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Tandem White Water Canoe Outfitting as we see it Part 1

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

"How many times have you seen a boat wrap?" Probably one question your guaranteed to hear in a moving water course. I can recall some, they are getting old, knock on wood, but they are there. It is one of the things that make a good instructor and a good guide. The ability to tell stories. And to do that you either have to be good at recycling, a pathological liar or keep making stories. Out of all the experiences of boat wraps, pins or broaches I have in my career there is a recurring theme. Poor outfitting.

Because of this I am insistent that, on courses, my clients boats are well outfitted or in the case they don't have access to one they can rent one. Not only does this prevent accidents, but in the end, all trips and courses run more smoothly. Once a canoe capsizes the difficulty in retrieval is reduced greatly with sufficient outfitting. It's not just full wraps we are preventing but pins, broaches and full submarines. It's also being able to wright a canoe for ease of towing or pendulum. Also it helps being able to paddle your swamped canoe into shore without dumping.

With white water canoes outfitting is rigging to displace water from the inside of the canoe and also

how the boat is set up for the paddler. I do put a lot of thought into how to outfit my boats as best as possible. Some things are of consideration, weight, cost, utility, and longevity. There are so many options and in the end I decline the use of certain things and insist on others.

The overall goal in white water is to provide a stable and effective cockpit for the paddler and the most complete and most secure water displacement. Floatation is really another word for displacement and visa versa but, if the floatation does not displace the water from inside the hull its not much use. Here lies the difference between lake or pool-drop paddling and running large or rocky continuous rivers. For the most part, one of the fastest and easiest ways to rescue a boat that is capsized is a T-rescue or parallel rescue. However in a river that doesn't stop you need to tie in your gear, so it not only displaces water, and helps the boat ride higher in the water but also requires a clip and tow or swim with the painter line technique. Barrels are one of the best things to use for not only displacement but also keeping your gear dry. They are rigid so water pressure doesn't have as significant effect on them. A poorly inflated center bag will get squished by the force of the current.

Painter lines: 15' required by law, the painter got its name from its original use , to hang the boat while painting it. A line at the end of a canoe has some obvious uses but are there other thing to consider other than pulling a boat in? And again its obvious, yes. Length of rope will determine the time and distance you have between you and the boat. The more rope the more time you have to get to shore.

type of rope? As much as we are planning to prevent pins but we are also preparing for it as a possibility therefore I like to use a kern-mantle rope at the very least of no less than 6mm, that will give you ~1000lbs of breaking strength and it will accept a prussik. A larger throw bag with kernmantle rope at ~9mm is a great option. A few reasons for having the larger bag on the ends for painter lines. Firstly, if the boat pins or wraps you all ready have a very strong rope attached. B, it takes takes a prussik. Third, small diameter ropes are easier to throw and should be reserved for companion rescue but that's a entirely different discussion

Paddling in white water is demanding. I love having the boat as an extension of my self and a solid connection to it is vital. Thigh straps are often used as a way to glue oneself into a boat. They are a super good tool for gaining that connection. I have yet to install thigh straps into any of my tandem boats. Most of the students I get go to work in places where there are no thigh straps installed in any of the boats. Thigh straps are heavy. Thigh straps are a pain when not being used. Knee pads.....Knee pads are there anyways. Getting creative with your knee pads can make some surprising results. That and Learning about how you can move around in your cockpit while still staying centered. I place knee pads at a fairly wide stance and when anticipating very dynamic movements my knees move up to the top of the knee pad, this may be why my dry suits don't last long. While moving my knees up or down I may hook the heal of the top leg under the seat for more leverage or stability. Getting familiar with this technique can give you the comfort of full contact with your boat for almost any boat you get in.

There is a lot more to talk bout, types of glue, how to glue, lacing, foot pegs, thigh strap placement, skid plates and skirts. Overall the point being if your not well outfitting your boat it is more likely to get pinned or wrapped. Displacing water is the key and the air bags, barrels or dry bags need to stay in place all while getting squished by water, pushed out by current or twisted by holes. In a nut shell Rig To Flip.

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