Canoeing Safely

Post questions & answers about; paddle selection, building and maintenance; paddling techniques; boat transportation, storage & maintenance.
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Redbird Bernie
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Canoeing Safely

Post by Redbird Bernie » Mon Nov 08, 2010 11:26 am

Any of you ever intentionally overturn your strip canoe, load it down to near maximum capacity or take it out on a wavy lake to see how it performs or behaves in extreme conditions? Ever practice solo rescue?

Any of you carry any equipment or devices to assist in self rescue?

I recently spoke to someone who had a frightening experience accidentally flipping his canoe on a beautiful day in the middle of a small but very cold lake. Fortunately, someone on the shore spotted him and came to his rescue. Things could have gone really bad for this guy. He couldn't get back in the boat by himself and began to panic.

This forum draws many newcomers to canoeing and kayaking. But you'll note that most of the posts are regarding technical issues and little, if any, information is available on how to license your boat, meet coast guard regulations, perform a successful first launch, test the handling, be safe in the water, etc. It is all suppose to be common sense, but is it? Transporting a newly built canoe from the shop floor to the water takes more than plopping it in, or is it just me?

Bernie

BearLeeAlive
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Post by BearLeeAlive » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:47 pm

Good reminder, Bernie. I am one who is guilty of not practicing enough, especially in recent years. One should take the time in nice conditions to practice to see what is needed, for self rescue, and rescuing another canoe.

On rivers I tend to be much more prepared, and have definitely practiced when dumping in big bumps, but not on purpose. :wink
-JIM-

Rick
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Location: Bancroft, Ontario

Post by Rick » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:58 am

Cold water and hypothermia are probably the biggest problems in this area... the best remedy is to never swamp. Know the limits and stay ashore if it's getting too rough. Staying close to shore may help, along with a ditch kit.

There's always a chance of swamping due to not paying attention, carelessness, inexperience, risky crossings, etc... a dry suit or a floater coat can help prevent deaths in cold water. Wet suits will also work, but they're bulky, hot and uncomfortable.

I've tried my Huron solo in some rough waves and it's not bad... it has enough flotation to ride over some big waves, although the tumblehome broadside will let some water splash over.

PS... another measure to prevent swamping in waves is to lash air bags into each end of the canoe... that way, even if water enters, there will still be plenty of flotation to paddle to shore in an emergency.

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:34 pm

There are some canoe safety pointers at this link: http://www.canoeing.com/beginner/howto/canoesafety.htm

CatFaber
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Post by CatFaber » Tue Nov 09, 2010 11:06 pm

The very first thing I did when I finished my first boat (an Osprey) was to get clear of the boat ramp, then lean her until she tipped, once on each side. People looked at me like there was something wrong with me, but I wanted to know (especially since she was wiggly, plus she had tumblehome) how much latitude I had.

And before I went to Quetico with my dad, my brother, and my husband, i borrowed a second solo, dragged everybody out to the lake, and made everybody practice canoe over canoe rescue, taking turns being the dumper and the rescuer. It was a lot of fun, and my brother lost 10$ because he bet my dad that my husband would end up dumping accidentally while he steadied my boat as I crawled back in.

We went home muddy, but wiser in the ways of boats. I wouldn't mind doing it again to keep my hand in.

I have not actually flipped the Wee Lassie II (aside from falling once while getting out of it.) I dunked each gunwale in the water and called it good.

I handle the safety issues by 1) always wearing my pfd. 2) staying close enough to shore that I could swim for it if necessary unless I have a companion to help me back into my boat 3) staying off the water when it's cold, and dressing in layers of fabrics that remain warm (ish) when wet 4) keeping a pac-towel and dry clothes (and recently a cell phone) with me in a dry bag. Since my usual lake is surrounded by houses and two blocks from my house, I consider this good enough.

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Redbird Bernie
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Post by Redbird Bernie » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:44 am

Except for CatFaber it doesn't seem like too many of us practice rescue techniques until we get dumped.

Good link, Glen

Solo Rescue Assist http://www.solo-rescue-assist.com/ has some interesting products designed specifically for self rescue. Also posted on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYnfVHaaUQY

Has anyone tried this? Is it even worth the investment?

Bernie

BearLeeAlive
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Post by BearLeeAlive » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:51 am

That is an interesting concept, Bernie. Something to consider for when going solo. They could sell it better with a demonstration in deep water, not where they can stand on the bottom to bail.
-JIM-

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Patricks Dad
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Post by Patricks Dad » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:04 pm

I did some self-rescue exercises a couple years ago using my wife's lightweight composite canoe with ash gunwales (Native Watercraft Compass 12.5).

Being light made it fairly easy to empty and upright while treading water wearing a good PFD. A heavier hull would have been harder for me.

The gunwales were apparently poorly sealed and after swamping it and recovering it a few times and then letting it sit in the warm outdoors, the inwales swelled up and cracked away from the hull. I called the manufacture and told them about the problem. They asked me if I had any ideas why it happened and I told them about my self-rescue exercises. The voice on the other end of the line said "you're not suppose to do that!"

My response was: "Excuse me, did you just tell me that I shouldn't get my canoe wet?!?"

After a longer conversation I won't repeat here, they sent me a tube of caulk to re-seal the inwales.

Morale: make sure your craft is indeed watertight before you pull these stunts.
Randy Pfeifer
(847) 341-0618
Randy.Pfeifer1@gmail.com

pumpkin
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Post by pumpkin » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:24 pm

On the day of our maiden voyage we took the opportunity to practice self rescue. It was a refresher for my wife and I and oldest daughter but for our younger children it was a lesson for sure. If you have children, practice with them. Practice with another boat handy in case things go bad.

Tie the bails to the thwarts. Wear whistles on the PFD that you are wearing. Have an “OK” signal that everyone knows, even grandma sitting in a lawn chair on shore. Have one extra paddle laying on the bottom of the boat, they usually stay in and are necessary to collect all of your floating crap. Keep rope/line neat at all times. Wear jeans and a cotton sweat shirt so you know you can do it in the fall when that’s what you will be wearing.

Here is what I have found useful. Remember that during a flip that kids tend to end up in the air pocket under the capsized canoe so don't panic if they don't pop up beside you.. Everyone should figure out how they can flip a canoe back over easiest to get the most water out but not all of it. If you have kids with, practice with them hanging off of your neck where you can’t touch bottom. As soon as the boat is floating, start putting your kids in and get them bailing. Add another kid as the canoe floats more. Even a 2 or three year old can move a lot of water. This does 3 things, they shut up, the bailing gets them warming up and it gives you a chance to figure out the next step. It is easier for adults to enter from the bow or stern while a partner is hanging off the opposite end but it is still hard.

Oh, and have towels and dry clothes in the car. Brandy is a nice touch but not necessary.

There are lots of safety tutorials online, check them out. The Capistrano flip is good but only try it once or twice because it really wears you out, it’s good to practice several methods. The one I find easiest is to move to the bow or stern and hoist it above my head and toss the canoe sideways, it flips and empties at the same time.

Practicing will teach you caution. That's good.

Matthew

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Redbird Bernie
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Location: Illinois, USA

Post by Redbird Bernie » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:15 am

Patricks Dad said: [quote]make sure your craft is indeed watertight before you pull these stunts.[/quote]

That is an incredible story. So much for quality workmanship and consumer care! How can this company stay in business? Thank goodness for forums like this where information like yours can be shared.

Bernie

willo
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Location: Echo Bay ON.

Post by willo » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:09 pm

I practice self rescue every summer and teach it to my family. It is sad that so many people over the years have died because they never took time to learn something that only takes a few minutes to do with a little practice. Nice thing about strippers are that the entire boat is buoyant , easy to upright and bail or shake out.

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