Tuesday, May 3, 2011

LOADING THE CANOE ONTO THE CANOE TRAILER

click photos to enlarge

I want to paddle the canoe up Abrams Creek to survey the tornado damage to the forest, if I can get onto the water within a reasonable distance of the creek channel.  I had heard that the Dept of Transportation is working in the area clearing trees from along side the roadway and may have the area closed off.  As I pulled the canoe from the shed I thought it might be a good idea to post the loading process.  The Mistral 17.5 is a large canoe but very managable once removed from the shed.  The loading drill goes like this:
As soon as the canoe is off the canoe racks in the shed;  I sit it on the floor and immediately attach the Paddle Boy canoe wheels.  These things are absolutely a must have if you've got any kind of back issues at all.  Then I simply wheel (push or pull) the canoe out to the trailer.
The wheels attach easily.  It takes a heart beat in time to slide them over the tip of the canoe.  They fit solid and will mar nothing.  The wood gunnels are protected by thick, soft plastic covering the wheel support arms.
I place the canoe directly behind the trailer.
Note that the wheels are still attached although, it is not necessary from this point forward.  I then pick up the bow with the lift rope and sit the bow onto the rear bunk.  It is then that I remove the canoe wheels.
Notice above that I have set the canoe onto the extreme one side of the bunk.
Again, the canoe is resting on the right end of the rear bunk.  Then I simply lift the tail end of the boat with the lift rope and push it forward onto the front bunk.
The canoe is still sitting off center on the edge of the bunks both front and rear.  I now, from the rear of the boat, simply rotate the canoe onto it's side.  Now you get the reason for keeping the boat off center and on the outside of the bunks.

Above and below is what you should have at this point in the process:
Again, note where the canoe rests on the bunks.  Then, from this side, simply grab the gunnels and lay it down gently onto the bunks.
It is now ready to strap down tight.
Throw one of these in the front seat of the truck and head for the water:

I can't stress enough how wonderful the canoe wheels are.  They allow the canoe to be loaded at the truck and the whole mess can be wheeled to the water.  Throw the canoe wheels under the seat and you have them to extricate the boat at the destination.  Simply turn around and slide the wheel frame over the end of the canoe while it's still in the water.  Step out at your destination, grab the lift rope and pull the canoe up on land and to wherever you wish.  They fold and pack in the canoe well.
I put an entry on the blog showing the assembly of this trailer.  I wasn't satisified with the bunk supports or bunk placement so I made new supports out of 2 inch angle iron.  It's overkill for strength.  So what!  Point is that the angle iron that the bunks rest on is very long.  It's almost as long as the bunks themselves.  I could easily cut new wood bunks and extend them long enough to carry two canoes side by side were I a mind to.  I also purchased a caster wheel for the tongue.  I hardly have to lift a thing to go canoeing.

I am very adverse to lifting canoes to my shoulders since my bout with sciatica.  I don't want to risk falling back into that pain filled traumatic situation again.  I love canoeing and this set up allows me to enjoy my passion with confidence.

I have all intention of slipping down to the water but, I no sooner loaded the canoe than the wind started blowing and the sky darkened.  Just my luck.  No matter.  The boat is ready to go.