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Thread: J-stroke and a 16 foot canoe on rough water.

  1. #1
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    Default J-stroke and a 16 foot canoe on rough water.

    I recently bought a 16 foot alluminum canoe. It's made my sears.

    I've taken it out on a lake and done fairly well with switching sides.
    But I cannot at all figuure out the J-stroke. Even with someone who is experenced in the canoe with me.

    What I want to know, is it nessary?

    Of couse it's not for calm lake water and calm rivers.

    But what about semi-rough water?

    Can I get along fine with the switching sides? I forget the stroke.

    I would be canoeing alone in the stern.

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    I would highly recommend learning the J-stroke. It's not an easy thing at first but certainly worth it. And it IS for calm lakes and waters. There are a number of other steering strokes that come into handy in really rough stuff.

    If you can, get your hands on the old canadian DVD called "Path of the Paddle". It's usually available from Amazon or your local outdoor store. Alternatively, there is a book by the same name that your local library will almost certainly have. Both are by a guy named Bill Mason and are excellent about explaining the J-stroke. Most importantly for you, he goes into detail on how to paddle a canoe solo, which is a whole different ball game that normal tandem paddling.

    One thing to know about solo paddling is that it is very difficult to do from the stern seat unless you add considerable ballast to the bow. Even then you will find it a challenge to steer. What most people will do is turn the canoe around and paddle "backwards" from the bow seat. That will put you closer to the middle and you canoe will be better balanced. If that isn't practical for some reason, kneeling in the bottom (on some pads) or installing a third seat about 2-3 ft forward of the stern seat is also pretty common.

    One last thing: Most beginner canoeist will do what's called a "goon" stroke rather than a true "J-stroke". It is natural to want to roll the paddle towards the boat and pry off the gunnel. This is very inefficient in the long haul and can end up being very frustrating at the end of the day. A true "J-stroke" will roll the paddle away from the boat in very smooth motion. Typically for straight line paddling the J will be very small, just a slight roll and push on the recovery. Most diagrams that you see in print will show the "J" exaggerated, which is more of a steering stroke than a correction stroke.

    Good luck,

    Yk

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    Thanks for the advice! I really appriciate it!

    I'll see if I can find that book.

  4. #4

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    yellowknife is right on with his recs.

    look for "Path of the Paddle" in the library. they have it fairbanks, i assume you are in anc, so check the public lib there. there a book and a dvd, both by bill mason.

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default J Stroke

    I find that often times folks get in a canoe and head out for a destination in mind, this makes it hard for paddlers that are learning to get comfortable with using different strokes...It takes practice and patience to learn how ...
    I have a video put out by Old Town ,, about 20 years or so ago that is also very helpful in learning paddling techniques..
    use the videos and books suggested to capture the ideas..
    many paddlers use mostly arm movements in the act of paddling,, body position is so very important, you will see in the videos, that the pro paddlers will use the upper body.... shoulders and Torso are where real power comes from, and will help make a long paddle so much easier..
    instruction has for me has made a much more efficient paddler..
    ............just give yourself some more time,, and soon enough you will have it down..
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Member cristancanoe's Avatar
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    Hi Andrew
    Its great your getting out and practicing with your canoe, the more you paddle, the better you will get.
    I agree with the previous poster who stated that sitting closer to the middle of the boat is easier when paddling alone. When I paddle my 16ft canoe alone, I also turn it around and sit on the bow seat backwards.
    Here are a few thoughts I wanted to add to the discussion:
    The J stroke when done correctly is both efficient and beautiful. It does take a lot of practice to get it right.
    The J stroke can be used in all types of water, but most find it faster to use the forward stroke with a quick pry instead in whitewater since you can react faster from a pry position. That being said, I use the J stroke in class IV rivers without issue.
    Here is one method I have used to teach students the J....
    Put a strip of colored tape on one side of your canoe blade, the marked side is your power side and should face you when doing a forward stroke.
    Start your forward stroke with the power side facing you
    when the blade gets to your thigh turn your hand on the grip away from you until your thumb joint is pointing towards the bow (I also call this the broken wrist position) If you look at the blade in the water now the power side should be facing away from the canoe.
    From this position drop your grip hand across your body so that the blade will push away from the boat and lift out of the water.
    and finish the stroke by gracefully moving the blade above the water back to the starting position.
    If you can give yourself enough space, then just let yourself go in circles while you practice. Eventually you will figure out how much emphasis to put on the J part of the stroke to allow your canoe to go straight.

    And, Path of the Paddle is a great resource. Maybe your local library will have a copy.

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    Thank you very VERY much for all the help.

    I've already called the local libray and I'll be picking "Path of the Paddle" up tommorow.


    Thank you for explaining the J-stroke cristancanoe!

    I'll get out and practice some more.

  8. #8
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    Andrew,
    It will come to you quite easily.....balance out your canoe load and go for it.....but many of the canoes we see today do not have keels which would make things more difficult.

    Vern

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