Pointy or square stern?


New Member
Hi All,

I have a sailing canoe and I am trying to improve its tacking performance. I am considering transforming the canoe's pointy stern into a square stern. My logic is that a square stern will make the canoe to be closer to a sailboat hull. Someone told me that it will increase the drag, which I will trade for a better turning.

Any experience on that or suggestions?


I have no experience with cutting off the end of a canoe. My guess is that this would increase the drag and have little effect on the tacking performance. However, I can offer some simpler solutions for tacking. One option is to turn down wind and gibe but you will want to practice this procedure a lot in light winds before attempting it in a stiff breeze. The other alternatives include taking some strong sweep strokes with your paddle (power sailing) to help turn the canoe, holding the boom out on the windward side with your hand (back winding) to push the bow around, turn the rudder in the opposite direction as you drift backwards to push the stern around, or some combination of these. The ideal situation is to find two sheltered coves to use for your turns on either side of some open water. Then you can come about in the calmer waters and fly through the big wind in between. Have fun,

A sailing canoe is a somewhat different critter than a sailboat, and different techniques and strategies apply. If you want to sail a boat, better to start with a sailboat, you will likely be disappointed with a modified canoe (and will have probably lowered its re-sale value by a lot...)
Do not cut the stern off of a perfectly good canoe (unless of course you happen to also need a very short book case). If you are having tacking problems the reason is much more likely to be something screwed up in the CLP/CLR balance equation (the relationship between the hull, the mast/sail placement and the leeboard placement). Cutting the stern off won't likely fix this and will simply damage the boat. You need to start experimenting with the rig itself and the location of its various parts. You can also try heeling the boat over a bit more as you initiate a tack, The heeled hull will tend to carve to weather more and may speed up your tacks. In any sailboat it takes a while to get your tacking and timing down to the point where you can tack efficiently every time. This may often take a season or better as you learn how much speed to carry into the tack, how much rudder to use, how sharply to turn, where to put your weight and how to trim the sails during the tack. Modifying a boat before thoroughly working through this learning period is usually a big mistake.
Thank you all for your replies! I have experimented a lot with the location of the leeboards; the canoe is well balanced, with a small weather helm. No doubt the hull shape is the problem. My canoe tracks well for paddling, which is not good for sailing. I received the suggestion to increase the rocker (think of a whitewater canoe) by installing a longer thwart and counting with some degree of flexibility of the hull.

I will post the results. Regards,

I'll bet it doesn't track half as well as most catamarans and trimarans, yet if you take the time to actually learn how to sail them they tack without a problem. You can lead a horse to water....