“Speedbump” logs and “limbo” logs

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I removed my PFD twice a few weeks ago on a swamp run for yet another reason; two of the limbo logs that day were so low that I couldn’t squeeze under with my PFD on. Not the ideal time to be taking the PFD off, but I saw one of my companions nearly flip when his PFD held him up midway under a limbo log.

I paddle a lot of narrow swamp rivers, where multiple strainers are the norm. Some of those require an out-of-boat carry around, but some can be more easily managed but crossing over or ducking under.

I think of “speed bump” logs as being submerged or partially submerged logs, where some vigorous paddling at the right spot will carry the canoe over. Or at least over enough that a lean forward or paddle push will send me on my way without getting out of the boat.

I know this is not good practice with some composite lay ups, and have broken a UL canoe doing that that (the sun was setting fast and I needed to get to the take out, get flashlights and paddle back to find some slowpoke companions. Companions who couldn’t quite grasp the concept of “Paddle, paddle, PADDLE HARD” all the way up and over the log).

Judging the out-of-water depth and consequence is the crux of a speed bump log. If you don’t make it all the way over what’s your next move? Having the hull turn sideways in the current isn’t a good option.

“Limbo Logs” to me are those fallen trees with enough clearance to permit in-boat passage, sometimes with a bit of contortionist crouching. Those can be a little dicier, especially if you find out half way under that the boat will fit but you won’t.

I’ll only attempt limbo logs of questionable clearance at a 90 degree angle in water slow enough that I know I can push the canoe back out without turning sideways if I get caught. And on the whole I’d prefer to limbo while in the seat or kneeling, so my body is still braced and I have some paddle control; laying in the bottom of the hull is a risky, last resort move that makes me anxious.

I guess there is a third variety of near-water log. Step out and on logs; big, solid partially submerged logs that are too high to speedbump over. In slow moving deep water the easiest way across is to tuck in sideways, hop out atop the log, haul the canoe over and re-enter on the downstream side. This can also be a dicey move; slippery logs, a loss of balance, a little more current than expected, can’t get the boat quite parallel to the log on the downstream side, painter lines not long enough. And of course getting back into the canoe with paddle control before floating into the next obstacle.

Those of you who are swampers or who paddle heavily strainered stuff, what do you do? What do you call those obstacles?
 
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Willis

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The speedbumps I normally hit are beaver dams. If there is a good flow over a low point nd the drop isn't excessive I will go right over.
 
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I guess there is a third variety of near-water log. Step out and on logs; big, solid partially submerged logs that are too high to speedbump over. In slow moving deep water the easiest way across is to tuck in sideways, hop out atop the log, haul the canoe over and re-enter on the downstream side. This can also be a dicey move; slippery logs, a loss of balance, a little more current than expected, can’t get the boat quite parallel to the log on the downstream side, painter lines not long enough. And of course getting back into the canoe with paddle control before floating into the next obstacle.

These can be trip enders. In the Okefenokee a couple of years ago we came upon one of these things but the dang thing was in six feet of water and slippery as hedoublehockeystics. Plus on one side there was a gate guard.

IMG_0065.jpg
 
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Guest

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I like your typology of obstacles. What you describe is pretty much what I do when solo paddling, but I'm wondering if you handle any of these situations differently when paddling tandem. For instance, what do you do when you encounter one of those partially submerged 'speed bump' logs in a tandem boat? The danger there is that the bow might clear the obstacle, but then the boat can end up positioned atop the speed bump under the middle of the hull between the two paddles. What's your preferred way of dealing with speed bump logs when paddling tandem?

Thanks,
-Martin
 
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I like your typology of obstacles. What you describe is pretty much what I do when solo paddling, but I'm wondering if you handle any of these situations differently when paddling tandem. For instance, what do you do when you encounter one of those partially submerged 'speed bump' logs in a tandem boat? The danger there is that the bow might clear the obstacle, but then the boat can end up positioned atop the speed bump under the middle of the hull between the two paddles. What's your preferred way of dealing with speed bump logs when paddling tandem?

Thanks,
-Martin


The prospect of breaking a boat midships is scary.

We have an UL Wenonah with a foam core. We come up to it broadside and both disembark.. Hopefully we don't slip and lose balance.
 
G

Guest

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I like your typology of obstacles. What you describe is pretty much what I do when solo paddling, but I'm wondering if you handle any of these situations differently when paddling tandem. For instance, what do you do when you encounter one of those partially submerged 'speed bump' logs in a tandem boat? The danger there is that the bow might clear the obstacle, but then the boat can end up positioned atop the speed bump under the middle of the hull between the two paddles. What's your preferred way of dealing with speed bump logs when paddling tandem?

The short answer is to bring a short solo canoe to start with. The advantages of performing those maneuvers tandem is outweighed for me by the relative simplicity of a shorter solo canoe, especially on frequently occluded swamp runs and blackwater rivers.

Advantage tandem: On limbo logs one person can remain somewhat in paddle control of the boat while the other is occupied squeezing under.

On speed bump logs the two paddlers can build up more speed (on narrow twisty swamp runs the “raceway” before the speedbump may be very short) and the paddlers can shift weight fore and after independently as needed.

On step out, on and overs - those need a better name – there are two people to finagle the hull over and back in parallel to the log*, and reboarding with someone holding the hull or already seated with paddle in hand is advantageous.

Advantage solo: On limbo logs there is only one person ducking or contorting under and no coordination is required, so any damp post-oops discussion can be vocalized internally, and who was to blame is unquestionably identified.

On speedbump logs the timing, coordination of boat angle and especially decision about exactly where to bump over is simplified, and any oops realization when abruptly stuck at / position that, “This isn’t gonna work” is easier to (literally) back away from.

*On out-on-and-overs the advantage of a solo canoe’s shorter length is much easier to park sideways. Having enough room to tuck a 17 or 18 foot tandem parallel to a strainer log on a narrow blackwater river is an uncommon favor. Actually, a shorter boat is easier in any of those obstacles; especially on complex over-under-around maneuvers that combine more than one move is short order.

I am wary of bridging the hull in any of those maneuvers, especially the speedbump type. I have seen several lightweight composite boats broken when bridged (two of them mine). But I’ve bridged once when blown violently blown ashore into a narrow finger, with each stem of a 17’ composite hull suspended atop the bank, and on a few occasions where the stern didn’t quite carry all the way over a log or small drop.

That may be the most awkward and dangerous position. Especially if bridged with the stern hung up and raised \ and the bow progress was halted by something immovable.

For heavily strainered or occluded swamp or blackwater ventures my preference would be for a sub-15 foot solo canoe in Royalex, something like the Mohawk Odyssey 14 or the MR Guide/Freedom solo.
 
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With tandems you have weight points centered on each end of the hull. Get hooked by your speed bump in the middle and you can see how that might be bad for your boat..something in the middle pushing up and something pushing down on each end. Beaver dams sometimes act the same way.

Solo you HAVE to go in sideways with a fine ended boat. But if you choose charge..the hangup point is apt to be below you. And while there is push up, the push down is in the same spot.

You just have to hope you are not carrying 100 lbs of water bow and stern.

In the Glades its not uncommon to have six feet width for limbo logs..no matter what the boat is solo or tandem.. you have to hit it head on.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Synchronized bow and stern pitching can help getting over a speed bump. Shift your weight backward to pitch the bow up when first hitting the log, power as far forward as possible, and then shift your weight forward to pitch the stern up to slide off. With enough velocity and well-timed pitches, you can "bucking bronco" right over a lot of logs.

This is obviously easier in an open canoe than a decked canoe, and it helps to have a sliding seat. Sometimes you have to crawl forward to get enough stern pitch.

Alternatively, follow a big tandem canoe manned by strapping youngsters and equipped with a chain saw.
 
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Then there's the swimbo -- log is too low for limbo, banks are annoying, but river is not deep; step out and limbo canoe and paddler separately.
 
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Then there's the swimbo -- log is too low for limbo, banks are annoying, but river is not deep; step out and limbo canoe and paddler separately.

So that's what you call my technique, Swimbo. If the weather cooperates and I am wet footing the canoe can be pushed and pulled over some pretty bad stuff.
 
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I like the term "speedbump log". I also call the duck under type of obstacle a "limbo log". I have found that the best way to deal with either of these obstacles is to entice a paddler accompanying you to act as a probe so that you can better judge whether or not your planned maneuver is feasible. I have seen the more agile deal with limbo logs by hopping up onto the obstacle as the boat passes under, then hopping back in the back of the boat.

The other type of obstacle and the maneuver required to deal with it I just call a "lift over"
 
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Speedbumps are technically called kayaks. Lobsterman refer to kayaks on the ocean as speedbumps. Local lingo I guess. I always let a taller paddler go under a limbo log first. Peter Georg is an excellent candidate. Now that ice is on the lakes it won't be long before there is snow covering the lake and I can watch snowmobilers launch over pressure ridges at 50 mph.
 
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I call the speed bumps "floaters" because usually one end is sitting on shore, the other is floating... with the right speed, you can then run up on top of them. If you scootch back in the canoe before you do it, you get farther. then, you scootch forward, tipping the weight that way, and push off with your paddle. this only works on certain logs, and you can get high-centered and have to get out and do it the hard way... and since the log is floating, it doesn't really want to support your weight.

The limbo logs are equally painful... with them, you have to lay flat sometimes, and as you say, limbo under them, praying to god, jesus, mary, joseph, all the saints, and all their pagan friends that there's not a friggin' snake sitting on the other side waiting to drop in on you... I find it easier to stand up and step over the log. With some, you have to do the scootch thing in reverse... get the front of the canoe heavy to get it under, then just scrape it along... I don't really have a name for them though...

Most bayou paddling is just a major PITA, but 11 months of the year, it's about all I have til my one blessed trip to the Adirondacks... I can actually do a big lake an hour away, Toledo Bend, but that's full of bass boats (think drunk, ignorant, non-standard English/redneck-speaking trash) going full bore, with the attendant waves... The Sabine River is ok, but muddy with occasional redneck fishermen. The Neches is nice, but quite a drive.
 
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Most bayou paddling is just a major PITA, but 11 months of the year, it's about all I have til my one blessed trip to the Adirondacks... I can actually do a big lake an hour away, Toledo Bend, but that's full of bass boats (think drunk, ignorant, non-standard English/redneck-speaking trash) going full bore, with the attendant waves... The Sabine River is ok, but muddy with occasional redneck fishermen. The Neches is nice, but quite a drive.

I miss my bass boat...
 
G

Guest

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On the Connowango/Cassadega river system near me,there are huge tree jams that block the stream. The banks are steep and slippery and the bottom bottomless mud. The only way through is climbing over the jam. They are sometimes 50'+ long and are an interesting challange-particularly when dragging a canoe loaded for overnight tripping.
Turtle
 
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