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  Solo canoe trailing line or tether?
  Posted by: DaveRT on Feb-26-14 7:05 PM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

Do any of you solo canoeists trail a line or tether yourself to the canoe? In my solo sailing days, I trailed a line behind my sailboats in case I went overboard. Offshore racing we were attached to a life line on night watches or rough weather. Planing another allagash trip solo in spring.

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Messages in this Topic


  Posted by: rpg51 on Feb-26-14 7:13 PM (EST)
If I am worried that I may go overboard I stay off the water until things calm down.
  Nope #2
  Posted by: eckilson on Feb-26-14 7:22 PM (EST)
Trailing line behind the boat might get snagged. Even worse, a tether attached to you might snag yoou.
  Nope #3
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-26-14 7:28 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-26-14 8:15 PM EST --

Eckilson paddles rivers and you definitely don't want to drag a line in that situation. For lakes, I can see the logic of it, but most people, in most canoes, don't have much chance of self-recovery in the middle of a lake, especially in the kind of weather that would flip you.

Like Cliff Jacobson says about tipping over in the middle of big, northern lakes: What happens if you tip over? You die. Best not be out there if there's a risk of tipping.

By the way, also on the subject of the effectiveness of a trailing line, if you tip over in a canoe and the interior is not mostly filled by float bags, the boat will be swamped enough that it will pretty much just sit there. It won't exactly race across the lake when pushed by the wind unless it's not swamped.

  Nope #4
  Posted by: kayamedic on Feb-26-14 9:10 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-26-14 9:12 PM EST --

Once I accidentally trailed a line while crossing a lake in Wabakimi.

A Northern pike struck ( they aren't picky what they eat)

It was a little more excitement back there than I wanted.

If you fall out on Chase your boat will eddy out at Bissonette Bridge. Better than have a line snag something or your foot in the middle of Chase.

  Nope. Wins
  Posted by: DaveRT on Feb-26-14 9:28 PM (EST)
All great replies , thanks. I will take your advice and cut the cord.
  Man overboard
  Posted by: yknpdlr on Feb-26-14 10:29 PM (EST)
A funny story.... several years ago when I was training with my voyageur crew... our buddy Franz was our excellent stern paddler. Near the end of a long tiring training paddle session, we noticed we hadn't received a "hut" from Franz in quite a while. Looking back, there he was, flailing in the water (actually waiting while wearing his pfd) about a hundred yards back. We never noticed him gone other than missing the hut call. He figured we would notice sooner or later, so he didn't even call out. But he sure got a lot of ribbing for a long time afterward.
  Another nope answer...............
  Posted by: on Feb-27-14 1:32 AM (EST)
I'm a little surprised that someone hasn't countered the nope answers with, "I do it all the time; nothing ever happens".

My response to that would be, "Keep doing it; it's just a matter of time until something does happen".

Sooner or later the "river snake" rewards the fate tempters.

  Nope- but:
  Posted by: jackl on Feb-27-14 6:30 AM (EST)
I keep a tether tied to the stern and in the boat.

Jack L
  Posted by: rblturtle on Feb-27-14 7:04 AM (EST)
I once had a line that was accidentally dragging cach on a strainer and stop me dead. It was a struggle to get it loose. There was no knot in it. I also had a loose line accumilate a giant ball of weeds on a long creek paddle I towed for a long time untill I finally figgured out what was making me so tired!
I am nervous in big/rough/windy open water and avoid it if possible. I have considered when paddling in those conditions,temperarily tieing myself to the boat then with a clip on my end.
  Learn to stay with the boat
  Posted by: Celia on Feb-27-14 8:02 AM (EST)
Canoe or kayak, staying with your boat in a capsize is the most basic of basic things to learn. Tethering is as above a dreadful idea. You need to do some actual capsizing to make sure you have the habit, but spring and warmer water is coming.
  not towed, but stowed
  Posted by: Mattt on Feb-27-14 11:35 AM (EST)
painter lines on each end, not towed, but stowed - in a way that keeps them under control and out of a swimmer's way (to avoid rope tangling you up) - typically, stuffed under a bungie cord type of set up. If you go over, you can swim the boat to shore by pushing it, or you can grab the end of hte painter and yank it out from the bungee so that you have a rope that you can use to tow your boat behind you while you swim to shore. adn if approaching a bad rapid while in the water and you don't have the time to tow the boat, you just let go of the line and swim for shore youself.

I'd guess that is what 95% of river paddlers do.
  Reminds me of that terrible feeling
  Posted by: rpg51 on Feb-27-14 2:31 PM (EST)
when you are in the water and you realize that you, and your swamped boat, are barreling down on a class 4. I would just as soon not have that experience again in my life.
  Reminds me of that terrible feeling #2
  Posted by: on Feb-27-14 7:03 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-28-14 9:29 AM EST --

Capsize above a waterfall.
When you do; the toe of one of your river shoes gets jammed under one of the footpegs.
Don't want to go over that waterfall attached to the canoe! Struggling like hell to get free!
You do get free; just before you & your Mad River Outrage X go over the waterfall.
Unfortunately, you go over first & the canoe follows you........
Catch about 65 pounds of Outrage X in the small of your back. You go underwater & the Outrage X smacks you in the back of the head. Back underwater again; you & the canoe are getting rolled around a few more times. Sinuses have been thoroughly flushed out.You choke on water & start losing your breath........
You fight your way free of the canoe; gasping for air you surface. You see a buddy downstream waving a yellow bag; you raise an arm in the air & feel a throw rope hit it. You grab the rope & get pulled to shore. So worn out you can hardly stand. Have trouble catching your breath & breathing normal.15 minutes later; boat recovered, emptied and reboarded, heading downstream.

Foot entrapment NOT good.
Buddy with throw rope GOOD!
You don't want anything to keep you from getting free of your capsized canoe.Trust me on that.


  Wow - quite a story
  Posted by: eckilson on Feb-28-14 7:42 PM (EST)
The guy that threw you the rope was really good, or really lucky. I take that back - you were really lucky.
  Posted by: on Feb-28-14 11:05 PM (EST)
Luck; I had some that day for sure.

The guy with the throw bag; it was skill, not luck.
I always chose my whitewater paddling partners with care.
All 3 of us paddling that day were Lifeguard & Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructors. All 3 us had trained together & recertified together on several occasions. We all worked together for about 20 years, at the same location. We paddled together for many years; always looked out for each other. I'd pulled both of them out of similiar situations, on multiple rivers.

Always nice to know who you're paddling with, and their capabilities, or lack of same.


  It's all about who you paddle with...
  Posted by: eckilson on Mar-01-14 5:14 AM (EST)
No doubt about that.
  No and no. Canoe vs sailboat.
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Feb-27-14 5:43 PM (EST)
I've never been in a sailboat, but I can see some logic to tethering yourself or dragging a tether so that the boat doesn't sail impossibly away if you fall overboard.

That's unlikely happen if you fall out of a canoe, especially in flat water. You will fall out next to the the boat, and even in whitewater you should be able to grab onto it before it moves away.

Tethering yourself to a canoe in whitewater could drown you if the line or boat snags, unless you have built into the tether a quick release mechanism -- preferably redundant -- to release the line. Towing systems, by which one boater can tow a capsized boat, are built this way.

You don't want to drag a line in whitewater because Murphy's Law will guarantee that it snags on something and capsizes you. You don't need such a line in flat water.

What you need on any water are painter lines on each end of the canoe, each about as long as the canoe. A lot of boaters stow these end painters under deck bungees. On flat water, I just throw the painters loose into the hull. That way, they will naturally fall out and begin to drag if the boat capsizes. Just make sure you use floating line for painters.
  trailing a line may not help anyway
  Posted by: Steve_in_Idaho on Feb-28-14 12:34 PM (EST)
There was a discussion about this practice recently on Sailnet. The majority of the solo sailors responding (last I checked) were not expressing much faith in the practice. The tone of the thread seemed to come down to "don't fall out under sail".

Oddly enough - not long after that thread began, a fellow fell out in SF bay and was being pulled behind by a trailing line (can't remember if he was tethered or just grabbed the line). He couldn't pull himself to the boat against the drag of the water, but was eventually rescued.

  That has nothing to do w/ canoes though
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-28-14 12:42 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-28-14 12:48 PM EST --

The whole idea of the trailing line is to keep the boat from getting away from you. As I mentioned above, a swamped canoe does NOT take off across the water and leave you behind. An empty, upright canoe can blow across the water too fast for you to catch it, but if you capsize in rough water, your boat's going to be swamped, not empty. It'll be "stuck" right where it is. Even a very strong wind can only cause a swamped canoe to move at a very slow rate.

This also isn't an issue in rivers for various other reasons, but even then, you will be drifting in the same water that carries your canoe, so you should have no trouble staying with it (in really bad rapids, you or the canoe could end up in a zone of faster current than the other, but in that case you don't want lines hanging in the water anyway).

  well, it kinda does...
  Posted by: Steve_in_Idaho on Feb-28-14 12:58 PM (EST)
...when talking about rivers. The point being that moving water - over moving through standing water - can make it impossible to free yourself from rope entanglement. The "apparent water speed" (I just coined that term) on a river or behind a sailboat is generally in the same range of speed.
  We might be talking of different things
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-28-14 1:10 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-28-14 1:16 PM EST --

The canoe would have to be pinned in a river for the tether scenario to be the same as a sailboat moving on still water, but I was talking about simply being flipped and drifting. If the boat were pinned, as would have to be the case for the situation you describe, you are right, but almost everyone else has already made the point that hanging on a rope in that situation is the last thing you want to do. Your statement was not in disagreement with what I said in my previous post because you weren't even talking about the same thing as I was. A pinned boat and a drifting boat are entirely different situations.

Anyway, the original poster was asking about lakes, not rivers, and a canoe that's swamped on a lake will NOT get away from you. It simply can't get blown by the wind with much speed at all when in that half-sunk condition. There's too much water resistance for it to move through the water very fast. And on a lake, wind is the only thing that can move your boat once you are out of it.

  Blowing away boats
  Posted by: rblturtle on Feb-28-14 7:35 PM (EST)
Surprising to me,on several of the occasions after people fell out of canoes,the boats were nearly empty of water. This was on flat water. I twice chased down a fast moving blowing canoe for the occupants that were in the water and had no hope of catching their boat. These events are what made me think of fastening myself to the boat. I know one should hang on to the boat and paddle when you fall out,but in my experience,surprised people often don't. Again I'm talking flat open water.
  More on blowing boats
  Posted by: Celia on Mar-01-14 8:11 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-01-14 8:46 AM EST --

I have found that canoes tend to vary more in how easily they will blow away after capsize than kayaks. Kayaks will almost always preserve an air pocket initially after capsize, even if it is one that will ultimately fully swamp. But canoes are all over the place depending on if they are mostly/all wood, or if they have float bags, or if they are superlight like my Merlin. My ultralight Merlin has poor flotation and can take on a lot of water just in my falling out of it.

But you can reduce the "surprise" factor by practicing capsizing - and yes for some people like myself it can take a lot of capsizes. It is just one of those fundamental parts of paddling safely. It is a more difficult habit to gain in environments like surf, where at first you can just get blown out of your boat, but it is an easy habit to gain on flat water.

  I must have misunderstood
  Posted by: jackl on Mar-01-14 10:36 AM (EST)
I thought that is what the op was talking about?

Jack L
  Allagash is a river
  Posted by: kayamedic on Feb-28-14 7:49 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-28-14 7:50 PM EST --

Though a few lakes are interspersed...its moving water.

When I paddle solo on lakes especially in a drysuit which impeded swimming and practice FreeStyle... yes a line you can get to easily is quite handy.

I learned that from not having one and having to swim a quarter mile after my laughing empty boat. There was no one around. It was January. WInd affects things on the water(canoe) differently than things in the water (me)

Falling out isn't symonymous at all with swamped boat.

  Even with gear?
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-28-14 8:06 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-28-14 8:17 PM EST --

Okay, I was thinking of a lake that must have a similar name, and my thinking was biased by the fact that in most rivers (rivers that are not huge), wind-blown boats aren't a life-or-death situation, and also by the sailboat analogy (a boat that will go speeding away from you), not a boat that you simply float alongside as the current carries both of you downstream. In other words, why would someone ask that question about traveling average rivers?

I know you can fall out of a canoe and the boat can end up with not much water inside (I've seen it happen too), but could that happen on a long trip when you've got a heavy load of gear inside? Seems like once the boat tipped sideways in the water, that load would push it right down. But how would I know. I've never "fallen out" of a canoe, I've only been flipped in rapids, and each time the boat immediately took on "as much water as it could".

  Now we are probably getting
  Posted by: kayamedic on Mar-01-14 8:24 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-01-14 8:28 AM EST --

into over analysis! F=ma tells me and undoubtedly you too GBG that the boat even if empty but with gear on a lake is not going to accelerate as fast as an unladen boat.

When I took the Sea Kayak Guide test one of the questions involved a empty kayak that was found on a beach (with position) wind speed (which had been constant) and water current ( also conveniently constant) given as information. We had a chart.

The challenge was to determine the general area to direct the search for the kayaker with only his last time of sight (not position known). The point was that objects in the water are not as subject to the force of the wind.

The Allagash does have some significant lake crossings for people doing the entire route even though the majority is river. Some of the lakes can kick up two to three foot waves in a heartbeat and a trailing line just on those lakes could help if one remembered it were out. But I think its better just to have a painter stowed in easy reach should you find yourself out of the boat on Chamberlain or Eagle Lake.

The thought of a trailing line and feet still scared the bejeesus out of me.. When I had my FS grab line it was quite short.

  Of course, the Allagash
  Posted by: rpg51 on Mar-06-14 5:06 PM (EST)
is both a lake and a river.
  I'm with Mattt
  Posted by: eckilson on Mar-01-14 5:18 AM (EST)
Painter lines bow and stern, stowed but in easy reach.
  With Matt also
  Posted by: DaveRT on Mar-01-14 7:21 AM (EST)
Lots of great posts, thank you all. Have outfitted canoe with bow and stern lines.
  if really paranoid
  Posted by: Harry0244 on Mar-01-14 11:32 AM (EST)
about the canoe drifting away, you could tie a sea anchor to the painter, then to yourself with a string heavy enough to pull it into the water, but light enough to break easily. I think practicing upset and fallout while holding on to the boat would be more effective, and in warm water and weather, fun.
  canoes should
  Posted by: pagayeur on Mar-01-14 12:22 PM (EST)
have painter lines on both stems. They should be polypro since it does not stretch and will float while cotton and nylon will not. I prefer 3/8 to 1/2 inch woven for easy grasping. These lines should never trail outside the hull but be coiled up near the deck plate so that they deploy in case of capsize. In the event of a capsize the paddler should automatically be cognizant of where the hull is and if moving grab one of the trailing lines so that the canoe does not get away. It is one of your larger safety devices. Canoes can move fairly fast in lake winds or river current. I guess an 8 ft. length would be minimum but I advise 10 to 12 ft. My opinion.
  On the other hand . . .
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Mar-01-14 3:38 PM (EST)
. . . I did know a solid class 4 canoeist in the '80's who would wear a 75' rope bag-belt around her waist attached to the stern painter. She arranged it so her feet wouldn't tangle in a dump. She had two quick release mechanisms: one being the belt buckle and the other being a Fastex buckle attaching the line to the belt. She also, of course, had a sharp knife.

Her theory and practice was that, when she paddled whitewater alone (not recommended but . . .) and dumped (usually when playing), she wouldn't have to try to hold onto the canoe while being swept downstream and struggling to swim the canoe to shore. Instead, she could let the boat go and swim immediately to the nearest shore. This would allow her to get into a belay position on shore before the entire 75' of line played out and began to become taut.

It always worked the times I saw her do it at play spots.

She was also the kind of person who hiked the AT alone, and who paddled the Grand Canyon alone and unsupported in a C-1.
  My philosophy is...
  Posted by: pagayeur on Mar-03-14 10:49 AM (EST)
in white water one should play the odds. Tethering oneself in the way you describe is taking a huge risk and inherently dangerous. I would advise anyone reading this to eschew this system. Odds are you would regret it. I personally find this to be extremely foolhardy. I'm fully aware that some WW paddlers are out there for the thrill of risking their lives. I do not paddle for that reason.
  Trailing lines
  Posted by: CEWilson on Mar-03-14 11:44 AM (EST)
I often trail a line from my solo canoe, usually with an EGB spoon attached, sometimes a Daredevil, in search of brook trout! Anything heavier than, say, 8# test would be unsafe, remembering the artist Tommy Thompson on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Prov Park.
  Posted by: rblturtle on Mar-03-14 12:22 PM (EST)
On our home pond,I once had a turtle bit on a trailing line. To clarify, #1-I have bow and stern painters coiled on bungees on all my canoes. #2- I was thinking,while on FLAT windy open water,to fasten my bailing bucket cord to me with a caribener TEMPERAIRLY. #3 I have never done this.
I also chased down an empty canoe that got blown off a beach(not secured) for a nice couple-they really MOOVE!
  learned by accident
  Posted by: sloopsailor on Mar-06-14 4:54 PM (EST)
NEVER trail a line. My stern painter got knocked off into the water by a branch, I didn't know it. As I was approaching a little twisty spot, it got caught up in some branches in the water.. Whole lot of suck happened!
NO line should ever trail in the water!


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