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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through April 12, 2005 * Advice on running wriggly rivers? < Previous Next >

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terry
Member

Post Number: 11
Registered: 04-2004


Posted on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 1:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hi, everyone. My wife and I had the time of our lives riding down Obabika River a few weeks ago, doing route 11. There was a nice slow current and only a few lift-overs. If you glance at a map (especially a 1:50k), you'll see that it's the most zig-zagedly river you've ever seen, with constant turning left and right every 5-10 minutes all day long!

Of course we wanted to sneak up on wildlife around each corner. We surprised a beaver once and it foolishly tried to swim downstream to avoid us, so we had a nice long view of it as it swam and we drifted downstream for over a minute (before the dumb thing finally swam ashore).

Our problem was that we don't know a good way of turning the corners quietly, and hence we didn't surprise as many birds etc as we might have wished. Let's get technical as I try to explain this.

Imagine you're going down a river that is about to bend to the right 90 degrees. Assume two paddlers, bow on the left and stern on the right. As we enter the turn, Bow sweeps to start the turn and Stern does some strong 'J's. However, what happens is that as soon as the canoe starts into the turn (aka, as soon as it starts turning sideways), the current hits the right side of the canoe and pushes it (as if it was trying to help us make the turn).

This has two effects: there's a noisey whooshing of water on the side of the canoe, notifying all life around us of Two-Legs-Baaaad approaching. And we get pushed towards the overhanging bushes at the outside corner of the turn. Ouch ooch ouch! So how can we avoid this, and use our hominid grey matter and the power of the current to make these turns more smoothly and quietly?

That's the question. Before you ponder and (hopefully) reply, here are my own observations -- which I had the opportunity to test every 5 minutes all day!

First I thought that it was good to have momentum, aka take a run at it. So we'd accelerate just as we entered the turn, and try to get around the corner a.s.a.p. so we'd get out of the way of that straight current on our side, pushing us into the outside corner. That works for speed, but makes just as much noise.

Then I considered starting the right turn from the left side of the river (kinda like how it's easier to drive around a right corner from the left lane, because you can cut the corner better that way). That just gave us more time at a 45' angle to the current, so it pushed us more.

We tried relying on the Bow to do the turning (cross pry) while the Stern just powered on. Lotsa bushes.

We tried relying on the Bow to do the thrusting while the Stern turned the canoe asap. Even more bushes.

Oh, and of course we had both left and right right angle turns, alternating. So (sticking to our Bow on the left and Stern on the right), a hard left bend was handled by the Bow doing a half draw and half power stroke, with the Stern doing a sweep/power stroke. That was easier for both of us than our right turns, but we made just as much noise and were still pushed into the outside corner's bushes.

Any suggestions, Oh Great Water Walkers out there?
...Terry
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paul_hammersten
Member

Post Number: 96
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 8:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

I did some work on a " wriggly " river north of Cranberry Lake a few times.

Stern sweeps were out...stern pulls straight in towards the canoe as far back in the water behind the canoe where in.

Bow pulls where in.

Along with some creative setting.

Could you pole down your ' wriggly ' river?

A quiet way to go with some experience.

Best

Paul
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terry
Member

Post Number: 13
Registered: 04-2004


Posted on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 9:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hi, Paul. I can't quite picture what you're advising. Care to reword?

Hmmm, yes, you could pole down much of the river, since of course the inside banks were always shallow. But I don't think you could pole consistently, as it got deep between corners.

Hah, that reminds me of my two months in the jungles of northern Nicaragua four years ago (another volunteer project). Everyone there (Miskito Indians) poles exclusively -- dugout canoes are the only form of transportation, and nary an oar to be seen. But with skinny skinny dugouts (thin trees, all the wider ones have been cut down for export) these folks have developed an incredible sense of balance, poling at fairly high speeds down shallow rivers and rapids on tippy dugouts!

...Terry
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canoebear
Member

Post Number: 89
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Sunday, August 1, 2004 - 6:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Terry,

U may hav to draw sum water.
Do U no much bout water monitors?
Found 1 in my neck of tha woods.
Not a native of our lands & water.
How nasty/or menacin R these old world lizards?
Troubled bout multiply fast, Heya!
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paul_hammersten
Member

Post Number: 97
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Sunday, August 1, 2004 - 7:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Take the stern seat out of your canoe and kneel as far back in the canoe as you can.

When your canoe has some momentum reach with your paddle...not to your side...but back behind you and then pull.

If a stern pull is done this way you will find that a change in the force of the pull and the angel of the blade will give you surprising results.

You will be able to do much even without taking the paddle blade out of the water.

Of course the canoe needs to be moving faster than the current of the river.

Have the bowman pull/cross pull whichever is called for.

Stay away from railroad bridges that span the rivers for it is there that the eggs of the water monitors fall out of the train flat beds into the river and when hatched give canoebears and others great concern.

Best

Paul
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terry
Member

Post Number: 14
Registered: 04-2004


Posted on Monday, August 2, 2004 - 11:18 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hey, Canoebear, no water monitors to speak of in Nicaragua. But the lizard of choice was the crocodile, or caymen. You definitely had to watch where you went swimming!

Thanks for that stern pull technique, Paul. I'll give it a shot next time I need turns like that. Of course my immediate reaction on your suggestion of doing a stern pull and a bow pull at the same time is that someone has been reading too much Dr. Doolittle!
...Terry
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paul_hammersten
Member

Post Number: 99
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Monday, August 2, 2004 - 12:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Terry...as you know,what you can do with your canoe depends alot on the type of canoe/keel,load,river etc.

I too read all the Dr Doolitle books growing up!

Best

Paul


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hillbilly
Member

Post Number: 78
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 12:25 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

terry,
Both the bow and sren do the pull and you should get around the bends just fine.
Bill
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grinder
Member

Post Number: 2
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 9:35 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

I am confused about the word "pull"

I gather that you are trying to control the boat by putting lateral pressure on it from as far away from the centre as possible; I follow that part.

It sounds like a pull is the same as a back paddle with movement of the blade going parallel to the length of the boat.

Paul
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otter_mel
Member

Post Number: 14
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 10:36 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

It depends on the current strength. Generally the stern should be tucked in closer to the shore towards the inside of the bend and the bowman does the draw or cross-draw depending which side he/she is paddling on. The stern keeps to the inside of the bend with a quarter sweep,pry or draw, depending on the side paddled and river current.
In very fast current, the canoe may negotiate the turn by doing a 180 degree turn around the inside of the bend which is easier than trying to fight to stay on the inside and avoid being swept to the outside, which may be very dangerous on some rivers.

(Message edited by Otter Mel on August 6, 2004)
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paul_hammersten
Member

Post Number: 102
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 1:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Paul

Actually...the stroke is not really a pull or back water.

Yes it is all in reaching far enough away from center as possible.

Sp get rid of your stern seat right away!

Then it is really knowing just what the water is doing and knowing what you can make ' it ' do for you!!

You simply adjust the pressure you exert on the paddle and the angle of paddles blade.

With the water doing the work you will not tire like you would if you tried to control the canoe with sweeps, prys and draws.

Best

Paul



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grinder
Member

Post Number: 4
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 3:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

The stern seat in my Chestnut Pal (actually Cedarwood) is real far back and the boat has plenty of rocker so should be adept at playing these games.
The notion of keeping the stern tucked in sounds good in theory.

I wonder if trimming the canoe so the stern rides higher would help keeping it from being pushed around by the outer current.

Paul

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