually switch sides your paddling on while by your self (will get the middle of the boat wet as you change constantly - But it also works both side of your body so fatigue is not higher on one side) (j-stoke works on both side as well).

    Also, plan what your going to do when and if it capsizes ahead of time. A friend would not listen to me and lost all of his fishing gear to the bottom of a very deep lake when he got a bite and stood up in the canoe...

    My gear was water tight and tied to the boat.

    One last thing, a lot of times if your going solo, turn the boat around 180 degrees. The front seat is usually closer to the middle then the back seat is and can give you an easier time with wieght distribution and maneuverability.

    Best of Luck and enjoy! I miss having water toys.

    Boy Scout badge on a 7 day trip around Bowron lakes in Canada.

    2 years as the head lifeguard and boating instructor at sea explorers camp.

    2 summers as a white water guide (with kayaks)

    Grew up on the water with everything from sail and power boats to canoes and kayaks.
    GOG and AD1 like this.
  14. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    I'll just be using the canoe in the lake at the bottom of my trail.

    For the swift waters I have an Alpacka Mule raft with a cruiser spray deck and a Aqua-Bound carbon fiber paddle. And a dry suit which is needed in my area.

    Mule- Alpacka Raft


    Joe13 and GOG like this.
  15. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    I learned at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, US-Canada.

    Joe13 likes this.
survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary