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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 12:28 am 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm
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Hi all,

Between reading Pohl’s writings about Lake Superior in The Lure of Faraway Places and watching Bill Mason films, I’m dreaming about doing some bigger-water trips this summer on either northern Georgian Bay/North Channel or along the coast of Lake Superior (Pukaskwa or LSPP). While I have extensive day-paddling experience on Georgian Bay near Parry Sound (lived at Killbear for a few summers), I don’t have much else by way of experience on big water, so Superior is likely overly ambitious right now.

To gain experience and mitigate risk, I would likely start with an exploratory trip on Georgian Bay. I have a few options in mind, such as making the crossing to Georgian Bay Islands Nat’l park, or to crown land islands like Franklin (shorter paddles but bigger crossings to gain more experience in wavy conditions.) Ultimately, I’d like to do a longer (5+ day) coastal-esque trip. I am a grad student right now, so time isn’t a terribly limiting factor. I’ll have the ability to choose to be windbound for multiple days and might even prefer to ‘extend’ the trip to keep away from the torment of my thesis project. At this point all trip plans are solo, with plenty of time for wind days and an Inreach as a backup lifeline.

For any of these trips, I could use either a 16’8” Clipper Yukon (fibreglass) or a 16’ Nova Craft Prospector (aramid). My concern is that with bigger water comes rougher conditions, so having an effective way to paddle comfortably in slightly wavy conditions might be crucial to feeling comfortable on the water. This poses a problem in that the Yukon has the tractor style seats, so paddling from the bow isn’t possible and I don’t find kneeling in the middle to be comfortable for longer than an hour or so of paddling. Even though I could paddle the Prospector from the bow, the low centre of gravity offered by a saddle is appealing from a safety standpoint.

I’m wondering about mounting a whitewater-style saddle in the compartment behind the yoke and then paddling with a longer kayak paddle to enhance the ability to efficiently paddle in wind and waves. I’ve searched the forums and haven’t encountered many previous threads, so I’m wondering if anyone here has experience paddling a flat water boat with a saddle and kayak paddle setup to offer any advice on the pros/cons. I’m also wondering if there’s a distinct preference between doing these types of trips in the Yukon versus the Prospector, although the Yukon seems to be better set up for bigger water (lower bow/stern, longer, very fast design) than the prospector.

Alternatively, renting a sea kayak isn’t out of the question but is a less desirable option. I have way more experience in a canoe so using a kayak for longer coastal trips would require some practice runs and potentially a course or two. I’m generally much more comfortable paddling a canoe anyways, I’m really just looking for a potential way to maximize safety on big water with a lower centre of gravity and a more efficient solo-paddling method.

Open to any thoughts, thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 3:48 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 2073
Location: Manitoba
Jfpaddler, I fine question.

I need to read that book, H. Pohl’s The Lure of Faraway Places. It's been on my to read list for some time.

Big Water & cold water similar to Solo travel, are probably closely related in terms of risk, planning, mitigation, experience, judgment, etc. It's not all about paddling bigger waves and in bigger winds. It's more about weather, situational knowledge and awareness, map and terrain reading, waiting, plus the usual skills, knowledge, abilities, training, experience, equipment, etc.

Some canoes are more or less suitable or favourable for big lake paddling. Tracking straight. Windage. Depth. Bow and stern shapes. Durability for surf landings. Weight. Speed. Spray deck or cover. etc.

Paddling tandem canoes solo is another factor. You already mentioned options and concerns.
Could you reverse the bow tractor seat and then paddle it from the bow?
Could you swap out the bow tractor seat with a more traditional canoe seat and then paddle from the bow?
Could add a kneeling thwart or a solo seat for your trips?

As you stated, adding saddle could lower your centre of gravity. It would also connect you more with the canoe. Did you already see this posting, saddle instead of seat??
https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewto ... lit=saddle

I'm not very informed about paddling canoes with kayak paddles but I wonder about steering without a rudder given the big lake style of travel in intend.

Maybe renting a solo canoe would be more appealing to you than your idea of renting a kayak.

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http://www.JohnstonPursuits.ca

 


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 4:04 pm 
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Joined: February 25th, 2011, 7:15 am
Posts: 99
Hi Jfpaddler,

I echo Paddle Power's advice (I've learned much from his posts)!

I paddled the coast of Pukaskwa from Hattie Cove to Michipicoten, solo, in a NC prospector 16. I paddled from the bow seat. It was totally fine for that type of trip if you paddle when the lake allows you to do so. Most of the time I was sitting, but if things became more dynamic, I would kneel.

If you have some cash to burn, you could get a skirt made for your boat. This would prevent swamping, and make your boat less prone to catching wind. But again, to me, if conditions are like that, it's time to head to shore, even with a skirt.

I would personally avoid long open crossings on Superior or Georgian Bay, and only attempt during glass calm conditions. Open crossings to me are one of two things: boring, or terrifying. I can't self rescue, so a tip or a swamp far offshore would be a serious problem, and almost certainly mean death on Superior, even in a dry suit (which I wore as well). It's more interesting to paddle close to shore anyway.

I also brought a kayak paddle on that trip. It didn't work for me, perhaps because I needed a longer paddle. So I used a single blade, which was totally fine, even in windy conditions.

The saddle is an interesting idea and would give you another option for paddling in heavy conditions. Instead of a foam saddle, you could use an army surplus ammo box with foam glued to the top like this fellow does in his 16' prospector. He can really rip from the centre of the boat! And as a bonus, the ammo can also serves as dry storage. You couldn't paddle for long in this position, but it would certainly give you a more stable option.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w8j3F4HmOM


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 4:37 pm 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm
Posts: 29
Paddle Power wrote:
Jfpaddler, I fine question.

I need to read that book, H. Pohl’s The Lure of Faraway Places. It's been on my to read list for some time.

Big Water & cold water similar to Solo travel, are probably closely related in terms of risk, planning, mitigation, experience, judgment, etc. It's not all about paddling bigger waves and in bigger winds. It's more about weather, situational knowledge and awareness, map and terrain reading, waiting, plus the usual skills, knowledge, abilities, training, experience, equipment, etc.

Some canoes are more or less suitable or favourable for big lake paddling. Tracking straight. Windage. Depth. Bow and stern shapes. Durability for surf landings. Weight. Speed. Spray deck or cover. etc.

Paddling tandem canoes solo is another factor. You already mentioned options and concerns.
Could you reverse the bow tractor seat and then paddle it from the bow?
Could you swap out the bow tractor seat with a more traditional canoe seat and then paddle from the bow?
Could add a kneeling thwart or a solo seat for your trips?

As you stated, adding saddle could lower your centre of gravity. It would also connect you more with the canoe. Did you already see this posting, saddle instead of seat??
https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewto ... lit=saddle

I'm not very informed about paddling canoes with kayak paddles but I wonder about steering without a rudder given the big lake style of travel in intend.

Maybe renting a solo canoe would be more appealing to you than your idea of renting a kayak.



Thank you very much for your reply and for linking that thread.. I’m not sure how I missed it during my initial searches. It looks like there’s some existing support for using a saddle in a tandem canoe and some great examples there.

I agree with all the points made about risk mitigating factors. I do have plenty of flat water canoe tripping experience and some significant experience paddling around/on Georgian Bay, and I am a generally risk-averse person who prefers to make calculated and well-thought out decisions. Having the essence of time in my favour helps greatly too.

I guess ultimately the use of the kayak paddle and saddle seems to potentially mirror the abilities of a sea kayak that is so well suited to Georgian Bay and Lake Superior (albeit with the obvious differences). Kneeling already feels very stable and safe to me, I just can’t do it very long and being able to double blade seems like the most efficient way to paddle solo based on my limited kayaking experience. I would certainly be sure to practice with the kayak paddle before attempting any big water crossings or putting myself in risky positions. I would certainly take a canoe paddle along too.

I’m hesitant to modify the tractor style seat arrangement in the Yukon because I do really like the existing arrangement when paddling in partners. Clipper mounts the seats very low in hull rather than from the gunwales like many bench style seats, so low that I wouldn’t be able to get my feet under a bench seat even if I did swap it out. I think this makes me prefer mirroring some of the saddle setups posted on the thread you linked. I could probably flip the bow tractor seat around too, but might still prefer the idea of kneeling on a saddle for the stability and posture benefits for using a kayak paddle too.

Thanks again for your reply.. it was certainly helpful.

Oh, and enjoy Pohl’s book when you get the chance. It’s rugged and inspirational and full of pensive thought. Highly recommend.


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 5:08 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1219
Location: Burns Lake, BC
With 6 rivets, 2 pieces of angle alum, and a 1"x10"x36", you could pimp your Prospector or Yukon out for a solo setup. Use wing nuts to fasten the seat to the angled aluminum for easy removal when not needed.

Put it in facing the bow so it can serve as a third seat for extra paddlers. (two small kids or one extra paddler)

I've used my tandem skirt with my 17' 6" Hellman Prospector and my solo seat was in the cargo hatch and I just sealed up both cockpits. It worked great for wind, waves, and thermal regulation.

Maybe you need to buy a new skirt to fit both of your canoes. :o


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 5:53 pm 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm
Posts: 29
swampwalker wrote:
Hi Jfpaddler,

I echo Paddle Power's advice (I've learned much from his posts)!

I paddled the coast of Pukaskwa from Hattie Cove to Michipicoten, solo, in a NC prospector 16. I paddled from the bow seat. It was totally fine for that type of trip if you paddle when the lake allows you to do so. Most of the time I was sitting, but if things became more dynamic, I would kneel.

If you have some cash to burn, you could get a skirt made for your boat. This would prevent swamping, and make your boat less prone to catching wind. But again, to me, if conditions are like that, it's time to head to shore, even with a skirt.

I would personally avoid long open crossings on Superior or Georgian Bay, and only attempt during glass calm conditions. Open crossings to me are one of two things: boring, or terrifying. I can't self rescue, so a tip or a swamp far offshore would be a serious problem, and almost certainly mean death on Superior, even in a dry suit (which I wore as well). It's more interesting to paddle close to shore anyway.

I also brought a kayak paddle on that trip. It didn't work for me, perhaps because I needed a longer paddle. So I used a single blade, which was totally fine, even in windy conditions.

The saddle is an interesting idea and would give you another option for paddling in heavy conditions. Instead of a foam saddle, you could use an army surplus ammo box with foam glued to the top like this fellow does in his 16' prospector. He can really rip from the centre of the boat! And as a bonus, the ammo can also serves as dry storage. You couldn't paddle for long in this position, but it would certainly give you a more stable option.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w8j3F4HmOM


Thanks for your reply - it’s reassuring to hear your success from Hattie to Michipicoten with your NC Prospector.

On the topic of spray skirts - I’ve got buyers remorse after not picking up a pair of skirts for 16ft canoes I saw on Kijiji last summer. I completely agree though, even with a skirt I would head to shore in conditions that required it.

I should clarify that when I mentioned ‘crossings’ in the original post, I meant more so the exposure that would come with paddling to places like Beausoleil Islands in GBINP where there’s a lot of exposure but losing sight of shore isn’t the case. Otherwise I’d stick to paddling near shore.

Thanks for the point about the kayak paddle length - I would certainly pick a longer/extendable model. I’m intrigued by the ammo can method as well.

Thanks again,


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PostPosted: March 6th, 2021, 5:58 pm 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm
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Canoeheadted wrote:
With 6 rivets, 2 pieces of angle alum, and a 1"x10"x36", you could pimp your Prospector or Yukon out for a solo setup. Use wing nuts to fasten the seat to the angled aluminum for easy removal when not needed.

Put it in facing the bow so it can serve as a third seat for extra paddlers. (two small kids or one extra paddler)

I've used my tandem skirt with my 17' 6" Hellman Prospector and my solo seat was in the cargo hatch and I just sealed up both cockpits. It worked great for wind, waves, and thermal regulation.

Maybe you need to buy a new skirt to fit both of your canoes. :o


Hmm I hadn’t considered that idea.. the Yukon does have ash gunwales so hanging a centre seat isn’t out of the question and does avoid riveting through the hull.. although I am probably 5+ years away from kids so the need is small beyond solo use.

The skirt isn’t a bad idea either.. I’ve looked at a few and wondered whether paddling from the cargo hold would work well since I’d want the skirt to still be useable tandem too.

Thanks for your response, your input is helpful


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PostPosted: March 11th, 2021, 12:24 am 
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Location: Mid-coast Maine
You've seen the posts about mounting saddles and their various shapes and sizes. I would just add that a kayak paddle - with their short shafts and narrow blades, does little good paddling a tripper-sized canoe solo. But, you can find canoe-length doubleblades. I'd recommend a 9-foot length if you are in a 16-17' canoe. Whoever is making the Mohawk paddles these days will make you a 2-piece for not much $. I got the guys at Accent paddle to make me one in carbon fiber with clipped, extra wide, spooned blades. You can really make time with it - in a seat or on a saddle. That said, paddling a big loaded boat by yourself in big water or against big winds can be really challenging - double blade or not - it won't keep you from being windbound. When you balance it all out at the end of the day, I'd still rather paddle a boat solo than tandem. And a double blade is certainly a good tool to help you do that.

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PostPosted: March 11th, 2021, 2:03 pm 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm
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VA paddler wrote:
You've seen the posts about mounting saddles and their various shapes and sizes. I would just add that a kayak paddle - with their short shafts and narrow blades, does little good paddling a tripper-sized canoe solo. But, you can find canoe-length doubleblades. I'd recommend a 9-foot length if you are in a 16-17' canoe. Whoever is making the Mohawk paddles these days will make you a 2-piece for not much $. I got the guys at Accent paddle to make me one in carbon fiber with clipped, extra wide, spooned blades. You can really make time with it - in a seat or on a saddle. That said, paddling a big loaded boat by yourself in big water or against big winds can be really challenging - double blade or not - it won't keep you from being windbound. When you balance it all out at the end of the day, I'd still rather paddle a boat solo than tandem. And a double blade is certainly a good tool to help you do that.


Thanks a lot for this. My preliminary looks at kayak paddles found that there weren’t many options on the longer side of things, which was a concern. I’ll check out both Mohawk and Accent. I definitely hear your points about it not being a substitute for staying put in windy and wavy conditions. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve got time flexibility so planning extra windbound days won’t be much of a problem and will avoid any need to paddle in conditions I don’t feel completely comfortable in.


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PostPosted: May 11th, 2021, 7:24 pm 
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Location: Edmonton area
Jfpaddler, I use a custom length kayak paddle (280cm) solo in a tandem 17' Kevlar boat, paddled from a DIY saddle mounted just behind the carry thwart, as you have wondered about. It works great.

I set up the saddle so that it is connected to the floor, but still moveable fore and aft/side to side, and it has fold out wings under it to change the height in a second, by about 1.25".

This lets me kneel straddling it, with my knees on floor mounted kneepads, or I can push the seat back a foot or so, fold the wings under, and sit on the seat with my legs comfortably out in front of me.

I suggest that you check out the Foxworks K3 paddle, and you can make a saddle very easily from an archery target using an electric turkey carving knife. I can explain the floor mounting system for the seat if there is interest, but to address the issue that you were curious about, yes, a canoe with a pedastal seat, mounted just aft of centre in a tandem canoe, and an extra long kayak paddle, is a fine thing to travel in on big water.

Cheers.

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PostPosted: May 11th, 2021, 9:01 pm 
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I have spent alot of time in both a prospector and a WW solo canoe.

A saddle will not work in a prospector. They are 34-36 inches wide at the beam. Your center line is 12-14" from the gunwale. You wont be able to get a vertical stroke or do underwater recoveries with a single blade. These are critical to handling the boat in winds or swell.

A kayak paddle wont work because it wont be long enough to reach the water from a shallow enough angle.

My sea kayak is 14" wide and a solo canoe is 18-22" wide.

I reccomend you go with the tried and true method. Paddle backwards from the bow, install a 3rd seat or kneeling thwart, or get a sea kayak.

Its all about having the right tool for the job.

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PostPosted: May 12th, 2021, 7:43 am 
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guyfawkes041, I am curious as to how you made your saddle?

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PostPosted: May 12th, 2021, 8:38 am 
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Thanks to both Guyfawkes041 and Dan, and to all previous replies.

It sounds like this system would rely on having a long enough kayak paddle to make the entry angle with the water reasonable. A sea kayak is certainly the best tool for the job but they’re hard to come by right now. If anything the canoe+double blade is an interim solution. Fortunately there’s a large lake nearby that is often very windy so plenty of testing and practice could be done before any real trips.

I’ve held off on making any moves on this system mostly because of the cost of minicell foam, so using an archery target as suggested by Guyfawkes might help get this plane off the ground. That, and finding a long enough paddle. This project might come to fruition, I haven’t made any commitments either way. The longest kayak paddle I can find commercially is 260cm which is getting in the ballpark of being long enough as per a few previous replies. Finding a cheap archery target for the saddle seems like the least of my worries.

If anything I’ve come to realize that this system would work best in the Clipper Yukon due to its minimal rocker and low bow/stern decks. Unfortunately, that means it’s impossible to paddle backwards from the bow without remounting the bow seat which is really undesirable to me as the canoe is a go-to for tandem paddling too.

Thanks all for the input and advice. Maybe I’ll stumble into a sweetheart Kijiji sea kayak special and the whole idea becomes moot. I’d rather not rent but renting either a kayak or a solo canoe for a few trips isn’t the end of the world and, ultimately, safety is paramount. One of the reasons why I’ve expressed some hesitation about renting a sea kayak in previous replies is due to my lack of experience paddling one. I don’t have much of an opportunity to gain more experience prior to a real trip because there isn’t a nearby outfitter to get a boat to practice with.


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PostPosted: May 12th, 2021, 8:48 am 
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Location: Edmonton area
Cheryl, if I can attach these photos, here you go:

Image

The first pic shows the fold out wings under the saddle, and the method of attachment to the floor of the canoe. This lets me move fore and aft for kneeling or sitting, and lets me slide side to side for heeling or trim.

Image

The second pic shows the saddle with the folding wings under it, making it higher, and better for sitting on as opposed to kneeling.

Image

The third pic shows the wings folded out, to lower the saddle for kneeling.

My first iteration of this saddle used glued fabric as hinges between the folding wings and the body of the saddle, I have since replaced the fabric hinges with rope hinges. I drilled holes in the wings and saddle, and epoxied short pieces of floating rope into them. Much stronger than the fabric hinges.

At portages, I just tighten the webbing strap that connects the saddle to the floor of the boat, so that the saddle is pulled up tight against the floor, and does not move at all when the boat is being carried.

The archery target that the saddle is made from was from Cabelas, and I used an old electric food carving knife, and a propane torch, to shape the seat.

I hope this answers any questions that you may have had, cheers.

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PostPosted: May 12th, 2021, 8:55 am 
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Location: Edmonton area
Jfpaddler, right you are, the key is having a kayak paddle long enough, and Foxworks Paddles will make whatever you like for a very reasonable price, and the staff, a husband and wife team, are wonderful to work with.

My canoe is 31" at the gunnels, I am 6'3" tall, and I ordered my paddle to be 2.8m long. It works great.

Good luck, have fun!

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