Lose the canoe?

Has anyone lost their canoe/kayak by capsizing on a river and the canoe/kayak floats away downstream?

Would it be a good idea to carry a 5 lb anchor in the canoe so if you tip over, the anchor will hopefully stop the canoe from drifting away?

Flotation, NOT anchor
You should install some sort of flotation in your canoe. An anchor with its rope is a hazard in moving water as a device intended to stop a canoe from drifting downriver. If you are concerned about losing your canoe, only very rarely will a canoe drift very far from you during a capsize. Only in swift high-banked rivers with deep channels and few bends will a canoe travel far after capsize. The Tieton River in WA state during September dam release is an example,…speaking from experience on this exact subject. Typically a grab-handle or installed rope-loop at each stem is sufficient in pulling your canoe to shore as you swim for shallow water. I always make sure all my river canoes have an easily grabbable appendage at each stem.

My canoe left me very quickly once in
deep and quickly moving water. I managed to push it over to shore and get it stuck on a snag, but the current tore me off of it when I tried to grab onto the slick, wet, upside down royalex canoe and I was swept down stream without my canoe and was unable swim against the current.

One of my paddling partners in a whitewater kayak managed to free the canoe and guid it over to me where I had come to shore further down stream.

My experience is that a paddler can be quickly separated from their boat on a swiftly moving stream and have great difficulty reuniting with it without assistance from someone still in a boat.

This is something to practice
Kayak or canoe, though hanging onto a kayak may be a little easier. Capsizing but still hanging onto your paddle and boat.

As above, something like an anchor will become a hazard for other boaters unless you can free the anchor and line from the bottom. If things were bad enough to capsize to start with, that is unlikely wherever it gets lodged.

though it could happen. I have always managed to grab the daisy chained painter line.

Put an anchor in your boat and have the rope wrap around your leg when you capsize… see how that works… ( no don’t… I think you have not thought of this yet)

meopilite sounds like your wanting to
try more challenging trips. The fact that your thinking about what will happen to the canoe in current is a good thing and this message board is very useful for finding help. It would be nice if you could hook up with some more experienced paddlers to ease your transition to bigger and better things.

Boating is kind of a strange sport. Folks like it because you can be independent, make your own goals and define your own adventures but unfortunately the reality is that when you add swift current in the equation there is a lot to learn that’s not simply intuitive.

You need air bags, or something similar to displace water so the canoe does not fill up with water in the event of a capsize. As bad as it is for the canoe to be barreling down the river full of water, it could be even worse for you, if your swimming, and you get between the boat and a rock or submerged tree. I can’t imagine adding a line with an anchor to that equation. Boats that are anchored could pose their own unique hazard.

So the anchor idea is a really bad one on rivers with current that will sweep a boat away. Perhaps you could share where you are geographically and we could suggest some other paddlers/clubs/instruction in your area.

Try to not to be offended about the need for additional help but the fact that your asking this tells me you’ve got a lot to learn to be safe in a moving water environment. I’m glad you asked because things could have gotten real ugly for ya.

No, and no.

Minnesota river
I’ve been venturing out on the Minnesota River. This time of year the water level is 10 feet and moving slow. Mid-summer its 15-18 feet deep.

This river has a lot of boulders and downed trees protruding the surface. So, this time of year its moving slow, but lots of obstacles. Deeper water means everything is covered up, but then its moving very fast.

Many people have capsized and their canoe will end up in New Orleans. Always a chance their canoe could hang up on a down tree, but I’ve never heard of anyone finding their canoe.

I know my experience is limited. So I use lots of caution with unknown territory.

Our club in Georgia has a very high
success rate for boat recovery, on both whitewater and flatwater.

It sounds like people losing canoes on your river were paddling alone before they had acquired the skills to do so.

I stay for weeks with my daughter just below New Orleans on the Mississippi, and I’ve never seen an orphaned canoe from the levee. The lost canoes I do see were clearly lost on small, flooded rivers by inexperienced paddlers.

Minnesota River
I’ve paddled the Minnesota River a fair bit around Mankato, both at low water and when it was barely back in its banks just after the flooding this summer. I’ve never found it difficult to navigate. It’s wide, flat, and pretty slow. I haven’t so much as seen riffles on the sections I’ve traveled so wouldn’t worry about it much. Pretty friendly river.

I have no idea what the river is like farther up/downstream from Mankato, however.


you GA boys and girls are even good
at returning boats that don’t belong to you! Lots of good karma surrounds your group. I stuffed a squirt boat under an undercut on the Obed river in TN back in the 80s. I didn’t have my name in it. Ga paddlers retrieved it when the water dropped a weekend or two later and they contact the manufacturer- Wautauga boat works in north carolina with the serial #, who contacted the ski barn in Bangor Maine (where I bought the boat from an employee/friend Doug Oliver), who contacted the camp where we both had worked (Maine) at one time, who contacted my parents living in ohio, who contacted me in wv, where I met the GA paddlers to retrieve the boat at the tea creek campground along the williams river a few months after I lost it. Lots of good Karma! Sad thing was I bought a lot of beer but the finders didn’t drink. I felt like a heel. Promptly sold the boat off and gave up squirt boating. One close call was enough to convince me to stay on the surface.

Its good the OP is thinking this stuff
and asking.

When you capsize the supply of hands is limited. Ergo you don’t want to drop your paddle to put on your PFD or drop your boat to put on your PFD.

Having only two hands means one will have your paddle and the other the painter line.

As far as other peoples river casualties… they did not think ahead. Maybe they were trying to find the PFD, did not have a painter line or were swimming after the cooler.

Remember cooler comes last!

just got back
Made it back safe & sound, with my canoe, paddle, PFD, and cooler!!!

Having a painter line sounds like a good idea. The river is 10 feet deep right now, but theres a lot of sand bars. I’d say every 30 yards or less theres a sand bar where the water is 2 to 3 feet deep. If one did tip over, grab the painter line, drift 20-30 yards till ya hit the sand bar, and get back in.

thanks for the advice

Stay out of the cooler
and you won’t have to worry about a capsize on that sort of river.

Depth versus gauge level

– Last Updated: Oct-19-14 7:48 PM EST –

Are you getting this info about the river being 10 feet deep from the USGS gauge? If so, remember that the gauge is at an arbitrary elevation, and the numbers are only useful for showing water level relative to other times, and have nothing to do with depth. For a river with shallow spots on sandbars that are that closely spaced, I'm betting a 10-foot hole would be the exception, not the average.

Just FYI.

no beer
the only thing in the cooler was gaterade. seen too many people drink & boat, and fall overboard and either drown or have heart attack.

anchors a way…

anchor’s not gonna stop the canoe from goin’ downstream.

Why not?

What everybody else said
I was taught it is standard practice to mount FLOATING painters to bow and stern. Secure with bungee cord with the tail hanging off the end of the boat to be grabbed when you swim. The rope should be looped under the bungee so that it deploys when you pull it.

When swimming, train yourself to hold the paddle in one hand and try to get that rope in the other. But sometimes you have to let the boat go, or it just gets away. Canoes run rivers great once we aren’t in them to mess things up. The boat will usually eddy out somewhere downriver, but it can be a long walk (or swim), especially if it is a big river. Best if you can hold onto it. If you are on a lake and it is windy, be quick to get the rope.

Anchors are a no-no. I paddled a river in a tandem that had clothesline for painters. One of the non-floating painters got loose in a rapid and became jammed in rocks on the bottom. The canoe stopped like it hit a wall and we were in the water for a few hundred yards. Meanwhile, the canoe was getting worked by this wave and we couldn’t get out there to free it. We got it out the next day, but by that time it was scrap aluminum, and bags we had clipped to the ripped-out twharts were gone–a further, expensive loss. So, if drifting painter can get stuck, think about how well you’ll stick if you are towing an anchor!

In summary
An anchor is a very bad idea. Don’t do it.

Have plenty of floatation, makes recovery much easier.

Painters should be 10 to 12 ft. long. Cotton and nylon will not float. I prefer 3/8 inch polypro. It is easy to grab, floats, and stretches much less than others.