The Double-Blade Paddle.
"He knew that danger lurked ahead,
From jagged rock and arrow sped
From ambush, so the paddle planned,
And watched his course on either hand.
We rear no foe, as the braves of yore
where beauty lurks by wooded shore."

INCE MacGregor first went cruising in a canoe, the Rob Roy has been greatly improved in model and construction. It was a rather heavy craft, that first Rob Roy canoe. The boat is now built of cedar, about fourteen feet long, twenty-six inches wide and nine inches deep, when intended for one man, and weighs less than fifty pounds. It is decked over, and fitted with a cockpit or well from three to five feet long and generally eighteen inches wide. A Rob Roy intended for two men is often built to a length of eighteen feet, and sometimes even much longer than that. The English Rob Roy holds as many as four men, all of whom paddle.

The canoe is usually built lapstreak (clinker-built, so called), with white cedar planking and Spanish cedar deck, oak keel, ribs and coaming, and hackmatack stem and stern posts and knees.

46 • 47 • 
Some Rob Roy Points.

The keel projects but half an inch below the garboards to protect them when the canoe is on land, and is built no deeper, to render turning as easy as possible. The bow and stern are well rounded for this reason -- quick turning. Bulkheads are placed about thirty inches from each end, and rendered as nearly watertight as possible for safety in case of a capsize. Airtight cans are sometimes placed in these compartments to provide absolute safety. The double bladed paddle only is used. The position of the well -- a little aft of amidship -- is such that the canoe will float on an even keel when crew and such weight as it is intended to carry are properly placed on board. For fast paddling it is well to have the canoe trim a little down by the bow, as the motion has a lifting tendency -- action of the water on the spoon-shaped bottom forward -- and if on an even keel to start with, this causes a drag aft.

The paddler sits at the aft end of the well his back resting against a backboard hung from the coaming behind him. A light movable bottom board prevents his feet and stores from injuring the bottom planking, and on this the seat rests. This canoe, with bottom board, seat, backrest and paddle, is complete. Indeed, the seat and backrest are often omitted -- a camp blanket taking their places. The painter (a rope, eight or ten feet long usually, run through a hole in the stern and knotted) is often useful when landing to secure the canoe or tow it if necessary. The footrest is a light board, movable, fitting into racks screwed to the ribs on either side, just under the deck forward of the well. The footrest can be shifted to adjust itself to any length of leg. This footrest serves as a brace for the feet when paddling, just as the stretcher does in a rowboat.

The bottom board, stretcher, backrest and any loose thing in the canoe should always be secured in some way, so in case of an upset nothing will be lost. It is well also to secure the paddle by a light line fastened around the ferrule in the middle and carried forward several feet and fastened to a rib or the floor, if so secured it can be dropped overboard, perhaps -- at any moment without fear of losing it. Without a paddle you are helpless. In general, look after the paddle first, the canoe next. If you don't profit by the experience of others in this matter, you will not have long to wait to profit by your own.

Given a Rob Roy canoe, a paddle and a purse not entirely empty, and you are at once the most independent person alive. You can go alone in your canoe from Canada to Texas, from Maine to Oregon. The natural treasures of the Adirondacks, the fruits of Florida are within reach of your arm -- but it must be a strong arm. If it is not a strong one now, it soon will be by moderate and constant use of the puddle, likewise your lungs, back, shoulders and chest -- the legs can take care of themselves. Your house carries you on your journeys, also clothing, provisions and covering and shelter for the night.

48 • 49

What more do you ask? When cruising, take Nessmuk's advice, and "go light." Make everything about the canoe serve a double purpose, or more if you can. Farnham once mentioned in the presence of a lady that among his cruising stores dried fruits found a place -- apples, etc. She asked him if he ever carried prunes. "No, because I have to carry the stones, and they occupy valuable room," was his logical reply. An Englishman has said "give not even a fly deck passage." Your sleeping mattress, or blankets, can be used for seat and back cushion. The paddle can be used as a pole for shoving off shore, a ridge pole for your canoe tent, and it constitutes your only weapon of defense.

The Rob Roy has been built to a length of twenty feet and more in England for racing purposes. The Association rules here do not limit its length. It has been built as narrow as twenty-four inches. Eighteen feet is about its limit for ordinary usefulness. A canoe of this size holds two comfortably if the well is made six or seven feet long and is known as a Tandem Canoe. The long canoes are difficult to turn and to paddle in a cross sea, experienced on open water when the course is laid not directly against or before the wind. This canoe has been built as short as ten feet for use on small rivers and winding creeks, and for cruising in the lake regions of the mountains, where it is often carried on the shoulders of the crew from one water way to another through the woods. Such a canoe is built of very light stuff, and often weighs no more than twenty-five pounds.

Indeed, a lapstreak canoe has been made -- a little different in model from the Rob Roy and minus the deck -- to weigh but a few ounces over ten pounds. This is Nessmuk's. His charming book on woodcraft no canoeist who cruises should leave unread. Its chapter on canoeing is as fascinating as a story, and the hints dropped all through the book about how to live in and enjoy the woods are invaluable to one planning a trip to them.

In contemplating the extremes forget not the happy medium 14 feet, 26 inches Rob Roy canoe.



THE canoe is before you. Some of the things it is capable of you have read about, and now you want personally to verify the statements made. The canoe is in the boat house, on shore, or somewhere. Get her into the water. Have you a friend with you? If so, each of you take an end, hold on by the keel, stem or stern post, lift and carry to the water -- holding the painter meanwhile, you, there at the bow. Always have a care that while on shore the canoe rests on her keel. In launching, slide her in (bow or stern first, it matters not as both are rounded) on the keel. The keel is strong oak, and is the backbone of the boat, being capable of withstanding many knocks. Not so with the thin cedar planking. A sharp rap will sometimes start an ugly check (split) in a streak or the deck.

Suppose you are alone and want to get afloat. You have a smooth surface from the canoe's berth to the water's edge, planks, grass, etc. -- no gravel or rocks.

50 • 51
Getting Aboard.

Rest the canoe on an even keel on the ground, take hold of the sternpost with both hands, raise your end and push the boat before you -- the bow on the ground, wheelbarrow fashion -- to the water. The brass shoe on the keel will prevent any damage resulting to the keel or planking. After such an operation do not at once put your hand on the metal shoe at the point of previous contact with the floor or ground -- you may get sadly burned if you do -- the brass is hot. If you are on a rocky shore, pick the canoe up bodily and carry her under your arm or on your shoulders, being careful in getting her up there not to let her get a fall. Do not lift by the deck. All decks -- especially if canoe is loaded -- will not stand the strain.

The canoe is in the water. The next point is to get in yourself. This is a very simple matter if you are launching from a float. See to it first, however, that your cargo is properly stowed, the seat in position and paddle near at hand on the float. Lean overhead toward bow of canoe, which is close alongside and held there by one hand if necessary -- place one foot in middle at forward end of well, then both hands either on the canoe -- one each side of coaming on deck -- or both on the float; put the other foot in center and then sit down on the seat without any unnecessary delay -- yet not too quickly either. The paddle can now be taken in hand and the canoe gently pushed from the float. Many a "brave" has experienced an unlooked-for ducking by not taking sufficient care in getting into or out of his canoe. Remember in getting in to keep your weight in the middle of the canoe as much as possible, and low down. Never attempt to let yourself down to the seat with one hand on deck and the other on the float. If you wish to know why, try it. After you are once seated you are safe -- if not too restless. The weight of the body is low down. The center of gravity likewise. The natural thing for the canoe, therefore, is to keep right side up. The Rob Roy is a narrow canoe, as canoes go, and somewhat crank; but compared with a shell or light working boat she is very stiff when crew is seated, as he should be, not much over three inches above the bottom board.

If you have to launch from a shore, find a rock with deep water by it, a tree trunk or steep drop to the bank will do, and then manage as you would from a float In launching from a beach where the canoe cannot be brought broadside on close up, wade in and step in from the water. Put both hands on deck, then lift one foot in, placing it in middle of the canoe, draw up the other foot and sit down. If you have a Sandy, shelving beach, run the canoe half into the water and then occupy it while still partly on land. Get a friend to push you off, or trust to your constant friend the paddle. Launching can be done when only the tip of the bow rests on shore. The crew then must slide along the deck on all fours and into the well. This all takes practice and skill in balancing, or a wetting is the result. Care should be taken to spread the weight of the body well over the deck, so as not to strain or check it at any one point. This method should be a last resource.

52 • 53


Once in the canoe and seated, paddle in hand, what next? Why, paddle along, of course. Not one person in a hundred has to be shown or told, when in such a position -- it is the most natural thing to do. A stroke is taken on one side, the blade being placed in the water ahead as far as you can reach easily, and then drawn aft. This motion brings the other blade in position for a stroke on its side, and there you are. First one side and then the other. Watch any one do it, or try it yourself and in five minutes you will find you can paddle a little; with half an hour's practice you will be able to get fair speed out of the canoe, will have gained confidence in the canoe and yourself, and will have learned to back, turn and stop, and withal, be mighty tired. Paddling to the novice brings a new set of muscles into play. Like any other new exercise, it should be gone at gradually to avoid stiffness developing itself and soreness of the muscles.

The paddle is jointed. Why? First, for convenience of stowage when not in use, and, secondly, to allow of feathering when paddling against the wind. To feather, the blades are turned at right angles to each other -- ordinarily they are in the same plane -- so that the blade in the air will present only its edge to the wind, and not its broad, flat part. A slight turn of the wrist just as the blade is dipped accomplishes the result. A little practice is required to learn to feather easily and do it constantly without tiring the wrist. The turn may be made with either wrist, the round of the paddle being allowed to revolve freely in the other hand. It is well to train both wrists to give the feather turn so as to relieve one,when it begins to get tired, by using the other. First one wrist and then the other may be used by turning the paddle over and over, instead of quarter around and back as is the practice when making the turn with one wrist only. Grasp the paddle with hands well apart -- just how far experience must teach you -- the thumb being opposed to the four fingers and not with them, though this hold maybe resorted to as a rest. Dip the blade well in to the water, and on the recover lift the paddle so as just to clear the deck -- keep it as low down as possible -- then spray from the blade in the air will not be thrown all over you or your passenger and the drip run down the round to your hands before the blade goes into the water again. Drip cups placed between the blades and the hands will hold and empty this water on the next stroke. These cups are unnecessary, however, with a fairly long paddle in skillful hands, as the second half of the stroke is taken before the water from the first runs down the round far enough to reach the hands. With a short paddle the stroke must be taken near the side of the canoe, the free blade raised high in air. A long paddle is held and worked more nearly horizontal. Eight feet is long enough for a twenty-six inch canoe. Seven feet was formerly the official length, but now from eight to nine feet six inches is considered better for all-round work.

54 • 55
Paddling Points.

When paddling for the first time, sit as low down in the canoe as possible, even without a cushion, perhaps, the canoe is thus much steadier -- stiffer, as it is termed. As confidence is acquired by practice the seat may be raised. The most effective paddling is done when sitting on a seat nearly if not quite even with the deck. A seat as high up as this should only be used for racing purposes; it makes the canoe a very crank craft.

Paddle on smooth water first, during a calm or on so small a body of water that the wind has not room to kick up a bothersome sea. Paddling on smooth water is very simple. Managing a canoe on 'lumpy" water, in a ''seaway'' or on rapids, requires skill, and skill is acquired only by practice. Go at it gradually. Do not expect to get all your experience in one day. A very large amount of it may be got into one day. Every canoeist of a year's standing will no doubt recall many a day when he got a deal more experience than he bargained for. Paddling before the wind en rough water is managed without difficulty -- when once a paddler is sure of his seat, to use a horseman's phrase. If running free, but at an angle to the wind, the send of the waves will change the course of the canoe in one direction as it rises to the crest of the wave, and on the descent in the trough the canoe will turn back into its course or beyond it. Do not attempt entirely to resist this tendency, as it requires great effort to accomplish, but merely with slight effort and watchfulness keep the canoe from departing far from the course, its general direction being the correct one. Paddling harder on one side than the other turns the canoe. If there exists a decided tendency to turn from the course in one direction more than in the other, it is probably because there is more wind surface at one end than the other. Do not try to remedy this by paddling constantly harder on the opposite side -- it will soon overtire one arm; but shift your position or that of the cargo a little, fore or aft. If the canoe falls off from the wind, the bow is too high out of water. If there is a tendency to broach-to (get broadside to the wind) and get in the trough of the sea, the stern is too high, therefore trim weight. The same expedient holds good when paddling into (against) the wind but at an angle to its direction. When paddling to windward always feather and in every way reduce wind surface. Look out for breakers in a high sea, and manage as well as you can to get over a wave before it breaks, or let it comb before you get to it. his only applies to combers that would wash over the deck and perhaps reach the well. On rough water, in a good breeze, there is always a quantity of spray flying from the paddle and the wash from bow and deck. The wind catches this and often throws it in sheets over the paddler. Practice will enable you to reduce this inconvenience to the minimum. A clear, smooth deck is better than one cut up with raised hatches and cleats, for dryness in rough water paddling. You must not be afraid of a wetting if you will insist on paddling on very rough water, without oilskins.

56 • 57
Winds and Currents.

A beam wind is most trying when paddling. The canoe is either broadside on in the trough of the sea, or on the very ridge of a wave, perhaps just as it is about to break. If it does break, either water comes aboard (unless you have an apron completely covering the well) or the canoe is likely to be rolled under -- or over -- as the wave gives a rolling motion to the canoe very difficult to obviate. Here you need all the deck and coaming you have; and at the time when it is needed, the motion may deprive you of deck entirely by rolling it under and only leave the coaming out of water to protect you from the breakers. Never take a course wind abeam when the water is very rough. First go to windward a little and then change the course and run slightly free, on the principle that the longest way round is the safest way in a sea. Small waves with ugly little breaking tops may often be prevented from doing harm by rolling them under the canoe with a quick shift of the body a little to one side, so the wave slips away under the canoe rather than sending its spray top clear across the deck, perhaps entering the well.

The above points are given more as suggestions than as absolute rules. Get the whole matter down to a sort of second nature, and don't bother about looking for a rule for this -- an authority for that.

The hints given above take for granted that you know to a nicety just from which point the wind is blowing. Do you know this? Can you always tell, when afloat, say, at night? If not, learn at once, or as soon as you can get on the water again. Practice it on shore, too. Such knowledge is absolutely necessary when you attempt sailing, and very useful also when under paddle. The direction of the wind ripple on the waves will give you a hint. Moving the head from side to side -- Lee to the wind -- will give you the direction of the wind pretty correctly, as you feel it on your face, one side, then the other, and can settle on the half way point. The point of a weather vane, a flag flying, the bend of the lighter branches and leaves on the trees, the course of driftwood or foam, and many other signs of nature, by study, will soon be read aright by close observation.

The direction of a tide or current can be discovered by seeing vessels at anchor -- bow always toward the current, pointing up stream; the shape of the waves, being different when wind and tide are opposed to what it is when they are in the same direction, and various other ways. To test whether there is a tide or not when in a canoe, bring it to a standstill, take the range of two objects on shore in line (one behind the other, and if you are moved out of range by a current, note the direction. Ranging is a capital thing to practice, and is very useful, whether sailing or paddling, to keep a true course when tide and wind or both are factors of your problem. You are paddling across a river in a strong ebb tide. You wish to each a certain point on the opposite shore. If you head directly for it at the

58 • 59
About Upsets.

start, the tide will carry you broadside down stream, and you will continually have to change your course and head more up as you proceed. In crossing thus your course will describe a curved line, and as you approach the point you started for you will find you are paddling almost directly up stream against the current, and not broadside on as you started. Your objective point is a house, perhaps; its chimney just hides the top of a tree on the hill behind the house. Now, when you start and get into the current, head the canoe just far enough up stream to keep that tree top behind that same chimney all the way over. In that way you will cross in a straight line -- the shortest distance between two points -- though at no time will the canoe's bow be pointing ill the exact direction you are moving. When crossing very swift water it is well to paddle up stream a little in the slack water along shore, then start boldly across -- heading well up -- and, if you run below your landing, paddle up in the still water along shore.

Don't go up stream or against the tide if you can help it. You waste power. If you are obliged to buck the tide, take every advantage of eddies and slack water along shore. Always plan your cruises down stream. The wind you can't control, so learn to paddle against it, and to paddle against it with the least possible friction of mind, body, paddle and canoe.

You will upset some day -- don't contradict -- even you will be unceremoniously dumped overboard; therefore take the first day of the season that the water is warm enough for swimming to practice righting the canoe after an upset, and getting in it again from the water. Try first getting in over the end, crawling along on deck face down -- with feet and legs in the water on either side -- to the well, and then bail out: When you upset -- everything being made fast as before directed -- right the canoe as soon as possible, and keep your weight off of it till it is righted and cannot take in any more water. If the canoe has taken in much water, bail out while you are still in the water to keep the canoe from taking in any more, as she would sink quite low with your weight added to that already in her. A canoe should be provided with bulkheads, air compartments or "something" to make her float coaming out when full of water. Practice getting up on the deck just forward or aft of the well, and thus regaining your seat. When you can do this easily, then try getting in amidship. This is difficult, but once acquired it is very much the best way, especially when the canine has masts. To do this, tread water, and with a sharp kick and a push with the hands on the gunwale, throw the body clear across the well head over the other side, leaving the legs and feet still in the water; then gradually pull them in. A canoe can be upset, turned completely ) over, and the crew slip in over the side and begin paddling all in the space of twenty seconds. It has been done in the ACA upset races, at the annual meet.

Never be persuaded to tow your canoe behind a steamer moving at the rate of over eight or ten miles an hour.

60 • 61
The Winds of Heaven.

Put her on board, or stay behind. In towing behind a steamer, fasten the painter and stand by it. Start with the canoe's bow a little out of water, and as speed is increased let out a little line -- just enough to keep the canoe a little more than half in the water. With more line she may move from side to side and roll over; with less the stern and aft deck will likely be awash, or the water pressure come too directly against the garboard streaks in one spot. If you are in the canoe when towing, hitch the painter as low on the stem as possible -- about at the ordinary waterline -- and don't let out much line. It is well to have a long line, to reach from the stem to steamer, around and a post or cleat, and then back to your hand. You can then cast off at a moment's notice if trouble comes. Keep your feet on the steering yoke, if the canoe has a rudder, or your hands on the rudder lines all the time, to keep out of the wash and have the canoe under control. To tow the canoe yourself from the shore, use a line thirty or forty feet long, fastened one end to the bow, the other and at the stern. Shove the canoe from shore and hold the line about one-third its length from the bow. By shifting your hold along the line you can readily steer the canoe out of shallows, avoid rocks, and even run her up pretty swift rapids. For rapids a longer line might be used.

You cannot be told how to run rapids. Use a canoe that draws little water and turns easily : learn to choose the deep water, make up your mind quickly and never hesitate or try to avoid disaster, but go right ahead. You must know your ground somewhat beforehand -- that is, as to dangerous falls and impassable obstructions. Experience here is your only teacher.

Your course being fixed, the wind may blow in your face. This is a head wind. If it blows at right angles to your course it is a beam wind. If on your back it is a free wind. Going before the wind is running free -- going with the wind. Wind on the quarter means a wind blowing somewhere between a beam and dead astern -- usually about half way -- and it is commonly called a quartering wind. A fair wind is one abaft the beam -- blowing on your back. In sailing, close-hauled means having the wind about half way between abeam and dead ahead.

As you face forward, the right hand side of the canoe is the starboard side; the left hand, the port side. Sailing vessels and steamers at night carry a green light to starboard and a red light to port. Port wine is red -- so is the port light. Canoes at night should carry a white light only, when on navigable waters (for larger vessels, to comply with the law regulating the carrying of lights on all small boats. Put this light on a mast or stick made fast behind you, and it will not bother you in steering and seeing where you are going. If forward, it will so blind you that nothing can be seen ahead. Where there are sailing vessels and steamers, the canoe should always carry a light at night to prevent its being run down by larger vessels. A candle lantern is much cleaner about a canoe than one burning oil. It is better in camping also.

62 • 63
Double and Single-Blade.

To beach a canoe through a surf is a dangerous and difficult maneuver. If the waves break far from shore, it is impossible without disaster. If the water is quite deep up to within a short distance of the beach, the canoe may be safely landed when the surf is not too high. Paddle in as close as possible, and then wait your chance. Go in on top of, but a little behind, a wave, and let it break under the bow. When you once start, paddle like mad to keep your position and not drop back into the trough for the next wave to swallow you up whole. If you are successful, the send of the wave will land you well up on the beach. As soon as the canoe grounds , jump out and pull her up well out of the way of the next wave. If you get too far ahead of the wave as you start to come in, when it begins to comb over the bow will have no support, and will drop down and probably touch bottom, in which case you personally may be hurled high and dry, but the canoe will turn an end for end somersault, get full of water and way go out with the wave when it recedes, if no worse accident happens to it.

On the water, anything off in the direction from which the wind is blowing is to windward. Any thing in the opposite direction is said to be to leeward. The windward side of a canoe is the side the wind strikes. The sheltered side is the lee side. In a blow, when the water is rough, land to leeward of some pier, point or shelter to find still water. If you have to land on a lee shore -- that is, the shore to leeward of the canoe afloat, the shore toward which the wind is blowing -- in a breeze, it is sure to be a difficult thing to do without damaging the canoe. Usually jump out as soon as it is shallow enough and haul the canoe out carefully; never mind the wetting.

It has been conclusively proved, after many comparative tests, that the double-blade paddle will drive a canoe ahead faster than a single-blade paddle, even the light, open Canadian canoes built specially for the use of the single blade. The single blade has many times beaten the double, it is true, but on even terms the double will win. This does not mean that the single blade will go out of use, far from it. The single blade has several very important points of advantage over the double, and on these it will hold its own for all time no doubt.

When hunting in an open canoe the sportsman sits forward and the guide paddles at the aft end. When absolute stillness is necessary the skillful paddler can propel the canoe without noise by never lifting his paddle out of the water. The recover is then made by pushing the blade foot forward in the water edge first. Single blade paddling is much more graceful than double blade work especially when a spurt is put on. The double blade at a distance looks very much like a windmill when the paddler It is exerting himself. The single blade and open canoes are to be preferred when you wish to take ladies its out for a quiet afternoon's canoeing. More comfort and freedom can be had in an open canoe with two on board than is possible in a decked canoe with its necessarily small cockpit.

64 • 65
Single-Blade Paddling

Double blade feathering will be found useful in tandem paddling to prevent the drip from the paddle of one being thrown by the motion of the stroke over the other member of the crew. The aft man in feathering turns the paddle half over each time, thus throwing the water on the paddle as it rises from the surface behind him. The forward man turns the paddle under, thus throwing the water forward and away from his companion. This description may not bring a perfectly clear idea of the result to the mind of the reader, but if he will try it practically at the first opportunity he will catch it at once. It is well to feather always in paddling and thus become accustomed to it. When wind makes it necessary, no inconvenience from wrist tiring will be experienced.


Single-blade Paddling.

It has a sphere of usefulness all its own. It may safely be said that the single-bladed paddle is used only in open canoes -- those having no deck. The reverse of this -- double paddle in decked canoes -- is not, however, the fact, as of late years the double-blade has been much used in open canoes, and its use is increasing. Open canoes carry one or more persons. The decked canoes are built for one almost entirely. When two men are in an open canoe they sit at opposite ends of the craft, facing the same way but paddling on opposite sides, each one keeping to his own side every stroke, but at short intervals they both change sides to rest one set of muscles. More than two can paddle, and in the large open canoes of the North used by the voyageurs of the Hudson's Bay Company and other travelers, often three or more paddle. This man-in-each-end method is a very good one for rapid running and like experiences, the canoe being thus easily handled and guided.

The open canoe can be, and often is paddled by a single person. If the crew sits at the end of the canoe, his stores or some weight must be put forward (he sitting aft) to keep her trim. The paddle is used on one side for a considerable time and then for a like time on the other side, if a rest is needed. The canoe is kept on her course by a turn of the wrist, and consequent turn of the paddle toward the end of the stroke, thus making it possible to paddle on one side without the direction being changed at each stroke. The paddle is turned by the hand holding the round and not the one at the top. In turning the paddle, the edge nearest the canoe is pointed slightly aft so that as the paddle leaves the water at the end of the stroke, it comes out edge first and not broadside on. This steering and paddling motion)n is learned by practice, and it takes considerable practice to become master of it. The Canadians usually sit in the middle of the canoe)e when paddling, and paddle on one side, using the twist to keep the canoe on her course. Perhaps it is not strictly correct to say sit, as the position of the paddler is almost always a kneeling one, both knees being on the bottom board -- or a cushion on it. As a partial rest, however, and to relieve the knees from the entire weight of the body, a stretcher from gunwale to gunwale is so placed that the paddler partially rests on it while kneeling at the same time.

66 • 67

In this position, when once used to it in the open canoes, with single or double blade, a very good purchase is got on the water, and paddling moderately can be kept up for hours without great fatigue.

These open canoes can float enormous loads; they are very easy to carry over portages, and for river and forest wilderness cruising are excellently adapted, also for hunting, especially jacking for deer and fishing. The single-blade is the paddle for this work. When quiet is necessary, the paddle can be so) handled that its blade never comes above the surface of the water, and all splash and throwing of spray avoided. The cargo, having nor) deck covering, must be protected from rain and spray by rubber blankets or some like device. The open canoe, of course, is not as well adapted to rough water as the decked canoes. Much information about this kind of canoeing can be got incidentally from books on hunting, camping and fishing in Canadian waters.




The Paddle.
A NUMBER of the forms in which paddles have been made are shown in the illustration. The length has varied for the double-blade paddle from seven to eleven feet. When the blades are short they are made wide in proportion to the length, to get the necessary surface. The long blades are made very narrow, the extreme being Mr. Farnham's paddle, consisting of two single paddles ferruled together.

68 • 69
About Paddles.


The double paddle is commonly found jointed for convenience in stowing and to enable the paddler to turn the blades at right angles -- feathering, in other words. As a rule, the shorter the paddle the more power, coming under the natural law of the lever, the dip-water being the weight; the still hand is the fulcrum, and the moving arm the power, though the fulcrum hand is not held stationary, but moves slightly in an opposite direction to the stroke hand, to increase the power. Paddles are made of pine, spruce and maple principally, these woods combining strength, elasticity and lightness. Red cedar has been used and proved very successful; it is difficult, however, to get a piece large enough ordinarily. The joint is similar to the ferrule joint of a fish rod, one half having a projecting brass tube into which the other half is telescoped, its end protected and kept from swelling when wet by a brass ferrule. The ferrules should be slipped over the ends of the round and a rivet run clear through ferrule and round hammered at the ends, so it cannot drop out or allow the ferrule to turn. The round ought not to be cut away to sink the ferrule even with it, as a weak point is thus established where strength is needed. The parts of a paddle are: blade, round, ferrule. The two parts of the ferrule must fit easily and closely one within the other. A catch should be arranged to hold the blades in exactly the same plane, so turning at the ferrule is impossible, or at right angles.

A round-ended blade is better than one pointed or with a straight edge and two angles. The end should be protected by a strip of brass or copper 3/4 inch on each side, turned over the edge for six or eight inches and securely riveted. This is necessary to keep the wood from splitting or becoming ragged when the paddle is used to push the canoe from shore or as a pole in shallows, as it has to be thus used often. A strip of 1/8 brass wire run over the edge of the wood and in the angle of the metal tip is an addition in the matter of protection, thus preventing dents when the paddle gets a hard knock on its end on rocks or a hard bottom. It is a little troublesome, however, to put in. Some tips are protected by having a toothed piece of brass or copper set into a saw-cut in the end and having the teeth alternately turned over on opposite sides and flattened on to the blade. Some protection is absolutely necessary here. Blades have been spooned like oars, but are not generally used, as they are inconvenient in feathering and backing. The round is tapered a little as it approaches the blade, and may be circular in form or oval. If the section is an ellipse, the long diameter should be at right angles to the plane of the blade, for strength. One and one-quarter inches is a a good average diameter for the round of a paddle where the hands grasp it. The large ferrule is of course twice as long as the one sliding into it. A very light ferrule may be used if its ends are strengthened by a collar and the short end has a projecting conical piece of wood fitting into a like

70 • 71
Canoe Seat.

socket in the other end (see illustration). This form makes the strongest joint known. A number of catches have been invented and used, but put faith in none that cannot at once be disconnected, allowing the parts to turn one within the other before trying to separate the joints. Usually they cannot be separated if they get stuck, and you try to pull them apart without turning on account of an imperfect catch. Keep the ferrule moist with oil, grease or Vaseline, so the water will not affect the brass -- corroding it -- and thus make the act of separation a troublesome one. A good catch is made of brass wire run round the ferrule, fastened at one end and bent and pointed at the other to fit into a hole in both ferrules. The inner ferrule has two holes to set the paddle in its only two true positions: blades in same plane; blades at right angles. An excellent drip cup is made by cutting the nipples off of two breast shields and slipping the shields over the rounds beyond the parts grasped by the hands and far enough to clear the water when the blade is dipped. These shields can be got of any druggist. Thus does the inventive and adaptive canoeist know a good thing when he sees it, and appropriates it to his canoeing uses.

The single blade, in length, depends on the reach of the individual. A rigid paddle -- one with very slight elasticity -- seems to be preferred for serious paddling; the broad blade (beaver tail) limber paddle being used by ladies, and is sometimes called a lazy man's paddle. The average length is between five and six feet. Hard and soft maple, spruce, ash, beech and cedar are the woods used.

Comfort when paddling depends very largely on having an easy seat, a suitable backrest and a firm footbrace. The backboard commonly used is shown in the Rob Roy canoe on page 18. It is suspended at its middle by a strap securely riveted to it and looped over a projecting screw on deck just aft of the well. It is thus movable and adjusts itself to the position most comfortable for one's back to take. Lazy men use a cushion over the backboard.

The footbrace in the paddling canoes is usually a board held by side braces not quite perpendicular to the floor boards and wide enough for the foot to rest its entire length against. The footrest in canoes having rudders is combined with the steering gear, in a great variety of forms, simple and complex. A comfortable seat is of prime importance. It should be large enough to reach down one's leg half way to the knee. Then the upper leg can help to bear the weight of the body, and the paddler is thus able to keep for a longer time the sitting position. He sits firmer, too, on such a seat, and can put force into the strokes without wobbling about and thus losing power. The seat should be high enough to get one's legs out of the very uncomfortable position of being at right angles to the body their entire length -- in other words, allow a slight bend at the knee. From three to five inches above the floor is perhaps a good rule. The construction should be simple. The seat should be light in weight, and of material not easily wet or retaining moisture long when wet, somewhat elastic and not uncomfortably warm.

72 • 73
Canoe Apron.

A piece of canvas stretched over a frame, as shown in cuts on page 67, makes an excellent seat. The only objection to it is that such a seat serves no other purpose, and this is an objection when you are cruising. Both backboard and seat can be done away with when cruising, though the backboard takes up so little room it is usually carried. If you are cruising and camping, you will have blankets; sit on them during the day, but have them inside of waterproof bags, so there will be no possibility of clamp blankets to sleep under. A veteran cruiser carries a mattress (50in. x 18in. x 4in.) in three longitudinal compartments, each compartment a little over half full of fine cork shavings 1-1/4lbs. to each. This serves as seat during the day, bed at night, and life preserver in case of an accidental upset far from land. The tick of the mattress should be made of some coarse material to allow a free circulation of air. Then the mattress will dry out quickly when wet.

An apron or hatches over the well should be available when paddling on rough water. The apron is perhaps best. It should be made of waterproof canvas cut to exact size of well forward of the paddler, and supported by 1/8 brass wires, to which it is sewed. The wires run athwartship, rest on the coaming, and are bent near their ends to reach down the outside of coaming to deck, thus keeping the apron in position and the water out. The apron can at once be lifted or thrown off. This is necessary, as otherwise it might hold the crew in and drown him if the canoe upsets suddenly. The apron should reach down over coaming so its edges rest on the deck. If the apron is cut to fit close around the body and has its after edge turned up to form a sort of coaming, and the skipper wears a waterproof coat reaching down outside of this apron coaming, he can have the deck entirely awash without shipping any water.



© 2000 Craig O'Donnell
May not be reproduced without my permission.