Lessons From The Trail Episode 12 Rig A Canoe Sail

Lessons From The Trail Episode 12 Rig A Canoe Sail

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After the last portage on the Adlatok we paddled onto salt water and the scenery around us changed dramatically. There were not trees and the rugged, barren mountains looked inhospitable. We’d entered Inuit and Polar Bear country. When we felt wind against the back of our necks, we pulled over to raise sails. Ted had come up with this sail rig idea earlier in the trip and we’d already used it successfully a few times.

The last portage on the Adlatok. Photo: Jim Baird
The last portage on the Adlatok. Photo: Jim Baird

Here’s how to rig it up: 

Mast add on: Wedge a paddle on either side of the canoe between your carrying yoke and gear. Use rope or carabiner clips to further secure them if need be. You can also place the paddles in the bow in front of the carrying handle.

Grab Your Bag: Slip a thick grade carpenter’s garbage bag over the two paddles.

Go where the wind blows: This set up only really works with a tail wind.

The beauty of the rig is that it can be set up and taken down very quickly and neither paddler needs to hold the sail to operate it. More complicated rigs often are more effort than their worth. With any canoe sail, it’s very important to take it down when you pull your boat up on shore. Otherwise, a strong wind can blow it back into the water and carry your boat away.

Ancient Inukshuk stands alone on the point where the crew waited out the wind. Photo: Jim Baird
Ancient Inukshuk stands alone on the point where the crew camped and waited out the wind. Photo: Jim Baird

We watched a pod of Minke Whales pass us as we were wind bound on a point, with the communication towers of our final destination, Hopedale, in sight.

Burning some drift wood and a discarded toboggan, I slept out for the night, hugging the fire rocks for warmth when the wood ran out. Still windy but paddle-able, I woke the crew at the crack of dawn, and we went for it. Our month-long Labrador adventure was drawing to a close.

Paddling across the windy bay at sunrise, the author took a moment capture this picture. Photo: Jim Baird
While paddling across the windy bay at sunrise, the author took a moment capture this picture. Photo: Jim Baird

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Jim Baird is an Adventurer, videographer, writer, photographer, and talent. His previous rolls include extensive work with a map company as well as guiding and prospecting. Jim has shot video for Cineflix productions, BBC Worldwide, 13 Minds, and The Weather Network US. He's produced video series such as “The Kesagami River Solo” and “Lessons From The Trail with Jim Baird”. Jim’s content has also appeared in print for several publications that include Explore, Canoeroots, Real Fishing, Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Canada, Canoe & Kayak, and Field & Stream magazines. Jim is an expert woodsman, white-water canoeist, survivalist, and a bold wilderness navigator. His expedition experience includes a solo trip down the canoe eating rapids of the Kesagami and then along the tempestuous James Bay coat, an 800-mile snowmobile expedition across the Northwest Passage, 300miles above the Arctic Circle. A month long descent of the Northwest Territories Kuujjua River in the Arctic Archipelago, followed by 120-kilometers of paddling on the Arctic Ocean. He's also completed a 33-day canoe expedition via four rivers including the Adlatok in northern Quebec and Labrador.

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