II. THE CANOE.
- "Across the broad breast of the river at rest gayly I
- For my paddle dips deep, in its long, steady sweep
- Through the sleeping tide;
- And the new-risen sun gilds the drops as t they run,
- Like pearls from the blades with a tinkling song,
- And the ripples dance bright, and they laugh outright
- All my wake along; when I launch my canoe in the sweet,
- We're the merriest pair by the waters borne."
have been very early in the history of mankind when boats of some sort
or other came into use. No great distances, anywhere but on the desert,
can be traveled without crossing streams and other bodies of water. In
fact the raft is older than man, for animals have been known to use it
-- if not actually its builders. Following the law of evolution, the
next step in development is to hollow out the log. This improvement is
suggested by nature herself in many ways -- floating bark, dry leaves,
nut shells, and even some sea shells. These forms were no doubt
imitated in wooded countries by hollowing out logs to some extent with
rude tools and fire, and elsewhere by stretching skins over rough
frames. A very little further up in the scale -- when the logs' ends
are sharpened -- the canoe comes in. The canoe is the first real boat
built by a people. Think of a savage, anywhere, and does not the
thought go paired with that of a canoe? The South Sea Islander, the
cannibal, the African, Esquimau, Indian -- all picture themselves in
the mind at once as canoeists; yes, professional canoeists. The canoe
is older than civilization, and will no doubt outlast it. Go where you
will, the canoe will be there before you. It is on the equator, and
again within the Arctic circle. It was in America long before Columbus
What a Canoe is.
THE canoe has two characteristics which always mark it.
Both ends, bow and stern, are sharp, brought to an edge, pointed if
viewed from above. It is propelled by a paddle. With the raft a pole
was probably first used and advantage taken of currents when possible.
As soon as the navigator left shore on his raft far enough to fail in
reaching bottom with his pole, he had to invent something to take its
place, and the paddle suggested itself to him. The oar and rowing are
civilized. The paddle is barbarian. It is complete in itself, and
whether single-bladed, as used by the savages, or double, Esquimau
fashion, it is used independently of the canoe -- having no fixed
fulcrum -- directly with the arms. No savage would ever think of
turning his back in the direction in which he was rowing.
16 • 17
The Rob Roy Canoe.
It took the security of civilization to give man
the courage to travel thus (rowing) practically with his eyes shut. The
canoeist always faces the way he is going when paddling. Rowing is a
reverse, acquired mode of propulsion -- paddling, a direct, natural
method. The canoe being older than history, its comparatively modern
forms and evolutions alone can be treated by history.
The word canoe means to most people one of either of three
kinds of boats: the Indian birch bark (the bark sewed over a wooden
frame); the dugout, a hollowed log; and the kayak of the Esquimau (made
of skins sewed together and stretched over a frame of bones). The birch
and dugout are open canoes. The kayak has a deck and is entirely closed
in except the man hole. It is pictured in many of the geographies with
an iceberg for a background. The civilized canoe is different from any
of these, but borrows its original idea from them; and it approaches
one or the other type in its various forms according to the uses to
which it is to be put. The tame canoe is very recent; this generation,
in fact, can claim it. In earlier times the wild canoe was used by the
pale face and appropriated to his needs. Nearly every good thing that
the uncivilized man ever had has at one time or another been thus
appropriated by the white man, according to the natural law that might
Mr. J. MacGregor, a Scotchman, deserves the credit of
originating canoeing as a pastime and
showing the canoe's cruising capabilities. Canoes were
known and used in England to a limited degree before he built his Rob
Roy and took a thousand-mile cruise in her in 1865. His canoe was so
far superior to any then in use for traveling purposes, and so many
have been built like it since, that canoeing, as we now understand it,
may be said to date from 1865, and MacGregor's Rob Roy and the accounts
he published of her performances.
The Rob Roy is essentially the kayak, propelled like it
with a double-bladed paddle, but built of wood instead of skins and
bones. To the dry skin and bones MacGregor added flesh, and the spark
of life -- popularity -- thus creating the being all who know
intimately learn to love. In many ways he made the canoe more
convenient and commodious for use in a warmer climate than that of the
Certainly as early as MacGregor's time, if not long before
it, the Indian birch was used in Canada for journeys other than those
of strict business or the chase. The canoe itself did not, however,
show the marks of a civilized hand (at least in literature) till
MacGregor wrote of his voyage on the Rhine. The Canadian canoe is still
very closely allied to the birch. The modifications and improvements
from the original have been so gradual in the evolution of this canoe
to its present perfect form for the uses to which it is put, that the
successive steps are next to impossible to trace, and it is especially
difficult to separate and date them. Suffice it, then, to say that
during the last twenty years this canoe has hardly changed at all in
its general form; but, having had a great amount of thought spent on
its construction, the wonderful improvements made all lie in this
18 • 19
Open Canadian Canoe.
The model was perfect before and could not be
improved upon. It is a stronger canoe than any other, is very light to
portage easily, will carry a greater load for its size, always adapted
for a crew of two or more persons, draws very little water (about two
inches), has practically no keel, propelled almost entirely with the
single-blade paddle, and it is capable of being paddled faster than any
other model, and can hardly be improved upon for running rapids and
performing the services required of it. The hunters and trappers of the
North use it as their sole transport over lakes and rivers for general
traveling. It takes the sportsman to his happy hunting or fishing
grounds, and with him all his belongings, including the dogs. It brings
him and his "catch" home again to his very doorstep, maybe. Lastly,
this same canoe will afford him many an hour's enjoyment near home,
perhaps of a summer's evening when she consents to accompany him,
sitting forward, most comfortably posed within easy billing and cooing
distance of his place aft, where the paddle is plied.
It is said of John MacGregor, Adjutant of the Scottish
Eight, that in May, 1865, he was roughly handled in a railway accident,
and was thus prevented from shooting at Wimbledon. "Walking moodily by
the Thames, he decided to go afloat again, and that night devised the
Rob Roy canoe, which was launched in July following on her cruise of a
20 • 21
MacGregor on Canoeing.
The following is what Mr. MacGregor says of his
"The [first] Rob Roy canoe was built of oak, with
a deck of cedar. She was fifteen feet in length, twenty-eight inches
broad, nine inches deep, and weighed eighty pounds. A paddle seven feet
long, with a blade at each end, and a lug sail and jib were the means
of propulsion, and a pretty Union Jack was the only ornament. My
baggage for three months was in a black bag, one foot square and six
In his first chapter of the "Thousand Mile Cruise" he
notes down many points of interest to all canoeists; his exact words
are therefore here quoted:
"It was a pleasant book that 'Log of the Water
Lily,' telling how she was rowed on the Rhine and the Danube; and after
her went the Waterwitch to labor up French rivers and a hundred tedious
locks on the German canal. But all such cruising in rowboats was of
course very limited, for in the wildest parts of the best rivers the
channel is too narrow for oars, or if Wide enough, it is often too
shallow; and the tortuous passages, the rocks and banks, the weeds and
snags, the milldams, barriers, fallen trees, rapids, whirlpools and
waterfalls that constantly occur on a river winding among hills, make
those very parts where the scenery is wildest and best to be quite
unapproachable in such a boat, for it would be swamped by the sharp
waves, or upset over the sunken rocks, which cannot be seen by a
"Now these very things which bother the 'pair oar,'
become cheery excitements to the voyager in a canoe. For now, as he
sits in his little bark, he looks forward, and not backward. He sees
all his course, and the scenery besides. With one sweep of his paddle
he can turn when a foot from destruction. He can steer within an inch
in a narrow place, and can easily pass through reeds and weeds, or
branches and grass; can work his sail without changing his seat; can
shove with his paddle when aground, and can jump out in good time to
prevent a bad smash. He can wade and haul his craft over shallows, or
drag it on dry ground, through fields and hedges, over dykes, barriers
and walls; can carry it by hand up ladders and stairs, and can
transport his canoe over high mountains and broad plains in a cart
drawn by a man, a horse, or a cow.
"Besides all this, the covered canoe is far stronger
than an open [row] boat, and may be fearlessly dropped into a deep
pool, a lock, or a millrace, and when the breakers are high, in the
open sea or in river rapids, they can only wash over the deck, while it
is always dry within.
"The canoe is safer also than a rowing boat, because you
sit so low in it, and never require to shift your place or lose hold of
the paddle: while for comfort during long hours, for days and weeks of
hard work, it is evidently the best, because you lean all the time
against a swinging backboard, and when the paddle rests on your lap you
are at ease as in an armchair; so that, while drifting along with the
22 • 23
The Nautilus Canoe.
or the wind, you can gaze around, and eat or
read, or sketch, or chat with the starers on the bank, and yet, in a
moment of sudden alarm, the hands are at once on the faithful paddle
ready for action.
"Finally, you can lie at full length in the canoe, with
the sail as an awning for the sun, or a shelter for rain, and you can
sleep at night under its cover, or inside it when made for that
purpose, with at least as much room for turning in your bed as sufficed
for the great Duke of Wellington; or, if you are tired of the water for
a time, you can leave your boat at an inn, where it will not be 'eating
its head off,' like a horse; or you can send it home, or sell it, and
take to the road yourself, or sink back again into the dull old
cushions of the 'Premiere Classes,' and dream you are seeing the world.
"With such advantages, then, and with good weather and
good health, the canoe voyage is truly delightful.
"It may well be asked from one who thus praises the
paddle, 'Has he traveled in other ways, so as to know their several
pleasures? Has he climbed glaciers and volcanoes, dived into caves and
catacombs, trotted in the Norway carriole, ambled on an Arab, and
galloped on the Russian steppes? Does he know the charms of a Nile
boat, or a Trinity Eight, or a Yankee steamer, or a sail in the Aegean,
or a mule in Spain? Has he swung upon a camel, or glided in a sleigh,
or sailed a yacht, or trundled in a Rantoone?'
"Yes, he has most thoroughly enjoyed these and other
modes of locomotion, fast and slow. And now, having used the canoe in
Europe, Asia, Africa and America, he finds the pleasure of the paddle
is the best of them all."
He might also have added that pecuniarily it is the most
economical mode of journeying of any of those he named, and perhaps the
The main feature of the Rob Roy, distinguishing it from
other canoes in general use up to its time by the Saxon race, is the
deck. The canoe differs in construction and sheer -- the rising of the
sides of the canoe when approaching the ends -- from the Esquimau
kayak, but gets its deck idea from the kayak. The Rob Roy has a rather
flat deck, slightly rounded laterally. The kayak has a very decided
sheer, thus sharply curving the deck up toward the bow and stern.
Mr. Baden-Powell took up canoeing shortly after MacGregor
published his book, and purchased a Rob Roy canoe, which was named
Nautilus. After using this canoe for a time he became much interested
in sailing it, and the idea occurred to him that a better canoe could
be designed for this purpose, and yet retain good paddling qualities.
He planned and built Nautilus No.2. In reality this was the first
Nautilus canoe -- of a model different from the Rob Roy. Up to this
time the two types of canoes known, open Canadian and decked Rob Roy,
were built for paddling, and very little account was taken of the sail.
The Nautilus canoe was the first one designed with the intention of a
frequent and effective use of the sail.
24 • 25
This canoe was decked, but had a decided sheer, and
was intended to draw more water than the Rob Roy, thus making a better
canoe for carrying sail and beating to windward.
A second Nautilus was built the following winter (being
really Nautilus No. 3), having a number of modifications and
improvements over the No. 2 (or No.1 of the new type. This No. 3
Nautilus is the one Americans usually mean when they speak of the
Nautilus model. Mr. Baden-Powell drew out the lines of a No. 4 Nautilus
-- almost identical with those of No. 3 -- but never built from them.
These No. 4 lines, however, were the ones obtained by a member of the
New York Canoe Club from England, and are the ones from which James
Everson, of Williamsburgh, built in 1870 the first canoes of this type
known of in the United States. Mr. Jarvis, a builder of rowing boats
and canoes on the Thames, came to this country about the same time and
settled in central New York. He soon began building, and produced a
number of very good Nautilus canoes (of No. 3 model), the best known of
which is canoe Psyche, built at Ithaca in 1876.
Mr. Baden-Powell has built many canoes, all called
Nautilus, no two of which are alike; in fact, their models grade all
the way from the slightly modified Rob Roy up to the sixteen-inch
draught, heavy centerboard sailing canoe. Nautilus model, therefore,
means nothing; or, rather it can mean almost anything. In the United
States Nautilus is usually intended to mean either Nos. 3 or 4.
Three canoe TYPES then, it has been shown, are pretty
clearly marked and distinct, the one from the other, of those used in
1. The Canadian open canoe, holding two or more
persons, for sporting, carrying heavy loads, and for general lake,
river and rapids navigation, handled with the single blade paddle.
2. The Rob Roy canoe, holding one person, decked,
double-bladed paddle, adapted for cruises.
3. The Nautilus [3 or 4], not quite as good in either of
the special fields covered by the other two, but still quite capable of
much that the others are, and adding to this good sailing qualities,
which neither of the others possess.
Under one of these three types any of the canoes now in
use can be housed. The word canoe being here somewhat limited in
meaning to conform closely to the definition given by the American and
the Western Canoe Associations of America, and the Royal Canoe Club of
England. The Rob Roy and Canadian open canoes have not changed very
much in model in the last twenty years, though in construction they
have both been very greatly improved. The great changes and almost
endless varieties in model come under the head of Nautilus type --
meaning the type of canoes constructed to carry sail to advantage. The
sail has brought this all about. Few "points" enter into the problem of
the design of a paddling canoe, weight to be transported, character of
water to be used on, and speed desired being the principal ones. For
sailing it is different. Every man has his own ideas, as in yacht
designing, where two are rarely built just alike.
26 • 27
Every man who builds changes this existing
feature, or modifies that to suit his individual taste or whim so that
extremes of all sorts have been run into only to eventually improve and
perfect the happy medium canoe. There is no such thing as a best canoe.
Many good ones exist, and you will have to select from them the best
one adapted to your special needs. Much has been said and written about
the "perfect canoe." The only perfect canoe is the one you happen to
own and want to sell. Canoeists are a little like horse jockeys; their
statements about their own canoes and the wonderful feats accomplished
in them must The taken with a grain of allowance. So beware of what I
tell you and do not accept it as fact till you have demonstrated it
yourself. I shall state it all as fact, but you are to understand it is
merely my opinion.
THE materials used in building barbarian
canoes are skins and bark stretched over rude frames of bones or wood
and sewed together her, the seams being rendered watertight with pitch,
gums or oils and grease; the trunks of trees hollowed out and sharpened
at the ends; and in some localities of matted grasses or woven reeds.
The tame canoe adds to the above list, wooden planked canoes, metal
(tinned iron, zinc, copper and steel), canvas and paper. ~ he most
common are those made of thin planks of cedar or basswood and varnished
or painted. Some canoes are built of many very narrow strips laid
lengthways and tapered to form the lines, nailed securely to each other
and to the keel, stem and stern posts, the whole covered with canvas
28 • 29
Some have the strips run from the keel to gunwale,
tongued and grooved into each other. Others are veneers of two or three
thicknesses cemented or riveted firmly together. Many different kinds
of woods are used for the various parts having special necessities. Oak
keel and frame, white cedar planking, Spanish cedar deck, walnut
moldings, pine bulkheads and carlins, hackmatack knees, stem and stern
posts, and spruce spars and paddle, are a few of the woods used, and
their special functions.*
The cedar planked canoes are the most common in use in the
United States. The lightness, toughness and elasticity of this wood
recommend it for such use. These canoes are built principally in two
ways -- the lapstreak and the smooth skin. A streak is a single plank
of the hull running from stem to stern. When a streak is made up of two
pieces, each extending about half the length of the canoe, the planks
are said to be butted. There are usually five or more streaks on each
side of the hull. In the lapstreak canoe the seams are made tight by
the lapping of each streak over the edge of the one below it and
beveled into it, the rivets or nails being drawn through both planks
and burred or clinched on the inside. The streaks are fastened to the
ribs in the same way. In smooth skin canoes the planks are laid edge to
edge, and a batten run over the seam on the inside and nailed to both
planks, the seam being afterward caulked.
*For full particulars on
building and material see "Canoe and Boat Building for Amateurs," by W.
P. Stephens, Forest and Stream Publishing company.
The lapstreak is said to be "clinker built." The Canadian
canoes are all smooth skin canoes built in several ways without the use
of the batten, the tongue and groove method being quite popular. The
streaks on either side of the keel on the bottom of the canoe are
called the garboard streaks.
THE fact that the canoe has lived so long and is now on
the increase, as to numbers, rather than dying out in use, shows
conclusively that it has a place in human affections -- is useful. For
what? It is specially adapted for journeys (of pleasure) on small
rivers and lakes in wild regions on account of its lightness, for ease
in carrying from one water way to another, and the simplicity of its
management. It is so narrow that an inlet three feet wide can be
navigated, and if no outlet is found the canoeist merely turns himself
around and paddles the canoe stern first out again. A rapid can be
conquered (going up) by poling the canoe along, if the water be not too
swift; paddling down a deep rapid is the finest and most exciting sport
yet invented. The canoe carries a large amount of baggage besides the
crew, and is strong enough to stand many a hard knock and rough usage.
The above are some of the reasons why the Indians used canoes and
learned to build and handle them with wonderful skill, hunting and
fishing can be done in them, usually using the single-blade paddle and
the open canoe.
30 • 31
Paddling is capital exercise with either the single
or double blade. The wrist movement in paddling is said by an authority
to be an excellent cure for writer's cramp, and the fresh air and
pleasant scenes sure to be got at in a canoe will tone up the body and
refresh the tired brain -- and certainly provoke a good appetite.
Wherever a small boat is useful a canoe is useful, ornamental and
thoroughly enjoyable as well. How can a summer afternoon be spent more
pleasantly than in nosing around in a canoe on a quiet creek, mountain
lake or stream, some lovely river reach, or calm bay of the sound, or
along the coast?
Racing is of secondary interest in canoeing. It can be
made most exciting and enjoyable if the other objects for which the
canoe exists are not lost sight of. Many things prevent that these
points should be neglected to the racing interest; the little time that
can actually be devoted to racing, the strong inducements to cruise,
take short trips, in fact, get on the water anyhow, and the
inconveniences of a racing canoe and strictly racing appliances for
such other functions as are sure to push themselves; and last, but not
least, the limits drawn by the Canoe Association rules for races among
its members. Builders have to come within these rules or there is no
sale for their wares. The rules are specially drawn to prevent the
construction of racing machines, as you will discover if you read them
carefully in the book published yearly by the ACA.
If you are tempted by any canoe bait here presented, or
urged upon you by canoeists of your acquaintance, and decide to go into
canoeing, remember that the canoe is not a toy and canoeing child's
play -- but a manly sport and pastime. If you catch the fever
(canoesia) you are likely to have a serious attack. You will either
come out well cured the first season, or become a confirmed enthusiast
of paddle and sail.
Believe in no rose-colored accounts of the sport, but make
up your mind to lots of tough work, hard knocks, petty annoyances, some
disappointments, many trials, and always remember that nature is stern,
unrelenting and no respecter of persons. "Time and tide wait for no
man," woman or boy; neither will the wind blow always the way you wish
it to; in fact, as a rule it never does. When most you need a breeze, a
calm will be your fortune, and when a calm would be a blessing it will
blow a gale. If you fear a wetting, never get into a canoe. It has been
aptly said that in a canoe you come face to face with nature; look out
then that you don't become acquainted too early with her stern
expressions, as they are pretty sure to strike terror to any one
viewing them for the first time. Take her when she smiles and let the
frowns come when you know her other moods well. The canoe is the child
of nature. Win the mother as you would the daughter -- by patience and
endurance rather than force. Expect nothing from her, and she will give
you all she has -- a rich store, never exhausted.
If you start out in the canoe to go somewhere -- and it is
well always to have an objective point -- go there.
32 • 33
Kinds of Canoes.
Think it all over beforehand, prepare yourself, and
then "never say die." If you weather the rough work at the beginning,
you are all right. You will find such friends among the clan as you
never dreamed of before, and delights kings and the rich are strangers
to. To acquire these you will have to earn your own experience. Rest
assured that in getting it many surprises are in store for you -- some
pleasant ones, others the reverse. The real canoeist is a good fellow
and one whose acquaintance will do you good. He is healthy, body and
mind; and is the result of (old Darwin's theory) the survival of the
fittest; and also remember that only the fittest do survive, as
On the highways the canoe can go safely where many another
boat double its size would not dare to venture. By an apron and
hatches, the well, or open part of the canoe, can be closed around the
body of the skipper so water cannot conveniently get inside; and if the
canoe is provided with watertight compartments, as it should be, it
will not sink or become unmanageable, even if some water does get into
the hold, though laden with weight of baggage and crew, perhaps
ballast. The canoe can live in a sea, by good management, up to the
limit of the weight of a breaking wave actually crushing in the deck
when falling on it; or a wave so high that it will turn the canoe over
end for end, or roll it out of its course, broadside on for the
succeeding wave to roll it over. Such seas are rarely met with in any
but open waters -- the large lakes and old ocean itself.
For navigating safely rapids, narrow and winding streams,
shallows and varied waters, the canoe has no equal among boats. It is a
boat of averages, adapted for many uses and varieties of water. It is
rarely the best boat for any particular one of them. In point of speed
it is inferior to the better class of rowboats. Oars will propel a boat
faster than the paddle, other things being equal. Generally a sailboat
of the canoe's length will make better time than a canoe sailing. The
sailboat always has the advantage of being wider, and thus carrying
more sail. On a journey of one or more days' duration, the canoe will
make better average progress than either the sail or rowboat. The canoe
can sail faster than a rowboat, and can be paddled faster than a
sailboat can be rowed. Thus, where sailing cannot be done all the time,
the canoe can be moving under paddle while the sailboat is at anchor.
For a length of time paddling is easier and quicker than rowing. The
canoe furnishes many comforts foreign to a rowboat. It is dryer,
usually lighter, is not as much affected by head winds, and is more
conveniently steered by a crew of one, as he sits facing forward. The
canoe is easier to get under way and house than the sailboat.
Kinds of Canoes.
CANOES are not all alike. The dimensions and models for
particular uses have departed from the original birch and kayak, and
have been modified and changed to better adapt the canoe to the precise
34 • 35
uses to which it is to be put. Two canoes are
rarely built exactly alike; or, if so built, are differently fitted and
rigged. The canoe is either paddled, sailed or carried (over portages,
etc.) by her crew. Towing and other means of locomotion are omitted in
the above statement, as they are exceptional cases. A canoe which is
equally adapted to all three is not apt to be a very excellent canoe
for any one. In building canoes for certain uses, primary importance is
given to one of the above three points and secondary importance to
either of the other two, very rarely to both equally. All the canoe
varieties can be grouped under five heads, in a sort of general
classification, recognizing only vital differences brought about by
special fields of usefulness. [See table on opposite page.] Canoes are
propelled either by paddle or sail. Some canoes never have a sail used
in them. Others rarely use the paddle. The proportion existing between
the use of the paddle and the sail in any canoe determines its class.
The classification given in the rules of the American Canoe Association
for racing is much more limited than the above broad classification;
but within its limits it is very exact in drawing dividing lines by
actual measurements of hull.
The TYPES of canoes have been described. There are three
from which CLASSES, MODELS and VARIETIES have been derived; namely, Rob
Open Canadian and Nautilus, or decked paddling (double
blade), open paddling (single blade), and decked sailing canoes. Types
have to do with the history of canoeing; classes deal only with canoes
now in existence. Models are subdivisions of each class, and varieties
are slight modifications in model not of sufficient importance to
constitute a separate and distinct model.
Before buying a canoe, make up your mind which class will
give you most pleasure or profit, and then get advice from some one
well informed which model in that class is the best for your special
needs. The classes merge one into another with no very hard lines of
demarcation, which is quite natural.
Rob Roy (long).
Kill van Kull.
Note: Many of Class III canoes come in
this class unless fitted with sailing appliances such as keel,
Note: Some of Class III canoes come
under this class when fitted heavy center-boards, and are more
especially used for sailing.
NOTE: the figures in each class after the
words Paddling and Sailing show the proportion existing in such class
that the use of the paddle bears to the use of the sail, taken for an
entire season's work.
36 • 37
Various Parts of Hull.
Class I canoes carry no sail and are
entirely propelled by the paddle, either single or double-blade.
Class II use a sail only now and then with a free
wind (that is a wind blowing in the direction the canoe is going, or
nearly so) and do not depend much on the sail. These canoes have little
or no keel and are without center and leeboards. They draw very little
water and have no hold in it, so to speak. Therefore, with sail up, if
the course is changed from before the wind so that the wind strikes the
side of the canoe, it will be found to drift sideways, or make leeway
as it is termed, and if the course of the wind is departed from very
much, this same leeway will be greater than the headway made.
Class III paddling and sailing canoes are getting
to be by far the most common. The sail and paddle are used about
equally. The length and breadth of these canoes are means between the
extreme length and beam for one use only. These canoes by means of
keels or centerboards, are enabled, under sail, to make to windward,
that is, to reach a point in the direction from which the wind blows,
from the starting point. Beating to windward means sailing at a very
acute angle to the direction of the wind, first to right (or left) for
a distance, then coming about (tacking) and sailing to the left (or
right, and so on till the desired point is reached. In sailing back to
the starting point the wind would be free. One man can lift and carry a
Class III canoe when relieved of its load of ballast or cargo.
Class IV are used mostly for sailing. They have
fixed deep keels or heavy centerboards of iron, and carry considerable
ballast to enable them to stand up under a large area of sail. These
canoes are adapted to open water sailing, and are built usually with a
view to racing -- under sail only. They are nearly always built up to
the limits indicated by the Association or the Clubs, and though they
do excellent work under sail, are heavy and tiresome to paddle.
Class V can cover large sailing canoes outside the
rules, which are not paddled if it is possible to avoid it, and more
nearly come under the head of sailboats. Except for their general canoe
lines and method of rig they would all be regular sailboats.
The Various Parts.
HULL. The body of the canoe. The sum of all its parts with
the exception of masts, sail, rig, etc. The hull is made up of frame,
planking and deck.
FRAME. The skeleton to which the planking and deck are
fastened. The body frame consists of keel, keelson, stempost,
sternpost, ribs and knees.
KEEL. The backbone of the canoe. A timber running from end
to end on the bottom of the hull and terminating in the stem and
sternposts, to which it is securely fastened.
KEELSON. A timber or plank inside the canoe fastened to
the keel and resting on it above the junction of the planking with the
STEM. The curved (or straight) timber rising from forward
end of keel, to which the planking is fastened, forming the bow of the
canoe, and terminating at the deck, or very slightly above it.
STERNPOST. The timber rising from the keel at its after
end, to which the planking is fastened, forming the stern of the canoe.
Bow, forward end. Stern, aft, or rear end.
RIBS. Timbers running from gunwale (the junction of deck
and sides) on one side, down to keel and up to the gunwale on the
other; or, from gunwale to keel. The curve of the ribs governs the
shape of the canoe, and forms its lines, so called.
38 • 39
Parts of Hull.
A canoe's lines merely mean its shape, the lines
indicating its shape. The ribs are fastened to the keel and to the
timber at gunwale (which timber extends on both sides from stem to
stern or the top streak, which in that case is heavier than the others,
as is the case in the illustration on this page (Section). In building
the planking is put over the molds and fastened, the ribs being put in
afterward, in this respect differing from the method employed in
building larger vessels. The distance between ribs varies in different
methods of building from 1-1/2 inches to 10 inches or more.
40 • 41
Parts of Hull.
KNEES. Timbers taking the place of ribs along the
canoe the length of the well or cockpit, and forming deck supports as
well as assuming the functions of ribs.
PLANKING. Boards forming the sides and bottom of hull.
They are sunk into the keel and securely fastened to it, to the
keelson, to each other on the laps and to the ribs. A single plank is
called a streak. The garboard streak is the one (on each side) next to
and joining the keel. The streaks usually run the entire length of the
boat, terminating at the stem and stern posts, to which they are
fastened. If they do not extend the entire length two pieces are
butted, as it is called.
DECKS. The covering of the hold or body of the canoe which
is formed by the bottom and sides. The opening in the deck to admit the
placing of stores and cargo inside and to accommodate the crew is
called the well. The deck is made of a frame and deck planks. The frame
consists of carlins, side frame of well, ridge piece, main beam, and
CARLINS. Deck beams fastened to the planking at the
gunwale on which the deck planking is fastened. Technically, they are
pieces of timber fastened between beams in a fore and aft direction.
SIDE FRAME. Timbers running fore and aft, fastened to and
supported by the knees and forming the well hole.
RIDGE PIECE. Timbers extending from stem and sternpost to
well. The carlins, are fastened to it, and it forms the ridge or crown
of the deck.
MAIN BEAM. The largest beam generally placed in a canoe,
just in front of the well as a support for the ridge piece and fore end
of well frame.
MAST BEAMS. Wide beams supporting in part and stiffening
the deck frame, and through which the mast tubes are run to the step on
STEP. A block fastened to the upper side of keelson, with
a hole sunk in it for the reception of the mast to keep it in position.
MAST TUBE. Usually of brass or copper, running from deck
into the step and securely fastened at both ends, and plugged at the
bottom to prevent the water coming on deck from getting into the hold.
It also guides the mast into the step when putting the mast up. It
should be made large enough to allow the mast to be easily removed,
even if somewhat swelled after having been wet for a long period.
COAMING. A plank on edge fastened to side frame of well
and completely surrounding the well to prevent deck wash from coming
HATCH. A lid or covering for any part of the well or other
opening in the deck, capable of easy removal, and resting on the
coaming if over the well.
BEADING. A narrow strip of wood in the angle the coaming
forms with the deck at point of junction, to prevent water entering.
Also a narrow strip of wood run along the top streak at the gunwale, to
protect its edge from wear.
42 • 43
Parts of Hull.
BULKHEADS. Partitions dividing the hold into
compartments. They may be permanent, in which case the planking of
sides and deck are nailed to them and an attempt is made to render them
watertight; or they may be movable, and simply used as partitions.
APRON. A cloth covering for the well, to take the place of
hatches or supplement their use.
BOTTOM or FLOOR BOARD. A board, or boards fastened
together, laid on supports raised from keelson and bottom planks on
which the crew and stores rest. It is a protection to the planking, and
keeps crew and stores above any small amount of water that may be in
the canoe's bottom.
SHOE. A metal band run along bottom of keel at either end
or its whole length to save it from wear in putting the canoe up on
DEADRISE. The angle (if less than a right angle made by
the junction of planking with the keel. The section given on page 38
shows no deadrise. This canoe is said to have a flat floor -- i.e.,
BILGE. The curved part of the canoe's side formed in
turning from the bottom to the straight side line.
TUMBLEHOME. Where the sides of a canoe slope inward from
its widest part to the deck at gunwale. The Nautilus canoe section on page
26 shows a very decided tumblehome.
SHEER. The difference in height above the water line
between the bow or stern and the gunwale amidship. In the sheer plan on
page 26 the curve of the gunwale line upward from amidships to stern
and stern posts shows the sheer.
CAMBER. The arch of the deck. Sheer is the curve of the
deck fore and aft; camber, the curve of the deck athwartship.
BACKBOARD. A board usually hung from a hatch or bulkhead
directly behind the paddler, against which he rests his back.
BRACE. A cross bar of wood placed in a rack (to adjust to
any length of leg) on the bottom board of a canoe against which the
feet rest or brace themselves while their owner is paddling.
RIVETS. Usually of copper, used in fastening the parts of
a canoe one to another. The rivet has a head on one end. The other end
is run clear through a plank or timber and a burr (a flat rim) is
pushed over it and the rivet end flattened, thus forming two heads to
the rivet -- one at each end -- and effectually preventing its working
out of its place. When nails are used to fasten parts together, their
ends are clinched, turned over to prevent their getting out of place.
BEARINGS. A plank weighted to float on edge in the water
has practically no bearings. The same plank floated naturally is
practically all bearings. A sharp deadrise and slight curve to bilge
give slight bearings. A flat floor and quick bilge curve give good
bearings. Good bearings are needed to give stability under sail. Slight
bearings render paddling easy.
DISPLACEMENT. The space occupied by the body of a
canoe afloat below the waterline.
© 2000 Craig O'Donnell
May not be reproduced without my permission.