Make your canoe easier to rescue

Adding painter lines, end loops, and extra flotation will make your canoe easier to retrieve in the event of a capsize or spill.

Make your canoe easier to rescue

Once you depart unexpectedly from your canoe, it will soon be apparent that grabbing a hold on it in swift water can be difficult at best. Successful self-rescue will depend your ability to handle a loose craft, ensure it remains floating and re-board it. You can accomplish these tasks through the addition of painter lines fore and aft, heavy-duty end loops, and extra floatation. Together with these modifications, at least one canoe in a group should carry a readily accessible throw rope bag. In the interest of safety, paddlers need to have a river knife handy anytime there are boats and lines together in the water.

Painter or End Lines – Painters are short lines attached to each end of the canoe that can serve several purposes. You can use them as tie downs for a car top carrier, a shore tie up line or for towing by another craft. The American Canoe Association (ACA) recommends that lines should be 4.5 meters (15 feet) long, 9.5 millimeters (3/8 inch) in diameter, and made of a floating material like polypropylene. Painter lines should not allowed to dangle free while canoeing were they could entangle a person in the water. Keep the stowed at each end of the canoe. A bungee cord works well to secure them to the tops of the bow and stern, ready to use, but out of the way for normal activities. Be sure the line is securely fastened to the canoe and free of any knots that could hang up on objects in the water or cause entanglement.

End Loops – These 15 centimeter (6 inch) diameter loops of line work best if passed through holes in the top of the bow and stern. Avoid attaching end loops to deck plates or brackets, they aren’t strong enough to withstand a hard pull. The line used to make to loop need to be at least 11 millimeters (7/16 inch) in diameter and have a high tensile strength. Loops should be formed to hang just above the water were a swimmer can grab one. Compared to a smooth line, a loop is much easier to grab. You can also attach your painter line to the end loop, providing the additional option of pulling it free of the bungee cord while in the water.


Extra Flotation – Several manufacturers have foam and inflatable flotation devices that fit into the bow and stern sections of the canoe. There are even larger floats that can be placed in the center of the canoe. Flotation needs to be securely fastened to the canoe and inflated for it to be effective. Adding extra flotation reduces the chance of swamping or capsize, and reduces the amount of water a canoe can take on after a spill. A well secured dry bag can provide some flotation value.

These are just a few ideas for making your canoe easier to rescue in a spill. Making the canoe easier to retrieve makes it easier to get you out of the water as well. Watch and learn how other paddlers rig their craft. Take swiftwater rescue or river safety clinic to learn more about water rescue techniques.

Dude Ranch Vacations in Idaho, Washington and Oregon

A variety of dude ranches in the Northwest states of Idaho, Washington and Oregon afford the opportunity to experience real cowboy life. Vacationers can discover what it’s like to be part of a ranch family (since most ranches limit guests to 50 or less), learn to ride a horse or improve their riding skills, and rejuvenate in a secluded setting that offers adventurous activities.

Idaho Dude Ranches

Red Horse Mountain Ranch, north of Harrison in North Idaho, takes advantage of its 250,000 acres of Rocky Mountain territory and adjoining Panhandle National Forest with many trails into pristine backcountry. Accommodations range from one-bedroom suites to four-bedroom log cabins with private baths and porches. Daily horseback rides, kayak tours of the nearby Coeur d’Alene Chain Lakes, mountain biking, shooting (clays and archery) as well as an impressive challenge course keep guests and kids busy.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch near Sandpoint, North Idaho, offers a real working ranch on 960 acres with views of the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains. Guest rooms in the spacious main lodge, private log cabins for 2 to 6 people, and family-style meals are featured. The ranch is known for its focus on customized horseback riding and also offers dinner cruises on Lake Pend Oreille and mountain biking at Schweitzer Mountain.

McGarry Ranches in Rexburg is comprised of three working cattle ranches in southeastern Idaho. Guests are matched with quarter horses for riding in the scenic Idaho mountains, caring for cattle, while nights bring gatherings around the campfire or in the lodge, with accommodations in duplex cabins. Driving cattle, branding, roping and fence mending are a few of the working dude ranch activities at McGarry Ranches.

Washington Dude Ranches


K Diamond K Guest Ranch is a working dude ranch offering 16,000 acres of scenic land surrounded by national forest near Republic. The spacious lodge affords four large rooms with shared bathrooms for guests, who dine with the ranch family. Riding lessons; tours of nearby fossil dig sites, ghost towns and gold mines; hiking, biking and fishing are offered at the ranch.

Bull Hill Guest Ranch, near Kettle Falls in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, was voted one of the top 5 best dude ranches in the Northwest. The working cattle ranch offers 7 cabins decorated in rustic Western themes, some sporting kitchenettes or wrap-around decks. Trail rides and cattle drives, fishing and boating on a private lake, trap shooting and hiking are activities at Bull Hill.

Oregon Dude Ranches

The Bar M Ranch in northeast Oregon’s Blue Mountains near Pendleton is built around a natural hot springs and historic buildings. The ranch house, a refurbished stage-coach stop, is the center for ranch activities. Cabins, individual rooms and RV sites round out the accommodations. Soak in the hot springs or float down the nearby Umatilla River, ride horses or rope, hike or bike around the ranch.

Rock Springs Guest Ranch, in the Central Cascade Mountains of Oregon near Bend, focuses on family vacations. Cabins have two to three bedrooms, private bathrooms, sun decks and fireplaces. Daily trail rides, tennis, swimming in the ranch’s pool, fly casting and river rafting are a few of the activities offered, as well as an outstanding youth program.

Long Hollow Ranch, near Sisters in Central Oregon, is both a dude ranch and working cattle ranch. Stay in ranch house rooms with private baths or the family-friendly cottage. Horseback riding, fishing and hiking are offered on the ranch, as well as white-water rafting, rock climbing and golfing in the nearby area.

Dude ranches in the Northwest U.S. offer vacations with value and adventurous activities for singles, adults and families. Horseback riding is the main activity, but guests can also try activities from fly fishing and kayaking to fossil digging and rock climbing. The all-inclusive packages at dude ranches and working ranches provide vacations with value.