Never stop because you are afraid - you are never so likely to be wrong.
The Expedition Canoe as a Field Research Vehicle
C. Leigh Culver
Copyright © 2010-2013 C. Leigh Culver. All rights reserved.
I originally wrote this article for a survival oriented forum several years ago. The information is very relevant to the sasquatch field researcher who wishes to do expedition exploration via rivers, streams and lakes. That being the case I have reposted this article with a bit of updating.
Canoes have been used for centuries to get people and supplies from one place to another all over the world. Canoes have been used as a means for survival, as well as, for warfare. In fact, the idea of using a canoe for recreation is a comparably new idea. Now days you can buy every size and shape of canoe for flat water, white water and wilderness tripping. You can even buy sail kits and outriggers should you decide to let the wind do the work.
For the sasquatch researcher getting into a very remote area by canoe can make very good sense. As you already know, a good many of sasquatch sightings occur along streams, lakes, and rivers. Stream and lake banks also make great "track traps." One advantage of using a canoe is that you can take a lot of gear with you and you don’t have to carry it on your back. One disadvantage of using a canoe is that should you get on the wrong river, and lack the requisite experience for that river, you can loose everything--including your life! So be prepared and know what you are doing.
Rivers are classified using an international scale of I through VI depending upon difficulty. Class I is easiest with class VI being almost impossible and very dangerous. If you haven’t done a lot of canoeing, I recommend meeting up with a local canoeing/kayaking club or organization. Going out with such a group will go a long way in preparing you for what challenges a stream, river or lake might provide. Also, know that a weighted down expedition canoe doesn't handle like a white water recreation canoe. Again, experience is everything.
I am an avid canoeist who likes wilderness tripping and canoe camping. I also like being prepared for any situation that a river might provide. Most of us like a good adventure, however, we really don't want epics. The difference between an adventure and an epic is preparation and know how.
The canoe that I use is a 17 foot Old Town "Tripper." The canoe is made of ABS Royalex™ which makes the canoe more flexible and "ding" resistant when impacting, or going over rocks. The canoe also has front and rear fiberglass skid plates for further protection. It is designed for wilderness tripping which means that it is designed to carry a heavy load. It's sort of a combination flat water/white water canoe--and I have paddled Class IV rapids (at flood stage) in this canoe!
When I first acquired this canoe I made several changes that were recommended by the book, Canoeing Wild Rivers by Cliff Jacobson (excellent book), as well as a few changes of my own. I drilled holes in the front and back of the canoe above the water line, inserted and glued in PVC pipe for tracking and lining ropes. The tracking/lining ropes are secured to the front and rear decks by elastic shock cord. These ropes are secured in a manner where they can be pulled out quickly and with little effort.
I then added a "flip-over" rope to the middle thwart. This is for when the canoe is upside down on the water, out on a lake, or in deep water, and shore is unreachable. You simply grab on to the "flip-over" rope, place your feet against the canoe, then pull the rope using your body weight, thus, flipping the canoe back to right-side up.
Not being a "paddle on your knees" person, I lowered the seats by several inches to lower the canoes center of gravity. I also added front and rear air bags (and sometimes one or two large inner tubes secured in the middle of the canoe as needed) for additional floatation. I always carry four paddles for inevitably you will loose one paddle; or if really unlucky, you may loose two paddles. Elastic shock cord is attached along the gunwales and thwarts to help hold things down. The finishing touch was attaching two drink holders to the gunwales for beverages.
Another good idea is to make a spray cover. A spray cover will keep rain from getting in the canoe during bad weather. It will also eliminate wind drag so the canoe doesn't get blown about on open water. The details on how to make one is also in Jacobson's book.
Add a cut-in-half bleach bottle (keep the cap on) with some nylon cord tied on to the handle and you have your bailer. I always carry an industrial grade sponge as well. You should also have a good rescue throw rope/bag, and you should practice throwing it before you get on the river. Now with the basics done you are ready for the long haul with the addition of a few more items.
I attach a very sharp dive knife to each PFD should I, or someone else, ever get tangled in a tracking and lining rope. I also attach a very loud whistle on a cord to each PFD as it's hard to yell for help over raging rapids. In the PFD pocket I carry an Aviation Fire Starter (they work very well even when soaked), a Power Bar™ (at least I have one high energy meal available should I loose the canoe and everything on it), and my vehicle keys. I also have a spare set of keys hidden on my vehicle should the keys somehow get lost. In the vehicle will also be a dry change of clothes additional food and water, etc.
So now to the gear list--I have compiled the following items from many years of experience on the river. I vary this list greatly depending upon the river, the length of the trip and the amount of people in the group as a whole. All of the gear is to be secured in the canoe to prevent loss. If you are paddling remote or dangerous rivers it is a good idea to have more than one canoe on the trip. You will want to vary items on this list to suit your needs.
EXPEDITION CANOEING GEAR LIST
Air Bags or Inner Tubes (for floatation)
25 ft Nylon Webbing (for canoe recovery)
Water Purification Tabs & Filter
SPOT Personal Tracker
AR-7 Survival Rifle (for deep wilderness tripping)
Canoe Rack/Carrier Kit (for vehicle)
Appropriate camping/bivouac gear for the length of trip
Appropriate amount of food for length of trip
Emergency back-up rations for extended stay
Any specialized expedition equipment
"DITTY BAG"/REPAIR KIT
Duct Tape (extremely useful)
G/Flex© Epoxy (for canoe
Rain Gear/Gore Tex™
Everything that I have suggested here has been tested numerous times and in extreme conditions. Every modification that I have made on the canoe, as well as everything that I carry, has but one purpose; that purpose is to survive the trek and get back home alive and well.
For additional information, be sure to read the following chapter from the
Royal Geographic Society Expedition Manual:
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