Canadian Canoe Routes

Does size matter when paddling a tandem WW boat solo?
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Author:  ice-breaker [ October 31st, 2007, 8:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Does size matter when paddling a tandem WW boat solo?

Various WW boats are advertised as being suitable for paddling tandem or solo. If a boat is used primarily for tandem WW/tripping, say rivers up to and including CIII, how big can it be before it becomes unmanageable when paddled solo? Is 16-17 ft too long to manage solo? For the sake of discussion, let's say that we are talking about boats that are designed for WW/tripping.

I would appreciate hearing your opinions. :D

Author:  yarnellboat [ October 31st, 2007, 9:16 pm ]
Post subject: 

It depends what you mean by "manage", "paddling", and "tripping" . . .

For playing in whitewater, most would think that boats longer than 14' or 15' are getting too big for solo, and those are commonly the ww boats advertised as combo solo/tandem, but the emphasis on ww, not tripping - I'm thinking Probe 14, XL15, VertigeX, Caption. However, if you're running straight through, an 18' tripper can be managed solo!

Those ww boats are pretty small for tandem tripping, and are normally outfitted with saddles. They work well for solo ww tripping and tandem ww playing. If the primary use is tandem ww tripping - you're probably not looking for a 14' playboat!

WW tripping boats don't seem to come in many sizes - most river tripping canoes are about 16' and could be used solo - I'm thinking Appalachian, Freedom, Starburst/Canyon. Managing a 16' boat solo wouldn't be the same as paddling a 14' solo - and there's the question of how you outfit it for tandem and a centre position for solo ww - but it sounds like a 15' - 16' river tripping boat is what you're after.

The old Old Town Cascade (a smaller Appalachian) was good for this, but isn't made any longer. Unfortunately there are always compromises - a boat that's good for tandem river tripping just won't be a great ww solo boat.

Basically, I think you're choices are 16', 16' or 16'?


Author:  pknoerr [ November 1st, 2007, 7:34 am ]
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I'm with Pat. There are lots of variables.... 1) Not only what Class of rapids, but the character of the river (ie: there are Class IIIs that are just big water, but few rocks, or there are Class IIIs that are small volume with lots of rocks.

2) The skillset you bring to the river.

3) How much gear you bring, and how long your trip is,

As Pat states, WW tripping tandems seem to start around 16 feet. You get much shorter than 16 and you don't have enough capacity to go for more than a few days tandem. You get much longer than 17 and the boat lacks maneuverablity for running rapids even as a tandem. Boats between 16 and 17 start getting pretty long for solo from my perspective. But I have a very large paddling buddy that has outfit both a Dumoine and a MRC Freedom as a solo canoe. In addition, it's commonplace for canoeists in Maine and the Maritimes to run rapids in 18-20 foot canoe. Finally, remember Bill Mason did alot of his solo tripping in a 16. So, it surely can be done in 16-17 foot canoes. In my mind it doesn't come down to whether it can be done... it's more can it be done by you, and do you really want to do it?


Author:  Rick Reid [ November 1st, 2007, 7:34 am ]
Post subject: 


Yarnellboats comment "It depends what you mean by "manage", paddling", and "tripping"..." is the core of your question. You did not mention the level of your WW paddling skills and this will have a significant impact on the "managing" in WW. If you are a strong paddler on both flat and moving water then a 17 ft boat is still acceptable. I have done this on several occassions and it has not limited the rapids I paddle, or deminished the joy of the trip.

It will of course affect the routes in the rapids I would take, and to some degree, my play in them. Proper trim, reading currents and good setup accompanied by well timed and executed strokes will make it all manageable.

Natuarlly there are some trade offs. You will work harder on the flats and in the wind. You must anticipate and react well in WW. Long portages are a .......

As always, before you buy, try it out loaded and in water you will be paddling in most.


Author:  Alan Greve [ November 1st, 2007, 5:03 pm ]
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I'm really not a fan of big tandems for solo tripping..... is it doable? Yep! But why not take a boat like a Evergreen Sunburst, Esquif Vertige X or even a old Dagger Genesis, you can easily pack a weeks worth of gear in them. Plus they turn better than any big boat, and after all that is the basis behind a white water boat. There is a saying and I use it all the time, You can make a short boat go straight but you can't make a long boat turn! Sure there's other attributes, like how dry the boat is and its stability, but I'd suggest you try to stay with something under 15', in around 14' would be better.

Author:  DougB [ November 1st, 2007, 6:02 pm ]
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I've been on a few trips where friends paddled big tripping boats solo on WW rivers: Prospetor on the Moisie, Canyon on the Pontax, Explorer on the Broadback.... They all made it fine. However, they all agreed they'd rather be paddling the 14.5' boat that I was paddling.

Author:  yarnellboat [ November 3rd, 2007, 12:01 am ]
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From another thread from Ralph, on the 15'10" Mistral...

As far as a larger solo, I have paddled the Mistral down some local class 2 water solo and it handled well but that's much different than tripping. On another thread I recall Hoop talking about using a smaller tandem for tripping and the Mistral might be a good choice for paddlers who want to go that way.

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