BWCA Canoe balance - need input Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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member (18)member
05/25/2022 08:30PM  
I recently came back from a trip and in reviewing pictures, realized with my 250lb body in the back of the boat, we were riding pretty stern heavy. I am the most experienced paddler, and always sit in the stern. I have been using my 16ft Roylex Kingfisher, which I use locally for fishing and hunting (along with kid canoeing). I have paddled this on many lakes and some pretty high winds without issues, aside from it being slow and tough in the wind. I mostly base camp.

After looking at the photo, am I dangerously low in the back, or just “not ideal, but workable?” I had some new folks with me and the heavy food pack should have been moved forward.

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distinguished member(793)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/25/2022 08:42PM  
I think redistribution of packs will help.

I had the opposite going on fishing opener. The bow paddler weighed in at somewhere north of 250... and I recently dropped 30 to land at 190 lbs (new years resolution). When he climbed in, it felt like we were doing an endo...and we were, but oh well, what do you do. We were just day tripping and didn't have packs to try and even it out.

To you question about being dangerously low in the back; I think you're fine, you'll mostly just lose some of the tracking ability and to a degree stability in the boat. An evenly balanced canoe is the most stable and tracks the best.
distinguished member (271)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/25/2022 09:47PM  
You’re fine.

I’m a similar size to you and have lighter buddies up front all the time. Can produce a slight weathervane affect when unloaded while fishing but I would never call it a safety issue

It will help to put the heavier packs in the compartment closer to the lighter guy when loaded.
05/26/2022 07:25AM  
You're fine... in water as pictured.

Be safe(r). Balance your load properly, otherwise you look like a rookie.
05/26/2022 07:29AM  
I canoe with my wife who is much lighter than me. We paddle an 18ft kevlar Wenonah Champlain. For paddling on small lakes the weight difference impact on the balance doesn't really matter because wind and waves are not much of an issue.

For paddling on larger lakes we bring one of our portage packs or blue barrel, fill it with miscellaneous gear, and put it behind the bow seat. This is enough to balance out the weight and also helps fix our trim problem where we otherwise inexplicably list slightly to port.

We paddled on a big lake in Wisconsin two weeks ago and a single pack was adequate. There was a steady 15-20mph headwind and whitecaps and we did just fine. We have been in a similar situation in a following sea and were also fine. If our balance was as un-level as what's in your photos I would have had water coming over the gunwales. Note that the Champlain is made for big lakes and your mileage may vary.
distinguished member (437)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/26/2022 12:17PM  
Improper trim (which your photo shows) increases effort and limits your options for trimming out to address wind conditions. I paddle sit and switch, and trim is critical for efficient paddling. On my solos, I even keep a level on the floor to ensure I'm trim if I'm on calm water. When I used to race, we'd splash some water in the boat and see which way it flows to evaluate trim.
05/26/2022 12:40PM  
I agree with all the above, but I'm going to add that rebalancing is also going to help with paddling. Being further from the water can make it harder to paddle so your bow paddler might not be getting as efficient of strokes.
distinguished member(4155)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/26/2022 05:59PM  
That's not too bad but yeah you could move stuff forward. If you've got space...looks like things might be already tight unless you swap stuff front to back at the same time.

I've seen canoes w/ more than 100lbs difference between the bow and stern paddlers. In that case we were adding rocks to their bow and it helped with the handling in wind and waves tremendously
distinguished member(2012)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/26/2022 09:58PM  
The front to rear ratio doesn't look too bad, I have seen much worse. It better to have the bow riding too high than too low. Two things that I would do: 1) try to reduce your load weight overall to get some more freeboard. It wouldn't take much as far as waves go to have water comes over the gunwales. 2) Lower the center of gravity. That looks like a CCS Deluxe Food Pack. One of the great things about Dan's gear is that he designs it to fit in the bottom of most canoes. Try to get that down flat on the floor. It's great to see you wearing PFD's!
distinguished member(925)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/27/2022 10:36AM  
You're too low at the stern if there are any large waves coming behind you. You are at some risk of being swamped in that situation. (Keep in mind that each time you take on water, it will exacerbate this risk as the water moves to the stern.) I also question what the handling was like compared to what the designer intended.

As others have said, some weight needs to move forward and down.
distinguished member(3672)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/29/2022 09:10AM  
If moving that big gear bag forward doesn't help enough or just isn't an option; a small waterproof stuffsack filled with water in front would help and not take up too much foot space from bow paddler. Nice thing about using water you just dump back in lake at portage. Refill getting in again. Plus it's an efficient use of space.
distinguished member(3672)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/29/2022 09:15AM  
Mr. Miyagi taught me; " must have balance"
05/29/2022 08:58PM  
I would like to know the weight difference between the two paddlers. If it is 60 lbs difference or less it may work fine to switch places. The stern seat being a greater distance from the center than the bow seat often allows a heavier paddler to take the bow, achieving good trim.

Yeah, yeah, I know that you are a more experienced paddler, but maybe you need to let your buddy gain some experience in the stern and get a trimmed boat in the bargain.

Our situation is with partners that are 100 lbs different. I put in bow slider that goes waaay back and I moved the stern seat as far back as possible.
05/30/2022 07:19AM  
sedges: "
Our situation is with partners that are 100 lbs different. I put in bow slider that goes waaay back and I moved the stern seat as far back as possible."

This would work if the bow paddler was heavier than the stern paddler but not in the OP's situation. The opposite configuration is appropriate to the OP's situation.
05/30/2022 07:56AM  
It is a simple lever arm mechanics equation. In our situation we have a 300lb person in the bow seat, which is closer to the center of the boat, the pivot point, than the stern seat and a 200 lb person in the stern seat and we balance out nicely.

On a trip we put as much of the outfit as possible in back of the yoke. This allows the bow paddler to move the slider forward a bit.

Get your measuring tape out and see how much difference there is in the distance of the seats from the yoke.
05/30/2022 10:13AM  
In calm conditions you're fine, BUT in other conditions Your way too low in the stern. Move that big pack forward and if possible switch positions . The obvious headwind is going to be a problem, but an even bigger problem is with tailwind rollers.
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