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The Canadian Coast Guard requires that every canoe be equipped with certain pieces of equipment. The regulated items are described on the CCG site at ... www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/obs-bsn/sbg-gsn/canoe_e.htm

Most of these items are descibed in more detail below (along with others not specified in regulations), as they apply to the practicalities of canoeing in Algonquin.


Traditional paddles are made from single medium hardwood or dense hardwood. Also available are versions with laminated composite blades.

Lighter paddles are also available with aluminum or fiberglass shafts and plastic or fiberglass-filled polyproylene blades. These synthetics are also crafted into sectional versions that can be collapsed down for packing.

Angled blades and/or curved shafts are the features of specialty paddles, designed to maximize efficiencies for specific uses.

Selecting the correct size paddle shouldn't be rushed. A rough guide is that while holding the paddle overhead (with arms straight across and elbows bent up at right angles) one hand should be on the paddle's grip and the other on its throat. However, if possible, trying a paddle out before purchasing is definitely wise.

It's a safe practice to take along an extra paddle, just in case one gets broken or lost. You might choose to use a collapsable or short-shafted paddle as a "spare".

Personal Floatation Device (PFD):

Rule #1 is "Wear it ... don't sit on it!"

Wind, waves, current, a bump on the head or the shock of cold water can separate you from an unworn PFD very quickly.

As with paddles, try it out ... not necessarily in the water. Rather put it on, cinch it up and grab a paddle. Then do a few strokes, both while seated and kneeling. If the jacket limits your ability to paddle or binds against your body, it will either spoil your canoeing enjoyment or tempt you not to wear it properly.

There are many different designs of PFD's available. A fully featured "boating vest" has open side adjustments, a center zipper and an adjustable waist belt and buckle. These features allow one to adjust the jacket to suite different clothes worn under it and even different users as well.

When selecting a PFD, pay special attention to indicated weight limits and chest sizes that are printed on each jacket.


Heavy rainfall, waves splashing over the gunwale or a leak in the hull can bring water on board. A bailer is your means of scooping up this water and emptying it overboard.

A hand bailer can be fashioned from a medium-sized plastic bottle with a recessed handle. Cutting the tapered neck entirely off, produces a bailer that can easily be used in a one-handed manner.

A second use of the bailer is as an emergency urinal, to be used in the kneeling position.

Heaving Line:

"Just recently (in the late 1990's), the CCG started requiring every canoe carry a "bouyant heaving line of 15 meter or greater length."

While the line's exact purpose isn't clearly stated, it's assumed to facilitate rescue efforts from both on water and on shore. One of these lines can either be purchased in a pre-manufactured self-contained "throw-bag" or can be assembled and held in a ready position on a canoe's thwart or seat by a strong velcro strap.


Do not use a traditional sports whistle with a "pea" in it (often a real pea or a plastic ball). The danger is that a pea can split or swell with moisture rendering the whistle silent. Likewise a plastic ball can dry out and crack. Instead, select a multi-fluted "pea-less" whistle.

Worn on a length of durable cord around your neck, this whistle should be available at all times, on the outside of your PFD. It is a safety measure while paddling, should you capsize ... while hiking, should you fall and injure yourself ... and even at the campsite, should a bear decide to visit.

Remember that accurate Morse Code isn't necessary. A series of triple blasts indicate you are in need of help.


Tie a 15 foot length of floating yellow polyester rope to both your canoe's bow and stern. They serve for securing your canoe to a dock, log or branch after you've paddled ashore. The choice of bright yellow assures maximum visibility in poor light.

Also, if you are paddling solo and happen to capsize, a trailing stern line could offer you an extra something to grasp for.


Carry your 50 pound canoe over a few 1000 meter portages, with nothing but the factory standard thwart across your shoulders, and you'll know there has to be a better way. What you need is a yolk!

A well made yolk is contoured to the shape of one's shoulders and neck. It curves the load over the shoulders and away from the neck. Try one out at the store first, to make sure it fits! It's usually attached to the canoe by mounting brackets. Be sure to tighten them periodically.

Velcro Straps:

When you're portaging, Velcro® straps are a very convenient way to fasten paddles, PFD's, a bailer and heaving line to your canoe's thwarts and seats. Rather that trying to tie these items to packs or to bundle them under your arms, making sure they are balanced fore and aft, simply strap them to your canoe.

Your local fabric store sells bulk Velcro® material. It comes in matching lengths of the two distinct "gripping surfaces". Cut off some 12 inch lengths of the prickly hook surface and the same number of 4 inch lengths of the fuzzy loop surface. Overlap the two by a good inch, so their surfaces are on opposing sides. Stitch them together with 6 or 8 pound monofilament fishing line. You may find you need a couple of assemblies of 18 and 6 inches respectively, for securing the blade ends of paddles. These straps should be kept handily wrapped around thwarts and seat frames until needed. Their only drawbacks are that they tend to "grab" prematurely while you are wrapping them around a paddle ... and when being pulled apart, they make a very noisy "ripping" sound.

Duct Tape:

Good old duct tape is basic first-aid for your canoe. A small hole in the hull can be temporarily fixed by drying off the hull and layering on strips of duct tape. An effort to repair a larger hole should incorporate a patch and/or splint of another material.

Other camping applications for duct tape include repairing paddles, bailers, tents, packs, etc. And, should you break a bone, you can secure a splint with it!