Carolina Mountain Sports
123 West Broad St
Statesville, NC
(704) 871-1444
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January 17, 2018
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  Carolina Mountain Sports
 
■  Tips for Solo Paddling...

Paddling and handling a canoe by yourself is a piece of cake if you implement a few pointers for solo canoeing:

*Add a center seat for better weight distribution, balance and handling. A well-designed canoe will handle and maneuver amazingly  better with the paddler seated in the center.  You can bolt in an accessory seat or simply sit on a cooler or low beach-type chair. 

*Use a long, double-bladed paddle just like a kayak.  8’ is good…longer is better if you can find one. 

*Add an anchor system that can be mounted to the bow or stern and operated by pulling and releasing the rope from the center seat.  The anchor is essential when fishing by yourself. 

*Get a longer single-bladed paddle and learn to execute strokes like "c" stroke, sweep, draw, pry, brace etc.  The more you know about paddle strokes and when you apply them, the better and more efficiently you can maneuver the canoe. 

*Add a backrest to that center seat for a little extra comfort.  Canoes are great because you can easily adjust your position.  You don’t have to just “sit” like in a kayak.  But, a backrest is a real plus on those long days on the water. 

*Be prepared to kneel for brief periods for enhanced stability when maneuvering thru rocks, chutes, turns etc.  Kneeling really increases stability and allows you to exert more force in paddle strokes.  Short periods of kneeling is not bad, even for old knees.  Make sure your seat is high enough to easily slide feet under it when kneeling.

Attach a bow and stern lines that are about 15’ long.  When you get out to wade, attach that bow line to your waist.  A  climber’s caribiner makes it easy to clip the line to a sturdy belt and avoids the hassle of tying and untying knots.   A canoe without people in it glides across the surface of the water and you hardly realize it’s attached to you when wading. 

Plan to wade, you can fish areas more thoroughly.   Wear good wading shoes that protect your feet.   Felt soled boots used by fly fishermen are excellent.  They protect the foot and ankle and give you better traction.  

*Read up on solo paddling, expecially some of the books by Cliff Jacobsen.


Tips for River Paddling and Fishing

If you are buying a craft for river paddling and fishing, do some research and ask questions of folks that do that.  Don't trust that a boat salesman actually is giving you good advice unless he is a river paddler.  He may have good intentions but no experience..  Designs that work fine in  ponds/lakes may be undesirable for river use.

The surge of interest in kayaks, anchor trolleys, hybrid boat designs and advertising can lead folks to make bad decisions when buying and using these new styles of watercraft.   It's hard to beat tried and true designs and techniques… proven over the years.

Study about river hazards like strainers and sweepers.  Learn to avoid these hazards and what to do in the event of an accident.  Paddling and fishing in moving water, especially when river levels are up, is different than ponds, lakes and sounds...and presents different hazards and challenges.  Plan for the unexpected.

Navigating and handling a boat in moving water can be challenging.  Often, turning around obstacles is not a good idea, because it can present the boat broadside to a hazard.  Instead, you push or pull the boat to one side or the other using draw strokes and pry stokes.  Learn about boat handing in currents and the proper stokes to use. 

Study about anchoring techniques and systems.   Don't try to anchor in swift water, especially from the side of a boat or at an angle to the craft.  Anchors ideally will come directly off the bow or stern of a craft. . A quick release system and a sharp knife may be critical when your anchor gets hung…

Learn what to do in the event that you swamp or capsize.  How will you deal with a boat that is full of water?  A boat full of water is very heavy and the force of the current can pin a boat against a rock or tree and become impossible to rescue.

Have a  watertight bag or box for valuables (phones, cameras, wallet,  keys etc.   This container must be sealed properly in order to function as intended when submerged.

A valuables bag or box is of little benefit, if it floats off downstream, or sinks to the bottom.  It needs to be secured to the boat to prevent loss.   Always have a spare car key hidden on your car, or a spare secured in a zippered pocket or cord around you neck.   Plan and be prepared for the unexpected.

Have  dewatering "systems" for your boat.  This may be a hand pump and/or  something as simple as a bailing bucket and big sponge.  Some boats like sit-in kayaks and hybrid boats are difficult to empty.  A traditional canoe can even present a challenge for folks unless they know what to do.   It's not always easy to  empty a boat of water, especially when you are standing waist deep in swift water...or treading water...   Plan for it.

Have some decent rope for anchor systems  and for attaching  lines to bow and stern of your boat.  Rope that floats is ideal but make sure it is soft and flexible enough to allow for good knots.   Rope should be about 3/8-1/2 inch in diameter so that it is thick enough to comfortably hold onto

Don't have "stuff" lying around inside the boat.  If you aren't using it, have it stowed and secured.     Have coolers closed and secured.  Have tackle bags closed and secured.  Have spare paddles secured.    In the event of a capsize or swamping, you don't want all this stuff floating off downriver and jeopardizing your ability to rescue your craft and you.  Loose fishing rods sink to the bottom and  often cannot be found.

Much of this info is also applicable to paddling in lakes, ponds, sounds and ocean.    Although there, you usually do not have the force and flow of a river current, you do have the challenge that water is deep and you may not be able to stand and touch bottom anywhere near where you capsize.    Plan and prepare for the unexpected.

Wear your lifejacket.   Spend the bucks and get one that is comfortable and functional.   Pockets are handy.   This has nothing to do with your swimming ability and your swimming ability has little to do with keeping you alive while you are trying to deal with your efforts to re-right, dewater, and get back in your boat.

Have a good knife readily available.  This means on your belt, on your lifejacket or in a pocket...not stored in a tackle bag.  This is not a macho image issue.  A knife can be a critical tool when your anchor is snagged in swift current; or when rope is tangled in a strainer preventing rescue; or when discarded fishing line has tangled around your foot or ankle.  A sharp, serrated edge knife can quickly improve a bad situation.

Wear good shoes.   Flip flops and most sandals are not really suitable for river conditions.  Some sandals that offer full foot protection may be okay....but still let in rocks that can be uncomfortable and cut.


Tips for renting a canoe or kayak for the rivers.

Folks that own  a watercraft perhaps have done some research and know accessories they need.  If you plan to rent a kayak or canoe and give it a try on some of our rivers,  what sort of accessories should you bring along and what should you know?  Paddling, floating and fishing in the current of a river present new challenges. A little research on paddling strokes and techniques is a really good idea for canoe or kayaks....as well as a little study on what to do if you capsize, as well as river hazards like “strainers.”  A google or bing search will provide some good info. 

A couple of 15-20' sections of 3/8 --1/2 floating rope....primarily to tie to the boat and to tie around your waist or clip to your belt when you want to get out and stretch,  or to wade and fish.  Don't want your boat to get away.  Seen it happen...not a pretty sight. 

Anything of value, that needs to stay dry should be in a waterproof case or dry bag,  properly sealed.  And, if not an electronic key, make sure your car keys are absolutely 100% secure in a zip pocket or cord around your neck...and have a spare hidden on the car.  Yep...seen folks loose their keys and no spare.  You know the name of the creek...

Drifting, catching and landing fish at the same time is tough...if you hook up (or get hung)  you'll want to stop.  If you’ve read up on anchoring, in moving water, and you are comfortable with the process,  bring  a suitable anchor. If you haven't studied anchoring, leave it home and  rest the boat against a  ledge, shoal, bush etc to hold it in position. 

Your own life jacket is nice…one you will wear, and with some for sunscreen, fly box, and other accessories like a whistle....so you don't have to go crawling and leaning around to reach  an item...twisting and leaning in a watercraft can lead to an unexpected dunking...

If you plan to wade much...wear good shoes or better… your felt-soled wading boots.
On your first trip or two, keep the gear to a minimum e.g. do you really need a cooler with ice...and that full-sized tackle bag..or a digital camera and cell phone.  And if you don't want to chase it downstream, tie it to the boat.

Put the boat in the water before you get in...don't try to keep part of it resting on the bank and push off.  Getting out...turn the boat sideways to the bank/beach and get out.  Don't try to power the boat up onto the sand and rocks...   It won't work and it's more unstable.  Have the entire boat floating when you get in and out.  

A simple first aid kit with antibiotic cream...there's some weird stuff living in our waters.

And maybe a simple folding seat e.g. Crazy Creek chair to supplement a crappy or non-existent seat in a sit on top kayak or strap to a canoe seat for some back support.

You navigate a boat downriver, not so much by turning around obstacles (which can get you into touble) , but by moving the boat sideways…either with a strong draw stroke or pry stroke.    A little knowledge of proper strokes and technique will make paddling easier, safer and more fun. 


__________________
Richard

 
 
Updated: March 12, 2014
 
 
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