Friday, March 1, 2013

Different Paddle Portage Pics...

Came across an interesting illustration of the portaging method in The Way of the Woods, by Edward Breck (1908). It showcases the method of lashing paddles to the center thwart to shoulder the canoe. What caught my eye was how the paddle shafts are pointed to the stern and the canoeist is gripping the thwart in front. This seems reversed to most methods I've seen where the shafts face forward and has been labeled "Micmac Style" by the author.

Reverse Paddle Carry
The Way of the Woods  p.94

This method is also demonstrated in a YouTube video of Tim Smith of Jack Mountain Bushcraft showcasing this method on a portage on his video,  Canoe Expedition Course (7 of 15) (go to the 1:30 mark to see). Seems to work well if you have a quarter thwart positioned in the perfect spot.

Contrast that to the more common carry method illustrated from Homer Halsted's later publication, How to Live in the Woods (1948). An image from page 124 shows the details for lashing and the paddle facing forward so the canoeist can hold the shafts for support...

How to Live in the Woods  p124

Still another method is to lash the paddles (shafts forward) but tied together by a single lashing so that the paddles are no longer parallel. I first came across this method described as the "Montagnais" method described in Paul Provencher's book, I Live In The Woods (more about that book in this post here)

Montagnais Tying Method

The last version of this is to reverse the paddle position and cross the blades on the forward thwart while lashing the grips to the center. Came across this in the online book, Building the Chippewa Canoe by Robert E.  Ritzenthaler.

"Chippewa Portage Method"

The last method is the method I tend to favour with my smaller 14' cedar canvas as it feels less claustrophobic to me. The combination of the tump and contoured yoke make for an easy carry. The blade forward position makes the bow a bit heavy, but this is offset with the fact that I lash my kneeling pad and some other stuff to the seat in the rear and that creates some balance...

My Paddles lashed in for portage  


Tim Smith said...

Hi Murat,
Thanks for the link. My 20' boat has a center thwart, not a yoke. To carry it with just the thwart on my neck is painful for any distance. Using the paddles with the blades in the middle and the shaft towards the rear, the blades take the brunt of the weight and function like a yoke. It's shown in a photo at:

I really enjoy your blog.

Tim Smith

Murat said...

Appreciate the link to your portage setup photo, Tim. Carrying a 20 footer on the trail? You Maine Guides are the toughest lot around!

I'm going to try your method of positioning the paddle shafts to the rear on my other boat, a 15 footer. It also has just a thwart in the center and I've been struggling with the best carrying method.

Looking forward to the spring thaw

Bob Holtzman said...

Advantage of Breck's method (the first shown) is that the paddle blades are unsupported/cantilevered, so when the canoe's weight is on them, they should flex somewhat, serving like a bit of "padding" on the shoulders.
Lovely photo of your own setup.

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