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Alternate method for securing tracking / lining lines

Feb 1, 2013
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Came across this little article about rigging up a towing line bridle with a running bowline slip knot and paddle for tension...


It's from archived edition of Field and Stream (April 1933 Vol. 37 No. 12) so obviously quite dated. Of course this method is really only relevant to older boats that don't have those Tug Eye things installed

Figured it could be a quick method for tracking up a rapid without having to tie a typical lining bridle.

Anyone try something like this before?
I have done something similar for pulling a canoe behind a boat. However, for all my lining work on rivers, which is usually down stream, I have my ropes just going through a hole in the deck. I've done a lot of lining, and it has worked out swell so far.
I noticed Bill Mason using some sort of rope arrangement to line his canoe from the bottom in one of his movies. I can't recall which one. I thought it was a neat idea but have never tried it or even rigged it up at home.
Never tried it but will next summer for sure. It is quite faster than the usual rigging, and that doesn't put any stress on the seat as well. I like it! I have grab loop(Tugeye) On all my canoe(modern boats),that I use to attach painter ropes, but it does a poor job as tracking attachment point when in fast moving water going up or down stream. you can't really right up the hull if it get caught in the current side ways, it seems that the more you pull the more the boat wants to tilt...
I have only lined a couple times and was able to keep the line pretty short. I say line because I used the bow painter and tied the other end to a aft attachment. I was leading the canoe through a rocky section upstream in cool weather with knee boots on and got to a deeper spot. Being I was fairly close to the canoe and standing on rocks I could hoId the rope higher decreasing the tendency of the canoe to want to roll over. It was easy to steer by sliding my hands forward or back in the loop I had made with the single rope.
We've waded and walked a number of times, but I only remember lining once, and that was years ago. Not entirely sure how I rigged it. Probably a la B. Mason. I love his books. We were faced with a winding shallow stream with steep banks. Steering with bow and stern lines was nifty and enjoyable. Maybe I should trip plan to add challenges rather than avoid them. I've shortened my ropes over the years; I'll replace them this winter to make lining possible again.
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'll be trying this method out next season too.

I tried tacking upstream once with my cedar canvas by tying to the decks. The canoe wasn't heavily loaded and flipped quite easily. Maybe it was my technique. After that experience, I've always tied the bridle so that the knot is below the water line like this...


For anyone who might be interested, Ray Goodwin's 2011 publication, Canoeing, has a step by step photo sequence of the tying method on pages 170-171. The publisher has made these pages are available for preview in .pdf format. Here is the download link:

Thanks to Murat for a great thread. For towing, rough water and tracking this is the right set-up. Great illustrations. Thanks. For lining except in really rough conditions, running a line off the deck seems to work alright.
People need to remember that canoes are displacement hulls. Pulling one behind a powerboat can damage them at higher speeds. I watched a guy tow a dinghy once at planning speed. It ripped the bottom out of it.