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phil h. moore : canoeing in the surf, 1919 

Phil H. Moore : Canoeing in the Surf, 1919. 
Moore, Phil H.: Canoeing in Swift Water, Part 3
Editor: Albert Britt
Outing Publishing Company, New York, Chicago
Volume 74 Number 3,
June 1919.

Hathi Trust


Page 155
Canoeing in Swift Water
By Phil H. Moore

III. What to Do When the Wind Catches You on Lakes and How to Run the Surf

Page 156

If you get caught in a blow and have to paddle squarely against
wind and waves, load so that the bow is well out of water.
With a fair following sea load bow heavy.
Do not, under any condition, tackle rough water and try to paddle in the trough.
When you are actually in the trough and between two waves, there is safety for an instant only.
The crest of the next sea will probably come partly aboard.
A continued repetition of this will soon make your canoe unmanageable.
Then as the crests under-run you, you will lose your balance and have a swim.
Before closing this advice on canoeing in rough water, I wish to emphasize old Joe's advice,- if possible, "Don't.

Some years ago, and after I had arrived at the professional stage in my career as a canoe handler, I had an instructive experience landing a canoe through the surf on the Atlantic coast.
Many times I had landed with a dory or surf boat at various points and believed it could be done with a canoe.
We were taking a summer cruise in a big motor boat and had sailed down the La Have River from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
We rounded the La Have Islands into Green Bay, and as the sea was calm,
anchored just off Crescent Beach, with the intention of getting ashore in an eighteen foot canoe.

The Daphne carried two dinghys, but as they hung on davits and were covered and blocked up, it was quite a job to put them over side.
After landing all but one lady at a fish wharf in a little cove, I suggested to her that we land directly on the beach and so avoid quite a walk around.
She was game and we paddled into the surf.
We caught a wave just right and it shot us toward the beach in grand style.
It was like riding a surf board.
We were going about fifteen miles an hour and it was most exhilarating, when suddenly the canoe began to shoot toward the right.
I tried desperately to paddle her around.
The bow pointed down, dug into
the sand,- and over we went, - lady, dignity, and all.
The wave receded and left us sitting on the beach high and wet.
The crowd laughed.
The lady didn't.
Besides spoiling the lady's clothes, disposition, and day, I incidentally ruined my watch and social standing with the lady.
It was deplorable but instructive.
The wave that did the trick was not over two feet high.
The whole trouble was that I should have had the canoe loaded heavier in the bow than in the stern.
I spent the next two hours practising with and without a passenger.
When properly trimmed with the light stern toward the sea, it was the easiest thing in the world to keep her straight and make a safe landing.
Also it was great sport to ride the crests surf board fashion.
I explained all this to the lady, but she scorned, scouted, and flouted the idea, as well as the perpetrator.

The photos showing the canoe in a small surf illustrate the principles involved.
When going out have the bow light, and so time your seaward progress that you will catch the first wave just after it breaks, the second wave just before it breaks, and so on.

It is much easier to go out safely than to come in dry, unless you remember always to have the seaward end of your canoe drawing less water than the other end.
When going shoreward kneel forward of the center thwart and paddle toward the shore, watching for a following wave.
If you can get the canoe moving fast enough the sea will catch you with the bow of your canoe pointing slightly down and will carry you in this position on its crest until it breaks and shoots you smoothly upon the sand.
It takes but little steering as the water beneath you has a firm grip on the deep forward end of the boat and as it is going straight for the beach it will carry you straight with it.

This is logical to the average sailor, as it is common practise when
landing a dinghy or other hand propelled craft through the surf, to back her in.
The stern draws more water than the bow and the bow has a chance to rise to the breaking surf and will not ship any water.
In going out the bow is still toward the waves and the boat is easily steered, as the deep stern is still gripped by the inrushing water, which helps to hold the boat at right angles to the surf line.

Although it is remarkable what a heavy surf you can negotiate with a canoe, it is really no place for this type of craft, but the history of my experiences may be helpful to those who like to play in the waves.
As a sport it quite rivals the Hawaiian surf board.
Incidentally it would have saved the writer embarrassment, money, and a friend if he had known how, before attempting to take a
lady passenger ashore through the surf.
She was a sight!

Page 157

Going out through the surf.
The author selected an instant just after a wave had broken, then jumped in, with his canoe headed seaward, and lighter in the bow than in the stern.
The backwash assisted him towards the next wave which was encountered just after it had broken.

The author was an instant late in meeting the third wave, and just missed getting caught in the curl.
Note the high light bow which rose easily and prevented shipping much water.
It is essential that the bow be lighter than the stern in running out

Coming in through the surf.
He was kneeling forward of the center thwart, causing the canoe to draw more water in the bow.
The canoe was just ahead of the crest of this wave and going twenty miles an hour.

As the wave gathered size and momentum, the speed increased, but it was still easy to keep the canoe headed straight for the beach as the wave had a firm grip on the heavy forward end.
Page 158

As the wave broke the heavy forward end began to tip down and the speed increased to its
maximum at this point.
The canoe shot smoothly up on the sand.
Try this standing up.

The canoe is coming to be the most universally used (and misused and misunderstood) craft in North America. It gives more people pleasure than all other craft combined.
Without it the great North Land of Canada would not yet have been explored, or opened up for mining, lumbering, hunting, or fishing.
It is used in the Arctic by the Eskimo; in the tropics by the negro; and in the temperate zones by everybody.
The canoe is strong enough for work, handsome enough for play, large enough to carry a load, and light enough to be carried.
They are great little boats, but temperamental.
Respect them!


Editor: Albert Britt
Outing Publishing Company,
New York, Chicago
Volume 74 Number 3,
June 1919.

Hathi Trust


Geoff Cater (2017) : Phil H. Moore : Canoeing in the Surf, 1919.