Stowing your equipment properly is an important consideration for any canoe trip.
It’s important for protecting your kit.
It’s important for your safety.
Whether you are heading out on the water for the day or for several weeks, there are a number of alternatives available to you.
This article will help to make sure you secure your equipment in the appropriate way…
Waterproofing Equipment for a Canoe Journey
The guiding thought must be that a simple mistake can end up with you and your kit in the water: what stuff would be ruined or useless when wet?
On a day trip, spare clothing, cameras, electronic car keys should be protected.
On expedition your whole life is in that boat so prudence pays.
Waterproofing kit is relatively easy and there is a large choice of waterproof rucksacks, plastic barrels, dry-bags and specialist hard cases for cameras etc.
How to Secure Kit in a Canoe
Once you have your equipment waterproofed, the question is how to secure this gear in your canoe?
Securing Kit to Your Canoe in Easy Conditions
In easy conditions, with no wind or with no appreciable flow on a river, then I often just throw my kit bag into the boat. Small dry-bags can simply be clipped to a thwart. They can, however, get in the way if anyone is rescuing your canoe.
When To Use a Leash
The next stage up is attaching kit to the canoe with a leash.
With the gear loose but leashed, you can move it to assist or change the trim (end to end balance of the canoe). This is useful in windy conditions where the bow needs to be lower into the water. The cord is fastened to the boat with a releasable knot.
This works well with just a single bag, but if there are several then you end up with a lot of rope. You can tie one bag to the other in a long chain, but this creates entanglement potential and that is not good in any sort or water moving or not.
For Maximum Buoyancy, Lash it Down
In strong winds on open water, on a white water river or when on expedition with lots of kit, your gear should be lashed down.
Should anything ever go wrong, you will need the maximum floatation possible and your dry bags and barrels will provide that.
In the photo to the right the lash-down uses a cord that has been drilled and threaded down the side of the plastic canoe and is permanently in place (some use eyelets that have been riveted to the gunwales).
The lashing cord is run from side to side and through any available handles or straps on the kit.
The combination of small airbags and lashed-down kit keeps the canoe afloat even when fully swamped. It is difficult to paddle but still manageable. The boat will be unstable, however, so the bow paddler should not cross-deck. By keeping a paddle on each side, with each paddler leaning to their paddle side, it is possible to keep going.
Beware Entanglement Danger
With so much rope around, there is a risk of entanglement so an easily accessible knife is essential.
What About Rental Canoes?
Hired canoes in the US and Canada normally come as bare boats. Here the lashing should be along the length of the canoe using seats and thwarts as attachment points.
Select the Most Appropriate Method
As you can see above, there are number of alternatives available to you. All are useful and the key is to use the most appropriate for the situation.
**Please leave a comment if you have used any of these techniques. Also if there are other areas of expedition canoeing that you’d like us to cover, please let us know in the comments.
Ray Goodwin’s book ‘Canoeing’ is published by Pesda Press. With over 800 photographs used in sequences and photo montages, it is lavishly illustrated and covers all aspects of canoeing.
Signed copies of ‘Canoeing’ are available directly from Ray Goodwin – you can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
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