Painters for grabing when dumped

I can see the usefulness of a long painter in a throw bag to throw to another paddler in distress. However, it seems to me it must be out of the bag, tied to a thwart, so that if I get dumped the painter will be usefull to my situation. It does me no good in the bag floating away with my canoe. I am new to canoeing and have not yet been dumped. Do you carry two painters - one in the bag and one out of the bag?



Painters and throw ropes are different. I carry 15ft painter tied to the bow of my boat(kayak or canoe). In rougher cnditions I may also have a stern painter attached.

A throw rope is the one in the bag you are thinking of and that is the one used to throw to someone else.

You might do a search on here for previous posts, there have been some great discussions on material , lenght, etc. Throw rope needs to be practiced with…kim

Two Different Things…

– Last Updated: Jul-16-06 6:11 AM EST –

A "painter" is a short line tied to the ends. Useful for tying up the boat on a shoreline or towing a swimmer in. A throw bag has a long line inside. This is used to rescue a swimmer midstream, stuck in a hole, or flowing into a dangerous set of rapids. You can throw the bag from the boat if you have too. But, with a group, the stronger paddlers will run a difficult feature first, beached the boats on a shore and set up a safety by standing on a good vantage point where the throw bag can be tossed to someone who may flip on the feature and need a line to help swim to shore.

The throw bag needs to packed right. The bag provides weight to throw accurately. You hold one end of the line and, when the bag gets tossed, the rest of the line unfurls from the bag in a control way. Throw bag usage/tossing has to be practiced. You need to learn how to "lead" the swimmer. Otherwise, the bag/line will end up behind him/her.

Long loose line in the boat can become a hazard in a dumping situation. The long loose line because a hazard to a swimmer because it can wrap around him/her in the current and all kinds of nasty things can happen at that point.


Length of painter
Now it makes sense. But for the painter I read recommendations of 50 ft (I assume so that you can have time to find and grab it in the water)- where do you put 50 ft of line out of the way. Also, it seems that is only useful in a capsize; if the canoe remains upright, the painter stays with the canoe.

Lining rope / painter

– Last Updated: Jul-16-06 3:25 PM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Ah' use a canoo length or so 3/8" or 1/2" (easier to hold onto) rope as a painter (wit NO knot on de free end, might get jammed between rocks and that's no good when yer filled-up boat be'a heading downstream) an' use a detached-until-needed longer rope as a lining rope (either tied on to a low stem hole or a bridle).

Fat Elmo

Painters/throw bags

– Last Updated: Jul-16-06 1:38 PM EST –

Anyone with a 50 foot painter must be using it to line through long stretches of shallow water, or heavy rapids; through which they don't have the desire, or enough skills to paddle, or both.

If you're using 50 ft of painter; you'd better know what you're doing, or a painter will end up stuck between rocks, tangled in strainers, or otherwise entangled. Not fun trying to get your boats back.

I personally don't see any need for a painter any longer than 15 feet. Others may say 10, 14, 16, 18, 20 feet, but the length of painters is not inscribed on a stone tablet, and stored in the sub basement of the Vatican. At least I don't think so.

Most of my canoes have a length of bungee cord attached to the bow & stern decking(drill 2 holes, cut bungee cord to correct length, stick ends of bungee cord through holes in decking, stretch bungee cord & tie knots in bungee cord underneath decking). I store the painters underneath the bungee cord till I need it.
I use bow & stern painters on all my canoes.

I use bow & stern painters(plus 2 straps on each canoe) to tie down my canoe on my racks, I use the painters to secure my canoe to a fixed object when I camp if I expect a rise in water, or heavy winds, and I use it to line my canoe through shallows, and/or rapids I don't want to run. If I capsize in whitewater, I use the painter to maintain contact with my canoe, and assist me in getting it to shore. I stay uptream of my canoe if I capsize in whitewater.
Trust me: You do not want to go over a big drop with your canoe following behind you!


P.S. To avoid entanglement issues, long lengths of rope, carried in a canoe, should be stored in a bag till you need them.

If you carry a throw bag & don't know how to use it correctly; you're just carrying dead weight & in some circumstances you may actually be creating another hazard for a swimmer in the water to have to avoid. Also, you will look dumb trying to throw it if you don't know what you're doing, and people needing help will start cussing at you after your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th attempt fails. Also, hold onto your end of the rope when you throw it; you look "really" stupid when the whole throw bag & rope float off downstream.

When not in use; attach the throw bag to your canoe(where it's handy) till you need it. I typically use the thwart in front of me.

2 painters
bow and stern, each about 20’ long, handhold knotted into end of each, 1/4" nylon. Not sure if this is correct but they sure came in handy yesterday. Used stern line to drop canoe off ledge into river, as I often do. Used bow line to hang on to canoe as I swam for shore, fortunately a rarer occurance.

When I took my swiftwater rescue class, Charlie Walbridge said that he’d come to really dislike painters – said they he thought they were more a entanglement hazard than a help in whitewater.

Most of the open boaters I’ve seen in this area use painters that are a boat length or less long, made of floating line, attached to a through-hull grab loop, and kept under a deck bungee.

Most folks don’t knot the end to reduce the chance of a snag – they’d rather have their boat flush through a rapid than get hung up in the middle.

painters: entaglement hazzard or help

– Last Updated: Jul-16-06 4:56 PM EST –

I guess it depends on how many are in your group. Charlie Walbridge no doubt advised not to paddle WW with less than five boaters. In that case, who really "needs" painters? But, some of us can't assemble that large a group each and every time we paddle.

I'm sticking with mine.

think I’ve dumped
about 9 times. Painter never tangled, often helped. Got 2 20 footers, 1/4" nylon, fore and aft, coiled but not restrained.

Thanks for the info
Thanks to all who responded. I am canoeing on Southern California bays (on-shore wind comes up in afternoon), and plan on some lakes. So I think I will go with the 20 ft lengths at bow and stern; I should be able to grab one of them before the canoe drifts with the tide or blows away. I still wonder how they would help if the canoe does not capsize.


If the canoe doesn’t capsize…
…why would you fall out of it and need the painter?

along the lines of…
I have a long painter, but i don’t do wild water at all. I don’t have a fear of getting my line caught in a rapid, my worst would be in a strainer, but the river I travel is not very deep.

so after that introduction I will just say that I have a bit of Pool Noodle on my line. It floats, but it is bark blue. my local waters aren’t all that clear, so a bit of yellow pool noodle makes it a bit more visable. It is a personal preferance, maybe it will make me a horrible danger someday, but I just don’t see it yet.


Painter length
We used 25’ painters fore and aft for the Mississippi River trip, but that’s a whole different ballgame with several sketchy places to tie up to.

Normally I’d have maybe a 10-15’ section of yellow floating poly line.


Falling out of the canoe
This shows how much I need to learn. When my wife and I first rented a canoe (before I read any literature on how to canoe safely), we both leaned the same direction as we were preparing to exit the canoe parallel to shore. As I recall, the canoe did not capsize; but I may be wrong, it was a number of years ago. Now with some training from Pack, Paddle & Ski, from watching videos, reading literature and forums such as this, I think it would be difficult for us to fall out of our canoe if we are paying attention to what we are doing while paddling, getting into and out of the canoe (only moving water would be small wake and tide flow under bridges). But I would not like the lack of a long enough painter to be the cause of a serious situation. Thanks again.


I’ve done the same to my canoe. The bungee holds the rope tight to the deck plates. Oh, my painter is 12’ long. I’ve seen some people just tie them to the grab loop and let it skim the surface of the water.

Short painters, long throwbag
My rule for painters for WW is 1/2 the length of the boat plus 2 feet. That’s plenty to get ahold of when swimming. Around here you don’t line, you run it or walk around.

Throw bags seem to be getting shorter. It’s rare to see anything over 50’ anymore. 'Course, there’s no use carrying anything longer than you can accurately throw. So practice on land.

I have lost^H^H^H^H redistributed about 4 throw bags over the years, and it doesn’t bother me much. Maybe one of those will be in someone else’s hands when I’m swimming.


I use one of two setups depending on…
the situation:

a) Flatwater, warm water/weather and/or good opportunity for rescue: one 12’ painter on each end of the boat, tucked under the decks(primarily to make swimming the boat to shore easier).

b) Moving water, cold water/weather and/or poor opportunity for rescue (as in remote solo tripping): one 12’ painter on the bow, tucked under the deck AND 3/8" x 75’ throw bag with the line attached to the boat, free end of the line and bag velcroed on top of the stern deck.

b is an old Bill Mason Trick for swimming to shore without losing your whole kit downstream.


I always use two 50’ safety lines

When solo wilderness tripping I use

– Last Updated: Jul-22-06 12:01 AM EST –

2 - 50' lengths of climbing rope to tie off between 2 trees to adjust my position over which ever spring I choose to sleep in my canoe over. Since the springs stay 70* - 73*F year round the ambiant air temperature above them is more conducive to sleeping than camping on the bank; warmer on cold nights and cooler on our rather warm, muggy, 76* - 82*F summer nights. Who needs a tent when one could sleep in a shallow-vee, slightly rockered canoe? Just tie off between two trees, make the neccessary adjustments, put gear fore and aft, roll out the fart sack (cracker term for sleeping bag), crawl in and sleep better than anyone on the bank.