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Old 03-31-2015, 12:28 AM   #21
nash.p
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Wldrns, I noticed that the Placid website shows options to outfit their boats with different seat heights. But the Rapidfire seems best suited to double paddling given its skinny beam and generally low seats. When researching boat options I came across this quote from Charlie Wilson:

"Someone should mention it is very difficult to improve on the RapidFire for low seat double blade solo canoeing."

I don't remember where I found that, but I thought it was important to remember, so I stuck it onto my canoe spreadsheet. It's one reason that I included the Rapidfire on my short list, because I'm looking for a low seat double blade solo boat. But I would like to have the option to try single blade paddling. I gather from your experience that the RapidFire, fitted with a higher seat, works that way.

Incidentally, one reason I put the new Swift Keewaydin Pack 14 among my top choices is that Bill Swift says in a video that it can be single paddled. The new Swift pack boats are discussed starting at 3:45, and at 6:53 Bill Swift shows that they can be single or doubled paddled:

http://tinyurl.com/p6pp65q

Vermont Scott, that Geodesic Airlite looks aeronautical, sorta like a model airplane wing. Beautiful. Do get started and post your pics. I wish I had the drive to undertake such a project.

Stripperguy, I'm a little crazy, but no way would I even think of paddling Lake Superior to get to Isle Royale. I wonder if some of the sea kayakers do? But the ferries can accommodate canoes. You observed, "[Lake Superior] can be some mean water..." I think there's a Gordon Lightfoot song that agrees.

Isle Royale is the largest island on the largest freshwater lake in the world; Ryan island is the largest island on the largest Lake (Siskiwit) on Isle Royale. So when I mentioned in a previous post about canoeing there, I meant canoeing on Siskiwit Lake to Ryan island. I think that is probably reasonable.

Yellowcanoe, I see that you, like Wldrns, single blade the RF. I guess that proves the point that the RF can accommodate both. That's an argument for the RF. And also, I believe, for the Swift Pack 14. So after one day of helpful comments on this board, my two first choices remain. But thanks to the input here, I have lots to think about.

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Old 03-31-2015, 12:50 AM   #22
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I had Joe make my Rapidfire with the medium seat and it works great with the double paddle. I had him send me the high seat for use with the single bladed paddle I carved last year. The high seat fits right over the medium seat. I used the high seat a lot with the single blade but the last time I was out I forgot it and didn't realize it till I was putting the canoe away when I got home. But then again I'm tall so reaching over the gunwale isn't too tough for me!

I got the plans for the Arrow 14 today, looks like fun but I may rethink this and start with the Snowshoe 14!

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Old 03-31-2015, 09:12 AM   #23
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There are 4 different floor-mounted seat choices for the Rapidfire. The standard molded low seat was designed for the double blade paddler, and is the most stable for inexperienced paddlers. There is a medium height seat that can be installed instead of the low seat, or it will fit over the top of an existing low seat. Same for the "high" molded seat. The fourth option is to have an even higher seat mounted on rails, so that it can be shifted fore and aft for trim. That is the one I have. A gel pad raises me up another 3/4 inch.

There is actually a fifth option for an even higher non-floor mounted seat, but it requires an extra reinforcing fiber band to strengthen the hull sidewalls to support the seat, and must be done as part of original construction. If I could do it again, that is what I would choose.

By the way, Joe does make a slimmer and faster canoe than the Rapidfire, called the Shadow. It is the usual winner in its class against the RF and other similar canoe designs in the Adirondack 90-mile canoe race. The rules for that racing class require use of a double blade. The years that I choose enter the race in that class is the only time I spend any effort to train with, and to race with a double blade. Otherwise when training for racing in other canoe types but without the rest of my team with me, I always train using a bent single blade in the RF. When recreationally padding the RF I often choose a straight wood paddle for fun and variety of strokes.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:53 PM   #24
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Vermont Scott, Wldrns,

I appreciate that the Rapidfire seat can be configured over a wide range to suit the individual needs of the buyer; and that Joe at Placid Boatworks will give his personal attention to help the buyer get the seat he needs. That is very appealing.

Iíve learned since making my inaugural post that double paddling the RF is not only not necessary, but that single paddling it, or similar narrow, low seat boats, is not uncommon. Iím surer now that I will want to try both double paddling and single paddling whatever boat I wind up with.

The Shadow sounds like a very specialized boat, very skinny and fast for an athlete. Itís a safe bet that Iím not going to be a candidate for a Shadow.  I gather that single paddling is more conducive to a leisurely outing, and double paddling is more like a workout.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:48 PM   #25
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Different strokes for different folks. Double paddling can definitely be leisurely and a single bladed paddle can give you a workout! Joe will help with the seat and paddle. Lots of paddle choices. Double bladed paddle high angle or low angle style with a straight shaft or bent shaft. Single bladed paddle straight or bent shaft with an otter tail, beaver tail, sugar island, and many other blade shapes. Paddles come in all sorts of materials too, wood to carbon fiber and more. You've still got lots of choices once you decide on a boat! And I am by no means a pro at this...
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:05 PM   #26
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I gather that single paddling is more conducive to a leisurely outing, and double paddling is more like a workout.
Not at all true, as VS suggests. It's whatever you like to do with either style of paddling. As I mentioned, I often use the RF with a single blade bent carbon paddle in workout mode to train for races I will do in other multi-seat canoes (everything from a C-2 to a C-7). I give it a heavy workout. But when not race training, such as paddling with non-race friends or boy scouts, I'll use either the bent carbon or a straight wood paddle in very leisurely fashion.

However, you won't see me double blading unless I am training in the RF to race that boat in the 90-miler in that year (race rules require the double for that class of canoe), so in that case I will always be in workout mode using a high angle stroke. But that is just me. Others look at it differently and are always in leisure mode with the double, never touching a single.
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Old 04-01-2015, 08:25 AM   #27
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Has anyone yet touched upon the difference in "dryness" between single and double blades?
Mr dot p,
The double paddle will usually be a wetter paddle, even with a concerted effort to maintain low angles (assuming a suitably long paddle), you're going to dribble and drip onto your hands and into the boat.
If you are paddling in the shoulder seasons, it might make a difference for you.
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:02 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by stripperguy View Post
Has anyone yet touched upon the difference in "dryness" between single and double blades?
Mr dot p,
The double paddle will usually be a wetter paddle, even with a concerted effort to maintain low angles (assuming a suitably long paddle), you're going to dribble and drip onto your hands and into the boat.
If you are paddling in the shoulder seasons, it might make a difference for you.
Nope. No one has addressed the wetness factor. I find that single blade hit and switch is wetter. From a sitting position bent shaft single is the way to go and with a light paddle by Zaveral, the RF will fly with hit and switch. Of course you can J stroke it if you wish for those tight alder choked streams that will yank the double out of your hands.

I use a 230 paddle in the RapidFire and wetness is not a problem with properly designed blades with drip rings. Blade shape is important. I have not used cheap doubles. I use old AT Exception Tours.
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Old 04-01-2015, 01:03 PM   #29
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Has anyone yet touched upon the difference in "dryness" between single and double blades?
Mr dot p,
The double paddle will usually be a wetter paddle, even with a concerted effort to maintain low angles (assuming a suitably long paddle), you're going to dribble and drip onto your hands and into the boat.
If you are paddling in the shoulder seasons, it might make a difference for you.
I did not previously mention it, but dripping is just one of the reasons why I do not like a double blade (I call it the dip and drip). I have an expensive high end AT double from Joe when I bought my RF. It might be ok with a slow low angle stroke, but when racing with high angle power strokes, I always get drips thrown into the canoe, primarily with the right side blade up, due to the asymmetrical angle set of the blades. Water is thrown from the blade itself before it has a chance to drain down to the drip ring.

One year during the 90-miler race I was paddling my Rapidfire (race rules require double blade in that class) side by side with one of Joe's experienced shop partners, who is also a BSA trek leader instructor colleague of mine. He builds canoes with Joe and his family is in the business of paddle making, so he certainly knows how to paddle and what to use. I have a spray skirt installed on the forward half of my RF, specifically for the drip reason, but my friend did not. When we reached the end of Long Lake he had to step out into the shallows to dump gallons of water out of his canoe that was sloshing around enough to cause control problems.

Even though I said I train for races in the RF using a single blade, I rarely to never hit and switch when I paddle in the RF, even though hit and switch is the primary racing stroke I use when racing or training in other multi-seat canoes. The RF does not require much of a control stroke to maintain a perfectly straight track. So with the single bent I use a variation of a power pitch stroke, with an unhesitating minor J correction only rarely if needed. I lose very little power and only a couple of tenths mph of speed compared to hit and switch, but find it a lot more comfortable and dry even when paddling fast and hard. Besides, I feel much more connected as part of a system with the paddle, boat, and the water when I can vary my stroke slightly as needed, instead of switching sides every 6-8 strokes.
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Old 04-01-2015, 01:56 PM   #30
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I have never raced at all, but when I was paddling my Wee Lassie canoe last year with a homemade wood double paddle without drip cups I found that I got small drips in the canoe but nothing significant unless I for some reason stopped paddling and held the paddle with one blade up for a few seconds, which would direct a stream of water onto me. i found that if I paddled with a pretty shallow angle but a fast cadence I got drops of water coming in (mainly splashed from blade entry and exit) but nothing else. If I paddled with a slow cadence and low angle I got some drips coming off the paddle shaft with every stroke. I kept a sponge on the bottom of the canoe and had to wring it out every 15 minutes or so on average. My experience is very limited, so I don't know if any of this is even relevant.
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Old 04-01-2015, 06:09 PM   #31
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The key to avoiding the J stroke if you paddle on one side only is to paddle well forward. Never ever bring your hand back of your hip. Better to end well forward of the seat actually.

This works in all solo canoes. The medium and high seats in the RF are canted to facilitate this cab forward stroke.
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:29 PM   #32
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I am coming to realize that my initial assumption that I want to primarily use a double paddle with a pack canoe may be wrong. I assumed double paddles were the norm for pack canoes, going back to Rushton; and that the low seat, narrow boats are sometimes described as kayaks without tops.

I paddled a friend's recreational kayak not too long ago and that experienced rekindled my current quest for a boat. It was fun and responsive to double paddle that little kayak. I didn't have any problem with dripping paddles, but it was a kayak. I do remember double paddling a 12' wooden strip canoe a long time ago, and the dripping paddle was a minor issue, but my outing was short and the weather warm.

If you were paddling a pack canoe, on a cool summer evening, for a couple of hours on a lake, would a single paddle or double paddle be generally be preferred?

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Old 04-01-2015, 09:49 PM   #33
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If you were paddling a pack canoe, on a cool summer evening, for a couple of hours on a lake, would a single paddle or double paddle be generally be preferred?
Either would work. The double bladed paddles are faster and just about anyone with no experience can get a canoe to go forward with a double bladed paddle. I found that I like the single blade paddle more if I'm not in a hurry and it's definitely drier for me. And even though I'm not that good with the single blade yet, it is capable of more refined movement in the water. But then again I a spent a lot of time carving that paddle so that might have someone to do with it!
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:06 PM   #34
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If you were paddling a pack canoe, on a cool summer evening, for a couple of hours on a lake, would a single paddle or double paddle be generally be preferred?
As a general rule, if your pack canoe has virtually no seat height with you essentially sitting on the bottom (as with a traditional Wee Lassie, lowest seat Rapidfire, or original Hornbeck style), then the double blade is more effective. A single blade can be awkward to use when sitting on the bottom. Raise the seat up, and either paddling mode will work, it just depends on your preference. But know that using a single blade will develop for you a larger bag of skills for your canoeing repertoire.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:20 PM   #35
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It might be ok with a slow low angle stroke, but when racing with high angle power strokes, I always get drips thrown into the canoe, primarily with the right side blade up, due to the asymmetrical angle set of the blades. Water is thrown from the blade itself before it has a chance to drain down to the drip ring.
Thanks for helping me understand something. I'm not an engineering, or esp. practical type, and I could never figure why I dripped more on the right. I kept thinking it was something about my paddling (I'm relatively new to it). It never occurred to me about the blades being asymmetrical, which is how I paddle. Now I feel better.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:57 AM   #36
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I bought a 240 cm paddle for my RF as (I'm 5' 11") it greatly reduces dripping within the boat vs. 230 for me. Properly adjust your drip rings and keep a sponge on the bottom of the boat wherever the water collects.

The double blade is my choice for covering distance, rough conditions, and exercise paddling. The single (lightweight wood bent shaft) is always in the boat as a spare and some times for liesurely cruising, especially when paddling with others in a slower boat. Keeping straight takes more effort for me with a single (again I have the lowest seat).

Dont over think things. Go out and enjoy.
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Old 04-04-2015, 08:59 AM   #37
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I second Bob's comments - I am taller (6'-2") and find a 260cm paddle suits me best. Drippage is only an issue for me when I am really working hard, fighting the wind and such. But in those conditions, a double blade is an absolute necessity. I generally use the double blade to get to where I'm going, and carry a single blade to use once I get there...especially when fishing, the single blade is much more convenient for leisurely, less intrusive movement.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:07 PM   #38
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I'm persuaded that I will want to experiment with a single blade, and to bring it along even if I expect to primarily use the double. So I'll start right off with two paddles.

Now all I have to think about is paddle lengths. That's starting to sound a little complicated. I know I'm not going to race or treat my outings as workouts. I want to enjoy the water and wilderness. But a little speed is fun, and I gather that high angle double blade paddling is faster than low angle, but also wetter; and that high angle paddling calls for a slightly shorter length.

I'm 5'-11" with a slightly longer torso length than average for my height. I'm figuring that I should try a 230 cm paddle to start with, and see how it works. I don't yet have a guess for single paddle lengths.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:51 PM   #39
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I am 7' tall and last year I used an 8' paddle of my own manufacture. I think that is 240 cm if my metric recollections are correct. I intend to experiment with a longer one at some point, but this one worked fine for what I was doing. I think that being taller tends to mean one also has longer arms to match and that makes up for any lack of extra paddle length. I moved my paddle from side to side somewhat rather than treating it as though it were mounted on a pivot in front of me. I don't know if that is proper or not but it seemed to work better for me. My paddling (among other things) tends to be unencumbered by the thought process.
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Old 04-06-2015, 11:51 AM   #40
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Pack Canoes

The original pack canoes were Adk Hunters, paddled sitting on the bottom slats with a double paddle. They were minimalist hulls, with low weight and portability valued over paddle-ability. They tend to be short, wide and flared with minimal outfitting. Adirondack Canoe, Hemlock, Hornbeck and Slipstream make modern versions of that concept.

More performance oriented hulls are longer and narrower to improve forward speed and tracking and often have tumblehome to improve reach over the side, which is the key to single sticking from a low pack canoe seat. Tumblehome requires a two piece mold which increases costs. Tumblehomed pack canoes are available from Mad River, Old Town, Placid and Swift.

Build quality is a variable, from OT's triple-dump roto-molding through hand lamination, wet bagging to resin infusion. The latter is lightest with fewest imperfections but costs more to do. Placid and Swift seem to be the sole infusion shops in the pack canoe market.

Of note, many performance oriented pack canoes have superior, more comfortable, outfitting: higher, shaped seats to ease entry and egress as well as comport, padded back panels and foot braces. All these things add weight, complexity and cost.

Many high performance pack canoes are based on David Yost's small solo tripper design series. Kestral was splashed from the 1983 Custis Vagabond, Placid's RapidFire is a 2005 redesign, Swift's Kee 14 is a 2014 redesign of their 1993 Loon, all 27.5-28" wide solo tripppers, the latter ones with differential rocker which is important to double blade use as low angle strokes generate yaw.

The market array runs from hand laid flared hulls with minimal outfitting near $1K through infused, tumblehomed hulls with sumptuous outfitting over $3.5K. As ever, we pretty much get what we pay for. I try to maintain a chart of solo and pack canoe specs which may help put this all in prospective; email charliewilson77@gmail.com for an electronic copy.

Last edited by charlie wilson; 04-06-2015 at 12:44 PM.. Reason: mo' better
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