Using canoe paddles for rudder/sideboards on sailing scanoe

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Squidly-Diddly, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I'm thinking of outfitting a scanoe(canoe with square stern) will a mast a sail rig I have handy.

    I'd like to simply use the extra paddles for both a rudder and the side boards to avoid the bother of extra junk.

    Any good, cheap ways to do this already worked out?

    The boat would be a Old Town or Coleman scanoe.
  2. duluthboats
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Location: Minneapolis,MN, USA

    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    I have been taking small steps towards canoe sailing but no experience. Using a paddle for a rudder works but keeps your hands busy and you may need to tend to other things. I don’t see one being used as a sideboard except in an emergency.

    Coleman makes some good products but their canoes should be on static display as an example of what not to do with a canoe. IMHO!

  3. tspeer
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    Location: Port Gamble, Washington, USA

    tspeer Senior Member

    I learned to sail by outfitting a 16' fiberglass canoe. I made leeboards and an oak thwart to mount them. The thwart was attached with J bolts to aluminum rails that ran between the forward seat mounting bolts and the portage yoke so it could be adjusted fore and aft to achieve the correct balance. The mast step consisted of a block of wood fiberglassed to the keelson and a hole in front seat to support the mast. I never did get around to making a rudder - I just steered with a paddle.

    I've done the spare-paddle-as-leeboard bit on a trip in the Boundary Waters of Canada. We used sapling poles for spars with plastic sheeting for the sail. One person held a paddle vertical as the leeboard, and another person steered with a paddle. So it can work.

    However, if you will be sailing very much or single-handing, I recommend proper leeboards. They can be deeper for better efficiency, and it's too much to hold a lee-paddle, steer, and handle the sheet at the same time. I extended the leeboards upwards to form a swept-back handle. A shock cord between the handle and the forward seat retracted the leeboard. A pendant with a hook on the end held the board down. To tack, I just pulled on the windward pendant and hooked it on the center thwart/portage yoke to put both boards down, then released the new windward pendant after the tack to retract the windward board.

    I never missed the lack of a rudder. Especially in light winds, the occasional sweep stroke instead of a rudder propelled the boat instead of holding it back.

    I question whether the Coleman canoe is a suitable candidate for a sailing canoe, however. The torsional loads are tremendous. My fiberglass canoe was a lot stiffer than a molded plastic Coleman, and it twisted visibly when under load. The Old Town or a Grumman aluminum canoe would be better candidates. It might be valuable to put diagonal braces between the ends center thwart and forward seat on the opposite side (forming an "X") if they didn't obstruct the volume too much for what you are doing. That would make the forward half of the canoe far stiffer in torsion. One tends to sit on the windward gunwale just aft of the center thwart when sailing, so aft half of the canoe does not see the same torsion loads as the forward half.

  4. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    If you make the paddles flat (no cupping shapes), you should be ok.
    For the side boards, a couple of clamps for the paddle handles, with the top two inches of the paddle blades resting against the hull to prevent twisting out of alignment with the hull. If there was a slight curve in the paddles, the curve would be best curving towards the hulls.

    I think the rudder would want to be a dedicated proper rudder. Even standalone canoes benefit from a rudder to help the paddler against prevailing winds and waves, just make this one big enough for sailing as well.
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