I have a tandem white-water canoe that I am trying to outfit with all the necessary equipment. The resources I have seem to skim over the issue of painters. Why should I have them? How will I use them (other than to tie my boat to shore)? How long should they be? How do I store them in the canoe during a run down rapids? Any thing else I should know? Thanks.

Painter’s lines are used for lineing and tracking a canoe which is working it upstream or downstream from the shore. Its normally done with two people and works a bit like flying a kite kinda. Cliff Jacobson recomends the lines be 25 feet long and I believe his preffered rope is ‘braid on braid dacron’. When not in use the ropes are bundled up and stuck under a bit of shock cord installed for the purpose.

Don’t you just love people that say nothing but “so and so says” :smiley:

In any event his book Expedition Canoeing is excellent.

Cliff has some really solid advice. I have 3 of his books. I use a length of rope a bit longer than the boat. I loop it and wrap it to store. It comes undone with a quick tug. I attach mine with a clip my uncle makes but a bowlan on the front thwart. Some people say you need to drill a hole in the boat at the water line to put it through but I do not think that is needed.

ww painters
The open boaters I’ve seen use easily-grabbed floating line(3/8" throw bag rope) roughly as long as the canoe, and secure it under a bungee on the deckplate where they can easily grab it if they swim. I was told not to put a knot in the free end to minimize snags.

yeah, I don’t think I’ll be drilling any holes in my boat at the waterline!

On my WW canoe …

– Last Updated: Jun-07-04 12:53 PM EST –

The painters are approximately 15 feet long. It's a 13 foot boat. I usually arrange the painters underneath the lace kit for my air bags; usually on opposite sides of the canoe(one painter on port side/one on starboard). I use the painters to line, or pull my boat thru shallow areas and also to haul it out of the water if I've capsized. I usually don't make an effort to stay with the canoe itself if I capsize; this is because of the possibility of getting arm/foot entrapped in the bow or stern airbag lace kit, or the thigh strap. I do attempt to get hold of one of the painters to maintain contact with the canoe. When I spot that eddy I'm searching for & I "go for it", I find I can swim more aggressively if I'm holding onto a painter & not the canoe itself. Usually have my paddle & a painter in one hand, and have to other hand free to "pull"! Will throw paddle like a spear to shore, or into an eddy to get rid of it if possible. I try to stay upstream of the boat when I'm in the water & will not hesitate to let a rapid "eat the boat", rather than get pulled into the rapid with the boat. I can buy another boat! I also think it is easier to avoid getting pinned by the boat against anthing solid (rock/log), if you maintain some distance uptream from the boat. Have seen guys get down stream of their boat by trying to hold onto the boat & the boat rolled right over them, or smashed into them. A 50 pound outfitted ww boat with a couple of hundred pounds of water in it, moving at 10 or 12 mph, over a 5 foot drop will most definitely "ring your chimes"! I think it is preferable to use rope for painters that floats & is highly visible. Don't tie gear to your painters; don't tie knots in the end of painters. Many people I paddle ww with bungee their painters to their boat's decking.


P.S. Stay upstream of your boat if you're in the water; you'll be glad you did in the long run.

Lining rope / painters

– Last Updated: Jun-07-04 2:56 PM EST –

Where I live, it is mandated that the line be not less than 15 metres (48ft). I have passed inspection by CO’s although my lines are only about 30 ft. No one measured. Bow and stern have their own, coiled and secured on the decks with shock cord.
I guess it all depends what kind of canoeing you are doing if you drill the hull or not. Mine are drilled about 4 inches above the water line with a loop of rope spliced in. It is so easy to flip a loaded canoe when pulling sideways on a line that is attached high on the bow or stern, especially when the water is pounding and working against you.

Why just Saturday, we had…
one of our experienced paddlers get crosswise on a rock, and take a swim.

It sure helped him to have that painter to tow the boat to shore.



Painters Lines… and horses?

– Last Updated: Jun-07-04 3:17 PM EST –

Well most of the other folks have provided the details... ww painters are about 15 feet and we use them for grab lines for either self rescue or assists... as well as tying up the boats. I use that length on all my boats... BUT....when I know I'll be lining a boat I'll take an extra line specifically for the purpose. 25 feet works well...50 feet is needed for some locations, but becomes unruley if you don't need all that length and the extra can pose entanglement issues. Frankly, if we need a long length for lining we'll often use our throw ropes.

You want to use a poly rope that floats. A nice soft line that works well is the "lead rope" used with horses... these come in 35 foot lengths (cut in half for the 15 footers)... and are available in colors if you wish to match the boat :) Most farm and ranch stores or tack shops will carry them at about $.50/foot.

Paddle Safe

My painters are used for a lot
Tying boat to truck rack

Tying boat to shore

Tow rope

Lining the boat

Tarp guy lines

Tarp ridge pole

Rescue line

Clothes line

Hanging food


Many on this board might argue about safety after all these uses since safety may be compromised, but it works for me. Heck, I aint dead yet and my ropes are still in good shape.


Lines not ropes
lines are what boaters use; ropes are used by landlubbers and cowboys