About Canoes PDF Print E-mail
Written by gpayton   
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 20:46

More About Canoes 

A canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes usually are pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be covered.

In its human-powered form, the canoe is ordinarily propelled by the use of paddles, with the number of paddlers (most commonly two) dependent on the size of the canoe. Paddlers face in the direction of travel, either seated on supports in the hull, or kneeling directly upon the hull. Paddling can be contrasted with rowing, where the rowers face away from the direction of travel (though a wide canoe can be fitted with oarlocks and rowed). Paddles may be single-bladed or double-bladed.

The oldest recovered canoe in the world is the canoe of Pesse. According to C14 dating analysis it has been constructed somewhere between 8200 and 7600 B.C. This canoe is exhibited in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.

Sailing canoes (see Canoe Sailing) are propelled by means of a variety of sailing rigs. Common classes of modern sailing canoes include the 5 m² and the International 10 m² Sailing canoes. The latter is otherwise known as the International Canoe, and is one of the fastest and oldest competitively sailed boat classes in the western world. The log canoe of the Chesapeake Bay is in the modern sense not a canoe at all, though it evolved through the enlargement of dugout canoes.

Canoe materials

The earliest canoes were made from natural materials:

    * Early canoes were wooden [1], often simply hollowed-out tree trunks (see dugout). This technology is still practiced in some parts of the world. Modern wooden canoes may be wood strip (also, "stripper"), wood-and-canvas, stitch-and-glue, glued plywood lapstrake, or birchbark built by dedicated artisans. Such canoes can be very functional, lightweight, and strong, and are frequently quite beautiful works of art.
    * Many indigenous peoples of the Americas built canoes of tree bark, sewn with tree roots and sealed with resin. The indigenous people of the Amazon commonly used Hymenaea trees. In temperate North America, white cedar was used for the frame and bark of the Paper Birch for the exterior, with charcoal and fats mixed into the resin. A few modern canoe builders have revived and continued building birchbark canoes, including Henri Vaillancourt, Tom MacKenzie and Marcel Labelle.[citation needed]

Modern technology has expanded the range of materials available for canoe construction.

    * Wood-and-canvas canoes are made by fastening an external waterproofed canvas shell to a wooden hull formed with white cedar planks and ribs. These canoes evolved directly from birchbark construction. The transition occurred in the 19th century, first, in Ontario, when canoe builders laid canvas instead of bark into a traditional building bed and, later, in Maine, when builders adapted English boat-building inverted-forms technology. In areas where birchbark either was scarce or where demand exceeded ready supply, other materials, such as canvas, had to be used as there had been success in patching birchbark canoes with canvas or cloth. Efforts were made in various locations to improve upon the bark design such as in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada where rib-and-plank construction was used by the Peterborough Canoe Company, and in Maine, in the U.S, where similar construction was used by various companies. Maine was the location of the development of commercial wood-and-canvas canoes. E. H. Gerrish, of Bangor, is now recognized as the first person to produce wood-and-canvas canoes commercially, but other Maine builders soon followed, including, B. N. Morris, of Veazie, E. M. White, of Old Town, and, of course, the Gray family of the Old Town Canoe Co. In the adjoining Canadian province of New Brunswick, from the late 1800s until being disbanded in 1979, the Chestnut Canoe Company, along with the Old Town Canoe Company in Maine, became the pre-eminent producers of wood-and-canvas canoes. American President Teddy Roosevelt purchased Chestnut canoes for a South American expedition. Wood-and-canvas canoes have undergone a resurgence in recent years, spurred in part by the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association [2]. Builders abound, including Jerry Stelmok, Rollin Thurlow, Ken Solway, Joe Seliga, and many others [3].

    * Aluminum canoes were first made by the Grumman company in 1944, when demand for airplanes for World War II began to drop off. Aluminum allowed a lighter and much stronger construction than contemporary wood technology. However, a capsized aluminum canoe will sink unless the ends are filled with flotation blocks. Moreover, an aluminum canoe is extremely noisy, rendering it unsuitable for viewing wildlife.

    * Plywood canoes are "stitched" together using cable-ties or copper wire, sealed with epoxy resin, or the inferior but cheaper polyester resin, and reinforced with glass fiber tape or cloth.

    * Composites of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber are used in synthetic canoe construction. Developed over 50 years ago, these materials are light, strong, and maneuverable. Easily portaged, these canoes allow experienced paddlers access to remote wilderness areas.

    * Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS , trademarked as "Royalex," is another synthetic composite material that makes an extremely flexible and durable hull. It is suitable, in particular, for whitewater canoes. ABS canoes have been known to pop back into their original shape with minimal creasing of the hull after having been wrapped around a rock in strong river currents.

    * Polyethylene is a cheaper and heavier material used for synthetic canoe construction with the benefit of superior abrasion resistance,        primarily found in whitewater canoes.

Depending on the intended use of a canoe, the various kinds have different advantages. For example, a wood-and-canvas canoe is more fragile than an aluminum canoe, and thus less suitable for use in rough water; but it is much quieter — thus better for observing wildlife. However, canoes made of natural materials require regular maintenance without which they lack durability. A Kevlar canoe is tough and also light, good for wilderness tripping. Modern hybrids can combine the elegance and style of traditional wooden canoes with such benefits as modern materials can provide.


--Excerpt from Wikipedia

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 June 2008 21:05 )

Main Menu