-- Last Updated: Jul-04-13 11:09 AM EST --
You can pivot the boat as you describe, but I think you'll find you want to put the end of the boat on some kind of pad. The brass plate you speak of is tiny (only big enough to mount a painter ring), so any irregularities on the ground are going to chew up the wood. Also, brass will get chewed up pretty quickly too if you are on any kind of pavement when you do this.
Your cross-bar spread of 46 inches should be enough on a car that size. I don't think you'll have to worry about gunwales hitting the roof.
If you carry the boat solo, you can simply walk up behind your car so that the front of the boat overlaps it, and squat down so that one end of the boat is on your car and the other end is on the ground. Then just pick up the low end and slide it on. I think you can probably get your rear cross bar close enough to the back of the car to make this work, but otherwise you could lay a blanket or something (I used to have a home-built "rear-extending" cross bar used just for loading, until I mounted my rear cross bar a few inches farther back). OR, you could probably get a tall bucket or something on which to rest the back end of the boat for that initial loading position. With the back end a little higher, you'll be able to rest the front end on a cross bar without risk of gunwales contacting the roof. With two people loading the boat, you should have no problem (there are still some tricks you can use to make things easier).
If you guys want to have your wife row from the front while you paddle from the back, trim will be more of an issue. All I can say is try it and see, but the more stuff you bring with you to put at her end of the boat, the better your trim will be. I haven't used the boat all that much when out-of-trim due to differing weights of the occupants, but I've done it enough to know that having perfect trim usually isn't essential.
I'm sure you could use a double-bladed paddle, but I see no reason to. But then, I love single-blade paddles and technique. Anyway, you can apply stronger effort close alongside the hull with a single than with a double, and you won't get all that water dripping into the boat. Also, if you can synchronize the paddler's strokes with those of the rower, that's a better way to go, and it's much easier to synchronize a single-blade paddle with the oars (you could synchronize every other stroke with a double-blade, but I think the cadence would be less natural).
If the rear person is single-blade paddling, it will help if the paddler knows how to paddle a canoe from the stern and apply a bit of correction to every stroke, but if not, the rower can apply that correction with the oars. The rower should learn to paddle equally well with either hand crossed in front of the other. The hand that starts out with the longer reach can very easily and naturally apply a bit of turning force to the boat, so being able to put either hand as the farther-reaching one means you can counteract the paddling of your partner no matter which side they are paddling on.
Wabakimi Canoe Pack
Hardshell Kayak Sail Rigs
Paddler's Truck Rack
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