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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 10:44 am 
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I recently got back into canoeing after decades of no canoeing. During this re-start, I was surprised at how skewed the chores versus fun ratio had apparently become: I found myself spending way too much time getting to the water, loading and unloading twice per outing, figuring out how to get the canoe from the vehicle to the water and back, and washing the salt off the canoe. I was actually spending more time on these non-canoeing "overhead" chores than I was spending paddling! This seemed like "doing things the wrong way"! In re-taking up canoeing, I want FUN, not more chores added to my already too-numerous chores.

I decided to attack the problem and make that fun versus chores ratio much better!

Here are some things I have done that some of you may also benefit from:


Reduced the distance I travel:

This helped a lot in 2 ways: It obviously reduces the driving time (and driving costs by the way too). But equally or more importantly, It reduces the number of tiedowns required GREATLY. When traveling short distances to local or nearby canoeing locations, I can stay off high speed highways and use roads that are restricted to about 65 kph speeds. This allows me to use just 3 tiedowns: 1 on the front rack crossbar, 1 on the rear rack crossbar, and 1 that ties a thwart on the canoe to the rear crossbar to prevent foreward or rearward sliding of the canoe on the rack. For short distances and low speeds, the bow and stern tiedowns are not needed.


Use quality tiedowns that are easy and QUICK to use, and also cut them down to customized lengths:

I used the quickly deployed Thule "belt" tiedowns with the "toothed" buckles (NOT ratchets!) for all 3 rack connections, and I have custom cut (and then lighter-flame-melted) the newly cut ends, so that once I have tightened the buckle on each tiedown, I have just enough "excess" to do a quick loop around a rack tower to secure the end against flapping (and to provide a backup to the toothed buckle).

When I really need the bow and stern tiedowns, I use the Thule underhood loops under the hood, and the Thule loops with the plastic "trapped pipes" at theie end for the trunk, and Thule "mini-ratchet" rope tiedowns, and I mark the ropes as either "hood" or "trunk", and cut them so that I have just enough excess to tie the ends off to the canoe's rear carry handle. The combination of the mini-ratchet action and the custom cut lengths took a HUGE amount of time out of the bow and stern tying process. Plus, the custom-cut lengths minimize the visual distractions while driving (no excess ropes flapping in the wind).


Pick canoeing locations with minimized obstacles between the car and the water:

There's a gorgeous lake about 15 miles from our home, but after you are loaded up, it takes a solid 20 to 25 minutes to drive each way (so 40 to 50 minutes of pure driving each outing). More importantly, once you get there, you have to either drive a rutted unpaved "trail" to get to a clearing designated for parking, or you have to park and unload / load on the highway shoulder! Plus, once you have the canoe off the car, EVERY pathway to the lake has either large deadfall trees or a steep hill on it, making the process of carrying the canoe to and from the water a lengthy, arduous, and risky process. And, the parking area is so small that you have to go at "off peak" times. While the lake is gorgeous, and freshwater (so does not require washing the canoe off once I get home), the time, effort, and risks of injury to either the canoe or me, make this an unattractive destination.

Compare this to my 2 new favorite locations. They are 1 mile and 3 miles respectively from our home, and so, once loaded up, take either 3 minutes or 10 minutes to drive each way. They both have good sized parking areas. They both have flat terrain. There is ample space to load and unload canoes from the car. They have no obstacles between the parking area and the water.

They are both saltwater, so do require a quick (5 minutes or so) spraydown of the canoe, paddles, drybag, lifejackets, etc after the outing.

But one has easy and short access to an estuary full of wildlife. The other has an approximately 1.6 kilometer horizontal distance between high tide mark and low tide mark (VERY shallow slope in the tidal zone!!), with water depths that range from just enough to float the canoe to about 4 or 5 feet, where you can SEE the underwater terrain, sea vegetation, and critters, from the canoe as you paddle along the shoreline, and where the shoreline itself varies wildly in its content (alternately incredibly tall trees or sand beaches or rocky beaches or seaplant gardens or sandbars or seagull congregations or geese or seals or multi-million dollar homes or vacation resorts). Lots to do and see and to photograph.


Keep most of what I need in the car trunk all the time, at least "in season":

This makes the outing "checklist" much shorter. This also saves the time required to find and load each required item, and to later UNload it. This also avoids the possibility of forgetting any key item (like any lifesaving or emergency gear). The sole exceptions are the paddles and the C-Tug Sandtrakz (see below). These are each either too big to fit into the trunk (paddles), or simply consume too much of the trunk space needed for things like grocery trips (The C-Tug)!


Keep things "pre-packed" for quick deployment into and out of the canoe:

I not only keep as much as possible in the trunk, wherever possible I also keep it "pre-packed" in either the dry bag or the waterproof box, so that I load or unload only a couple of items rather than a bunch of individual items.


Bought a C-Tug Sandtrakz:

THIS was HUGE in its impact! The C-Tug Sandtrakz is a canoe/kayak cart that is all plastic (no corrosion), has large wheels that go on or come off in seconds thanks to tool-less "lift pins", and comes with built-in tiedown belts. The "Sandtrakz" version of the C-Tug has flexible-spoked, wide "suspension"wheels that flatten a bit when rolling so that they act like "caterpillar tracks". This means they don't sink into beach sand or tidal mud, and they climb rocks like they aren't there. The cart allows me to balance my 42 lb Kevlar canoe over the cart so there is virtually no "lifting" required at the bow handle, and the forward pull required is VERY modest. It's actually EASY to pull the canoe from the car to the water and back.

In fact, whether unloading or loading the canoe off or onto the cart, it is MOST easily done with the canoe FLOATING in just a few inches of water, so you don't have much to lift, and you never scrape the bottom of the canoe loading or unloading. THIS was probably the biggest single impact on both time and effort of my entire program of improvements to the process.


Got a quality car rack & key accessories that save time:

The Thule-Mercedes roof rack I bought looks good enough that I just leave it on the car now at least in-season. This setup also NEVER touches the car's paint - Four 3/8" diameter bolts that thread into hidden trapdoored bolt holes inside the roof structure, so the actual towers never touch the paint anywhere. Adding the Thule "Portage" canoe hauling kit gave me (along with other things like the mini ratchet ropes) 4 plastic blocks that positively guide and then secure the canoe, so that it cannot slide sideways off the rack and car.

The entire assembly is well protected against casual theft, and since the rack is designed and dimensioned specifically for my specific low volume model of car, a pro thief will see the theft effort required and the small potential resale market as total turnoffs.


Developed 2 different processes for placing and removing the canoe on/from the roof rack:

This saves a lot of time. When my wife is accompanying me, we start BESIDE the car, she lifts the stern and I lift the bow, we lift and longitudinally center the canoe over the car, and lower it onto the rack. 21 lb each to lift (42 lb canoe weight / 2). We slide it forward or rearward until the "Wenonah" printing is about 4 inches behind the front crossbar, and then ensure it engages all 4 Portage blocks. Then tie it down.

If I am alone, I start with the canoe upside down, behind the car, in line with the centreline of the car. I put a Thule Waterfall blanket onto the (short) trunk lid. I lift the bow of the canoe from the ground, and place the bow onto the Thule waterfall blanket on the rear edge of the trunk lid. I get under the gunwales, and work my way rearward until I have just less than half the weight of the canoe forward of me. I lift the bow and walk forward until the bow can rest stably on the rear crossbar of the roof rack. I thne reposiiton myself further rearward under the canoe and lift and push the canoe forward onto the front crossbar, using the rear crossbar as a fulcrum. By using small lifts and sideways movements, I can drop the canoe into the rear and front Portrage blocks. Then tie it down.

Working alone, I can load and tie down the canoe to the roof rack in just a few minutes. With my wife assisting, it is even faster.


Developed a quick post-outing washdown process:

We live in a condo with assigned underground parking. Just inside the garage entry door, there is a 16 foot wide "car wash" bay with just a on-off faucet, hose, adjustable spray nozzle, and 2 floor drains. When I return from an outing, I stop at the car wash bay (not at my assigned parking slot). The equivalent in a private home setting would be stopping in your driveway, not your garage.

There, I unload and spread out the canoe, the C-Tug (body plus 2 individual wheels), the paddles, and anything else that was exposed to saltwater or saltwater spray. I then spray down every item, being sure to catch both sides, and to do both the inside and outside of the canoe. Then, I use the C-Tug to haul the canoe, with everything else that was washed inside it, to my storage slot. No lifting required.

At my storage slot, I remove all the gear from inside the canoe and set it out in my locked but top-ventilated storage locker to dry. The canoe itself goes onto a pair of custom wood support frames I built to keep it stored upside down and off the floor. The Sandtrakz then gets put into the ventilated locker.

The whole process of washing and then rolling everything on the Sandtrakz to the storage area, and then putting everything away now takes just a few minutes.

A couple of days later, after everything has dried, I put the gear back into the car trunk when I am opening up the locker anyway to prepare for a motorcycle ride.


Practical anti-theft provisions for the canoe:

I have a LONG (about 16 feet as I recall) flexible, hardened and plastic coated cable with a good lock. It loops through the front third of the canoe, being routed BETWEEN all the fittings (bow handle, bow seat frame, front thwart, etc) and the hull. It also loops AROUND a solid concrete garage pillar that is 12" x 24" cross-section! This cabling is fast and easy to do. And it is inside an access-controlled underground garage, where only the 30 residents each have a registered garage door opener.

This means that the thief must be able to first KNOW that the canoe is there. He must then be able to get into the controlled access garage. He must then cut the 3/8" hardened cable in order to steal the canoe. He cannot simply cut out the bow handle. he would have to cut out the bow handle, the bow seat assembly, and a thwart to get the canoe if he cannot defeat the cable. That would make the canoe unsaleable and usable without seriously costly repairs, and would also mark the canoe for easy post-theft identification. And, the thief must do all this without being noticed or heard, in a building that has only 30 units, where everyone knows everyone else who lives there.

You can't make a canoe "unstealable" by a pro thief, but you can certainly discourage an attempt even being made.


So, this is everything I have thought of so far to take time and effort out of the "overheads" that steal time away from the actual canoeing. I'm feeling much better about my opportunities to canoe now, as both the time slot and the before and after effort required have been greatly reduced!

Jim G


Last edited by JimGnitecki on September 30th, 2017, 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 11:44 am 
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I'll be blunt.....STOP thinking and START paddling!

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"What else could I do? I had no trade so I became a peddler" - Lazarus Greenberg 1915


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 12:06 pm 
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recped wrote:
I'll be blunt.....STOP thinking and START paddling!


??? I'll be blunt too:

I HAVE started paddling. I just wanted the ratio of actual paddling time to total time consumed to be better. And I have been seeing success in that effort. I thought I'd pass on some of what I've learned so as to help others who have time constraints. What's your beef? :D

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 2:08 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
Nor my cuppa tea either. I never want to be beholden to a timetable
Sooner or later it will bite you
Part of the fun is getting there
You need to do a thorough wash after salt water when your seats fail you will understand


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 2:17 pm 
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littleredcanoe wrote:
Nor my cuppa tea either. I never want to be beholden to a timetable
Sooner or later it will bite you
Part of the fun is getting there
You need to do a thorough wash after salt water when your seats fail you will understand


Interestingly, because I have a centre seat as well, the bow and stern seats are plastic "tractor" seats and the centre seat is a cane seat. I'm not sure why Wenonah does it that way, but it MIGHT be to facilitate paddling the canoe with the stern and bow reversed for different weight distribution. The plastic tractor seats are obviously tougher and also more comfortable (at least for me :D )

What qualifies as "a thorough wash" for saltwater? Is rinsing off generously not good enough?

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 3:19 pm 
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Well I guess I am the odd one out so far because I think of similar things. When we take Scouts out there is quite a lot of overhead if we want to take them out on a meeting night, for example. We can just go paddling on the Rideau Canal but honestly it is a stinky cesspool in the downtown area even in early spring shortly after they fill it up and it opens. So even though that is the closest location, I really don't want to go there. This year in spring I wanted to go to Westboro beach because it is close, but we had the extreme flooding which made that not a great idea. Usually we like to go to Meech Lake which is the closest place that is really nice clean water - it is a half hour drive each way. It takes me 10 to 15 minutes before and after to hitch up and unhitch the canoe trailer in location. A good 10 to 15 minutes before and after paddling to load and unload the canoes. So now we're up to a whole 2 hours of overhead time (for meech lake) just to get in 90 minutes of paddling. We can cut about 45 minutes if we go to Westboro beach.

Even when it comes to Scout trips these are handy things to think of. For our weekend trips we basically have to limit it to 2 hours each way to get to the drop in site. For our 5 day 4 night trips we limit it to 3 hours.

I'm always looking for ways to shave off a bit of time. Nothing wrong with that.


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 4:11 pm 
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Yes Prospector16, I can see how you would not want the Scouts being tired by the time they actually get in the water, and exhausted by the time they have to pack everything back up in the vehicles and then make the trip back to the roundevous point where the parents pick them up, and then the trip home from there. You want them to remember the CANOEING, not the commuting time to and from the canoeing!

In my case, my wife's ability to join me depends upon how big a time slot we will need to prepare for, drive to, unload, get to the water, do the fun part - the canoeing, get back to the car, reload, drive home, and clean up after the entire outing. The first time we did it, it took us over 3 hours to get less than an hour on the water, because we had not done this time and effort optimization. Now, it's more like 2 or 2-1/4 hours to get that one hour on the water. That makes it more likely that on any given day my wife will have enough of an open time slot to do the outing!

In addition, she really didn't like all the inefficiency in the original process. She felt that a lot of her scarce free time was being wasted on logistics versus actually paddling.

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 7:27 pm 
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Wow that is a lot of detail!

I think the destination is so much more than how long it takes to get there and the obstacles along your path. Actually that's not true, frequently the most memorable trips are the ones that present the most obstacles to overcome. Either way, I think the key is to make the journey and destination special, enjoyable, memorable (pick your adjective). Otherwise, you may tire of the whole process, regardless of how well you have streamlined it. All these other details are just minutiae. The truth is you will become more proficient the more you do it. Carve out more time and go paddling.

For the record I have no beef with you! :D


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 6:11 am 
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Hey Jim;
I've got a Solo Plus in Royalex at 57 lbs.
I don't know your physical capabilities, but if you can lift your boat and shimmy it forward onto the rack as you describe then I'd imagine with practice you should be able to heft it from the ground onto your thighs then flip it up and over your head onto your shoulders into a normal portage position. Now that I'm old and weak the other technique I sometimes use on my 17 ft 90+ lb tripping canoe is to lift from one end, invert over my head as I turn backwards, then shuffle backwards, crouching down as required until the yoke is over my shoulders, then lift and straighten up.
Practice this on a lawn - dropping it won't damage the boat. (If you're going to drop it, get one end down first so it sorta' rolls down on its side)

If you are able to get it up balanced onto your shoulders you may find that actually carrying it is easier than you imagine. Just picking it up and carrying it is a lot less trouble then screwing around with a cart.

The front of the center seat of your boat is pretty-much the center balance point. I tied loops of shock cord around mine and slip in a piece of one of those pool-noodle foam things as a yoke.

WRT salt water damage I've done multi-week tide-water trips, paddling daily, without rinsing the canoe or my gear until I got home without any damage. But I forgot to wash down a motor that I used on salt water this spring and I noticed the other day that one of the non-stainless bolts on it corroded quite badly.

Also, I use ratchet straps over the canoe to hold it to the roof racks. Crank her down until the tumble-home bulges a bit - it's not dong the canoe any harm unless you get really carried away.

But the best way to improve your fun-time vs overhead ratio is to do multi-day trips!


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 8:07 am 
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Hi, Krusty, and thank-you for your helpful comments. I have an old back injury that limits my ability to lift. Equally important, my sense of 3 dimensional space is rather poor, so when I carry a canoe overhead, the combination of poor 3D awareness coupled with the impaired vision inherent in carrying a canoe overhead, coupled with the length of the canoe, makes for way too many "collisions" with objects! Overall, the cart is much easier for me! :D

Another significant advantage of the cart is that the canoe travels right side up on it, so all the gear can simply be IN it, rather than requiring a separate trip! The technique I described of loading and unloading the canoe (with all gear in it) while the canoe is floating in the water, makes thing go particularly easily and quickly.

I'm glad to hear that the saltwater rinsing is not all that time sensitive, but my latest process approach makes the rinsing so quick and easy that I am just making it part of the post-outing routine. The canoe still looks like new, and I'll try to keep it looking that good!

Jim G


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 9:00 am 
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You may be able to reduce the chore time with practice, but I'd suggest you extend the fun time to all- day paddles. Any over night or multi-day trips available where you live? A weekender would make all the chores well worthwhile.
However, if you are limited to day- tripping only take heart, and enjoy, and change your approach to the "chores". Seriously. For one, call them "trip preparations" instead. Give them a mental positive spin rather than detracting from the "fun" part. Personally I don't day trip so much but prefer to go multi-day tripping, and I barely give all the packing, organizing, loading etc any thought. I consider all that part of the whole trip, even if it's considerably less fun. eg. Several years ago I was stuck in holiday traffic and noticed beside me an older couple loaded up and apparently returning from their own holidays. But unlike everyone else stuck in traffic this couple were laughing and enjoying themselves! I decided then and there I needed a change in my own attitude. ie Rather than my trip starting at the put-in and only lasting till the take-out I mentally included the whole shebang as part of the trip. My trips now start in my basement as I gather the gear and start to load up and that's where they end, unloading and reorganizing back into Rubbermaids and onto shelves. And unlike my old self I'm relaxed and happy throughout, even in holiday traffic, because I'm tripping, and all is good, even when it's not. Get it? It works for me Jim, and I hope it'll work for you.
ps Although I tandem with my wife I'm always the one doing the grunt work, but I don't mind. It's no longer a chore but signals a start and finish of a trip. What's not to like?


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 9:15 am 
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That's a great perspective, Odyssey!

Multi-day camping trips are not possible for me, but I like your approach to doing the "overhead" tasks. :)

Jim G


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 10:32 am 
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Jim the saltwater rinsing IS time sensitive. I live near the ocean too. Even stuff in storage gets the effect of salt air. Zippers fail to work,salt crystals embed themselves in the teeth and harden.. Any time we come home from a saltwater outing its rinse time right away.. We have some 40 years experience with salt air and water. I am sure with sailing you have seen the effects of salt water.
Pay particular attention to your PFD's zipper and treat your items with 303 ( like paddling jacket gaskets) or in the case of zippers Mc Netts zipper treatment.

My fun isn't your fun but we all have limitations. I dont find that vision is obstructed by carrying a canoe. Yes light is right in my old age.. Carts don't always work for us.. And its possible to break a canoe by loading the gear in an unsupported area( a kayaking friend did! As the tide disappeared he had to cart across a lot of rocks.. We have a 15 foot tide). Fun for me is a new area to explore.. new light for photos..

I endorse the idea that a paddle outing should be at least as long as the drive time and its a shame you are so time restricted.


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 11:05 am 
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littleredcanoe wrote:
Jim the saltwater rinsing IS time sensitive. I live near the ocean too. Even stuff in storage gets the effect of salt air. Zippers fail to work,salt crystals embed themselves in the teeth and harden.. Any time we come home from a saltwater outing its rinse time right away.. We have some 40 years experience with salt air and water. I am sure with sailing you have seen the effects of salt water.
Pay particular attention to your PFD's zipper and treat your items with 303 ( like paddling jacket gaskets) or in the case of zippers Mc Netts zipper treatment.

. . .



Your long-term experience with saltwater makes your advice particularly interesting. Is a "rinsing off with a hose" after saltwater exposure fine, or do you need to actually rub the item down with a wet rag? I'm asking because as we all have discovered, those "touchless" car washes we were told to use on our cars actually leave a layer of dirt that you can easily pick up and see on a wet cloth, or finger, wiped over the "washed" surface right after the wash!

Jim G


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 11:06 am 
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WRT rinsing, and pretty much everything else, always take LRC's advice over mine. I do.


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