Canoeing

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Read Books, 2008 - Sports & Recreation - 232 pages
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CHAPTER I THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE CANOE Canoes were up to a point an invention, but they were chiefly an evolution growing out of a necessity. Probably man made his first voyage down a river seated astride a log, but later he constructed in a primitive way a craft from such material as would lend itself to his way of working. The Indians of Canada used implements of bone and stone and selected woods that could be torn into rough fibres. The Indian realized that the birch tree afforded a desirable material, light and flexible. Stripped from the tree, treated with gum and pitch and sewn with thongs, the bark formed a light craft which was easily portaged through forests. At first, it was only used for hunting and fishing expeditions, but later the size of the canoe was increased to carry more than fifty men on war excursions into some neighbouring territory. This primitive form of canoe was known as the dug-out, hollowed or dug out. You will find a splendid description of this craft in that unique book Robinson Crusoe and I have a great deal of experience in dug-outs when I was in West Africa, which shall be the subject of a later chapter. CANOE was a Haitian word adopted by the Spaniards as the name for a boat propelled with paddles and used by savages. It was usually a light boat, sharp modelled at each end, of light draught of water, and destined to be propelled by a paddle or paddles held in the hand without fixed support . It was made of either a hollowed trunk or of bark and skins. Go where you will to-day, you will see canoes in use on the various waterways all over the world. This craft had developed tremendously from the dug-out, via the craft constructed of bark, of centuries ago. About 1850, coming down to modern times, sails were added for use in fair winds, while in 1936 canoe races were included in the Olympic Games for the first time. Held just outside ill-fated Berlin, I remember how thrilled I was when watching demonstrations of the Eskimo- roll. ROB ROYS Early in the nineteenth century the canoe seen in England was the short covered-in craft, with a well for the paddler to sit in, but canoeing cannot be considered as a serious sport until the year 1865, when John MacGregor designed his Rob Roy Canoe. This was a decked canoe, generally built of oak or cedar, made to carry one or two persons, and able to take a small sail. It was always clinker built, and its main feature was that it was light enough to be carried overland. A few years later W. Baden Powell invented a craft purely for sailing, though constructed after the style of the Rob Roy, making voyages in Sweden and the Baltic during 1870 and 1871. From this date paddling and sailing canoes were constructed on entirely different lines. By 1882 the sailing craft had a deck seat and tiller, whilst as the sail area increased the cockpit grew smaller and smaller, so that watertight bulkheads were placed in the hull. Then in 1886 or 1887 an American invented the sliding outrigger seat, which allowed the canoeist to slide out to windward, with the result that now you have what seems to our generation the perfect type of craft used by the Royal Canoe Club members, a type used a great deal in America where canoe sailing is very popular...

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