Sunday, November 30, 2008

THE CANOE

click on photos to enlarge I finally got time to launch my new escape mechanism. I found out one important thing real fast; I am totally lost when it comes to canoe operation. I have read and studied all the canoe strokes and thought it would just be a matter of a few trial paddle strokes and I'd be streaming down the water ways. Not so. This canoe is an Esquif Champlain model in Kevlar. The light weight material makes the canoe very easy to lift onto and off the truck cap. It is a breeze to carry anywhere. I put it in the water and easily got in and positioned. Off I went with a strong paddle stroke. Good. Then two more strong strokes and the canoe started to veer to the right. I'm paddling on the left. I executed a "J" stroke at the end of my power stroke, which is designed to correct the veer to the right, and it still went to the right. OK; we'll practice this. We did for three hours. The wind picked up to a gentle, steady breeze and it blew toward right side of the canoe and I found that steady paddling without any corrective action with the paddle made the canoe go dead straight. Great! I can do this. Then the wind stopped. Correction is again needed because the bow of the boat is veering to the right again with every paddle stroke. I paddle slow and apply correction and I'm going straight. Good. Maybe I need ballast in the front of the boat. Ya; that's it. Ballast. Off I paddle toward the truck. Lets see; what do I have in the truck I can use for weight in the bow to offset my weight. So I pulled out an old trailer jack and a spare boat trailer wheel. I gently sat them into the bow of my canoe in order to set the front of the boat into the water a bit further. This gotta be it. Yep. This is the answer. Off I go again. This helped stabilize the movement of the bow when the breeze picked up. But it did nothing to help when I applied the correction "J" stroke. There's work to be done. Anyone seeing a canoe with a trailer wheel sticking out the front would think the driver was nuts. Well; he is a little different, but I don't think nuts. I did get the boat well out in the center of Tellico Lake; which is a rather large body of water. But it was a struggle. It is difficult, as with anything, to learn a new skill without training. I will get it. I promise. And I will eventually take a canoe class. Handling a canoe is a skill. And it isn't an easy skill to pickup without instruction. But I'll get it. Even with all the difficulty of my first outing; I enjoyed the activity. I'm waiting for the rain to stop today so I can get it out on the water again. I have lots of paddle stroke variations I want to try. One will work.