So, there you are up to your neck in water and looking at your canoe......

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Jul 25, 2012
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My dog and I are up for only still water paddling, maybe something with just a little current but not much. The bad news: she's a big dog and I always bring too much stuff. The good news is that with all that weight we find the canoe (16' prospector) nice and stable. So far we've never dumped the lot. Without any experience I wonder which would be best if you did over turn; have your load lashed down tight or leave the major items loose to float out so you would need to deal with only the canoe full of water? Those items that would sink (axe and shotgun) I could tie to something like a blue barrel. Just as soon as I figure out how to peel off fifty years I'll dash out and try it, but till then I would sure like to hear your opinion.
Nice and dry behind my computer, Rob
 
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Willis

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If it is a wilderness trip, several days from civilization, tie most stuff to the canoe. Ease of access to food and shelter can/will save your life. Scrambling to find floating stuff can be the last straw.
 
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Yep, was afraid that would be the answer. That's what we do now but I was hoping there was some good rational for leaving it loose. It would make it so much quicker to load. I don't know how a real canoer loads but so far the only way I've found to minimize scratches on my canoe is to float the thing and just get wet from mid shin down. Sometimes deeper. If there's a hole, a lot deeper. I suppose it doesn't matter, it isn't winter after all, but along with wet I feel like a rube.
Well, I have those little rubber booties from NRS and they work dandy for that. Time to quit sniveling and just get wet.
Best Wishes and thanks, Rob
 
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Jun 12, 2012
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I never tie my gear in, even on the few river trips I have taken. All my gear fits into 2 packs for a 2 week trip, a big #3 Duluth Pack and a smaller Wanderer Duluth Pack. My gear and food are inside double Duluth plastic liners inside these packs and they have never leaked when floating. The only other stuff loose is my fishing rods. I have a tether for the spare paddle, but seldom use it. My little fishing tackle bag is an old military pouch with a lite weight shoulder strap, I just loop that strap over a thwart and drop the bag thru the loop to hold it in. Too many Rapala lures in that pouch to risk it sinking. Sometimes I stow the fishing rods under a seat, like in waves and larger crossings.
I used to carry a bigger camera, but have gone to a smaller size that works just fine for my skill level. I keep that double zip lock bagged in my pocket and hope for the best.
Although I don't "tie in", on bigger lakes with wind where I might need to be more cautious, I will tether my packs together but not to the canoe. In the event of a swamp, I can work the empty canoe towards shore (which I try to stay close to)and drag the packs along behind or just let them go and find them later. I worry that if I'm in a windy situation and the loaded canoe gets washed up against the pounding surf on rocks, the weight of all the gear tied in would cause damage to the canoe.

I pinned a canoe on a rock a few years back in N Ontario solo. The packs stayed inside even though not tied. I threw them out and let them float down stream to the lake below, I had to swim out to them in my PFD later. I lost my spare paddle, it also went out into the lake, but also lost the canoe, so the paddle issue was moot. Saved the big camera and fishing rods.

From then on, I have traveled much lighter, and have tried to be a little more cautious.
 
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My dog and I are up for only still water paddling, maybe something with just a little current but not much. The bad news: she's a big dog and I always bring too much stuff. The good news is that with all that weight we find the canoe (16' prospector) nice and stable. So far we've never dumped the lot. Without any experience I wonder which would be best if you did over turn; have your load lashed down tight or leave the major items loose to float out so you would need to deal with only the canoe full of water? Those items that would sink (axe and shotgun) I could tie to something like a blue barrel. Just as soon as I figure out how to peel off fifty years I'll dash out and try it, but till then I would sure like to hear your opinion.
Nice and dry behind my computer, Rob

I would not tie in my gear, it would be pretty tough to get a swamped canoe emptied out with 40 lb of junk lashed in...not to imply that your gear is junk, I'm still using my 1980 vintage Tough Traveler backpack, but that's another story.
I'm assuming you are solo, except for the dog, which will likely refuse to help. My dog was never any help. If tandem, the Capistrano Flip can't be beat for self rescue. Solo self rescue is quite a feat. Most of your gear will float for a long time, even if it is not wrapped in individual, hermetically sealed plastic bags. Personal safety is paramount...
MDB (my darling bride) and I capsized on Stillwater Reservoir many, many moons ago. Luckily, we only lost a few items to the lake bottom.
We were agile, strong and practiced. Somehow, I always assume big water when folks talk (or worry) about capsize or swamping. Small water, unless it's 30 degrees outside, who cares? Just swim your boat to the nearest solid shore, empty out, relaunch, and go back for your floating gear.

Oh, all my rambling assumes that you have a good fitting PFD on when you go over/under.
 
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I have to laugh at myself, the advice I really like the best is what I wanted to do all along. So much for an open mind. But Willis point about fundamental survival is smack on the money. To that end I went back over my ditch kit and except for the needed addition of a space blanket for shelter I think I'm good. And if I'm not and it gets truly grim I'll set off my PLB. I'm talking really bad, about-to-turn-up-the-toes grim.
I did devise a attachment point for my blue barrels, to tie them together or a tow point. The handles are a molded in kind of grip, nothing to tie to.
Thanks everyone for all the good ideas! Rob
 
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I've done a few canoe trips with an outfitter that ties items in sequence to a rope, which is tied to a thwart. If anyone flips, the stuff heads downstream like a tail, but the boat is unencumbered to flip back up and either re-enter or swim to shore. Then you pull in the tail-one piece of dear gear at a time. Ropes make me worry about entrapment, but being 500 miles from a road with no food, tent, or clothes makes me worry, too. Pringles
 
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Hey Pringles, That's a darn good idea! All the gear floating along on the line, if one thing gets caught anywhere the whole shebang will be found there. Plus it's easier to spot too. Thinking about it; I've always hated the blue of my plastic barrels, wishing they were brown or moss green. Maybe it's not so bad, the blue ought easier to spot if I was looking for them. (and it's a bunch better than international orange!) Thanks for sharing!
Best Wishes, Rob
 
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We had blue barrels on one trip, but I confess I don't know how those were tied to the rope. One end of the rope was tied to a thwart, but you're right, if you just tie the stuff together, it would be easy to see it wandering down the river ahead of you. Hey, if you just tie your stuff behind your canoe, you could have room for another paddler! :) (An instance where more may not be better.). Pringles
 
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Not a great idea. What can happen is that one item on the tether gets wedged in rocks.. then what do you do? Now your whole kit is stuck in the river till you cut it loose.

Entrapment is a bad idea. I have done it and am lucky to be alive. There are two main schools of thought..let all the gear ride free (but tie in the stuff that will sink) on flatwater. We always tied everything in snug on the Yukon. There is no catching gear on a river moving at eight miles an hour.
 
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Willis

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I snap my belly band buckles atround the nearest thwart. Small stuff can look out for itself.
 
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You did the Yukon? Cool. I watched it zipping through Whitehorse and wouldn't have liked being on it. We shuttled from Whitehorse up the Dempster to the Eagle, and then paddled down the Eagle to the Bell to the Porcupine to Fort Yukon. We had to paddle up the Yukon about half a mile or so, to Fort Yukon. That's a STRONG river. (But we got there!) Being shuttled back to Whitehorse, I was on a bus with a guy who had just finished the canoe race down the Yukon. His stories were awesome!

What part of the Yukon did you do? Pringles
 
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We did the Teslin from Johnsons Crossing to the Yukon then the Yukon to Dawson City. Its quite mild if speedy river. I can't imagine racing it. From what I hear from the locals, there are plenty of heli evacs and hallucinations. There are two canoe races. On 470 miles. The othr 1000.

I would like to see a TR about your trip Pringles..It sounds interesting. The only other river I have done in the Yukon is the Snake/Peel as far as Ft Mc Pherson.

Next trip for us might be the Wind..But dunno for sure. Heck we are not even home yet. We combined our canoe trip with lots of car camping and hiking in western National Parks.
 
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The man I spoke to had done the 1000 mile race. We probably wouldn't have talked except I was wearing an Appalachian Train t-shirt and he had hiked the AT, so he started a conversation. He said they came in first out of the Canadians, and was quite proud just to have finished. Nw that I think about it, I think he said he lived in Maine now... I think his name was Gordon?

I have to assume that the river is too strong and wide to be blocked by downed trees, etc. Am I correct? It was braided a lot at Fort Yukon, was it braided at all where you were? What did you see for wildlife?

Here's a link to my trip report. http://www.lssu.edu/faculty/bhronek/outdoors/water/Porcupine/porcoverview.php

This summer I got to go back to the Arctic. I did a rafting trip on the Kongakut(Alaska). Again, this was an outfitter trip. (I always apologize/am upfront about the fact that I go with outfitters, but hey, I go alone, and have no idea who I should rent a boat from or organize a shuttle, so... . ). I have barely started the trip report for that trip.

Pringles
 
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Rob - a suggestion. I carry a 85 pound black lab with me and I also carry canoe stabilizers. Sometimes I put them on the canoe and sometimes stow them under the seat. When the wind is up I put them on. Wind combined with a moving dog is trouble. Takes one minute to install the stabilizers. I use kevlar and royalex canoes and that dog can get things rocking occasionally, especially in the kevlar boat. There's no shame in being careful and stabilizers make it impossible to tip a canoe. They are not in the way when installed and the floats do not touch the water. And, I do a bit of lake camping and always tie the gear in but, I tie the pieces on a single line that is tied off to a gunnel strap. If the canoe goes over the stuff will leave the boat and float but will still be tethered to the boat. I can maneuver the boat to shore and the load follows along behind. Just the way I do it. Everyone has their preferences. Good luck. There is one shot of the stabilizers on my kevlar boat here. There are a ton more on that blog else-ware.
http://garysoutdoorwanderings2.blogspot.com/search?q=Canoe+calderwood
 
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Gotta agree with Yellowcanoe, tethers are bad ideas. If you are going to tie in, do it properly so that everything is lashed in low and solid. When I fisrt started tripping with our school club, the instructor made all the students tie in everything. This consumed hours at ports. When i took over, I got rid of those damn lashing ropes. Barrels and packs float. As mentioned previously, canoe over canoe rescue or self rescue are pretty darn hard with a canoe full of packs. In my experience, most canoe tips, and I have seen a few with the kids, occur during loading and unloading. Drop and pool rivers, like we have in Northern Ontario, will demonstrate that packs can "eddy out" better than most of us.
 
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I teach an 8 day course for certification of BSA high adventure trek guides. Normally they will be on flatwater, or very mild current. Part of their training is self and buddy rescue of overturned canoes. I sometimes do a demo with two heavy packs, plus whatever else they have lashed in the canoe under thwarts (there is always the "whatever else" stuff too). Now swamp it and imagine being hundreds of yards from shore. Maybe the water is a little chilly, but thankfully calm. Try doing a self rescue, and when that fails try a buddy rescue. How much trouble is it to untie your gear from an overturned boat. What if your fingers are cold and numb? What if it is NOT calm?

Ok, now don't tie your stuff in. If you like, you can have a separate small dry bag with some fleece and survival materials, a knife and fire starter for example loosely tied to a thwart. Tie that in, but not to your pack. "But my pack will sink", is often heard. After all, it is very heavy. So I throw my heavily loaded pack in the lake (the contents can be protected in dry bags, garbage bags, and large zip-lock bags). The pack sinks maybe a couple of inches, with the majority well above the surface. Amazing and surprising. Now do a self rescue and a buddy rescue. Is it any different from the tied in case? Of course it is. Now that you have rescued yourself, you can retrieve your pack that has floated away. "But what if it is really windy and the pack has gone far?" I say: "What are you doing out there in the first place under those conditions? Why weren't you safe?" Something to think about BEFORE you get into trouble, Mr/Ms guide candidate. For those still nervous, and insist on tying gear in, I advise to only clip the hip belt around a thwart so that it can be easily unclipped if needed.

Moving water is different, and what I advise would be highly variable and dependent on actual conditions. You probably don't want all your gear to be scattered to the current and rocks. You also probably won't be far from shore for self-extraction. Tying gear securely in is probably a better choice.

I'm about to head off for my fourth Yukon River race in June (twice in the Y1K, twice in the YRQ). I agree with Yellowcanoe on that one. I guarantee that everything is tied in securely, plus a minimalist survival package is in my PFD (worn 100% of the time of course).
 
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Jul 25, 2012
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Thanks all, I've pretty much decided that the only tying will be for those things that sink and that to a blue barrel. I have made a sort of "throw bag" with braided quality floating line in it, 150 feet. The idea is I'll deploy the line attached to the canoe as I swim to shore. I'm not always that close to land but much of the time I am.
Rob
 
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