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Thread: The logisitcs of sleeping onboard your canoe.

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    Default The logisitcs of sleeping onboard your canoe.

    This subject has come up in some conversations I've had recently. Although I can't think of any situation when I'd want to do this in Scotland I'm intrigued by the idea and have been wondering how those folks who do sleep onboard manage with the practicalities. First thing is to have a suitable canoe without thwarts everywhere I imagine but how do you keep your sleeping bag dry? My canoe always ends up with some water in it after a sail (or paddle for that matter) and whilst you can bail that out the inside of the boat is still going to be pretty damp isn't it? I only use down sleeping bags (I do have a Goretex bivi bag though), is a synthetic bag a prerequisite? Do you use some form of duck boards to keep yourself above the bilges? What about cooking, do you just stick to cold food and a flask? I know Steve C sleeps aboard Green Bean (I've enjoyed reading his Bloggs) but does anyone else do this and care to share their tips as well?

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    It can be done and I've considered it myself. The nearest I've come to it is sleeping in my canoe, but with it dragged up onshore so just a nice sleeping platform when either flat or comfy ground is not readily available. And that in only fine weather, in a Goretex bivi bag. Organising all your stuff in a small space is a challenge, as is cooking etc as mentioned.

    Gavin sleeps aboard his Shearwater sometimes - wild camping on the south coast is difficult. One of the issues is keeping rain out of the sleeping zone - any boat tent has to cover it and shed water outside the canoe. The Shearwater is partially decked so is easier to do this with.

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    Hmm, yeah it'd be like sleeping in a bath tub without an effective tent to protect you from rain. I still can't get my head round how it'd be possible while using a down bag. After twenty odd years of down bag use I'm conditioned to be really careful not to get my sleeping bag wet and I've always managed that whether tenting, hammocking, snowholing, bivvying, sea kayaking or whatever but I imagine it'd be a struggle while sleeping in a canoe.

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    I havent had to sleep in my canoe yet but i have been to a few places where it would have been easier to sleep on board than getting the canoe up a particularly rocky beach or having no-where flat to pitch a tent. My new canoe that i am building at the moment is going to have a cockpit just long and wide enough for my sleeping mat, and the rest will be covered with a crowned deck with coamings to keep the water out. All thwarts and seats will be removable. A simple boom tent will cover the cockpit. Sleeping in the canoe also has other challenges, for example, anchoring and having a sheltered harbour. I may never need to sleep in my canoe but if i can manage to set it up so that at least it is possible to do it then it may come in useful some day.

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    We had a long discussion on this subject a year or two back which may have more info on.
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

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    This is another thread on the subject, although most people felt that the man designing it was trying to pack too much into a small boat: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...ent-on-a-Canoe

    On that thread, I offered this link:
    http://www.folbotforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1289
    It's from a lady with an open-cockpit folding kayak who has managed to rig it for sleeping.



    The frame supports a light tent, although as she's in Florida, it's more to protect from bugs than rain and cold.

    Mary

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    Default The logistics of sleeping onboard your canoe

    If the weather is not too cold or too wet, I like sleeping in my Bufflehead more than using a tent.
    Bufflehead has a deck, which sheds rain, and ventilation is increased or reduced by the position of the spray boards, which partially shed the big cockpit.
    To store my sleeping bag, I use a simple cheap round water-tight container with gasket, white bottom, red lid in the picture below.
    Also shown is a cheap tarp with poles which are actually two of my three mast sections. If the weather turns ugly, I just lower the tarp.

    The image follows in the next post.

    Axel (Switzerland)

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    ... and here is the link to the picture:

    http://www.bootsbaugarage.ch/img/elba_camp.JPG


    Axel (Switzerland)

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryinoxford View Post
    This is another thread on the subject, although most people felt that the man designing it was trying to pack too much into a small boat: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...ent-on-a-Canoe
    Mary
    Yeah Mary, that'd never work lol......... http://eddiestalkperch.blogspot.com/2011/04/burton-hastings-to-snarestone.html

    We still have to try them on the water though but sleeping in them with all the equipment required for a four day wild-camp trip worked a treat.

    Vik

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    Thanks to everyone for the input.
    I remember reading that thread a while ago Keith but it's interesting to re-read it now. Unfortunately the OP doesn't give an update as to how well he got on. To be honest I can't imagine when I would ever want to sleep aboard (unless I decided to canoe on the Broads), I reckon I could nearly always find a spot for tent, bivi or hammock. My thoughts on the matter were provoked by discussions with Dave about his and Gavin's ideas for the "evolution" Shearwater and Gavin's vision to have a longer cockpit to make sleeping aboard more comfortable. I'm seriously thinking about taking the plunge and ordering a Shearwater II and was curious how feasible sleeping onboard might be and what (if any) relevance that capability might have to me. I suspect very little but it's nice to have options I suppose.
    Vik, I followed your thread at the time and visited your blogg, I'll have a look and update myself.
    Mary, that kayak does look like it'd be a handful in any sort of wind, I take it she didn't intend to use it afloat?
    Axel, have you tried sleeping aboard while afloat? I know that Howard Rice sleeps aboard Sylph whilst afloat and I think he intends to sleep aboard his Bufflehead as well (if I remember correctly).

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    Default The logistics of sleeping onboard your canoe

    Hi Jurassic

    yes, I tried to sleep in my canoe on the water, which was about 1.5 ft deep.
    Sounds quite romantic, but I always wake up due to the wakes of other boats passing by.
    I concluded that using the canoe as a "rigid tent" is much more desirable on solid ground than on the water.

    Axel (Switzerland)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jurassic View Post
    Mary, that kayak does look like it'd be a handful in any sort of wind, I take it she didn't intend to use it afloat?
    She says the frame isn't a problem in 5-10 knot winds. Any stronger than that, she dismantles and stows the frame, which takes about 20 minutes. She can sail her kayak, and the mast is also part of the tent support. For sleeping, she anchors somewhere sheltered and fits her sailing outriggers. She goes places where the shore is covered with sharp shells or coral, and landing isn't convenient.

    Being a skin-on-frame boat, she filles the spaces between the ribs with foam, which gives her a fairly flat sleeping surface, raised above the bilges.

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    With regard to keeping the sleeping bag dry, this is one of my main concerns.

    I do get water in my boat when sailing (I use the bailer to bail water INTO the canoe before I set up camp). I do this to clean to canoe properly so it's more pleasant to sleep in. I then swill it around and bail it back out. After that I dry it with a microfibre dish cloth (a large one). These are really effective and can wrung out easily. If it's not raining then the wind does the rest in about 15 minutes.

    If the tent goes up in the rain I dry it with the cloth and then light up the stove. With the doors open a little it dries out really fast.

    On the last trip I had to wash out all the Severn mud that our wellies tracked into the boat. I kept the gear off of the canoe floor whilst we went to the pub and when we got back it was bone dry.


    I have been chewing over the idea of a self bailer recently but now I've gone off the idea in case it seeps water when I'm camping.!!
    Regards the tent itself - I made mine cover the entire hull in order to ensure a dry boat. I opted for the lightest cotton available (synthetic materials could cause havoc with condensation, especially when the tent is over the surface of the water).

    So far every night the boat has stayed dry.

    Steve

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    I've often considered the benefits of a sleep-aboard system. For me the main benefit would be for when paddling the Broads. There are huge areas where the only possible wild camp is amongst the reeds that grow at the margins of most of the waterways (beyond the reeds there is just more reeds!) and the possibility of just tucking yourself away in the reeds for the night seems quite attractive. Trickiest aspect of this would be that you would have to set up completely from within the boat - no mean feat probably.

    Removable thwarts would be essential - and easy to do with wingnuts etc, but the other main concerns would be stability and keeping boat dry. If you had outriggers (I'm making some now) and you designed them so they could be flipped over (so bend in beam is reversed) the floats would be down in water and hold you very stable. Failing that, I use two small barrels fore and aft as extra buoyancy - tying them one to each gunwale on outside of boat should stop her tipping over in the night although securing them tightly would be tricky perhaps. To keep dry I think a simple A frame with a 3 metre tarp would be easiest. In addition to this I would have a raised sleeping platform to keep you a couple of inches off the bottom of canoe where water would collect.

    Failing that, how about one of these beds: http://www.outdoorworld.co.uk/vango-4-leg-camp-bed
    They pack small and are comfy, and raise you off the floor fine. I'd use a bivvy bag and synthetic sleeping bag - if no rain predicted you could chance it and go without the tarp.

  16. #16

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    I know Howard rice has slept on his decked canoe before.

  17. #17

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    I know there is a great thread on the woodenboat forum regarding his endeavours on board his sailing canoes, will do a quick search

  18. #18

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    Great thread about Howard Rice's Sylph on woodenboat forum and some good pictures of his layout and tent that he uses to sleep on-board at anchor.http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?130739-Sylph-Prof-Howard-Rice-s-sailing-canoe/page3&highlight=sylph

    Keep on Sailing
    smilicus
    http://sailingcatch22.blogspot.com

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    Here's a situation where sleeping aboard was the best option.


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    was going to post an image here but can't work out how to do it...will try later
    Last edited by GavinM; 12th-December-2011 at 05:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peregrine View Post
    was going to post an image here but can't work out how to do it...will try later
    If you have a Photobucket or Imageshack account it's easy. Click on the direct link tab next to the picture and copy that then on this site click the picture tab in the Quick Reply taskbar and paste the address that you copied from Photobucket/Imageshack in, click okay and you're done. Hope this helps.
    More here http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?2482-Posting-Pictures-on-the-Forum&p=254760#post254760



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    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=3&theater

    ...........and here, Snow Creek, East Head, Chichester Harbour May 2011, nature reserve, camping ashore prohibited.

    Well that didn't work. I must be being thick, still you can always click on the link.

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    I've wondered if it would be practical to take along a cheap inflatable dinghy as a "bedroom." Pump it up and add a bivvy bag or a pop-up tent. But you'd probably need to get a 3- or 4-man size to have sufficient floor space to sleep on. I don't know how long it would take to pump one up, working with footpump from aboard your canoe.

    That idea carried to a conclusion could take you to an all-out emergency life raft with gas inflation and built-in tent. But they are very heavy and very expensive. And the gas cartridge is one-shot, not helpful if you want to move camp.

    Mary

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryinoxford View Post
    I've wondered if it would be practical to take along a cheap inflatable dinghy as a "bedroom." Pump it up and add a bivvy bag or a pop-up tent. But you'd probably need to get a 3- or 4-man size to have sufficient floor space to sleep on. I don't know how long it would take to pump one up, working with footpump from aboard your canoe.

    That idea carried to a conclusion could take you to an all-out emergency life raft with gas inflation and built-in tent. But they are very heavy and very expensive. And the gas cartridge is one-shot, not helpful if you want to move camp.

    Mary
    LOL, not to mention repackaging the damn thing while you're in a canoe.

    However, it got me thinking, and maybe there's something out there which can be adapted to that use:



    It's an inflatable boom tent, link here:

    http://www.ronstan.com/marine/range.asp?RnID=272

    I gather that if you can weld the ends of the tubes or something (making them shorter) and adapt a small hand pump (such as the old Exped pump) you could blow them up reasonably quickly and without too much effort.

    Edit: Come to think of it, one could criss cross the two tubes (there's only two tubes in the small one), and then sew another piece of fabtic on there with a couple of loops and a zipper, you'd probably be good to go.
    ----------------
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    So almost a year and a half later I finally got around to trying sleeping aboard. Myself, Andy and Graham decided to give it a go on a very sheltered section of islands and lagoons at the northern end of Loch Ken. We sailed up there in the late afternoon and had a scout about to find a decent spot. Andy and I intended to sleep in our boats at anchor while Graham was considering pulling his boat on the bank as he has a leaky self bailer in his canoe and didn't want to wake up in a boat full of water. We knew it would be dark by 7pm this early in the year so we decided to find a spot where we could go ashore and cook dinner and have a camp fire to pass the time until we wanted to bed down. After searching for a while we found a sheltered spot with some dry ground adjacent that looked like it would fit the bill so we landed for a look. I managed (with a little assistance from Graham) to get my canoe alongside in about three feet of water with the outrigger pulled up on the bank, a painter on the stern tied to a tree branch and my anchor on the bow dug into the bank made me quite secure.

    Graham and Andy were just around the corner.

    After some discussions we set about rigging our various shelters on our canoes. I decided to just stay where I was tied up (rather than anchoring as I'd originally intended) as it allowed easier access to our cooking area. Graham paddled out into the water to try rigging his tarp afloat before coming back on dry land for the night due to the leaky bailer issue.

    Andy has to pull his canoe ashore to rig his tent at the moment (he intends to modify it to allow rigging afloat in future) but once erected his shelter looks the most weather resistant of the three.

    His plan was to paddle out in the dark later on and anchor up. Meanwhile I removed my bank side outrigger float which allowed my canoe to sit level and set up my polytarp boom tent. It's very quick and easy to set up and could easily be pitched afloat but as ever requires a few more tweaks to tension the tarp more effectively in light of actually pitching it in anger.


    Once we had our respective sleeping accommodation set up we gathered round the fire for the usual evening of eating, drinking and chatting. Andy lit the fire with his fire steel using tinder gathered locally.





    Eventually it was time for bed so we went our separate ways. I put an old Karrimat on the floor of my canoe then my Synmat 7 on top of that for insulation. I usually use a down sleeping bag but had resurrected my ancient synthetic for this trip in case it should get wet. I intended putting it inside my bivi bag but there was little prospect of rain and I felt safe enough going without. Once inside my bag I was amazed how comfy and warm I was.

    During the night the temperature dipped close to freezing and I did feel the limitations of my old sleeping bag but I was never cold enough to be bothered fishing out the fleece sleeping bag liner I'd brought as a back up. Just as a point of interest there was no coldness coming through the hull it was purely as a result of low air temperature. I slept fitfully as a result of the unfamiliar sensation of sleeping this way (I always take a couple of nights to grow fully accustomed to sleeping in a tent, hammock or as it transpires a canoe) but I'd rate it as a very comfortable way of sleeping in the right circumstances. I awoke around 6:15am and snapped this picture of Andy.

    Andy and Graham both enjoyed the sleep aboard experience as well and Andy is keen to progress his tent set up further. I have mixed feelings, it was great to try and pretty comfy but sleeping at anchor without the luxury of being able to land would entail being very careful not to drop anything overboard. There is room for everything on the canoe but during set up great care would be needed when accessing stuff from the rear hatch and also separating wet and dry gear. Getting out of your drysuit would also be interesting to say the least. We tried it during a spell of settled dry weather and were pretty sure it wouldn't rain, sleeping aboard during wet weather would be a different prospect. Having said all that after a few days of reflection I find myself contemplating ways to improve the weather proofing of my boom tent so I may end up trying this again.................

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    That is pretty cool guys!
    On the subject of improvements/not losing stuff over the side..... fixed fixing points/lugs and bungee lines might be worth a thought, or mesh diamonds off the floats(think trimaran trampolines)
    on escaping ones drysuit while afloat......sleep afloat summer time only Just an idea.

    Rob.

    Just realised why the mesh popped into my head, I think, didn't Greenbean (or was that the canoes name) do something similar? Me and search engines never find each other...

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    Hi Rob, yes we discussed using cargo netting strung from the outrigger spars to the hull as a potential improvement for future attempts (as you correctly say Steve C does this on Greenbean). Re sleeping afloat in summer, for me living in Scotland doing this in summer raises the further problem of midge proofing! I think that I can use my DD hammock as a midge net for summer use but am yet to test this in practice. It would also further complicate the already awkward setting up afloat process.

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    Nice write up Chris. So you did the right thing in not having us put a self bailer in the canoe. Mine was always more trouble than it was worth. Did you find that there was enough room for you and your gear or were you packing light. When we went to Wallaby Island last November there didnt seem to be enough room then, even for a dwarf.

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    Anchoring well off might be enough to deter most of the midges.

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    I had assumed that not taking a tent etc would have meant for packing light but the extra bulk of the synthetic bag (three times the packed size of my winter down bag) and various other sleep afloat specific bit's and pieces meant that the boot was pretty much full. There wasn't any overspill into the cockpit though and any problems would have been while switching from sailing to sleeping mode when nightime stuff from the rear compartment had to be removed to allow space to store daytime stuff. Once the changeover was made everything packed away fine. If I'd been anchoring I would have probably attached the trolley to the hull overnight to save space (or tethered it and thrown it overboard) but as it was it simply sat on the bank.
    In my defence I will say that on the wallaby trip I was laden with communal gear such as the huge group tarp and a bag containing sleeping bag and thermarest for Iain to use.

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    Excellent stuff! Its looking like canoe "liveaboard" is coming of age. The big question is whether you feel that it would be easier to sleep aboard rather than in a tent if you were on an expedition?

    I'm off to modify my SOTP tarp into a boom tent

    Graham

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jurassic View Post
    Hi Rob, yes we discussed using cargo netting strung from the outrigger spars to the hull as a potential improvement for future attempts (as you correctly say Steve C does this on Greenbean). Re sleeping afloat in summer, for me living in Scotland doing this in summer raises the further problem of midge proofing! I think that I can use my DD hammock as a midge net for summer use but am yet to test this in practice. It would also further complicate the already awkward setting up afloat process.
    Ahh! Yes Steve C. The blog of an overnighter with his daughter.
    And um yeah midges..I remember a few encounters on Loch Lomond On Crete their cousins are called "Flying Teeth" quite apt methinks

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    I'd say that it is much easier to camp than to live aboard Graham (sorry if that's not the answer you were hoping to hear). My initial reaction when we got back and I was chatting to Andy (who was much more enthusiastic about the prospect of doing it again) was that it was fun to try but too much hassle to do regularly. A little water under the bridge has made me reconsider this opinion to some extent. A couple of things made me think that it wasn't all that practical. One was that since it currently goes dark so early you're faced with the option to either go ashore and socialise or say goodnight and retire to your floating abode at 7:30 to spend an evening in splendid isolation! Clearly this situation would be resolved to some extent with longer daylight hours. Another thing was that (at least for me) sleeping aboard requires a separate set of equipment than I'd have to carry (over and above normal camping gear) if I did a trip that didn't involve 100% sleeping aboard. Andy sidestepped this issue to some extent by using part of his tent as the basis for his sleep aboard shelter. I toyed with doing this as well but the complexity of setting up while afloat put me off and I went for the simple boom tent option.
    I think some of my doubts also centred on the shortcomings of my shelter. Actually lying in bed and looking out I could see all the spots that rain would have got in had the weather been worse. I constructed my boom tent on the basis that I'd be anchored up while using it so I wanted the front to be fairly weather tight (given that the canoe would swing head to the wind/rain). I only had limited opportunities to trial rig it before the trip and actually using it revealed some shortcomings in the weatherproofing at the front. These problems aren't insurmountable though and I already have modifications in mind to overcome them (or at least minimise the shortcomings). The good thing is that the polytarp is easy to modify so if I can get the boom tent to the level where I feel it's fairly effective then I'll use the polytarp version as a pattern and remake it in proper flysheet fabric.

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    Well done guys, glad to see you did it!

    I find that sleeping aboard does require a huge amount of discipline with equipment and as with sleeping on any boat everything has it's place and one thing tends to have to put away before another is brought out. I find the mesh cargo nets are a perfect solution for storing wet kit and to create more space and it allows kit to drip dry.

    I would agree that sleeping aboard is not the simplest arrangement if you have somewhere to camp on land and on a longer trip, if given a choice on a trip I'd probably take a normal tent. I chose to sleep aboard because the Bristol channel is not blessed with shore-side camping but is well served with Marina's. There tends to be nowhere to camp in Marina's but plenty of pontoons so the boat tent fits the bill very well.

    But most importantly - whether sleeping aboard is quicker / easier or not, it is really good fun and to me that's what counts. It adds to the adventure and is different to normal camping.

    So enjoy yourselves and let's see more blogs

    Thanks for sharing - I really enjoyed that

    Best wishes

    Steve

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    Thanks Steve, as you say it is great fun to do and maybe that's the only justification needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jurassic View Post
    Thanks Steve, as you say it is great fun to do and maybe that's the only justification needed.
    That's plenty of justification for me to try it soon. After watching far too much of Keep Turning Left I have also been thinking about a Galley Box that I could clip on somewhere. I already make brews and noodles in the canoe using the Jetboil, but I think that I need to get a bit more adventurous.

    Graham

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC View Post
    After watching far too much of Keep Turning Left I have also been thinking about a Galley Box that I could clip on somewhere. I already make brews and noodles in the canoe using the Jetboil, but I think that I need to get a bit more adventurous.

    Graham
    Spookily enough I made a miniature table that slides into the seat rails on my Shearwater with a cut out to take the Jetboil (and make it very stable). I made it a little too generously though and it takes up too much space in it's current form but it's just a prototype at this stage. I also took noodles to eat onboard but had food envy when Andy and Graham both had real food to cook ashore (while I had to make do with my dehydrated noodles). Fortunately I also had some Camembert, oatcakes and a bottle of Argentinian red to wash the noodles down!

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    Did you consider rafting the canoes together for increased stability? Just a thought from an onlooker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhofmann View Post
    Did you consider rafting the canoes together for increased stability? Just a thought from an onlooker.
    No, with outriggers fitted stability isn't a problem but rafting canoes with outriggers would be difficult (in terms of the outriggers fouling the other boats or if you rafted opposite ends the outriggers would be over the other boats cockpit). If you were to try sleeping afloat in a canoe without outriggers then I imagine that rafting up would be an excellent idea though. Andy and I both sailed the rest of the weekend without our outriggers but fitted them purely for safety during the sleep aboard project.

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    Good to hear that you have progressed to sailing your Shearwater without the "chicken wings" (as you once called them). I do sometimes worry that onlookers assume that they are necessary for sailing a canoe. I would imagine that sleeping in the bottom of the canoe it would be very stable anyway and that the outriggers would be purely for psychological reassurance. With the side buoyancy tank your weight has to stay near the centre of the canoe. The stability of a canoe goes up the lower the centre of gravity is. So standing on the gunwales is least stable, lying in the bottom is most stable.

  42. #42
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Helensburgh, Scotland.
    Posts
    1,740

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    It was always my intention to try sailing without outriggers once I got a new drysuit Dave and having spent the last couple of months playing around paddle sailing my plastic canoe (without outriggers) it wasn't much of a step to do it last weekend. It was very enjoyable and very different to sailing the Pal without. The Shearwater feels as though it has less initial stability than the Pal despite the extra beam but it just leans as far as you want so smoothly and then stops there when you want it to that it's an absolute delight to sail that way. Not news to you I'm sure! I had the same sensation when paddling it as well, I could lean it over until the water was about to come into the cockpit and it felt totally secure and would just roll back again with a slight adjustment of trim. Tom had a quick sail in it as well and the wind dropped meaning he had to paddle back and he too remarked how nicely it paddled. I did have thoughts of doing a capsize recovery as well but even the new drysuit couldn't persuade me to try that once I'd felt the water temperature, it was absolutely freezing (quite literally as there was 1cm of ice on the loch on Saturday morning!)

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