The Wee Lassie
The original Wee Lassie, an undecked double-paddle canoe, was created in the late 1800s in upper New York State by a canoe builder named J. Henry Rushton. Most of the double-paddle canoes in Rushton’s era were like the present sea kayak: they had full decks but were wide in beam for more stability. They were not designed to be Eskimo rolled; rather, they were intended to be paddled easily in an upright position. The Wee Lassie type of canoe differed from its contemporaries by being open – that is, undecked – thus saving a lot of weight.
Without cutting any corners, a Wee Lassie that weighs just a little over twenty pounds can be built by using the methods described in Featherweight Boatbuilding. (The boat can be built to be even lighter, but we want an elegant canoe, not a fragile one.) Because of this light weight, these little boats are a delight to paddle and are easy for one person to carry. You sit on a comfortable seat, with a thwart for a backrest, and a foot brace to enhance your paddling ability. You also sit low in the boat, which provides excellent stability.
With a featherweight double-paddle canoe, you are master of your own fate. The boat is easily carried by one person, and easily car-topped, so you can go canoeing whenever you want to and with only a few minutes of preparation.
A canoe propelled by a double-bladed paddle is easy to take upstream in shallow water. The experience is like rowing, but you are facing forward. A regular paddle needs two feet of water under the canoe to be paddled properly. The double paddle works well in six inches, which is quite a difference.