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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2020, 1:59 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
What are your thoughts on outfitting a ~12 foot solo canoe with a fixed or permanent yoke for wilderness whitewater tripping?

The yoke would be positioned for portaging. Centred/balanced.
The seat or saddle would be positioned aft of the yoke.

This setup favours quick and easy portaging.
It works well for people who trip with a larger gear pack/bag/barrel forward to offset the aft of centre paddling position. Balanced trim—load forward, paddler aft.

It is also possible to put a day pack or small barrel behind the paddler.

I haven’t worked out everything yet but I’m guessing the paddling position will be around a foot aft of centre, which should still work well for CI to III whitewater. It’s a bit relative because running whitewater with a loaded solo canoe is not the same thing as day paddling.

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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2020, 3:57 pm 
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I have a hard time visualizing this. In whitewater, you normally want to be sitting right on the pivot point of the boat, not behind it. If you move to the stern and then balance the boat by putting weight in the bow you are going to have a wet ride. If anything, I would prefer to be somewhat stern heavy.

There are removable yokes that fit on the gunnels. You would likely need to replace the saddle with a seat.

I also can't quite see how a paddler will fit between the seat and the yoke. Both will be away from the pivot point which will make both paddling and portaging more difficult.


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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2020, 4:02 pm 
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I doubt 12 inches of space between the front of the seat and the yoke will be sufficient, I would guess you need at least 18 inches.

A smaller space might work for a saddle but I'd be skeptical of using a standard bench seat.

Install a Mohawk style strap yoke and you have instant "quick and easy".

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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2020, 4:13 pm 
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With a permanent yoke and your seat so close I would worry about entrapment if things go bad.

I also like to stay fairly centred for the solo moving water to allow maximum efficiency for my strokes.
This allows you to move your load to suit the conditions. Load forward for defensive backferries, load back for upstream, and centred for mellow or flat water.

All of our solos have removable yokes that line up with marks on the gunnels for a perfect placement every time.
You can even make the yoke adjustable so you can store them attached to the gunnels 18"-24" in front of you while on the water.
I bet it takes less than a minute to install the yoke into place, and once there they don't move.

Have a look at the Northstar Canoe webpage or Oak Orchard Canoe page for a picture of the adjustable ones that I think work great.

The only drawback is if your pack is too high above your shoulders you may hit your seat while portaging. Not a comfy thing so keep your pack height low or install the yoke facing backwards.

If the boat is light enough, you could install the adjustable yoke backwards and just forward of centre and then balance the load with a PFD, throw bag, bailer, or spare paddle attached to the boat. This again would give you more room to avoid entrapment and make for a more comfortable portage. Move the yoke to centre for a boat only portage.

I hope you can understand what I'm trying to write.


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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2020, 4:24 pm 
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I'm confused on why you'd need a yoke, as well as a saddle. Couldn't you rest the saddle on a shoulder for portages? Trying to trim a 12' boat, with a paddling station moved-back, seems like a tough task in a canoe that probably has limited displacement to start with.


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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2020, 5:39 pm 
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I've never had a boat (canoe) as short as 12 feet. And I have a 30" inseam. With those caveats, I have always paddled my solos with a fixed center yoke. My current Raven, always paddled with a tripping load , has the front of the seat 15" back of the yoke (balance point). That affords me adequate room to sit (mostly) or kneel (occasionally). Kneeling with your feet back under a seat is an entrapment risk, but that's true whether the seat is 15", 25" or 35" back of center. If the water you intend to paddle presents significant wrap hazards I'd opt for the saddle. (Actually, I'd portage.) With a tripping load, trimming the boat level, or even slightly bow heavy, is not a problem. I used a similar setup with its predecessor, a 15' Old Town Penobscot.

A previous canoe (homemade fiberglass ~15') that I used frequently for day or weekend river trips, had a fixed yoke installed as well. The yoke was the front cross piece securing a foam saddle. (My knees were younger then.) In that setup my knees were just behind the center line when kneeling, and trim really wasn't an issue.

How much you portage is also a factor. Most of my trips were fairly portage intensive and the portages rarely offered any kind of prepared landings or put-ins. Under those circumstances, a removable yoke never had any appeal. On a trip with maybe 2-3 portages a day and reasonable landings/put-ins, I might think differently.

-jmc


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PostPosted: October 23rd, 2020, 1:32 pm 
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Paddle Power wrote:
What are your thoughts on outfitting a ~12 foot solo canoe with a fixed or permanent yoke for wilderness whitewater tripping?


A permanent yoke would require a paddling position too far back, at least for my preference. I have a Vertige for whitewater tripping. For years it was outfitted with an oversized saddle. This year I removed the saddle and installed a seat. The main driver for me to install the seat was the ability to sit. For sitting to be comfortable there needs to be sufficient space between the seat and anything positioned ahead of it. Like Peter, I like to be in a central(ish) paddling position - especially in a smaller boat. I positioned the leading edge of my seat is about 3.5" aft of center. When kneeling, my weight is slightly aft of center. I could have positioned it about an inch further forward with the same result. I've found that the seat itself works well enough as a portage yoke, especially with a boat this small/light. It works even better if carrying with a pack so the seat has more area to connect with. I considered a removable yoke - I had one years ago in my Sunburst but I found it a bother stow and use on all but the longest of portages. Note that I portage infrequently and I don't hesitate to abuse my boat on shorter/rougher portages, so a permanent yoke might be more important to others. As for the seat itself, I found myself missing the saddle more than I though I would.


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PostPosted: October 23rd, 2020, 3:40 pm 
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For me, my 14' boat is pretty heavy, and I think I'd find a removable yoke a pain, so I'm considering a fixed yoke and an adjustable saddle.

If it's a trip/outing where I don't expect to portage much, I can move the saddle up to a centre position and leave the yoke out.

It it's a trip where I feel I'll be portaging, I put the yoke in and I move my saddle back. On those trips I'd likely have gear anyway, so I don't see this as a big deal - if you trim your boat for centre balance with just you in it, where do you put your trip gear without affecting the trim? To me, it's a sensible solution to have the saddle/seat back enough to give you some room from the yoke, and balance it out by chucking gear in the bow.

That's Plan A. If there's something about it that's not working for me, I can still convert the "fixed" yoke to something easier to remove (could be as simple as using wing nuts). So, nothin' to lose in starting this way.

In my case I'm thinking about a 14' Vertige X with an adjustable Northwater saddle, which attaches to anchor strips - someday hopefully you'll see it on a trip and we compare notes on the river!

Cheers, Pat.

p.s. Thanks for the links Canoehaedted, the yokes and other accessories at Northstar Canoe and Oak Orchard look good!

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PostPosted: October 23rd, 2020, 8:41 pm 
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The other way of solving the problem of needing the yoke and the seat in the centre of the boat, is to put the yoke farther forward and then balance the boat for portaging by adding weight to the front, such as a dry bag lashed in the bow. Leave this bag lashed there all day. This gives you more room to put your seat closer to the centre. It makes the boat heavier on your shoulders, but you can have a lighter pack. The total weight to be carried is the same.

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2020, 10:16 am 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate the range of points mentioned.

Yes, I know almost all solo canoes in whitewater are positioned with the centre saddle/seat. When not in motion, this is the pivot point, at the centre paddling position/saddle/seat. I suggest most solo canoe are setup as such because most solo canoes are for day paddling. I often carry my 9' solo ww canoe either gunnel on shoulder or more often, saddle on forehead (backwards) but also dragging it on the ground by pulling the grab loop. Enter wilderness tripping, with a longer (12-13') heavier canoe and sometimes longer portages hence with posting about solo canoe and yokes.

A bit more about the aft of centre paddling position. When not in motion, the centre is the pivot point, at the centre paddling position/saddle/seat. Once the canoe has momentum, the Centre of Lateral Resistance moves forward. So on a multiple day wilderness trip, the pivot point in motion is forward of your paddling position. If your saddle is 12 inches aft of centre maybe the pivot point is 6 inches forward of the saddle, so you only have to lean forward and shift weight to your knees to weight the bow enough to pivot centrally for the odd critical ww manoeuver. For more information on Centre of Lateral Resistance, see here: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~burchil/pm ... ughts.html

Do the merits of a fixed yoke outweigh the disadvantages of a paddling position slightly aft of the pivot point? That is the question.

I have never liked using removable yokes on wilderness whitewater trips for several reasons (they don't work as well with saddles, cold fingers or gloves interfere with installing and removing yokes, yokes need to be stow when not in use, many removable yokes don't stay put during demanding portages, etc.), some of which are probably easy to overcome but holistically I prefer the simplistically of a fixed yoke.

Looking quickly at ww solo canoes, saddles often have thwarts within easy reach. Some saddles have thwarts forward and aft that hold the saddle in place similar to how most bulkhead saddles are held in place by thwarts. It seems reasonable to replace a thwart with a yoke, especially when using a saddle. This setup wouldn't be as functional/comfortable with a seat because of the lack of room to move one's legs/feet so a seat might be better a bit further aft of the yoke relative to a saddle.

On lakes and flatwater river sections when I'm paddling into a strong headwind moving weight forward is a good option to get the bow down and into the wind. I'm usually a bit slower to adjust stern heavy for a tailwind. In rapids, I doubt I ever move my load forward or aft, rather I always try to have the canoe trim balanced.

I had a solo canoe with a rear facing centre yoke and a kneeling thwart. It was beautiful to portage. Once up on my shoulders I would reach forward and hold the kneeling thwart. Yes, nostalgist. The romance of wilderness canoe tripping.

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