John Davey Hayward.

Camping out with the British Canoe Association : with chapters on camping, canoeing, and amateur photography online

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the demand for canoes ; for the canoe proper is
a more suitable boat for inland work, including
cruises on rivers, canals, lakes, and similar waters,
where an occasional portage may be required,
and where sailing is frequently impossible.

This is not the place to discuss build or rig,
nor to dilate upon the pleasure and health to be
derived from the sport of canoeing. Since 1865,

Camping Out.

when Rob Roy launched his first canoe, and
especially since his entertaining books were
published, the sport has become popular in
England, and still more so in America and
Canada. The sailing cruising canoe of the
present day the poor man's yacht, as it has been
called affords in our opinion the best all round

sport of any boat that swims. On deck in a
fresh breeze there is excitement enough for any-
body; sitting below, and paddling down a river,
there is sufficient security for the most timid.
The writer has sailed in many different kinds of
craft at home and abroad, and has himself owned

24 Camping Out.

many varieties during the years he has taken
pleasure in no other form of sport than boating.
For the delight of sailing for sailing's sake
fasgaudia navigationis he prefers a British sail-
ing canoe to any clipper yacht or sailing boat
afloat. In no other vessel are craft and crew so
in sympathy; in none is there such a sense of
not only directing the energy of the flying body,
but of being the thing itself actually skimming
over the tide. Only a bird can know what a
canoeist feels in a sailing canoe, on a wind,
sitting on deck, with the foot under the opposite
coaming the fall of the sheet in one hand, and
the tiller in the other a fresh breeze on the
cheek, and a little popple on the briny.

What is there in this world, lovely woman
excepted, to equal for beauty a white-winged
canoe ? A racing cutter under full sail is a
glorious sight, but, in her own way, the clipper
yacht's humble sister the sailing canoe is no
less beautiful, and has the additional charm we
associate with the tiny in nature. No doubt
many a good amateur sailor sails in ugly craft,
with dingy sails, and with fittings rough and
ready; and many a dingy old hooker has sailed

Camping Out 25

in a-head of a fleet of more handsome vessels at
the close of a hard sailed race. None the less
smartness, tidiness, and cleanliness is rightly the
desire of most men who own a boat, however
small or cheap she may be. A canoeist would
rather hear his boat's praise than his own. It is
all very well for the genial Autocrat of the
Breakfast Table to advise that :

" True to our course, though our shadow grow dark,

We'll trim our broad sail as before,
And stand by the rudder that governs the bark,
Nor ask how we look from the shore."

But the amateur seaman is very concerned as to
how he looks from the shore. There must be
clean sails properly trimmed, with no Irish
pennants trailing aloft, no lines towing below ;
for the smallest boat may be ship-shape.

Canoeing is not a summer pursuit alone.
Even in winter paddling is generally, and sail-
ing often, possible ; while in the dark long even-
ings the canoeist has rigging to be done, designs
and fittings to be considered, logs to be written
up, camp fires to be arranged for, lantern slides
to be looked at or prepared ; while many a

26 Camping Out.

bonnie boatie has been built during the off-
season by its future crew.

Much nonsense has been uttered about the
danger of canoeing. The boats are generally
life-boats, and even if upset can be righted, re-
entered, and bailed. Of course the canoeist
should be able to swim, but so should everyone.
It is not at all a necessity to the sport ever to
upset : we know canoeists of over fifteen years'
standing, constantly afloat at all times of the
year and all the year round, who have never been
upset ; but, should such an accident occur, there
is no harm beyond a wetting. Of what other craft
can this be said ? It has been the writer's fate
to be capsized in various craft, always due to his
own carelessness or that of others : he has vivid
recollections of the comparative safety of an up-
set canoe to other capsized craft. On the Mersey
the little canoes are seen out at all seasons. With
spars housed and lashed, and apron on, they will
live in really heavy seas under paddle, and it
must be pretty stiff when they can't sail with
some bit of a rag showing. A canoeist who has
practised upsetting, righting, and climbing into
his canoe, has little to dread from an accidental

Camping Out. 27

capsize. In what other craft does the crew upset
for the mere pleasure of so doing ? In what
other clubs is capsizing an intentional incident in
races held at their regattas ? Again, whoever
heard of a canoeist being drowned? I don't refer
under the term "canoeist" to the man who thinks
it looks easy enough, and who stands on the side
of the coaming when getting in, or who imagines
you have only to pull some strings, up goes the
sail, and off you go. To him who will take some
little trouble to understand his boat and the
elements of sailing, and who will paddle before
he sails, and sail with a small sail before he
emulates the racer's spread, the sport is safe
enough. The cherub aloft pays special attention
to canoeists, as he must have felt who inscribed
on his canoe the verse :

" They say that I am small and frail,

And cannot live in stormy seas :
It may be so, yet every sail

Makes shipwreck in the swelling breeze ;
Nor strength, nor size can hold them fast,

But fortune's favour, heaven's decree.
Let others trust in oars and mast,

But may the gods take care of me."

As an instance of how slightly the canoeist

28 Camping Out.

rates a capsize we may relate the following. At
a regatta of the Mersey Canoe Club, one of the
sailing races was from Tranmere to Eastham, on

the Mersey. There was a stiffish breeze blowing,
and most of the boats of the competing fleet were
under small sail or reefed. One of the members,
however, showed symptoms of starting with full
sail. " You are never going to take that sail to-
day," said our genial captain and starter. " Why,
certainly ! " was the reply. " You can't possibly
carry it, man !" Now whether this remark, acting
on the contrariness of human nature, determined

Camping Out. 29

our friend to take that sail, or whether he had
previously made his mind up to that attempt, we
know not ; but off he went with it all standing.
Three several times between Tranmere and East-
ham was he blown clean over ; three times did
he right his craft, crawl in again, re-hoist that
ridiculous sail, and continue the voyage, scorning
both help and advice. He did not win the race,
but as he passed the mark-boat he was heard to
console himself with the enquiry : " Who said I
couldn't carry that sail ? "

Canoeing is a form of boat-sailing that requires
both practice and some natural gift before a man
can become an expert It is well for the intend-
ing canoeist, if possible, to learn the rudiments
of the art in some other form of craft ; in one
in which a little tardiness in the necessary
manoeuvres is not so readily punished as it is in
sailing a canoe. We know men who have spent
many a holiday canoeing who have never become
decent sailors ; they are, many of them, admirable
paddlers and campers, and are enthusiastic about
canoeing, but sailors they will never make it is
not in them. They have not the instinct that
tells the expert when the ship is out of trim, when

3O Camping Out.

she is off the wind, or when everything is drawing
its best ; or they lose heart when the canoe heels,
down sail, and resort to the trusty paddle. How-
ever, no one knows how skilful a canoe sailor he
may become with patience and practice ; there
are many examples of beginners, after only a few
trials afloat, carrying off racing cups from old
hands who have served a life-long apprenticeship
to the sport.

A canoe is one of the most difficult of
sailing boats to manage, and experienced yacht
and boat sailors may be all at sea in a canoe.
We remember inviting a man who did not
know what fear was when aboard " a boat that
is a boat," to join us in a sail. As soon as he
saw the kind of craft in which he was expected
to go afloat, and observed the apparent flightiness
of her behaviour under sail, he remarked that
there was not money enough in Liverpool to
induce him to go aboard. A canoe under sail
appears to the onlooker much less under control
than she really is. The readiness with which
she heels to the varying strength of the breeze,
and the nearness of her crew to the water, give
her an appearance of instability, very strange

Camping Out. 31

to the eye of the sailor (professional or amateur),
who is only accustomed to stiffer craft This
appearance is increased by the crew being pro-
portionally so much larger than in any other
form of boat. " That's suicide, that is," we were
lately told by the anchor watch of a coasting
schooner, past which we were sailing. Little did
he imagine that he good easy man ran much
greater risk every time his crazy hulk bore him
" up along."

To the beginner it is valuable, and almost
necessary, to go out a few times with some more
experienced canoeist to teach him "the ropes."
For this purpose a double canoe or a canoe yawl
is useful ; if these be not available the instructor
may paddle within hail. It is one of the chief
advantages of canoe clubs that the young canoe-
ist, joining such a body, can always find friendly
members to show him the rudiments of the art,
and to accompany him a few times in case of
emergency. It is, however, worse than useless to
give the novice advice in the shape of a string of
technical terms, such for instance as : " Never
been out before ! Oh, there's nothing in it this
is the main halliard, you pull that and up goes

32 Camping Out.

the sail, cleat it, take the sheet in one hand and
the tiller in the other, keep her full, and there you
are ! " It was full of such judicious advice that
the writer first went afloat ; he had some idea of
the " strings," but never having been in a sailing
boat of any kind before, he knew nothing of the
actual management of a canoe under sail. How-
ever, it sounded ridiculously simple, for, of course,
" in the puffs you just luff her up, sit well out to
windward, and ease the mainsheet ; keep her to
the wind, but, if you get off the wind, for Heaven's
sake don't gybe." The writer imagines he believed
luffing to consist in pulling in the string called
the sheet ; and he remembers that, as he did not
know what a gybe was, he felt confident he could
not do it. After paddling well away from
critical eyes, he hoisted sail, and even to-day he
can recall the sense of bewildered amazement
with which he regarded the fuss such a proceeding
entailed. The canoe rushed wildly about, and
began describing circles, over which the startled
novice had no control whatever ; he was too con-
fused to uncleat the halliard and drop the sail, so
he hurriedly thought over his nautical aphorisms.
There was but little time for consideration he de-

Camping Out. 33

termined, however, not to "gybe," but to "pre-
pare to luff." There was a strong breeze, and the
canoe, by some arrangement or other, had now
got the wind abeam, and was lying well over ;
this was evidently the time for action, so the
sheet was firmly hauled in. The result was so
unsatisfactory that the further measure of sitting
out to windward was thought necessary, and
would have been carried out had he not been
fairly ' chucked ' out to leeward ; and cold enough
is half an hour in the Mersey in the month of April,
for he had not learned to get back on board, so
had to hold on until rescued. Thus endeth the
first lesson, and in a day or two we went afloat
again. What makes canoe sailing a speciality is
the fact that, with this craft, the constant tending
of the mainsheet is as important as the attention
to the tiller, while in no other boat is the personal
balancing of the crew, as shifting ballast, of so
much importance in proportion to the initial
stability of the vessel itself. When sailing in
larger craft, even in large yachts, the canoeist
has the feeling that the mainsheet ought to be
loose, and he is inclined instinctively to lean his
puny weight to windward whenever the vessel


Camping Out.

Running before the wind is, we consider, the
canoe's weak point. She readily runs under, and
with her low freeboard, the boom soon catches
the water as she rolls both risky events. A
gybe commonly either finds the crew in the way
of the boom, or carries this spar forward of the
mast, where the leverage may soon roll the canoe
over. Almost every canoe capsize the writer has
witnessed or heard of has been when before the

Camping Out. 35

wind. In anything in the way of a breeze, even
an intentional gybe in a canoe is something to
anticipate with interest, and to look back on
with relief.

Canoe Yawls. In a chapter on canoeing
something may be written about the variety of
boats included in the class of the canoe yawls.
These boats resemble canoes in their shape and
build, and in the character of much of their work.
Having little draught, they can be navigated on
rivers and inland waters, and, having keels or
centre-boards, they are seaworthy boats about
harbours and estuaries, and even on more open
waters. A canoe yawl is almost as easily rowed
as a canoe is paddled ; true, it cannot be so
easily carried ashore, or dragged round obstacles,
or taken by train, as the canoe proper ; on the
other hand, it is a better sailer, and allows of two
or more sailing together. Talking, idling, and
moving about are more easily managed when
several friends are seated in a canoe yawl ; the
position is less cramped, and meals can be better
prepared than when the men are divided up in
the separate canoes in the form of a little fleet
A boat-tent is readily erected on the yawl, and

36 Camping Out.

two or more may sleep in comfort afloat. On
a cruise, or where the camp is a movable one,
this does away with the labour of frequently
pitching and striking shore-tents. A canoe
yawl affords sport resembling that obtained
both in a canoe and in a yacht ; with, however,
some of the special advantages of both these
forms of craft omitted. It is not so independent
of wind and tide as a canoe, nor so safe if upset,
and it lacks the weatherliness and accommoda-
tion of a yacht. Two, three, or more men may
go away for quite a long cruise, coastwise, in a
canoe yawl ; but such close and constant com-
panionship requires more good temper and com-
radeship than does a cruise in larger vessels.
There is no chance of retiring to the cabin for a
smoke or a sulk ; no secure corner in which to
be quiet or sick. Sometimes there is hard work
to be done, sometimes a spice of danger to be
faced, often a disappointment to be supported ;
and unless the crew be " jolly companions, every
one," rows will be frequent. In small boat-sail-
ing, as much as in any sport, the best laid
schemes " aft gang agley," or astray, or however
the Scottish bard may express it ; and, like

Camping Out. 37

Mark Tapley, its votary must be jolly under all
circumstances. We believe that, if you can go
a cruise with a man in a canoe yawl without a
rumpus, your friendship will stand any strain
likely to be thrown on it ashore : a most mild
and agreeable man at tennis, or in the social
circle, may prove an irritable and cranky nuisance

The writer well remembers one of the most
enjoyable cruises he ever made was in a canoe
yawl. As an illustration of the all-round work
these little boats are suitable for, it may per-
haps be permitted him to give a short account
of this voyage.

Early one April three of us started for a voyage
down the Welsh coast. Stores for a cruise were
shipped, not forgetting those necessaries to the
sailor (amateur or professional), ' beer and baccy.'
As it was so early in the year, we arranged to
sleep ashore, at hotels if possible. One of the
crew being a young Sawbones, there was shipped,
out of deference to him, and to be strictly con-
sidered as a ' medical comfort ' for emergencies,
a little wicker-cased bottle containing a universal
panacea. This medicine-chest was entrusted to

3 8

Camping Out.

the surgeon to the expedition, and was by him
labelled ' Rye ' ; his scientific instincts tempted


him to ticket the receptacle ' Alcohol,' but the
lay members induced him not to do so, as there
was quite enough confusion with the methylated
spirit on board without further complications.
It would have been a shame, they said, to inter-
fere with the simplicity of the arrangement by
which we always mistook the spirit for water, and
vice versd. The cook invariably poured water
into the cooking cuisine, and made the tea or
slaked his thirst from the methylated spirit tin.
To save his life it was necessary, though difficult,

Camping Out. 39

to induce him to always drink beer. Therefore, it
was resolved to keep the whiskey in the bottle, in-
stead of in a tin, and then we could only confuse
it with the oil for the riding light ; a mistake of
much less importance, for, whichever was taken,
the Doctor was satisfied ; he said it was a delusion
that cod-liver-oil was better than other oils for
medicinal purposes, so whichever you got Spirit
Vini. Rect. or Oleum Colzae was the very one
he would have recommended for your complaint.
We started from Tranmere, on the Mersey,
rather late in the evening, with an hour's ebb-tide.
It was necessary to wait outside Hoylake gutter
until the flood brought enough water for us to
sail up to Hoylake ; so the hook was thrown
over and tea prepared. Oh that first day of a
spring holiday, after the cold fogs and hard work
of the winter ! How jolly to be in a boat again
to be without collars and top-hats to be beyond
reach of the postman, the tax collector, and the
" knocker-up in the morning." How real and
vivid everything seems ! It is many years ago,
but the writer remembers as though it were last
week that festive meal in the dark in the Rock
Channel, as we sat huddled together in the well

4O Camping Out.

of the boat under the lowered mainsail (for the
nights are chilly in April), the lights of the
Hoylake lighthouses ahead, and those of Bidston
and Leasowe shining astern. For company
there was a flat anchored near, waiting a tide so
as to have the flood to Liverpool. The writer
can recall the whole scene the articles of the
menu the very conversation. Many of the
remarks made he can remember ; among them a
flash of genius from one of the party. The piece
de resistance of the meal was potted meat spread
upon bread and butter, and much annoyance was
caused by the reef-lines from the improvised
tent continually falling into the preparation ; how-
ever, in the midst of his irritation our friend an-
nounced the discovery of a new nautical proverb,
viz : " every reef-point has its own potted meat."
As evidence of our guileless state of mind, I may
state that this idiotic remark was received with
laughter, and became a common saying on board
whenever things did not go quite as desired ;
sharing in popularity with a proverb one of us
had devised on a previous cruise when, after we
had run aground, he was persuaded to jump out
on to some suspicious-looking mud, in order to

Camping Out. 41

push us off, by our assuring him it was as ' hard
as iron ' ; he sank in the black abomination up
to his knees, and, in his misery, gave vent to the
insane sentence "All that's slimy is not fish."
It must be an ingenuous state of mind that can
see fun in such remarks, but the boating man
will laugh at anything. These proverbs belong
to the class of joke which it is impossible to
write with any effect, or to explain to anyone
who was not present at their birth. Such are
the allusions common to two or more individuals
in which outsiders can see no fun, but are
astonished at the merriment the simple remark
never fails to bring forth ; simply because the
stranger cannot picture the original cause or
scene to which, consciously or not, the joke owes
its richness in the appreciation of the elect few.
These witticisms are mysterious to the unini-
tiated until, by repetition and the mellowing of
time, they also return the allusion its due meed
of laughter, though they would be puzzled to say
why. Most families and ' sets ' have such jokes,
with which strangers intermeddle not; such as:
" Just like the fat policeman, eh ? Bob " ; or.
"Polly knows why the milk is sour"; at which

42 Camping Out,

other members of the charitable home-circle
laugh, while Bob gets cross and Polly blushes.
Goldsmith's squire was peculiarly attached to
the family story of the "grouse in the gun-room,"
and Slender says to Shallow : "Pray you, uncle,
tell Mistress Anne the jest how my father stole
two geese out of a pen good uncle." Probably
the squire's guests and Mistress Anne thought the
crusty old anecdotes as wearisome as the reader
will mine. But while we have been talking the
tea and potted meat are done ; there is now
water enough in the lake, so we up anchor and
sail to opposite the Hoylake lighthouses, make
all snug, and arrive at the Stanley Arms at mid-
night Next morning the sun was brightly shin-
ing, and there was a gentle breeze in the direction
we desired. After sailing close to the north end
of Hilbre Island, a course was shaped for the
Menai Straits. A spinnaker was set, and we
bowled along merrily, telling tales, singing songs
(choruses indispensable), feeding, and taking
turns at steering and at dozing ' forrard.' The
wind gradually increased in strength first the
spinnaker had to come in, and soon we had to
reef mainsail. On nearing Puffin Island we

Camping Out. 43

found rather high waves for so small a boat as
ours, and the little ship rolled badly. The
skipper at the helm seemed to regard the state
of affairs with equanimity his only concern
apparently being the spray on his eye-glass ; but
then he was an old hand, who had " wantoned
with the breakers from a boy," and probably cut
his teeth on marlin.

There is no disguising the fact that we two
others were getting into a blue funk. We began
to get out the life-belts, merely, of course, for
curiosity's sake ; we were too full of false shame
to put them on ; however, a nasty gybe soon
altered this to the extent of our blowing the belts
up at any rate. The writer made internal resolu-
tions to forswear boating and take to skittles.
We were somewhat comforted by seeing the boss
so placid, but all the same we got our shoes and
overcoats off ; would that I could say we reviewed
our past sinful lives with dismay perhaps the
story books are wrong, perhaps our consciences
were lighter then than now. Personally, my own
firm intentions were to sell the boat at Beaumaris,
or even give her away if necessary, if we ever got
there. Nevertheless she carried us many a mile

44 Camping Out.

since then. The tide was running well out of
the Menai Straits, so we did not make rapid way,
as reckoned along the shore of Puffin Island,
although we were flying through the water. The
' Prince Arthur ' came steaming out close to us,
and seemed quite a companion in the dusk after
our lonely sail ; she did not appear to recognize
the waves over which we were making such a
fuss. We dropped anchor at last under shelter
of-Beaumaris Pier, after a run of six hours from
Hoy lake a creditable passage for a boat i6| ft.
long X 5 ft. beam, with depth from gunwale to
garboards of i| ft, and a thin 8-inch keel of boiler-
plate dropping one foot. In the morning we
walked to Bangor and back by the famed Sus-
pension Bridge. On leaving Bangor we saw a
crowd of boys, evidently in wait for their prey
the tourist. Our costume, a cross between that
of a bargee and a railway porter, was enabling us
to escape unnoticed and untaxed, when the Doctor
must needs air his limited stock of Welsh. The
result was deplorable ; the whole pack started in
pursuit, singing lugubrious Welsh songs, inter-
spersed with petitions of " penny for sing."
Threats and frowns were of no avail. The

Camping Out. 45

Doctor's Welsh vocabulary included some awfully
guttural 'cuss' words, which, if they were as
blood-curdling in meaning as in sound, should
have destroyed the entire population of the neigh-
bourhood, and given the Medico himself the lock-
jaw. All in vain. Temporary relief and revenge
could be obtained by throwing a penny down the

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Online LibraryJohn Davey HaywardCamping out with the British Canoe Association : with chapters on camping, canoeing, and amateur photography → online text (page 2 of 5)