How to lift a canoe

-- Last Updated: Jun-30-08 4:06 PM EST --

Found this.
Is that how you lift your canoe? What would you do after half day of paddling and your arms become too weak for this maneuver?
I once tried the "bow walk", but couldn't get the boat balanced.

All technique
That is exactly how you lift, carry and lower a canoe. Exactly how I do it anyway. Little muscle is needed if you use proper technique, even if the boat weighs 60 pounds or so.

Little muscle is needed if proper
technique is used? Dang, my technique must really suck after a few hours of paddling, because my 60 lb canoe still feels very heavy and awkward to get onto my shoulders.

It truly is technique

– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 4:34 PM EST –

My wife could easily get a fully outfitted Esquif Canyon over her head at well over 70 lbs. It isn't that hard with a little practice.

I'm scared to ask, but how do you pick up a boat?

If your arms are that tired of after a few hours of paddling, check the technique you're using to paddle your boat. Use less arm strength and more torso

The bow walk will work with one little
modification. Once you lift the bow, let the boat roll to one side. Continue walking the boat up the side. Once you get to the balance point, roll the boat over, letting it DROP onto your outstreached hand.

lifting a canoe
I lift it just like the Red Rock store photos. I just add one modification. After unloading the canoe, I lift it when it is in the water. Its easier for me if I get knee deep in the water. I have a heavy plastic canoe.

both technique
arms should rarely hurt are a long day’s paddling. upper back, lats, abs, different story.

first thing to do is to get the boat balanced and up on one thigh. then grab each gunwale and lift/toss it over head and it will land on your shoulders. do the exact opposite to unload.

yep thats it
my boat is definitely heavier, my technique involves a little more body movement than what the pictures show. but thats how i learned it : )

I would never in a million years
pick up a canoe that way, unless it is a ultralight one that weighs less than 40 pounds.

It is a great way to pull a back muscle.

I have posted many times on this forum the easiest way to get a canoe on your shoulders, and then carry it to your vehicle, put it on and take it off, and I am assuming that it is what you call the “bow walk”

If your not certain, I would be glad to post it again.

I am a way over the hill paddler, and can easily get my 80 pound OT disco on my shoulders without any straining at all.

I do pick up my light weight canoes that way, but only the light weight ones.



Generally speaking…

– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 7:02 PM EST –

The technique pictured is the technique I use, with slight differences.

I don't paddle tandem canoes.
My solos don't have a portage yoke, or a thwart that has shoulder pads attached.

I grab the gunwales to lift or lower the canoe.
If I grabbed a thwart(it would be off center); the canoe would be off balance when I lifted, or lowered it into position.

The only problem I really have is balancing a heavier canoe, while getting it into position(by myself),to put on the racks of a taller vehicle, like a pickup truck.
I usually try to get the bow into position on the rack, and while it is semi-balanced there, I lift & position the stern of the canoe onto the rack.

Not a big deal; not even after a long paddle(I'm 65).I think the heaviest canoe I now own is probably my Royalex/wood trimmed Penobscot 15.

If I get lazy; I ask for help & return the favor.


P.S. The majority of my canoes are wood trimmed. I'm a picky b------d; no way I'm going to grind wooden gunwales, bow, or stern decking into Ozark rock & gravel, while I'm getting under the canoe.

I use the Red Rock technique
as shown in the above link to prevent scuffing on the nose of the boat.

If I don’t care about scuffing the nose of the boat, I lift up the stern of the boat, turn it upside down over my head and walk my hands down the gunwales until my shoulders are under the yoke and then lower it down. This approach is much easier on my body than the Red Rock tecnique.

Sure, my paddling technique isn’t the greatest, but better technique won’t make my 60 lb boat lighter. A 60 lb boat feels unpleasantly heavy for me to get onto my shoulders before paddling as well as after paddling. My embarrasingly poor strength and conditioning is probably more of a factor than technique.

I think that tandem canoes with fixed portage yokes are easier to use the Red Rock tecnique with than solo canoes with temporary yokes that overhang the gunwales.

Some hull shapes are also easier to get hold of than others.

My kudos to your wife on her boat lifting technique.

That’s the approach I use, but
a 60 lb boat is still heavy for me to thrust up with my leg to get it up on my shoulders. Yes, I’m miserably out of condition.

Yes, my legs, back and abs are also worn out after a vigorous paddle. My legs, abs and back are often sore for a couple days after a long or rigorous paddle and my arms usually won’t be as affected as those other muscle groups.

i’m not a fan of the bow walk under for canoes with any decent trim. it chews it up unless you put on some bulky reinforcement.

maybe it is a back problem waiting to happen, but like all things in canoeing, technique has always served me best.

For now.
I pretty much just grab the canoe by the gunnels and press it overhead. As I get older I will bow walk it.

Learned with a Grumman

– Last Updated: Jul-01-08 10:53 AM EST –

A one person stiff arm lift (grabbing both arms on the yoke and jerking it up on your shoulders) as shown on the Red Rock site might work for a light weight kevlar canoe, but don't do it that way on a heavier canoe or even in windy conditions with a light weight canoe. To do a controlled one person lift on canoes up to 75 lbs for a person with sufficient strength, a right handed person should be on the port side of the canoe, a left handed person on the starboard at the portage yoke. When first learning it is very helpful to be in knee deep water. Bend your knees slightly, standing perpendicular to the canoe, bring the near gunnel at the portage yoke (balance point) up into your gut, and rest the canoe bottom on your thighs, with you leaning just slightly backward to balance the load. This needs to be a comfortable and stable position with you supporting the weight of the canoe before you can proceed. Then reach out with your weak side arm as far as you can reach and grab the far gunnel (ideally) or as far out on the portage yoke as you can get; then reach under the hull with your power side arm, palm of hand on the hull bottom. In one synchronized motion: lean slightly forward, then backward to start the rolling motin, push up and continue pushing in an upward arc with the power arm, the weak side arm is doing a stiff arm pull until the canoe reaches the height it needs to be, and then it directs the downward travel onto your shoulders. When the canoe reaches the height it needs to be, take a small step outward and backward with your weak side leg to turn your body a quarter turn to be facing in the direction you will be walking with the canoe, and then the canoe falls on your shoulders. Do the reverse of this lift to take the canoe off your shoulders in a controlled manner. You can see in the Red Rock pictures the power side arm reaching around the hull to lower the canoe onto your thighs and then to the ground or water.

bow walk
My canoe is an Old Town discovery square stearn that weighs 90 lbs and is wide (fishing canoe) - soooo i use the bow walk technique that yanoer mentioned. I’m not strong enough to clean and jerk it over my head.