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Thread: Strokes

  1. #1
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    Default Strokes

    One of the common misconceptions about using an open canoe is that you paddle on alternate sides. In fact you paddle on one side only in all but rare occasions. The reason you do not end up going round in circles is that each of the strokes has a steering element to it. This is what allows you to paddle the canoe in a straight line whilst powering it on one side only. When paddling tandem the steering element of the stroke is reduced but is still present to an extent.

    The information on the strokes below came from The Canoe Camper site and the animated GIFs were done by Michelle Stacheruk. I am indebted to them for their permission to reproduce this information as it is in my opinion a tremendous teaching aid for those learning the strokes
    There is also an interesting video on paddle strokes HERE

    J Stroke
    This is an animated GIF of the J Stroke as seen from the front of a canoe and from above. This stroke is used to make the canoe go in a straight line when paddling solo. The paddle goes into the water, is pulled back, and turned, like a letter J, at the end of the stroke. .

    Inside Turn with J Stroke
    This stroke is a modification of the J Stroke used to turn towards the paddle side. To increase your turn, start the stroke out from the canoe and draw in towards the canoe before following through with the rest of the J stroke.

    Indian Stroke
    This stroke is also known as the underwater stroke. Some people call it the Canadian stroke, but in fact there's a stroke rather between the J stroke and the Indian stroke that is more generally called the Canadian. The Indian stroke is used for paddling a straight course and is very useful against strong winds or running rapids. As you move the paddle forward, rotate the grip of the paddle in the palm of your upper hand. Then you are ready for the next power stroke without taking the blade out of the water. If you do it slowly and carefully, there is no sound from the paddle, making it possible to sneak up on wildlife and get a close view.

    Box-Stroke Pivot (away from paddle side)
    The Box-Stroke Pivot is used to make a quick turn while the canoe pivots on the pivot point, using the basics, the stern draw and the bow pry. Starting in towards the canoe with a stern draw, you then knife the paddle through the water to the bow of the canoe. Then you continue with a bow pry (pushing the paddle away from the canoe), until the paddle is far enough away from the canoe in order to make another effective stern draw, after knifing the paddle back to the stern of the canoe. To turn towards the paddle side, reverse the direction of the steps and repeat until you are in the desired direction.
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 13th-January-2010 at 08:32 AM.

  2. #2

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    Superb, really shows how the strokes should be done.

  3. #3
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    I guess you did not notice this on the front page of the old site then

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    I guess you did not notice this on the front page of the old site then
    Might this be because perhaps many users (like me) bookmark straight to the forum? I don't know whether this might effect how you set things up.

    Nice article!
    Best regards.
    Kim
    www.kimbull.co.uk - 'Excellence in Canoe and Kayak Coaching'

  5. #5
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    As a non-canoeist, but with a wide experience of boating in general, I have struggled for years, and had more than one argument, about the pros and cons of single-bladed paddling v. kayak-bladed paddling.

    I believe that the video supports my view that single-bladed paddling is mostly to do with positioning your boat within a moving body of water, whereas the kayak paddle is mostly to do with generating forward movement through the water.

    If this were to become a generally-accepted view of things, then the debate about paddling alternate sides would become redundant.

    Whaddya think?
    Last edited by duckdown; 14th-January-2010 at 08:14 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckdown View Post
    As a non-canoeist, but with a wide experience of boating in general, I have struggled for years, and had more than one argument, about the pros and cons of single-bladed paddling v. kayak-bladed paddling.

    I believe that the video supports my view that single-bladed paddling is mostly to do with positioning your boat within a moving body of water, whereas the kayak paddle is mostly to do with generating forward movement through the water.

    Whaddya think?
    If it was a matter of just positioning the boat and then getting carried by the current, how would it be possible effectively to paddle single-bladed upstream, or against the wind?

    With respect to double paddles... Doesn't the blade enter the water further away from the boat than a single one held reasonably upright? If this is so, then I would expect the turning effect of the forward stroke to be even stronger than it is with a double paddle.

    Be that as it may, I can't see a single stroke with a double paddle having less of a turning effect towards the opposite side of the boat. I assume that this is less noticeable in practice because the compensating stroke on the other side quickly turns the bow back again (and further?). Nonetheless, if the double-paddled canoe is travelling overall in a straight line, there must still be a sizeable amount of paddling effort going into correction instead of forward propulsion.

    Is that right, do you think?

    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aero View Post
    If it was a matter of just positioning the boat and then getting carried by the current, how would it be possible effectively to paddle single-bladed upstream, or against the wind?
    Dave
    Thanks Dave, you have hit the nail upon the head!

    Paddling upstream or against the wind, then clearly it is possible with a single paddle, but why not use a kayak paddle instead?

    dd

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    Quote Originally Posted by duckdown View Post
    Thanks Dave, you have hit the nail upon the head!

    ...why not use a kayak paddle instead?

    dd
    Well...

    A single paddle is smaller and lighter and easier to handle physically.

    It's also prettier.

    YOU can decide which side you paddle on. I find a double paddle too bossy in its insistence that I go leftrightleftrightleftrightetc all the time.

    You are in less danger of hitting other people's paddles, or other people, with a single paddle.

    Control is easier in confined spaces with a single bladed paddle.

    Did I say it's also prettier?

    In addition, there's the great pleasure to be gained from learning how to do a rather difficult thing (single bladed paddling), and keep improving on it. This is especially true when paddling your canoe, as it responds to your actions. Canoes are like spectacles, false teeth, artificial limbs, clothing, (cars?), in that they become part of you; a prosthetic extension* It's good to have subtle control over where you go.

    Dave

    *Don't look for DanDan's anxious post about paddling a pink BackCountry. Just don't.
    Last edited by Aero; 14th-January-2010 at 09:28 PM. Reason: couldn't stop thinking about that DanDan post

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    Aero, I love your response, and understand it completely (I think...)

    Try to think of the kayak paddle as a ski-lift - it does the boring bit for you

    dd

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    I think of a double paddle as being like a shower as any time I have used one I get soaked with the drips coming off of it.

    Once you get used to a single paddle the efficiency difference is not much at all. It would not be being used so widely if it were.

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    Hi John, it would be easy to misconstrue your reply, and infer that there is little difference between a single paddle and a kayak paddle, but I am sure that is not what you mean.

    As soon as the weather improves, and my Mail Order gear arrives, I will float my boat anywhere I can, and use either my two-part kayak paddle or my single Canadian blade according to the situation in which I find myself.

    Boats are Boats!

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    I would like a bow jam please or a wedge.. or a sideslip. backwards and off side too. Cross forward stroke?

    Add a little boat heel and hull pitch and we could have animated FreeStyle. Would make visualization so much easier.

    There is sit and switch for single bladers going up wind. Its not as easy to master as it seems and it has no resemblance to what most new canoeists first do when they get in the boat.

    And if we could add a thumb down icon for the j stroke it would make fixing stern pries easier (thats with the thumb up)

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    I'm not experienced enough to add my own twopennyworth from personal experience, but I am interested in historical aspects.
    The Last of the Mohicans canoe chase wouldn't have been quite the same somehow with double paddles !

    But how come different peoples developed/used different paddles ? - eg eskimoes using double blades, others using single. It must have made sense to them. Was there an historical trend for peoples near moving water to opt for single paddles and those near lakes use double ? I suppose ability to fish or fight while paddling may have come into it. Dunno.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    I think of a double paddle as being like a shower as any time I have used one I get soaked with the drips coming off of it.
    I definitely agree with this! I am happy to paddle my canoe on flat water in any clothes but in the kayak (or with a double ended padddle in the canoe) then I know I need to dress to get wet. The exception to this is when paddling k1 with a high cadence, then the drips are flung off and you stay dry (and anyone nearby gets wet ).

    In the canoe, I find that I nearly always end up using the Indian stroke as it has very good steering (and bracing) throughout, and does not require lifting of the paddle from the water. This latter point is a great advantage when paddling at night with a head torch as it does not illuminate the paddle arm during each stroke, which is very distracting.

    Graham

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    I'm confused about the double blade soaking people. If you have a long enough shaft and a low angle approach with the top hand always at nose level or below it should not soak you.

    I use a 230 cm paddle and a boat 27 inches wide at the paddling station. Flared boat users or those at a wider paddling station will need a longer paddle. Shaw and Tenney makes some quite long double blades..too long for me.

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    Even with a long double paddle I tended to have it quite vertical to make the most of the the stroke and reduce the turning element so still got wet. I found that as my stokes got better with the single bladed paddle there became less advantage to the double paddle until there was eventually none.

    If I really need something like a double paddle I now use the pole and it is surprisingly effective as a double paddle. Drips less to as even I cant get a 12 foot pole very vertical while paddling.

  17. #17
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    double blade technique for those who want it. Get a paddle with a shaft long enough so that the blades enter the water without the need for your top hand to go over your nose.

    The proper forward stroke is as touring kayak. Torso rotate and plant paddle as far to the front as you can..touching the boat is OK. Stroke should never go back past your hip..never never. I try to visualize ending mine at mid thigh.

  18. #18
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    Default double and single paddles

    The other issue with using a double paddle as far as I am concerned is the need to have a really solid footrest (as in a kayak) as a lot of the power transferred to the paddle is lost without it. The higher kneeling or sitting position in a canoe works fine without a footrest. Others may disagree but that's the main reason I prefer not to use a double paddle in a conventional open canoe.

    Julian

  19. #19
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    Kneeling with a double blade works fine..I have glued in pads that provide a non slip surface.

    I find that any time I sit in a canoe no matter whether single or double blade something that you can brace your foot against is needed to avoid getting pulled off the seat.

    Padz help a little but footbraces are the answer. I usually have a pack wedged in the bow that helps some for sitting. Mostly I kneel.

    http://www.amazon.com/North-Shore-Ka.../dp/B001UYQMV6

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    When I canoe I want to blend in with the river and landscape and glide by, largley unnoticed by fishermen (and the odd landowner) and allowing close quarter wildlife spotting. Using a double paddle discreetly just isn't an option. I've noticed when kayaking myself I don't see as much. A kayak can be seen with its upper blade waving in the air a long way off and this seems to wind up swans and scare off everything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulsmith View Post
    When I canoe I want to blend in with the river and landscape and glide by, largley unnoticed by fishermen (and the odd landowner) and allowing close quarter wildlife spotting. Using a double paddle discreetly just isn't an option. I've noticed when kayaking myself I don't see as much. A kayak can be seen with its upper blade waving in the air a long way off and this seems to wind up swans and scare off everything else.
    Its been an observationn here that seals are more tolerant of motorcruisers than kayakers. They will stay hauled out and let a motored boat approach quite closely.


    When kayakers are within 200 meters (no where near as close as the motorboat) the seals leave their haul out and go in the water.

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    I often carry a cheap split double especially if it is windy. It may not look pretty or be acceptable to a purist canoeist, but I find that kneeling in the bow I can effectively pull the canoe into a very strong wind or ferry across a partial sidewind much more easily than with a single paddle. The trim is very important to prevent the stern weather-cocking and it is not particularly comfortable because, as has already been pointed out, there is no effective footrest and doing nice tight stokes (rather than big sweepstrokes) gets one very wet - but it works for me.

    Back on topic - I think that having the stroke diagrams easily accessible on this site is great as almost every new paddler I have met asks me why I don't paddle in circles and these pictures cleary show one way of doing it.

    Graham

  23. #23

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    As I am mostly sitting at work, my Orthopaedist told me that its much healthier for your spine to use a single-paddle, as the movement then is done while kneeling, with your legs doing a considerable amount of work.
    On a double paddle you normally sit and again the area that's harmed badly by office work (backbone in the lower part of the torso) is used to propell you forward and provide the main pivoting point.
    He even recommends canoeing (not kayaking) to people who had a herniated disc...

  24. #24
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    Most people who canoe use a single blade and sit.

    Some people who use a double blade use a canoe and kneel.

    Canoe does not equal kneeling.

    Its the stance and not the paddle or the craft I think. Many of my students are coming back to canoe and kneeling because their backs are too uncomfortable for kayaking.

    While kneeling sounds like torture it isn't with a good pad.

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    I slipped a disc last year and have suffered with back problems for a while, but I never find that paddling makes it worse [I always kneel], its the peripheral stuff, carrying boats and putting them on cars that causes problems.

    Mike
    " Never knowingly under equipped! "

  26. #26
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    Good excuse to keep paddling.

    TGB
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

  27. #27

    Question How do I paddle in the middle?

    My canoe has 3 thwarts:
    One very close to one end,
    one in the middle,
    one a little way from the other end.
    I sit on
    (or kneel with one leg under)
    the third thwart when alone.

    I can use the J-stroke
    (although it becomes more of a C-stroke)
    to keep the boat straight.
    And I'm getting to grips with the Indian.

    I notice , from the blogs, that many people sit on the middle thwart.
    If I do this, the boat moves in circles.
    Neither the J- nor the C- stroke corrects it.
    The Indian becomes chaotic.

    What am I doing wrong?
    How do I put it right?

  28. #28

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    OK

    I suppose it was a pretty stupid question.

    I'll ask elsewhere.

  29. #29
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    I think the issue may be the thwart. Is it a kneeling thwart or a portage thwart? A kneeling thwart like the seats is much lower where as the portage thwart, or any of the thwarts for stability are level with the gunwales.

    My suspicion is that if you are sitting on the higher thwarts it is effecting the centre of gravity and placing you too high which is mucking up the effectiveness of your strokes. A picture or video wold make it easier to tell though.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by potterer View Post
    My canoe has 3 thwarts:

    I can use the J-stroke
    (although it becomes more of a C-stroke)
    to keep the boat straight.
    And I'm getting to grips with the Indian.

    I notice , from the blogs, that many people sit on the middle thwart.
    If I do this, the boat moves in circles.
    Neither the J- nor the C- stroke corrects it.
    The Indian becomes chaotic.

    What am I doing wrong?
    How do I put it right?
    If you are sitting on the middle thwart then it is likely the boat is just bow heavy. If this is the case then the boat will plough off course. Any of us would find it difficult to steer. Try kneeling just behind the mid thwart and see if that does the trick.

    With your J that becomes a repeated C then you may not be doing enough with the J at the back of the canoe.

    Hope that helps

    Ray
    www.RayGoodwin.com

    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  31. #31
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    The middle thwart is sometimes in the middlle and no one should sit on it. Its not a seat. Optimum seat placement is with the forward edge six to eight inches aft of the center point.

    Otherwise a bow heavy canoe is a beast to try and correct.

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