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Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boat?

Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:46 pm
by nemosemail
The trip was attempted by a fellow named Darrin this year. However, the boating ban due to flooding on the Missouri River caught him.
Here is a link to his website, it pretty much explains what I hope to do in 2012 except I'd like to go ahead and make my way around Florida back home to Clover, SC.

I'm looking for any advice on JEM boat selection (leaning toward Northwind), first hand info on the passages for the trip, or general gear/general advice that anyone may have.

Secondarily, I hope to head out around March/April 2012.
--Open invite to anyone who wishes to come.
Darrin started April 1st and the boat ban/flooding caught him. I'm thinking that I may try and start earlier if the weather permits. By weather, I pretty much just mean the cold. This old southern boy considers anything below 85 degrees a bit nippy.

Some things: sailing rig on NW?, splash guard suggestions, durability/points of possible failure/weight, 9 months living out of a canoe-possible concerns.


I've done some backpacking, AT thru-hike (GAME 05') so the camping thing isn't too much of a concern for me, yet I've done very little long distance expedition canoeing, so really any help at all in that regard would be great. I've bought a bunch of books and I've been studying up but first hand knowledge is priceless. I drove a car around the world in 09' so maybe its gonna be much like living out of that .9L Suzuki Alto. Just thought I mention the above so ya'll don't waste your time suggesting stoves or sleeping pads.



Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:19 am
by jem
North Wind would be a good choice. South Wind worth considering. For a trip like this, it would be worth investing in stronger S-glass instead of standard e-glass. Extra layer on the bottom and stems.

FYI: I did get the voice mail you left a couple weeks ago. I returned the call and left a message.

Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:13 pm
by tx river rat
My best advice is read everything you can get your hands on about Verlen Krugers trips. The way he rigged his boats.
I would forget about the sails ,every expedition I have read a bought used them very little and they take up a lot of room.
If you plan open ocean paddling , definitely have the rigging for a spray skirt.
I love the North Wind I built and I have no doubt I could pack to stay out a month if I used a good water filter. I do a lot of multi day trips on rivers and the one thing I have found is have a camp that can be set up quickly and taken down the same way, I am talking 5 minute set up time.
My preference would be the Northwind if you have the expertise to build it ,if you are not comfortable with that the I would bite the bullet and buy a Sea Wind.
What ever you decide learn to handle it expertly , do deep water reentry ,wear your pfd, plan plenty of time for down days so you dont have to push and take chances in bad weather.

Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:39 pm
by nemosemail

Matt, I got your message and thanks for the return call. Great advice on the different types of fiberglass. This is something I wasn't aware of. I thought your choices consisted of fiberglass, kevlar or carbon. Its good to know that I have some choices with fiberglass. I'll most surely look into your suggestions.

TX, Krugers and John Macgregors trips were definitely in my thoughts in regards to trip and boat selection.
Good points on the camp set up times. I'm a bit of an ultralight backpacker (10lbs dry weight) so camp set up time should be in respectable limits. The last thing you want to be is cold, wet and tired and have to struggle through 30 minutes of camp set up before you can get warm, dry, feed and rested. Or have a missed the point in regards to camp set-up time. Do you mean something more along the lines of "getting the heck out of dodge" because you're camping in someones back yard? I've done this a good bit, After college I kind of vagabonded it for a while, stealth camped on the side of the road, on top of KFC's and peoples back yards. Boy, was that an experience. Either way, I'm liking your advice and I think we are on the same page.

Spray Skirt. Most definitely. I checked on some links from this forum, good information there. I'm trying to decide if I should make one myself or buy one.---Snap buttons around the coaming or rig up some sort of hook and bungee thing-make do with old boat cover material, go light with some sil-nylon, tyvek, a lot of ways to go here. Almost too much. If the price is right,I'll most likely take some measurement and get something nice sewn up.

I'm disappointed to hear about the sails. I had visions of being laid back in my North Wind, under sail and watching the miles roll by. I don't know if I'll take one on the trip but it would be kind of neat to play with back home on Lake Wylie.

In regards to building the NW, I'm really leaning toward that direction. I've got the tools, I'm a carpenter by trade and I've build a small very basic kayak before. I would take it out on Lake LBJ when I lived in Marble Falls, TX. Going by your forum handle, maybe we were neighbors.


Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:17 pm
by Earvin
nemosemail wrote: Spray Skirt. Most definitely. I checked on some links from this forum, good information there. I'm trying to decide if I should make one myself or buy one.---Snap buttons around the coaming or rig up some sort of hook and bungee thing-make do with old boat cover material, go light with some sil-nylon, tyvek, a lot of ways to go here. Almost too much. If the price is right,I'll most likely take some measurement and get something nice sewn up.

Hi Joseph,

Your trip sounds great, a real adventure :D . I have done a 2 week ocean trip, in a sea kayak, down the east coast of Australia totalling about 600km's, we camped on beaches, in parks, outside of surf life saving clubs etc. We kept it pretty simple, but 2 weeks is a little different than your trip though.

We found regular breaks were important for us, every hour we would stop, raft up, have a drink and a little bite to eat. Where possible if the conditions were ok we would land for lunch and have an hours break before getting back into it. We did some big days as we had a time limit - my mate had to get back to work :roll: .

Another thing we did was make sure we had a plan in case of something going wrong - which can happen when landing in big surf. Each morning we would ring our wives, tell them we were heading off, where we were going and when they would be likely to hear from us again. They knew that if they hadn't heard from us by a certain time that something was wrong and we gave them specific instructions on who they should call if this did happen. We also had plb's, flares, vhf radio etc just in case.

With regards to spray skirts I would advise against snap buttons or anything that could be difficult to get off or sieze up. People have drowned due to not being able to release their spray skirts so make sure it is pretty foolproof and you know how to get out if the worse case scenario happens. There are plans out there for making your own spray skirt.

Apart from all that just have fun :D .

Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:45 pm
by tx river rat
We were pretty close ,I live just south of Waco, do most of my paddling on the Brazos.
I think Verlan had a deck that snaped over his cockpit , hard shell and that gave a smaller opening for the spray skirt.
After you get it built come on back to TX and we will give it a shake down cruise.
On inland waters I am very comfortable with the big open cockpit and you are going to pleasantly surprised at how stable the boat is, and how easy she cruises. You can run off and leave most folks with just a easy steady stoke.
Heck of a trip

Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:29 am
by nemosemail

I agree on the breaks. When hiking I take a break every hour or so just to drink a little water and check my bearings. I figure I will do much the same while canoeing. I have a few friends from Australia, I would pick on them about how it seems that everything in Australia is either poisonous or can eat you.
The saltwater parts of my upcoming trip are somewhat daunting but I found from the maps that the Florida Circumnavigational Trail [ ]is pretty well laid out. Not too many worries in regards to water or camping and its the major part of my saltwater travels.

Good points on the snaps, I worry about corrosion too.


Hard shell deck? That's a thought, and then you could minimize the amount of material for spray skirt.
I may just take you up on the shake down. On my way west I was going to stop by TX and see a few friends on my way up to Oregon.
Do you find your boat stable enough to stand up in for poling? Much like this fellow is doing? ... ker/60.jpg

Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:48 pm
by Earvin
It will be great doing the trip it in a boat that you built yourself.

Here is a list I wrote right after my trip for my local paddling forum. It was my first big trip so I learned a lot.

"Some random thoughts:

1. Prior training is highly recommended - Rob Mercer is the man for me and he provided me with confidence, increased skills and invaluable advice. After the trip I realise that I still have much to learn though so i will be booking in with Rob again.

2. Many small dry bags fit more effectively into a kayak than a few big ones. 8 and 12 litres was a good size for me as well as some smaller ones for the day hatch.

3. One big dry bag is handy to transport the smaller dry bags and other gear to your campsite.

4. A helmet is essential for gnarly surf landings and launchings - I was lucky enough to have Nutcase Helmets support our trip and I found their helmets to be very comfortable to wear. I didn't hit my head on anything hard but I assume they would protect your head quite well ;).

5. Take safety gear - I took among other things flares, pfd knife, whistle, handhelf vhf radio, small PLB (we hired ours from EPIRBhire - which was much cheaper than buying obviously. Peter was great to communciate with and very helpful). We carried one each in our PFD's.

6. Beer and kebabs is not good preparation the night before setting off ;). Despite how much fun you are having at the time.

7. When packing the kayak I found that it was more user friendly if you could organise all your gear so it was in a designated spot eg my food, clothes were in the front hatch - water and tent gear in the rear etc. It just meant that I knew where everything was and if we stopped for lunch I only had to open one hatch. I also had breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner items in their own dry bags so I knew what to grab at the appropriate time.

8. Make sure safety gear is easily accessible eg day hatch or on you.

9. In my day hatch I had all my snack food, in case i needed extra supplies if we couldn't land. I also had a first aid kit, spare contact lenses, and spare sunglasses.

10. Get regular weather updates and know where safe landing options are. Volunteer Marine Rescue can be good sources of local information. We found them great at times and complete pains in the you know what at others. When they were good they were very good but we had some issues with some of them trying to over-regulate our trip.

11. Have a regular check in time in the AM and PM with someone you can trust and provide them with a planned response if you do not check in. They need to know what to do.

12. It is important to be able to paddle big km's if you need to eg 60km's + as you may not be able to land where you had hoped or you need to make some ground in order to avoid bad weather or being stuck somewhere.

13. If you have a kayak - it will get scratched so get used to it. If you camp on the beach sand will get everywhere - get over it.

14. Take specific tools/materials to repair your kayak eg - tape, screwdriver to fix your fittings, cable ties etc.

15. A PFD bladder is a godsend or at least it was for me. I found using a bladder much more convenient and I could drink more regularly without having to stop.

16. Have important phone numbers programmed into your phone - VMR, police etc.

17. Maps are good.

18. A good cag is handy. I found in heavy rain my cag would have water build up in the elbow and then eventually run down my armpit - cold!

19. You don't need to take many clothes - keep a dry set, your paddling clothes, and some for warmth - thermals are good as they are light and pack up small.

20. For those that wear contact lenses like me - daily disposables work great as you throw them away at the end of the day and don't have to worry about keeping them clean.

21. You can pretty much set up camp anywhere. We camped in parks, on beaches, in caravan parks, in front of surf life saving clubs etc. Although if you get busted don't blame me!

22. Don't skimp on a good mattress - I did.

23. No matter where you store matches they will get wet! Take a lighter.

24. Take food that is easily prepared, nutritious, light and you enjoy eating. Take treats. The day we discovered a packet of snakes hidden in a distant location in Adrian's kayak was a great day!

25. A lightweight cooker is good - a warm meal at the end of a hard day can be so comforting. I had a Trangia which worked well for me but there are many other options.

26. Sunscreen up regularly particulalry lips.

27. If you have a split paddle break it apart each day and rinse it. I did not and now have a great one piece paddle!

28. A long rashie such as a thinskin is essential for sun protection but be warned if you do not wear gloves at the end of the trip it will look like you have had a hand transplant as your hands will be tanned and your arms not.

29. Some type of seat cushioning can help prevent the need for bum relief stops.

30. Stop every hour to hydrate, snack and chat. We did this even if we were feeling good. It proved a good strategy for us. We also stopped for lunch at a nice location for about an hour. It gave us a real boost each time.

31. Waterproof camera's are great. Get one.

32. You will have pain. It will move from one part of your body to another. One moment it will be your arm, the next your bum, the next your third toe along. Deep Heat is great relief from aches and pains as well as the occassional pain killer.

33. Rolling can be a good way to cool down and actually gives you a bit of a boost.

34. Have a plan but be flexible - it will change.

35. Beards are cool.

36. Your mind will go to strange palces. It will have contradicting thoughts moments apart - eg. This kayak is crap, this kayak is great; I am never getting better as a kayaker, I have really improved as a kayaker; Why am I doing this trip, I am really glad I am doing this trip; I am never doing a trip like this ever again; Gee it would be nice to paddle form Newcastle to Mallacoota.

36. Most of all ENJOY!

Re: Trans America Canoe Trip (Portland, OR - Clover, SC) Boa

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:58 pm
by goanywhere
Great post Earvin! Makes me think of those long bushwalks I used to do, only with more water added. I did a kayaking trip down the Katarapko on the Murray when I was in my teens. Had a fantastic time. I think I will be making some plans for a week plus trip some time next year, and maybe a bigger one after that. My first real outing will be a weekender to the Coorong in SA, probably late this month the way it's looking. I keep wanting to rush to finish, but I've got to keep in mind that you only get one chance to do some of this build. To go back and fix things later because you did a half-ass job doesn't bear thinking about. So I have to take it easy and do things as well as I possibly can, and listen to the others with experience here.

But some kind of extended trip this summer is definitely on the cards, God willing. I will bookmark your post as a reference. :)