Monday, November 12, 2012

Lashing In (Securing Gear)

As I wrote this the wind continued to howl 35 mph and gusting to 45 and higher. Forget canoes and kayaks; I wouldn’t enjoy being out in a 65-foot ketch in these conditions. Those of us with pecan trees, however, are enjoying the harvesting winds. The trees are being thrashed, and the pecans are falling like rain. The cats are sitting on the back of the sofa watching leaves flash by the window, their heads whipping back and forth like they’re watching a high-speed tennis match.

More to our normal topic of discussion, there are many nice advantages to a decked canoe, and one of those near the top of the list is the ease of securing gear in the boat so it doesn’t come adrift if you decide to go for a swim. Like a kayak, the decked canoe keeps the majority of the gear under the deck so it’s secure no matter how many times you roll, but like a canoe, all the gear is still easily accessible and able to be quickly loaded and unloaded. Only a short space exists between the paddler and either the forward or after ends of the cockpit, so the area where gear needs to be secured in the boat is minimal.

One of the disadvantages of an open canoe is the time needed to lash and unlash the buoyancy bags or all the packs. I’ve heard some grumbling about tying and undoing a spider web of lines every time you make or break camp, or even take a break for lunch. Short of using a full expedition skirt or cover, tying and untying every time you need something can get laborious. I’ve seen a number of attempts at minimizing the lines lashed along or across the canoe, but the ones I like best use a single line for managing all the packs in the entire boat. For Ibi, I use a single-link daisy chain, which can be expanded nicely for an open canoe. As a second choice, another that makes sense for an open canoe is the centipede.

The daisy chain may be new to a lot of paddlers, but we used it in sailing all the time. Like the stitching in the mouth of a feed sack, you just untie a single knot, and then just pull. No matter how long the application, like flaking headsails or securing the mainsail cover in a blow, the single line pulls through and unlashes everything in an instant. Normally, the daisy chain uses the single line to wrap an item 360-degrees. In an open boat, since we’re only wrapping less than 180-degrees, we use two lines, but only one is employed. The other remains static the entire trip.

There are a number of ways to secure line to the canoe. We won’t go into those here. Ibi uses through-bolted eyestraps. In “A” (illus. above), the eyestraps are in blue. A length of parachute cord is secured permanently with a bowline to the eyestrap under the deck, then led to another on the adjustable seat bracket. It’s run through that eye, and then led back and is tied to an eye created in the line with an overhand knot. The black line shows how the line remains in the boat when day-paddling or not carrying camping gear. Another is positioned on the opposite side of the hull and exactly the same way.

When you are ready to lash gear in the boat, release one of the lines. Holding the bight of the line over the center of the cargo, make the end of the line off to the second eye. Once this line is adjusted for proper length, it remains as is for the duration of the trip, never having to be touched again. The other line, let’s say it’s the starboard one, is untied from where it is secured, led through the loop created in the port line, tightened and secured back to the eye on the starboard side. The red lines in the drawing show how you now have two lines in an “X” across your gear. Depending on where the eyestraps are placed, you can have as many “X’s” across the boat as you want, as shown in “B.”. It doesn’t make a difference in how this works. My apologies for the rough drawings. It looks like those canoes have gone broadside into boulders way too many times.

When ready to remove your gear, untie the starboard line from its eye and pull it through the loop of the port line. If you have ten “X’s”, pull it through all ten loops. The port line is just allowed to drop into the canoe. There’s no need to do anything with it as long as you will be using it again. When you’re ready to secure your gear back in the boat, run the starboard line through the bights in the port line, tension, and tie it off. If you position eyestraps on either side of the paddling positions, the line can be run straight by the seats, and the whole boat can be done with a single line. Everything can be lashed or unlashed in well under a minute.  To shorten this post, I'll go over the centipede tomorrow.
Cheers, jim

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