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Lining a Canoe
Posted by Michael Strahan on May 11 2003

I'm assuming from your post that you already have a canoe or you would be using an inflatable boat.  Obviously, packing an inflatable canoe would be much easier than lining a rigid boat upriver.  


I can tell you from personal experience that lining any boat upstream any appreciable distance comes down to one thing- HARD WORK.  There's just no easy way around it.  The truth is that you will be in, on and around that river for a considerable amount of time.  From your statement that this is a non-motorized area, I gather that using an outboard motor is out of the question.  If not, I'd try that first.  Just tow your canoe behind you.

For simply pulling a canoe upstream on foot, you might want to rig your drag rope so you're pulling from the front quarter of the boat rather than the bow eye.  Pulling from the bow will cause the boat to track toward you, rather than on a parallel course.  If you pull the boat from the front quarter, it will tend to go upstream much of the time.  You might be able to tie off on a thwart somehow, or you may have to rig a rope all the way around the hull.  Experiment with different tie-off points along the hull and you'll find the best one that makes the boat angle into the current parallel to the bank.  It can be done, but as I said, it's a lot of work.  

Another option would be to drag it overland, but in the heavy cover found in most of Alaska, this is a very challenging task.  I dragged a 17' Grumman canoe across about three miles of Alaska bottomland one spring, and I swore I'd never do it again.  Depending on the situation, you might be better off doing it in the winter when there is plenty of snow cover- or perhaps you could drag it over the frozen river itself.  Be very careful in the latter case though, that the ice is thick enough and that there is no overflow or soft spots!

If you decide to do this during the spring or summer, be sure to pack a big lunch and bring the bug spray!  You're gonna be there a while.



On the off chance that you might want to rent or purchase an inflatable canoe (this will be much easier than dragging your canoe), here are some links for you.  


AIRE makes an inflatable canoe called the "Traveller".  It's big enough to float an entire moose (but barely so).  You can see a couple of pics of it at ; Scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see a red one and a blue one.  At this writing, the boat doesn't appear on AIRE's site yet, but it is available locally in Alaska.  


Another good canoe is made by Grabner ; I'd have a look at the "Outside" model.


Another excellent inflatable canoe is made by Incept ; This boat has been very popular throughout most of Alaska as a supplemental boat for float hunting, or for very small streams that may prohibit larger boats.


There are several other inflatable canoes out there if you look around.  Some of these I recommend, and others I don't.  There are several SOAR advocates here on the forum- I don't favor those boats for a variety of reasons, but if you want to know more about them, give Tracey Harmon a call at (907) 561-7238.  He built the first SOAR boats that were manufactured and can tell you a LOT about them.  I'll tell you straight out that Tracey is no fan of SOAR.  Be that as it may, Tracey is very knowledgable in this field, having also built inflatable boats for Incept in New Zealand, and Northwest River Supplies (he opened their entire production facility in Mexico).  He'll give you the straight scoop- and has nothing to gain from recommending one over the other.


The best source for sales and rentals of these boats is Alaska Raft and Kayak in Anchorage ; They rent inflatable canoes for $60 / day, by the way, and they will ship the stuff anywhere you want it.

Hope this helps!

Good Hunting, and Happy Dragging!


Previous: lining a canoe upriver Gary May 11 2003
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