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View Poll Results: How do you PREFER to paddle?
I prefer to paddle solo whenever I can get away with it. 86 78.90%
I prefer to paddle tandem with a partner--two sets of arms are better than one! 20 18.35%
I'll paddle with as many people as I can fit in the canoe--the more the merrier! 1 0.92%
I prefer to sit back and let someone else do all the work. 2 1.83%
Voters: 109. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-28-2008, 05:19 PM   #1
Bill I.
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Do you paddle solo or tandem?

About once a month I lead recreational trips for my local ADK chapter, and often these are canoe trips. I've noticed that many--but not all--of the participants seem to prefer to paddle solo boats over tandem canoes. One couple stated (with tongue in cheek) that their solo kayaks "saved their marriage."

Last year on the Oswegatchie I had seven people altogether each in a solo canoe or kayak. We had a heck of a time stacking 'em up at the campsite. This year, on the same annual outing, there were five people in three canoes (two tandems and one solo).

My own preference is to paddle solo--I own two solo canoes and one tandem, and the tandem only gets used if I have someone who wants to join a paddling trip but doesn't own a boat. Last summer it was used twice. As anyone who has ever paddled beside me can attest, I suck at paddling tandem because I seldom do it.

Solo paddling fits my "do-it-yourself" approach to wilderness recreation anyway.

So I'm curious to what the preferences of other paddlers are... do you prefer to paddle in a solo boat, or with someone else paddling with you?
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:34 PM   #2
DRIFTER
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I have only a tandem canoe at the moment, so it is all I am used to. When I go solo camping/hunting filling it towards the front with gear makes it easy to paddle from the rear. When not loaded, and I'm alone, I kneel just short of center and paddling is alot harder, especially in a good wind! Two people in the canoe, with the other person in front of course, fixes the weight distribution problem, but its usually not a big help in the paddling dept. They sort of watch the sights!


I would vote two people, but it doesn't seem to make it easier...And if I get a good paddler in the front, I tend to slack off and use the paddle as a rudder!

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Old 04-28-2008, 05:45 PM   #3
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The only reason I'm paddling today is the availability of solo boats. Tandem does NOT work for me!
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:52 PM   #4
redhawk
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I only prefer tandem paddling when there are two of us.

No, choice of BOTH.

I enjoy both equally. I also enjoy paddling solo ion a kayak along with other people in their boats as well.

I enjoyed being able to get into some remote places and paddling my Hornbeck, so i guess it depend on my mood as well as the availability of other people to paddle with.

Kevin, Val and I do a trip together once or twice a year as well as Wilderness photo. Boreal Chickadee and Cold River Bob and the Saratoga Philly as well.I paddled a couple of times with a larger group, several people and boats on the Raquette River and of course the run down the Sacandaga.

Also paddled, portaged into Duck Hole via Upper Works with several people.

My brother Doug and I canoe a bit together, including in the Alagash river Wilderness, along with his wife, daughter, father, Dick and Joanne and of course 150 or so miles this June on the Upper Missouri in Montana.

It's funny, because I prefer hiking solo or with just another person but most paddling I do with others.

BTW Bill, nice article in the Explorer this month. Well done.

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Old 04-28-2008, 06:03 PM   #5
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BTW Bill, nice article in the Explorer this month. Well done.

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Thanks. That's Colden46 in both photos on page 8. You can't see his face, but that might be for the better.
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Old 04-28-2008, 06:10 PM   #6
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I really have just two distinct modes of paddling. Most often I am paddling solo. Virtually never tandem unless I am instructing someone else in the canoe. But at times, which happens to be fairly frequently for the next couple of months, I paddle with 5 or 6 others in the same 30 foot Voyageur canoe while training for a marathon canoe race.
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:16 PM   #7
Awetcanoe
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I like a nice spirited solo paddle with a group of other boats. I do have to admit when in a large lake battling the wind, I would like to be back in a tandem.
Back in High school I rowed in a 4 man shell and transitioned into the scull. It would be fun to get back into either one again.
I have never been in a big canoe or warboat, I expect they could be interesting.
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:31 PM   #8
Tom McG
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I own both and also have a Touring Kayak; I have only used my tandem boat twice in the past 2-years. My Solo Boat is a Bell Merlin II and I love the way it handles both empty and loaded with a 10-day supply of gear.
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:38 PM   #9
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I found in a tandem, If you face each other and both paddle to your right, respectively, you can do donuts!
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:44 PM   #10
Awetcanoe
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I found in a tandem, If you face each other and both paddle to your right, respectively, you can do donuts!
For us it was easier than that, just put my wife in the back.
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Old 04-28-2008, 09:24 PM   #11
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For paddling lakes and ponds, I don't really have a preference. When paddling streams, I guess I prefer solo since it's much easier getting around beaver dams and other obstructions with only one person in the boat.

After hitting my girlfriend in the head with my paddle on the Oswegatchie this weekend, I'm thinking she'll prefer solo paddling from here on out, so I don't know that my preference matters anyway.

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Thanks. That's Colden46 in both photos on page 8. You can't see his face, but that might be for the better.
Is it a shot from the rear? That's my better side, after all
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Old 04-28-2008, 10:42 PM   #12
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I always paddle solo, even when my better half is in the bow seat.
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Old 04-29-2008, 08:42 AM   #13
Moses Atwood
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"Paddle solo. Sleep tandem."
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Old 04-29-2008, 09:59 AM   #14
aft paddle
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I guess I have no real preference. I do not recall ever wishing to either have someone with me when paddling alone (other than to share the sights and exhilaration) or mumbling to myself that I wish they'd just fall out so I could be alone. Poling is when I really enjoy the solo bit--it ads a whole new perspective--different vantaqe points, challenges, etc. Nothing like screwing up, getting an unexpected ice cold dunking and realizing you have to plunge back in to catch the now accelerating canoe, pole and back up paddle. Can it get any better??
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Old 04-29-2008, 02:48 PM   #15
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Hmm, missing the option for I prefer to paddle in tandem with a competent partner who helps slice twisty streams to bite size pieces with effeciency.

Or I prefer to paddle solo when I cannot find a partner to paddle tandem with.
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Old 04-29-2008, 10:42 PM   #16
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I almost always paddle in a solo boat, but enjoy paddling as part of a group while in my solo Wenonah. I can always "get away with it" because I don't own a tandem boat. I did, however, have to paddle in a friends tandem canoe last year on a trip, because he doesn't have a solo boat. I won't paddle in the bow, so my friend relented and let me have the stern seat. I still didn't like it.

As the waterways chair for my local chapter of the ADK, I lead many paddle trips on the Niagara River. There is usually one tandem canoe that shows up maybe once a year, but otherwise all paddlers are in solo kayaks or solo canoes.
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:26 AM   #17
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Here's an interesting note on the nearly universal preferance for the stern seat. Decades ago, my younger brother, Don, was on a short overnight with a junior member of his staff at a large boy's camp. Naturally, he took the stern seat. He got up in the middle of a pitch black night to take a leak and walked open eyed into a pine twig, scratching his cornea. The uninjured eye clamped shut in sympathy with the injured eye, leaving him sightless. At dawn, they packed up and headed back but Don, being sightless, took the bow seat. They had a couple miles of logging channel with beaver dams to descend, and then several miles of open lake against a strong headwind. They made it back fine, and Don's eye healed well. But the legacy of the incident is that Don no longer insisted on taking the stern seat. From then on he always evaluated his partner's strengths and weaknesses in relation to his own and attempted to put the strongest paddler in the bow as long as his partner was at least minimally competent in the stern. That trip back across the lake against the headwind took only 2/3 the time it took to cross it the day before with a tail wind. As he put it, "Put the horsepower in the bow; any damn fool can be a rudder."
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Old 04-30-2008, 01:52 AM   #18
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My problem with the bow seat is that I need to have my feet farther apart, and I can't brace myself very well in the bow.

Secondary to that (and it's a very distant second) I prefer the overview; seeing exactly what the other paddler is, or is about to do, and the control of the canoe that the aft position offers. As a photographer, the bow seat offers a nice perspective and an open view, but that's about all I ever liked about it. Plus, I tend to paddle faster than most people I go out with, and in a tandem boat it's very difficult for me to be faster than that other guy in the boat!
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Old 05-07-2008, 10:53 AM   #19
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Secondary to that (and it's a very distant second) I prefer the overview; seeing exactly what the other paddler is, or is about to do, and the control of the canoe that the aft position offers.
I had the chance to paddle bow a few weeks ago, and I decided that I didn't mind it at all. From the perspective of someone who'd prefer to paddle solo anyway, I found I could paddle as I wanted in the bow seat and let the other guy worry about matching me.
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Old 05-07-2008, 12:13 PM   #20
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I had the chance to paddle bow a few weeks ago, and I decided that I didn't mind it at all. From the perspective of someone who'd prefer to paddle solo anyway, I found I could paddle as I wanted in the bow seat and let the other guy worry about matching me.
When paddling tandem (rare for me these days), I definitely prefer the control from the stern. When teaching tandem paddling, I prefer to sit in the bow - and I turn around backwards to face my partner if necessary to watch and instruct the newbie. I'll do my share of bow steering strokes to assist the sternman as he/she develops their skill.

However, when paddling a Voyageur (war) canoe, I'm a bow paddler all the way. On big water long stretches I set the stroke rate pace and zone out in my own wilderness world alone up front. But steering in a long boat is a team effort, particularly when negotiating narrow sharp turns at high speed (e.g. Brown's Tract during the 90 Miler). The bowman reads the water ahead way before the sternman can see it, and the bowman decides when to initiate the turn and sets the course line on the river. The experienced sternman reads the current and the bowman's actions to make his own coordinated steering actions as necessary, while the middlemen continue to provide raw power for team to run the course. [In Voyageur terminology, the bowman (avant, devant, ducent) and the steersman (gouvernail) are the highest paid (almost 2X) Voyageurs, followed by the middle men (milieux).]
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