seeking information on non-symetrical canoes


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
I again return from a two week trip in the Northwoods and again, my canoe was not balanced right. This time it's an Old Town Fifty Pounder and again, the bow is high as I sit comfortably in the stern seat. I stowed all my gear in the front, a large "bear barrel" and a full Duluth bag. I'm not taking any more than I need since some of the portages are a mile or more. But I want to get the balance where the bow does not head down head down wind, which means, a level in the water canoe. I saw somewhere a design where the canoe is tear shaped, the rear half was larger than the front half. This supported the solo paddler evenly. However, in these few years of looking at conoes, other than seeing it in a book, I have never seen or heard of a "tear shaped" canoe. Does anyone know more than about this subject.
Another option is to sit in the bow seat facing toward the stern and paddle in that direction.

An additional option is to use a dry bag for ballast. Set it (empty) all the way into the other end of the canoe with your canoe floating, use your bailer to fill it with water from the lake, close the dry bag as usual, and attach the top of the dry bag to the carrying thwart or to a line run through the rib holes alongside the deck. If the bag falls over the water will leak out the top. By filling it with the bag in the canoe, one does not have to lift the heavy bag into the canoe. You can adjust the trim by how much you fill the bag. When you reach the portage, empty the bag and refill it on the other end.
I have to do this when my wife paddles with me in my 50 pounder since she weighs half of what I do.

If for some reason the canoe goes over, the bag will float as long as there is some air in the bag.

Good luck.
Thank you fellows. The add more ballast idea is okay but means just that, more weight rather than a redistribution of weight. The leather saddle looks promising. I found no price or further information on Tom's web site so I'll have to call. Paddling backwards won't work as I always have the sail ready to help when the wind is right. As I treat that subject, someone must have made a simple paddle rudder adapter. I'm thinking of a small hole drilled through the paddle that will allow it to be used single handedly by a mount on the wale. I already eliminated the lee board bracket. see photo.


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Turn the boat around and paddle from the bow seat and you will find the balance a lot better and no, it will not be a difficult position to paddle.
Thanks, and again, I travel with the mast in place so I can hoist sail when the wind or direction favors. Thus, I am unable to shift seats due to the mounting. From the replies I am getting it seems the tear drop or asymetrical canoe is much an idea but not a reality.
From the replies I am getting it seems the tear drop or asymetrical canoe is much an idea but not a reality.

There certainly are asymmetrical canoe designs - see here for example:

Spend some time with Google and you will find lots more - and if you want the theory behind canoe asymmetry, look for the writings of John Winters.

However, it is not likely that these are going to gain you the buoyancy you need if you insist on sitting that far aft. The cheapest solution is probably to locate where you need to be and install a new seat (or even use a drybag as a kneeling pedestal). The simplest is a Saddle Seat - it requires no modification to your canoe, is adjustable fore and aft, side to side, and up and down. And can be used in other open gunwale canoes as well.

On the other hand, maybe what you are looking for is a sail-and-paddle canoe, in which case you might look at canoes like Hugh Horton's Bufflehead, Iain Oughtred's Wee Rob and MacGregor, and canoes like those.
There are such things as "fishform" (wider forward of center) and "Swedeform" (wider aft of center) canoes, but I don't know if any wooden ones were built this way. I don't know why they were built either way, but then I tend to paddle forward and backward, as situations warrant, and a non-symmetrical canoe doesn't lend itself well to this.
Thank you all. That gives a few ideas and links.
I tend to modify the thwarts to suit the load which has become standard, ie, The bear barrel and Duluth bag which makes a three trip portage. . The forward seat was removed and the sail thwart installed. Carry thwart modified for lee board bracket. The basic canoe design is set and only the boyancy is troublesome in a wind and true, I paddle from one side with a straight stroke to compensate but that is not always enough nor useful. I'm already pushing the safety margin on wide long windy bays and with a sail up at that. I've dispensed with the fixed rudder and need a one handed operation in a better balanced canoe. For those who have Old Town 50 pounders be it known the canoe is much more stable in a wind with a 55 sq ft sail than I expected. But I am loaded down with gear and that helps. Single lee board seems to work fine it is pulled up for down wind and dropped in for tacking or cross wind. That leather saddle is interesting. Tim

I've built 3 stripper tripper canoes (John Winters designs) that were non-symmetrical, they paddle very well when in the correct trim, but they are not well suited for paddling stern first. If you are thinking soloing a non-sysmmetrical canoe, you probably should look at a dedicated solo design.

And I'm curious, where in the Northwoods were you using your sail?

IMG_2486.JPGIMG_2494.JPGIMG_2596.JPGOf course. First is the jump off point. The train (two motorized cars) drop you at a isolated mile post (prior arrangement). You portage a mile to Lake Bolkow and begin the paddle. Rain came right off and I found a great use for the sail; it makes an instant rain shelter. Later I found the sail makes a great wind break as well.
There were 17 portages in 60+ miles. Two were a mile or more. Dozens of trees down on the portages. I wasn't sure portaging a sail (and lee board, rudder, etc) was going to be worth the trouble but as I found other use for the sail, namely shelter) I soon was quite happy to have it. The rudder is the only thing I would not take again. It just was not worth the effort since you can use the paddle for the same thing. As we all know, long portages takes planning since three trips mean a five mile hike on the long portage and for an extra trip it adds two miles. Carrying the canoe both hands are needed but with a Duluth bag or bear barrel both hands are free to carry the sail, rudder, paddle, etc. Still, that is only four hand carry items on the three trip portage and the load/unload part is just as hard as the carry for the short portage.
The picture under sail is a down wind run w/o lee boards. IMG_2493.JPG
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