Moving the StoneCarrying and Launching Your Canoe
OK. There's a world of difference between a 20-pound pack canoe and a
105-pound freighter. Whatever your boat weighs, though, one
thing's for sure: there will be times when you wish it were lighter.
Begin by making things as easy for yourself as possible. Buy the
lightest boat that's strong enough to do what you want it to do, and
that you can still afford. Then, whenever you move or launch your canoe,
follow a few common-sense rules. Shifting any heavy object involves
paying attention to balance and leverage. Whenever possible, it makes
sense to get help. Yes, the voyageurs portaged heroic loads. Then again,
a lot them died before they were thirty, of things like strangulated
hernias and strokes. That's not anyone's idea of a good time.
Let's say there are two of you, and that you want to move your tandem
canoe from your car to the put-in. If the path to the water is wide and
clear, and if you don't have far to go, just get on either side of your
canoe, right at the mid-point, and pick it up by the gunwales. The
person standing on the right uses her left hand. The person standing on
the left, his right. Now walk forward with your canoe suspended between
you, using your free hands to check any tendency of the boat to rock.
When you reach the put-in, lower your boat gently to the ground. That's
If, on the other hand, the path is narrow, or if it snakes around
trees, just go to the opposite ends of your boat. Stand on opposite
sides, too. Face forward. The person in the lead picks up the boat by
the gunwaleor, in some cases, by the lip of the deckwhile
her partner does the same. Then the two of you just walk on down the
trail. If you're the one in the rear, try to match your partner's stride
and pace. You'll both find the going easier.
Should the trail to the put-in be long, narrow, or uneven, however,
you're probably better off doing a solo carryprovided that you or
your partner is up to the job. You'll need a portage yoke, of course,
but it needn't be high-tech. It's possible to improvise one from two
paddles and a painter. If you decide to do this, though, be sure that
both paddles are securely lashed, and be certain that you've left
enough space between the blades! You don't want to wrench your neck if
you slip, do you? Commercial portage yokes make the whole business much
simplerand safer, as well.
Whichever yoke you use, it's best not to begin by attempting to lift
the boat up on your shoulders by yourself. Instead, turn your canoe
over, resting the stern deck on the groundimprovise a pad with a
scrap of foam, if necessaryand let your companion raise the bow.
Now just walk under the boat and allow the yoke to settle on your
shoulders. Once you're ready, ask your partner to step back, and then
begin walking down the trail.
When doing a solo carry, keep your boat in balance. You want it to
ride just a little bit "down at the stern." This makes it easier to see
ahead. If you find that you're dragging your tail, though, stop and
adjust the position of the yoke. If all else fails, something as light
as a sponge wedged under a deck will sometimes bring things into
balance. There's no hurry, so take your time. And be sure to watch where
Once you get to the water, don't just throw the canoe down on the
ground. There's no better way to damage your boator yourself.
Instead, let your partner catch up with you, and then reverse the drill
you used when you started out.
Ready to launch? When possible, load your canoe while it floats in
the shallows. When that can't be done, load it on the beach as near to
the water as you can get. If you load your boat in the waterwear
wellies or other water-tolerant footgear!tie a painter to a tree
along the shore. On the other hand, if you load your boat on the beach,
don't over-pack. You want to be able to carry the loaded canoe
the last few feet to the water. Modern materials are certainly strong,
but dragging a loaded boat over sharp rocks and broken glass doesn't do
it any good. Treat your canoe as if your life depended upon it. It does.
Copyright © 2001 by Verloren Hoop Productions. All