Thursday, April 19, 2007

Single Blade in a Sea Kayak

You've all heard me shouting praises for the single blade paddle, ever since I started paddling my Kruger Dreamcatcher.

On his Fit2Paddle blog, Merek Uliasz posted a piece titled "Double or Single Blade? Steve Landick on Paddles during a Long Expedition Voyage". Steve, a well known distance canoe and kayak racer, (I've seen his name often associated with the Yukon River Quest), is also well known for paddling the 28,000 mile Ultimate Canoe Challenge with Verlen Kruger. He has certainly put in the miles.

In the article, Steve is quoted as saying "The canoe paddle was so much more comfortable and efficient in the long haul that I inevitably found myself using it most of the time. And that's coming from someone who has done a fair amount of kayaking (on my first trip in 1971 I paddled a kayak 1600 miles)."

Then I noticed on the P&H Paddlers blog, a post by seakayaker Brian Day, that he has written an article on what he has recently learned paddling fast canoes, and how marathon-style canoe technique can transfer over to sea kayaking. His single blade article will be published this summer in Sea Kayaker Magazine. I can't wait.

Photo of Michael Lynskey (RubberDucky) paddling in the 2005 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. It's not unusual to see kayakers paddling with single blade paddles in the WaterTribe distance races. 300 miles in less than 7 days, they must know something.

What have I been trying to tell you all!


Kristen said...

I thought you were trying to tell us that it was Greenland or die!

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

double or single blade--- it's like putting your pants on... one leg (blade) at a time.

Here is a link to some great single blade kayak paddles... well they look cool.

Tom said...

I am curious do you paddle always on one side of the boat? i.e. old timers call it a J-stroke and now I think they call it a rudder stroke. In a canoe I use the gunwale to do the rudder, but on a kayak this would be harder. I guess I am asking how you paddle in a straight line, but now that I think about it, you have a rudder!

In any event, what is the over process to track in a straight line using a single blade in a kayak?

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

It would depend what type of single blade paddle you are using.

Using a single blade gives you so many options... There are so many diffeent types of single blade paddles and lengths.

I switch stroke rather often to keep the boat moving forward when there is no rudder.

When there is a rudder, I go every 20 strokes or so. It is a magical number that works for me.

I have heard tale 100 stokes per side to all day. I think it ends up as is a personal choice.

Dawn (aka SandyBottom) said...

I am not a canoer, and do not know the j-stroke or how to maneuver a canoe with all the strokes needed. I use a single blade with a rudder (Kruger or seakayak), and use a stroke I believe is now called the modern or marathon forward stroke. I too find 20 strokes on each side the perfect number for me.

The times I've used the single blade with my NDK Explorer, It does slow me down trying to stay straight (thought the skeg helps), I have to switch sides more often than I like.

I find it surprising since it seems a seakayak would track better than a canoe, especially one with a skeg. This is likely about my lack of single blade technique without the help of a rudder to stay nice and straight.

Vivian said...

Sandy, what length single blade do you use with your touring kayak? I have a 47" ZRE bentshaft I use for my solo canoe and have been toying around using it with my QCC. Glad to know I am not crazy and others are contemplating the same thing. Do enjoy the single blade more.

Dawn (aka SandyBottom) said...

I have a 48 ZRE bentshaft that works well with the Kruger and I've used with kayak. But I really need to get a shorter one for kayaking, not sure how much shorter, possibly 46".

Vivian said...

I tried the 47" and found it was still too long. Last weekend I bought one of those telescoping emergency paddles that go from 18 - 42" will try the length using that. I suspect 42 is the ticket in a kayak.

Dawn (aka SandyBottom) said...

I'd love to hear what length you find works best for you. I don't have anything to experiment with right now.

Michael said...

Hey, that sure is a handsome chap on your blog today! Another benefit of a single blade is you keep much dryer, since the drippings from the paddle land back in the water instead of in your lap (Greenland paddle might be good for this, too). The biggest benefit over the long haul, though, is to have many different paddling configurations (double blade, single blade left, single blade right) to give each set of muscles a rest while continuing to move forward. That's how I was able to keep up with your skinny (much faster) kayak over the course of several days...oh, and the sail didn't hurt, either. Cheers.

-Rubber Ducky

Vivian said...

SandyBottom, I tried the adjustable paddle and keep in mind it's a cheap paddle with a blade suitable to pushing off rocks not paddling! It does however propel the kayak along using the rudder for steering at a good clip. Will bring the GPS when I get a better paddle to experiment with. So not bad as a spare for day trips close to shore and no more than 6 -8 miles long.

The 42" length actually felt pretty good. My kayak has a wider beam at 24" and I am 5'-6" tall so don't know if you can get away with a little longer or shorter blade.

Dawn (aka SandyBottom) said...

Thanks Vivian, I'll keep playing with it as well. I really like the ease of the single blade, and love having different options in my seakayak.