Canoe Lining and Tracking
I had the good fortune to work with my good friend Ken Hughes on a BCU Five Star Open Canoe assessment recently. The five star canoe syllabus includes lining and tracking a canoe on white water.
There are several different ways to do this, and some are demonstrated in the short video below.
Setting Up The Lines
This is shown early in the clip. Two long lines (approximately 25 metres each) are used. It helps if they are different colours. The first is attached to the end grab at the stern of the canoe. The second is attached to a ‘bridle’ fairly near the bow. The bridle is a cord or webbing strap tied to perhaps the seat hanger on one side of the canoe, passed under the hull and tied to the seat hanger on the other side of the canoe. At the centre-line of the canoe, the bridle has a small loop. The second long line is attached to this loop so it’s attached in effect to the centre line of the outside of the hull.
This means that when this bow line is pulled, the canoe sits the right way up. If this line was tied to the bow end loop the tendancy would be for the boat to capsize if the line was pulled hard.
The boat is trimmed upstream end light. This allows the fast flow of the river to pass under the canoe easily, whether tracking upstream or lining downstream. I find it helps to weight the downstream end so that the keel line at the stem of the boat is positively engaged in the water. This is useful in giving extra control and allows you to ferry-glide the canoe away from you easily.
Position of the Person
Take full advantage of the length of the lines and work from a position as far upstream of the canoe as you can. This allows you to pendulum the canoe well out and away from the bank you are standing on and even use eddies on the opposite side of the river.
Use steady or sharp pulls on the stern line to drive the canoe forwards. Adjust the angle of the canoe in relation to the flow by adjusting the tension of the bow line. Always keep the boat angled away from the bank you are standing on for maximum control. Moving up the bank well upstream of the canoe gives you the most options for using the full width of the river.
Rather than using brute force, work the boat from eddy to eddy as you would if paddling upstream. This uses less energy, is more efficient and more skillful!
Ropes and moving water are hazardous. Using the full length of the rope means you have little ‘dead’ rope and are less likely to snag or trip. Have a knife ready. Never coil or wrap the rope around your hands. If the pull on the rope is too strong for you just release one rope. This will release any tension in the rope.
The shoreline can be slippery and uneven, so I wear a helmet on the bank.