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      WWYD #15 - Broken Canoe     
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BigOarDeal
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
04/07/2021 08:46AM  
You are leading a trip with your newlywed wife and one other newlywed couple. They have never been to the BWCA. You were there once, 8 or so years ago. So far, you're surprised how flawless the trip has been! Besides some difficulty finding the portage from Kawishiwi River to the northwest end of Clear Lake (somebody fix the maps, please!), the trip has gone off without a hitch and the weather in mid-June has been perfect!

You wake up early on Sunday morning to start the paddle out. The plan was to paddle southwest down the Kawishiwi out of the boundary waters straight to our outfitter (River Point).

Yesterday for the first time, after watching another canoe in front of you, you shot some rapids. You were quite impressed with the time savings of using that approach! So on Sunday, that is the plan (as long as the rapids don't look too big, of course). You shoot the first rapids (the one that straddles the BWCA boundary) with little trouble. You approach the second, and much too late realize that these are bigger than the previous one. Before you know it, you're riding down through the rapids and ALMOST make it. There is a large boulder at the bottom and you hit it head on. You are in an aluminum canoe, so you may be thinking 'no big deal'. Well, the canoe turns perpendicular to the rapids and ends up getting folded in half around the large boulder from the pressure of the water.

Luckily, the other canoe makes it through without issue.

You were able to recover almost all gear (minus one paddle) and dislodge the canoe from the boulder. But now it is folded in half and has two basketball-sized holes in the bottom.

You assess the situation:
-You jumped on your canoe to make it a 'normal' shape, but it still has the gaping holes (and you're down 1 paddle)
-You are 4.5 miles paddle from the outfitter
-Your map shows a road about a half mile from your current location
-You and your wife's phones are ruined, but the other couple's phones work and actually have service.

So... what would you do?
 
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Speckled
distinguished member (255)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 09:24AM  
My main goal at this point would be to alleviate the pain I've just caused the outfitter. So I'm getting that boat out of the wilderness, which means I'm either busting brush the half mile with it to the nearest road or tieing it to the working canoe and they can paddle and portage it the rest of the way out, while I hike to the nearest road. Either way, I'm returning the boat to the outfitter.

Once at the outfitter - Without question, I'm inquiring the price of the canoe and am paying full retail to replace it. I'll ask about any lost rental income they would have had with the canoe if they're fully rented and i'm paying that. I would then explain to the outfitter that i'm an idiot and would like to pay some level of idiot fee, we'll call it a large tip.

Sorry, not trying to offend, but if I found myself in that situation that's What I would do.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13702)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
04/07/2021 09:38AM  
Well you have one good canoe and one totaled canoe. You also have four people plus gear. No way will you be able to haul four people and gear out in one trip, plus a broken canoe. I would take one trip out with everyone plus as much gear as you can and exit to the outfitter. Then the two guys go back and get the rest of the gear. You said the canoe was bent in half so it’s a total loss. I would ask the outfitter for a hack saw And a few blades and cut the canoe in half, and stack it like a paper cup and paddle out. Then settle up with the outfitter. Offer to pay for a new canoe. Remembering that he has lost income and shipping to consider.
 
Canoearoo
distinguished member(2412)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 09:43AM  
I would duck tape the holes and see if it floats. If it floats I would tie a rope and paddle it back 4 miles.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13702)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
04/07/2021 09:52AM  
Canoearoo: "I would duck tape the holes and see if it floats. If it floats I would tie a rope and paddle it back 4 miles. "

Dang I forgot I had a roll of duct tape. Good plan. You could use your rain gear as a patch with the tape.
 
04/07/2021 09:59AM  
I have Gorilla tape.....see if she floats. Have a bailer handy. I carry one spare paddle between 2 tandems......if I'm still down a paddle, I'd put my ax and saw to work and make a crude paddle. The show must go on, either continuing trip or getting my party out. Pony up once back at the outfitters.
 
Chieflonewatie
senior member (63)senior membersenior member
 
04/07/2021 10:02AM  
Don't you thing the outfitter would know what to charge for the lost gear.
 
andym
distinguished member(4994)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
04/07/2021 02:32PM  
Yes on taping it up. You may well be able to get it floating if you have enough tape or waterproof material (dry bags might also work).

Those are big holes and so it may well be a total loss. We do, however, have a canoe that was wrapped on a rock in a rapid, straightened, had a crack welded, thwarts replaced, and it is fine now. We didn’t own it when the accident happened and so don’t know how they got it off the river.
 
Porkeater
distinguished member (150)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 03:01PM  
As somewhat of an aside, with regard to the obligation to make the outfitter whole for the loss of the canoe, you may have some insurance coverage for this. A seldom used coverage is the "Damage to property of others" under the liability provisions of your homeowners or renters insurance. It usually has a low limit, like $1,000.00 but could certainly help.
 
scat
distinguished member(943)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 03:34PM  
My first thought was gorilla tape also.

You are my bro, Me and my partner bent a canoe around a rock on the 11 Point River in Arkansas and had to leave it there. We had a decent sized group so we went 3 man the last 2 days. I was told they retrieved the canoe with a powerboat somehow. That current was humpin. Curled that aluminum canoe like it was a 16 oz Hamms beer can.
Cheeers, scat
 
PineKnot
distinguished member(1884)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 04:32PM  
Strange. You jacknifed a canoe, lost some gear? With a newlywed? I guess I 'd be thinking let's stash the damaged canoe and gear we couldn't bring, get to the car while contacting the outfitter enroute to our car. Sort out the damages later....
 
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1585)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 08:02PM  
Why does everyone assume the canoes are rented, maybe they borrowed them from creepy Uncle Bill? He's locked up for the next 3 years so he may forget that he even had them stashed out beyond the still.

It depends on the terrain between the incident location and the road. Two of us would likely grab a phone and at least a couple packs and start bushwacking. If we can make it to the road we call for assistance. Once help is on the way we stash the packs and head back for more gear and the trashed canoe. We secure the remaining gear and canoe and we all head to the road. Once help arrives and the gear is loaded, two of us go back with the driver and the other team goes back to the canoe and gear and paddle out.
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(901)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/07/2021 10:18PM  
Sounds almost like the group we helped on the Kawishiwi that had wrapped a canoe in one set of rapids. Fortunately, we were able to help pull the canoe off with a rope and it did not have any holes...just a wicked crease.

Going cross country can be risky and much harder than people anticipate. If a group is not well practiced with bushwhacking (especially with just a map/compass) it could be a long process. I would use foam sleeping pads/tarp/duct tape or other equipment on hand to try to make the canoe floatable. Then tow it with gear in it and people all in the good canoe. Stop and bail as needed. Take it slow and easy paddling out. If this is not feasible, paddle out together with minimal gear and get help from outfitter to come in with better repair supplies to fix canoe enough to get it out.
 
PeaceFrog
member (27)member
 
04/08/2021 07:03AM  
Cowdoc I'm with you. No time for BS. Do what you can with what you got and get after it. Make it right when you are back at the outfitter.
 
dschult2
senior member (71)senior membersenior member
 
04/08/2021 07:32AM  
straighthairedcurly: "Sounds almost like the group we helped on the Kawishiwi that had wrapped a canoe in one set of rapids. Fortunately, we were able to help pull the canoe off with a rope and it did not have any holes...just a wicked crease.


Going cross country can be risky and much harder than people anticipate. If a group is not well practiced with bushwhacking (especially with just a map/compass) it could be a long process. I would use foam sleeping pads/tarp/duct tape or other equipment on hand to try to make the canoe floatable. Then tow it with gear in it and people all in the good canoe. Stop and bail as needed. Take it slow and easy paddling out. If this is not feasible, paddle out together with minimal gear and get help from outfitter to come in with better repair supplies to fix canoe enough to get it out."


This. But I would also get a hold of the Forest Service once out if you couldn't fix the canoe and have to go back for it. At that point your technically reentering and also they may want to be part of the extraction process.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13702)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
04/08/2021 08:34AM  
dschult2: "straighthairedcurly: "Sounds almost like the group we helped on the Kawishiwi that had wrapped a canoe in one set of rapids. Fortunately, we were able to help pull the canoe off with a rope and it did not have any holes...just a wicked crease.



Going cross country can be risky and much harder than people anticipate. If a group is not well practiced with bushwhacking (especially with just a map/compass) it could be a long process. I would use foam sleeping pads/tarp/duct tape or other equipment on hand to try to make the canoe floatable. Then tow it with gear in it and people all in the good canoe. Stop and bail as needed. Take it slow and easy paddling out. If this is not feasible, paddle out together with minimal gear and get help from outfitter to come in with better repair supplies to fix canoe enough to get it out."



This. But I would also get a hold of the Forest Service once out if you couldn't fix the canoe and have to go back for it. At that point your technically reentering and also they may want to be part of the extraction process."



You could just get a day permit and go get the old canoe with the two guys. You would be legal to re-enter then, but not stay overnight.
 
missmolly
distinguished member(7215)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
04/08/2021 08:54AM  
straighthairedcurly: "Sounds almost like the group we helped on the Kawishiwi that had wrapped a canoe in one set of rapids. Fortunately, we were able to help pull the canoe off with a rope and it did not have any holes...just a wicked crease.


Going cross country can be risky and much harder than people anticipate. If a group is not well practiced with bushwhacking (especially with just a map/compass) it could be a long process. I would use foam sleeping pads/tarp/duct tape or other equipment on hand to try to make the canoe floatable. Then tow it with gear in it and people all in the good canoe. Stop and bail as needed. Take it slow and easy paddling out. If this is not feasible, paddle out together with minimal gear and get help from outfitter to come in with better repair supplies to fix canoe enough to get it out."


^This one.^
 
missmolly
distinguished member(7215)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
04/08/2021 08:55AM  
I'd contact BeaV and Kendra. People say that they can bushwhack the thickest brush, using their forearms like machetes. People also say they can rub their hands together fast enough to glow red hot. They could use their red hot hands to reforge the canoe, making it better than ever. Everyone would turn to thank them, but they'd already be gone, having heard the call of the wild yet again.
 
04/08/2021 10:35AM  
Duct tape and tow. 4-5 miles is not that far. You can put the gear in the patched canoe and people in the good canoe. You should still have enough paddles for everyone, that's what the extra paddle is for. I could see putting one person in the patched canoe IF it can hold them so they can steer and bail as needed.

For the patching, you should just have to unfold the metal to cover the holes, use a couple structural pieces to hold them in place then more tape to fill the seams and seal it. If the integrity is shot then you can always use some sticks as a brace. You don't need it to look pretty or be ready for a race, you just need it to float for a few miles.
 
Porkeater
distinguished member (150)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/08/2021 11:21AM  
Northwoodsman: "Why does everyone assume the canoes are rented, maybe they borrowed them from creepy Uncle Bill? "

Because the OP indicated that they used an outfitter. While it's certainly possible they had partial outfitting, not including canoes, based on their tripping experience at the time, it seems like a logical conclusion.
 
04/08/2021 01:22PM  
Northwoodsman: "Why does everyone assume the canoes are rented, maybe they borrowed them from creepy Uncle Bill? He's locked up for the next 3 years so he may forget that he even had them stashed out beyond the still."

Your family sounds more interesting than mine!
 
JimmyJustice
distinguished member(660)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/08/2021 03:17PM  
missmolly: "I'd contact BeaV and Kendra. People say that they can bushwhack the thickest brush, using their forearms like machetes. People also say they can rub their hands together fast enough to glow red hot. They could use their red hot hands to reforge the canoe, making it better than ever. Everyone would turn to thank them, but they'd already be gone, having heard the call of the wild yet again. "

MM, you heard correct.

As for the OP, I'm with Cowdoc and PeaceFrog..."Do what you can with what you got and get after it. Make it right when you are back at the outfitter." Unless of course there is time to fish first.
 
dschult2
senior member (71)senior membersenior member
 
04/08/2021 03:54PM  
Savage Voyageur: "dschult2: "straighthairedcurly: "Sounds almost like the group we helped on the Kawishiwi that had wrapped a canoe in one set of rapids. Fortunately, we were able to help pull the canoe off with a rope and it did not have any holes...just a wicked crease.



Going cross country can be risky and much harder than people anticipate. If a group is not well practiced with bushwhacking (especially with just a map/compass) it could be a long process. I would use foam sleeping pads/tarp/duct tape or other equipment on hand to try to make the canoe floatable. Then tow it with gear in it and people all in the good canoe. Stop and bail as needed. Take it slow and easy paddling out. If this is not feasible, paddle out together with minimal gear and get help from outfitter to come in with better repair supplies to fix canoe enough to get it out."




This. But I would also get a hold of the Forest Service once out if you couldn't fix the canoe and have to go back for it. At that point your technically reentering and also they may want to be part of the extraction process."




You could just get a day permit and go get the old canoe with the two guys. You would be legal to re-enter then, but not stay overnight. "

Oh yeah, good point. Forgot about the day permits. But I would for sure get one of those.
 
BigOarDeal
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
04/08/2021 09:58PM  
Lots of great ideas in here!

So here's what we did:

After pounding the canoe back into shape, we tried to float it. It did float on its own, but it took on lots of water with even one pack in it. We did have duct tape, rain flies, etc. but instead of taking time trying to make it workable, we decided to send the other couple back to the outfitter with the plan to bring back another canoe. Each group took one working phone.

So they paddled back in the functioning canoe, notified the outfitter of what had happened, and asked to use another canoe. Nearly 4 of the 4.5 mile paddle back was in water with motorboat access, so the outfitter offered to pontoon them and the two canoes 4 miles and drop them off.

They made it back to us no problem, but it did take a while. So then we paddled out and towed the broken canoe behind us with a rope. The outfitter met us at that same point and pontooned us back.

Kudos to the outfitter owner (John, I believe?), who took everything very well and was pretty much laughing about it the whole way, knowing that everyone was okay.

Yes, I bought myself a canoe that day and made sure to pay for the pontoon rides, lost paddle, etc. I still have the canoe under my deck with the intention of cutting it in half and making bookshelves some day.

I think our way worked, but it took a long time. If I could go back in time, I would try harder to make it float instead. (And if I could go further back in time, I would not try to shoot the rapids.)

Proof that it happened:
 
04/08/2021 11:52PM  
I'm glad you survived that. I've read about people getting pinned between a canoe, and a downstream obstruction. Often the current is too strong to get unpinned without some mechanical advantage/leverage. It's a dangerous situation.

Seems like someone on here was telling a story about a boy that they had to work to keep his head above water, while others went for help. The canoe and current had him pinned in place. The water was cold, and they were becoming hypothermic. Very scary stuff.

Once when we were on the horse river, we grew tired of multiple portages, and decided we would walk the canoes through the rapids. That was a poor choice. We got around a bend, and there were several trees stacked on top of each other, lying across the river. There wasn't a nice way through, and the current was too strong to go back up stream. We found a spot to squeeze the canoes through, but broke a paddle in the process. It could have been worse, obviously, but we learned a lesson.
 
ayudell
distinguished member (151)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/09/2021 05:14PM  
I have also been in a group that was in this situation. In about 2000, Our Voyageur Outward Bound instructors were playing in some rapids at the bottom of a portage (which they told us never to do) and wrapped their boat around a rock. It ended up looking almost exactly like the one in the photo. It's been a long time, but I think it was in the vicinity of Insula. After we got the boat straightened back up, there were matching 9" x 3" tears admiships on both sides. Our objective was VOBS homebase at Kawishiwi River and county Rd 1, so something on the order of 35 miles over 3(?) days.

We had plenty of duct tape, which saved the trip. About twice a day the 'bandages' inside and out had to be replaced, and the boat had to be turned upside down and emptied every 1-2 miles. But they were able to paddle it out. There were 3 other boats that took on most of the heavy gear from that boat. It was a pain, but we made it out and finished the trip. I think they felt pretty silly.
 
LarrySw45
member (16)member
 
04/10/2021 08:44AM  
When you rent a canoe from an Outfitter don't you also get Insurance ?
Like renting a car from Hertz ?
Larry S
 
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