This weekend I had the pleasure of capsizing my canoe on Lake Erie at night while walleye fishing. (Sorry for the novel)
I had my inexperienced 6’3 280 lb friend sitting in the bow seat of a Bell Northwind, while my scrawny 6’1 230 lb frame paddled stern. I figured since I was the more experienced paddler a 50 lb difference wouldnt be enough to cause any problems. But it was.
The canoe paddled fine, I put some extra weight towards the back to help the trim. I think the problem was that he just didnt have enough room up there and it wasnt wide enough for him to keep balanced.
What happened was he was tying a lure on (so he did not have his paddle in hand) and he sort of leaned to the right(with his leg almost over the gunnel) while a small wave was coming from the left, which caused him to lose his balance and get thrown. He held on to the gunnels and wrestled the boat around finally giving up and pushing off with his feat. Up until the moment he pushed with his feat I thought I was gonna stay in, once the fatso pushed off though I got thrown right in.
I had my pfd on, he didnt and I could not see it since it was dark. The paddles stayed right with the boat. My fishing poles and tackle box did not. We got the boat upright, but it was so filled with water we flipped it again and turned it over and there was even more water. By this time we were in the water for probably 5 minutes. He was having a hard time treading water so I told him to hold on to the boat. Luckily we were right near a boat launch, and a boat was coming in about 300 yards away. I yelled and signaled with my $10 dollar energizer flashlight/lamp (awesome buy) and eventually they came over and helped him into their boat while I tied the canoe onto their boat. We then used their spotlight to find the other life jacket and small cooler I had on the boat. What we did not find was my 2 fishing poles and tackle box with probably $100 worth of tackle.
Basically it got to the point where because he was using too much energy to tread water, he couldnt help me enough to flip the boat. So once I realized that I was going to swim to shore (try to pull the boat while he swam), thank god the other boat was there to help.
Things I learned:
- Always wear your pfd
- Keep valuables attached in some way to the boat.
- Dont let fat people sit up front
What is the proper way to get back into and get water out of a swamped canoe? I am going to go out this weekend and practice this.