Tom’s Tips for Solo Paddling

And we’re back this time with Tom’s tips for Solo paddling .

Tip 1: Proper Position

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone solo paddling a tandem canoe as they normally would with someone else in the boat; sitting in the stern, with the result being the front 3/4 of the canoe completely out of the water. To remedy this, sit backwards in the bow seat, which will position you further to the centre of the canoe. Jam your pack and all of your gear at the front of your boat and you’ll now be almost perfectly balanced in the water, making your canoe much easier to manoeuvre in the process.

Tip 2: Extra Ballast

Scenario: you’ve reached your campsite for the day and want to go out for some fishing or just an evening paddle. Your gear is all unpacked, and you don’t have anything to weigh down the bow.

Solution: pack a few extra dry sacks on your trip so you can fill them with water and place them at the front of the canoe for ballast. You may want to fasten them to the front handle with a carabiner and/or some paracord as they’ll roll around on you pretty easily.

Tip 3: Limiting Paddle/Gunwale Wear

I rely heavily on the Canadian Stroke when paddling solo, which involves a significant amount of contact with the gunwale and some heavy prying in high winds. I do a lot of solo trips and noticed that this technique was really starting to show some wear on both my paddles and gunwales. This past season, I experimented with a solution that seems to have solved the issue:

I place a double layer of white hockey tape halfway up the paddle shaft (where the paddle makes contact with the gunwale), and apply a heavy coating of hockey stick blade wax. I had a hard time finding a non-scented wax (Sex Wax, Howies, etc all have a super-fruity smell – not something you want at your campsite for bear precautions), but Ice Wax works excellently and is unscented. Depending on the length of my solo trip, I might have to reapply wax once or not at all.

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