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Set up a canoe for poling

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I've been enjoying poling in my Appalachian, and now I am thinking of setting it up for poling.

One thing I'd like to be able to do is easily move stern-toward-bow or bow-toward-stern, so that I can trim the boat to keep the upstream end higher. Keep in mind that the upstream end of the boat changes, depending on whether I am traveling with the current or against the current.

I'd also like a seat from which to solo paddle when the water gets too deep for poling.

I want a carry thwart, although a center thwart makes it difficult to move across the center of the canoe. I guess that means either a removable carry thwart or some sort of carry strap.

So, what is your favorite way to set up a canoe for poling?
 
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I just step over the yoke. The yoke pads are a tripping hazard though. If you want it out of the way, I'd go with the removable yoke. Or, if you don't have to portage very far, try jury-rigging a tumpline.
 
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The upstream end of the boat doesn't actually change during upstream poling and downstream snubbing. You are always pushing against the current. All you need to do is turn yourself around in the canoe. What you need is plenty of room between the thwarts on one end of the canoe to increase or decrease how deep to sink the stern for ruddering in changing current. The only time you should be trimmed with the upstream end of the canoe deeper in the water is when traveling downstream faster than the current.

I guess I'm questioning why you feel the need to turn the entire canoe around when changing your direction of travel. We get used to the idea of a front and back of a canoe because of the seat placement, but that really has no bearing when poling vs snubbing.

Now if you're going to be changing your downstream method of travel between snubbing slower than the current and pushing faster than the current you would need to drastically change trim. In that case you have to turn the boat around especially with an asymmetrical canoe or move fore or aft of center, either stepping over the yoke or having a removable one.

In your case with a symmetrical canoe I would have a seat on one side of the carry yoke and a large area to stand and pole from on the other side. That works well with no tripping load. With a load though, that complicates trim when switching from standing and sitting.

Hope that all makes sense.
 
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Turning yourself around in the canoe to change directions may work sometimes. However, when you need to grab an eddy, it's more fun and effective to run the downstream end of the boat across the eddy line, lean it, and let the eddy current snap you around. Similarly, peeling off from a wave surf, the current pulls the boat around. Accomplishing an eddy turn by rotating yourself 180, stopping the canoe, and then backing up into the eddy, well, you might be able to do it, but it sounds like all work and no fun compared to just snapping in there with a traditional eddy turn.

My poling is self taught, and I am no expert. The only book I have on poling is Rock's Canoe Poling, and it talks about eddy turns, and briefly, at the tail end of the book, mentions use of a move he calls the Rock-a-copter to change directions. He hops over the center thwart while simultaneously spinning 180 during the jump. Rock does mention that imperfect rock-a-copters have "devastating consequences." At my age, I try to stay firmly attached to whatever platform I have--no rock-a-copters for me. Rather, I want to move that thwart.

I watched about a dozen youtubes of polers after reading Muskrat's suggestion, and never saw any 180s or rock-a-copters. Watching the videos, I noticed a lot of poling being done out of canoes set up as traditional tandems. I also notice a lot of polers that go right up to the center thwart while heading downstream, but most of them don't ever get their boats bow-heavy. In this video, we get a look at the way Chip Cochrane set up his poling boat--no seats and the middle thwart is a bit forward of center. This allows Cochrane to jump forward and get his bow deep for downstream work. I don't know how he carries the boat. It looks like a light boat, so maybe he can carry it with a gunwale on one shoulder. I like the walking room in his canoe, but I'd miss a seat for paddling in deep water and a way to carry the canoe.
 
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Ahh, I get ya now Chip. I wasn't thinking of changing direction so dynamically, I was thinking of long stretches either upstream or downstream. I'm guessing Cochrane doesn't portage his racing poling canoe much farther than the car to the river.

Do you expect to have a tripping load when you pole? If you keep most of the gear forward of center it's nice to have a lot of room aft to adjust for the load. If you won't have gear, you can set it up more like Cochrane where the open space between thwarts is more centered.
 
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I had a boat in 2007 I set up for poling. Inside, it looked like this (and it ain't pretty, but this boat was brought back from the dead*).
Chipwn-Inside.jpg

I stood facing the seat. My thought with that fat thwart at image left is that it would support my calfs when standing, but in practice I rarely stood that far behind center. The seat was perfectly placed for solo paddling, just a bit behind center. I could walk forward to the seat to sink the forward end if I wanted to snub. The river I paddle most alternates between shallow stretches and deepwater, where I prefer to paddle. I didn't like turning this boat around when I changed between poling (stern first) and paddling (bow first). It's a '74 Chipewyan--bottom flat as an ironing board. Great for floating through shallows, but a beast to spin in current, and I always regretted the upstream progress I had to sacrifice while spinning the boat. Going upstream is enough work as it is!

The point about using your gear load to adjust trim is a good one. I learned I could pack my gear to solve my complaint of having to spin the boat to continue going in the same direction. With a full load in the stern, I could stand in front of the seat, basically, the center of the boat, and the bow would float light for upstream work. Going downstream, I could just step forward towards my fat thwart, and I was good to snub.
Susq1107-1.jpg

I had an MRE that I set up somewhat similarly. It's a good set up for me except for the part about having to spin the boat when switching between paddling and poling. Also, I rigged up several strap systems to use while carrying the boats and never came up with a satisfactory solution for carrying the boats. So, that's why I wondered what other people use.

* Thanks, MM
 
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I rigged up several strap systems to use while carrying the boats and never came up with a satisfactory solution for carrying the boats. So, that's why I wondered what other people use.

When I removed a carry thwart, I used a 2 inch webbing solution. This idea came from Mike McCrea.

Using the two gunwale holes that the wood carry yoke was attached craft the following. On one side craft a small 2 inch webbing loop that has 2 stainless steel o-rings capturing the ring. On the other side attach enough 2 inch webbing to span the canoe and thread through the 2 o-rings and tighten the webbing. On the long webbing section add 2 pieces of two sided Velcro above and below the webbing. This will allow you to roll the webbing up and secure it when paddling. Good enough for short carries from the water to the truck.

The other option is a wood carry thwart that when not in use could be stowed with one end clamped to one of your thwarts the other to the gunwale.
 
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For removable yokes without clamps I use gate hinges with the pins ground off and punched out. Attach the post flange to the underside of the gunwale and the gate flange to the yoke. Secure it by running a R clip cotter pin through. Just don't lose the cotter pins.
 

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Muskrat, I love that gate-hinge idea. I have used strap systems before. At worst, they broke and dropped the canoe on my head (1.5" quick release broke). Will's o-ring solution likely would have performed better. But any strap system is going to suffer from inward flexing of the hull at the gunwales, which causes the slack in the strap, and I've ended up with the hull bouncing on my head with every step. I was thinking about the classic removable yoke, but they are troublesome to install and one could easily loose a piece and be out of luck. I like the gate hinge idea a lot.
 
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I was thinking about the classic removable yoke, but they are troublesome to install and one could easily loose a piece and be out of luck.

They're kind of a PITA simply because you have to take them on and off but I've never considered them troublesome and there are no separate pieces to loose. There's a chance the plastic knob could spin off by itself when not in use but I just put a nylon lock nut on the end of the stud so that the knob can't come off without a little work. Takes about 15 second to take it on or off and it's adjustable forward/backward so you can adjust for any extra loads that are being carried in the canoe.

Alan
 
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For removable yokes without clamps I use gate hinges with the pins ground off and punched out. Attach the post flange to the underside of the gunwale and the gate flange to the yoke. Secure it by running a R clip cotter pin through. Just don't lose the cotter pins.

Great solution!!
 
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I have been following this thread with some interest.

We have a Vermont-era RX Explorer that is an OK soloized canoe, but even with a single center-ish seat it is heavier than lots of other choices on the rack. And, in comparison, kind of slow to boot.

It doesn’t get used much, and I’m considering gutting it for the second time and “gifting” it to a poler obsessed friend who has worn out his old glass Explorer.

It is thick, heavy RX and I’d like to reduce the weight as much as possible. I’m thinking a single (padded) kneeling thwart & low-profile minicel kneeling pads, roll-up strap yoke (he’s only portaging from car top to water) and “carry” thwarts positioned some sheerline-stiffening distance from the stems, figuring he isn’t likely to be walking around that close to the ends, leaving as much walkabout area open amidships as possible, with just the kneeling thwart occluding the poler open hull space.

I can figure out the “carry handle” and kneeling thwart locations, and then the balanced strap yoke position, and I’ll add new rescue rope painters and fresh deck plate bungies.

Anything else poler advantageous that wouldn’t add much weight or open hull interference?

That RX Explorer needs to leave the racks, and remodeling it would be easier then re-re-building the worn out glass Explorer I made for him 20 years ago.
 
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Only other thing to consider that I can think of is ease of getting an extra pole under the thwarts or just consider how and where to stow an extra. A few inches can make all the difference ;)
 
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Chip - the only boat I removed the center thwart for poling in was the Penobscot. Since it had little or no rocker, standing position was critical for upstream stem control, and being able to move fore/aft of center was a big deal. I used the "gate hinge" method of removable thwart that Muskrat posted above (actually was a kit from Wenonah at the time), and it worked well.

My current boats (Prospector and Coho) don't seem to require that much adjustment in trim on the rivers I frequent, due to the rocker - so I haven't bothered with that.

BTW, I have it from good authority that Cochrane's Coho only weighs not much over 40 lbs. ;) No doubt, he can carry it on one shoulder for quite some distance with little bother.

My Coho also has no seats. I glued an NRS mini-cell pedestal to a flat sheet of 1/2" mini-cell, and carry that in the boat - stuffed under the yoke. When I want to paddle, I just pull it back and kneel/sit on the rig. It doesn't slide around on the Kev textured surface, but I don't know what it would do on royalex. My rx Prospector has a kneeling thwart where the third thwart used to be half way between the stern seat and the yoke. That still leaves plenty of room for trim adjustment between the kneeler and the yoke. I suspect that your Appalachian would work well that way also. It has moderate rocker, no?
 
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I stood facing the seat. My thought with that fat thwart at image left is that it would support my calfs when standing, but in practice I rarely stood that far behind center. The seat was perfectly placed for solo paddling, just a bit behind center. I could walk forward to the seat to sink the forward end if I wanted to snub. The river I paddle most alternates between shallow stretches and deepwater, where I prefer to paddle.

Chip, thanks for that.

I started gutting the multi-purpose Explorer and my original plan was to remove the seat, relocate one thwart and leave the kneeling thwart in place. That would provide 5 feet of space between the kneeling bench and thwart. I really didn’t want to take that seat out, it is a very sturdy wood bench with custom knee bumpers, and the stern thwart I would need to relocate has some custom features as well.

With the kneeling thwart out and solo seat in place there is still 4 ½ feet of open space. I think a real seat is worth trading for 6 inches of space, and there is still ample foot room under the seat.

The biggest issue so far is that my contact cement and minicel work was supurb. I was hoping to salvage some of the minicel, but even with a heat gun and rounded corner metal putty knife it isn’t coming up intact. But with the seat the comfy knee bumpers can stay in place.
 
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