A simple project that will make your canoe easier to line and track in moving water.
Cristi and I are lucky enough to have found a Royalex canoe a few years back before the Great Royalex Famine. Back then they were selling new for around $1000. Once Royalex became unavailable the prices shot up to over two grand. A replacement material for Royalex (T-Formex) is now available, but pricing is still in the $2000 range. The new higher pricing more-or-less turns Royalex into a specialty material for river tripping and whitewater, rather than the general canoe material it was back in the early 2000’s.
Lucky for us we found our Albany before the prices shot sky high. The Albany is a 17’2″ Royalex river tripper. Ours was manufactured under contract by Mowhawk Canoe in the early 1990s and it’s built like a tank. I haven’t put it on the scale but I reckon it goes 80 pounds easy. I ran across the Albany at a used boat swap at Collinsville Canoe and Kayak in Collinsville, CT. It was priced at $450. I snapped it up.
Over the past couple years I’ve make a few modifications to set the Albany up as a wilderness river tripper. I added padding for knees while sitting and kneeling, put on a couple Kevlar skid plates, and installed a stern footbrace. One project that I had always wanted to do was install lining holes. Since we’re taking the Albany with us this summer on the road, and we hope to do some river tripping, now seemed like the right time to get the job done.
The idea behind lining holes is simple. If you are pulling a canoe upstream in rapids, or lowering it carefully downstream, it helps to have the connection point for your rope as close to the water as possible. If you tie the rope to the deck plate you’re likely to capsize the canoe when you give the lines a yank. That’s a bad day on a backcountry trip.
In the old days you would tie or splice a bridle that would pull from under the canoe, but it’s a hassle to tie and untie a bridle every time you want to line a rapid. A simpler solution has been popularized by outdoor writer and canoe guru, Cliff Jacobson.
Cliff’s approach is to drill some holes in your boat, just above the waterline, run a piece of PVC pipe through the boat, and epoxy the whole thing in place. This creates a bombproof, waterproof attachment point for lining ropes.
I followed Cliff’s instructions and completed the install in about an hour. The old Albany is ready for action and a summer of river adventures. Here’s a pictorial rundown of the process:
I’ll admit that I was in a bit of a rush to get this project wrapped up, so I wasn’t quite as meticulous as I might have been. I’m happy with the results, but there are three things I’ll do differently the next time I put lining holes in a canoe:
First off, I followed the instructions and didn’t use a large drill bit to open up the holes to a half inch. The concern is that a large bit will tear the vinyl on the canoe and make a mess. Unfortunately, if you use a 3/8″ bit, you have to do a lot of enlarging of the hole by hand or with a Dremel tool. It’s easy to get the holes off center when you do this, even if you think you’re being careful. Next time I’ll use a little bit larger bit for my second pass so that I’m better able to keep the holes centered when I expand them to full size.
Second, I made the mistake of mixing up all the adhesive in one shot. Not sure why I did this, since I know a larger pot of epoxy has a shorter working life. For whatever reason, I dumped it all at once, and I was rushing against the clock to get the second tube bonded into the canoe before my epoxy turned hard. Next time, two batches, one for each end.
Finally, I didn’t mask the outside of the hull before I bonded the PVC pipe in place. After I squeezed extra adhesive into the gaps around the tubing there was a fair amount of residue on the outside of the hull. This had to be scraped off and the final result was less than cosmetically perfect. Next time, masking tape.
Other than that, I’m happy to say that the whole project was pretty straightforward. It took me a little over an hour from start to finish and I’m pleased with the results. Looking forward to trying our new lining holes out this summer on the Bois Brule and Flambeau rivers Up North in Wisconsin and on the North Platte River this fall in Wyoming. Updates to follow.
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