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Secondary Stability in Birch Bark Canoe

Discussion in 'Birchbarks, Dugouts and Primitive Craft' started by gate9797, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. gate9797

    gate9797 Guest

    Original question about secondary stability and bark canoes was deleted by user.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2006
  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I doubt the Native Americans did a whole lot of style paddling.... Mike Galt and Charlie Wilson are pretty old, but even they weren't around back then to start a new trend. You should also consider that there was a vast array of traditional designs which were built in birchbark. Just like modern canoe designs, some were better suited to certain tasks than others, depending on the hull sections used. The birchbark itself doesn't have a whole lot to do with it until you get to extreme shapes that are hard to build in those materials (most birchbark decked C2 slalom canoes also suck). I suspect it's more a matter of the style and design of boats which that particular builder tends to build aren't great for what you want your canoe to do. A birchbark of a different style might work great for what you have in mind, but it's not about that material, it's the hull shape.
     
  3. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Interesting thread. I have a particular interest 'cause I am considering building a birch bark canoe which I would most often be paddling solo.
    My understanding is that many native groups paddled their canoes while seating on the bottom, with legs straight out in front. Of course, paddling position would vary with purpose for being in the canoe. I think the flat on the floor position lends itself more to bending wild rice stalks over the canoe to harvest the grain. Transporting a deer would provide more relative stability. Transporting larger loads over longer distances would provide even more stability -though, again, that would depend on the hull shape.
     
  4. dboles

    dboles LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Maybe they had the ability to paddle a canoe without secondary stability and therefore didnt need a design for it in their canoe building.
    We know that they had games-snow snakes,lacrosse and canoe racing from early European journals
    The only birchbark canoe I paddled in was a 24 ft North canoe and it was very tender.So from my limited birchbark canoe paddling I can answer no
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2006
  5. dboles

    dboles LOVES Wooden Canoes

    So says us.Maybe we have missed something or maybe they werent the canoeists that modern society will have us believe
     
  6. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I feel like I'm walking into Monty Python's Argument Shop....

    Looking through Adney and Chappelle, I see a number of recorded designs that, to my eye, appear to have design qualities that suggest greater secondary stability. One could easily check this by getting the offsets from lines drawings, entering them into a boat design program like FreeShip!, and generating Cross Curves of Stability. One could compare it with designs of known (or familiar) stability as a reference points. See John Winter's book "The Shape of the Canoe" for more information.

    That said, I'll offer up http://web.mac.com/beaverbarkcanoes/iWeb/Beaver Bark Canoes/Beaver Bark Canoes.html and http://www.beaversss.blogspot.com/ . Ferdy, who happens to be a member here and who I hope will chime in, shows several examples of canoes that look to me to have strong secondary stability characters. Ferdy is not the only currently active builder, but he is certainly among the best.

    I'll also toss out that Tom Mackenzie (one of WCHA's finest builder of solo freestyle canoes) and David Yost (designer for Bell, Wenonah, and quite conversant in solo freestyle paddling) built a bark canoe on one of the solo canoe molds that DY designed (maybe MY BUG - memory fails here).

    So, it can be done. Your problem is hooking up with the fellow who can do it for you ... ;)
     
  7. Josh

    Josh Curious about Wooden Canoes

    secondary stability

    hi gate,
    Perhaps OT
    I do not really know what you mean with secondary stability. My school-English may be a little rusted. What I mean to understand is, you tested two birch bark canoes and none gave you the stability to lean the canoe on your onside that the gunwales kiss the water.
    I tested a birchbark canoe here in Germany and it was possible. And here lives a guy who builds Native American style canoes from plywood (!)
    http://www.open-canoe-journal.de/journal-05/wagnercanoe/wagnercanoe.htm
    We don’t have such mighty birches in our Country so we have to search for alternatives.:eek:
    It´s based on the Tetes de Boul 21/2 Fathom canoe from the St. Maurice River in Canada. They (6 of them) danced heeled over to Ravel´s “Bolero” at a meeting and it was exciting!
    http://www.open-canoe-journal.de/journal-04/treffen04/10-g.jpg
    So I think with the right boat it works.
    This may not answer your question, but be lenient toward me. I read the threads in the forums over 4 months now, I learned much (thank you) and I’m trying hard to understand what you’re saying and answering.
     
  8. dboles

    dboles LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Just to Monty this along
    There are other ways to get closer to the water without having to lean the canoe over.A shallow boat or sitting on the bottom,and I do not believe that not leaning a boat limits a persons ability to paddle efficiently ,if you know how to paddle.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    gate9797

    gate9797 Guest


    Very cool that people in Germany are canoeing with traditional North American canoes!
     
  10. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Gee Gate, if my comments were off topic, then you don't read very well, because there is information in my reply that you need, and obviously lack, in order to answer your questions. This is a low key, friendly place with good people who have a lot of knowledge. If it wasn't, most of the folks with the information you're looking for wouldn't be here. Lose the attitude and you'll probably learn more and last longer around here.

    If you're seriously interested in birchbarks, you should get a copy of the Adney and Chapelle book. It's no secret how you make a canoe with high secondary stability. You simply start looking through the book for a boat with an arched bottom, a soft chine and some tumblehome. The Micmac canoes on pages 62 and 63 are excellent examples, so obviously in answer to one of your questions, there were native boats with high secondary stability. A couple of the Malecite canoes look workable. The Abanaki, Ojibway, Tetes De Boule, Algonkin and Cree boats don't look like very good candidates for what you have in mind. They generally have rather flat bottoms, fairly hard chines and either straight-ish or flared sides. If you'll read the book, you'll also find that some of these things were done for a reason, trading-off high amounts of secondary stability for other characteristics which made them fit specific uses better (stability and capacity with a heavy load, seaworthiness and lift in big waves, etc.). At least as it's shown in the book, cross-sectional shape variations seem pretty much tribal, rather than a specific tribe building a range of designs including some with high secondary stability and some without it.

    Once you have learned what the hull cross-sections need to look like for the use you have in mind, it's just a matter of doing some legwork to find a builder that can build you one. Top of my head, I don't know whether any of the popular builders regularly build that style of canoe, but it's certainly within the capabilities of most, if not all of them.

    As to purposely heeling the boat over. I haven't seen any references to it that I can recall for native paddlers, though it's certainly possible that some did. Most of the old photos that exist showing serious paddlers in the act show them upright and kneeling. The main advantage of heeling the boat over, by the way, is not to get closer to the water, it's to make the waterline plane of the hull asymmetrical so that it offsets the paddler propelling the canoe form one side. It makes the boat run straighter with less correction needed. You also have to consider that a noticeably smaller percentage of the original paddlers could swim (including most Voyageurs, who paddled for a living) and they didn't have PFD's. People who can't swim generally aren't particularly comfortable routinely heeling their canoes over. Dboles is also correct. The idea that if you're not heeling the boat over your paddling skill and efficiency are somehow limited just isn't true. Most of the winning whitewater slalom boats from the last 30 years or so have horrible secondary stability. They're quite stable to a point and just a hair more will cause them to roll on you befeore you even know what's happening - and the folks paddling some of them seem to have developed into some of the best paddlers on the planet.
     
  11. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast


    You're a pretty touch fellow, aren't you?

    Todd's answer is a fair and thoughtful response addressing this issue as you yourself restated it in the language quoted above-- "The question is not whether Native Americans engaged in what we would call style paddling by modern standards but, in part, whether any of their canoes possessed secondary stability." This question is implicit in your initial posting ("Has anyone paddled a birch bark canoe with secondary stability?"), because it seems unlikely that you want a mere poll of what people have paddled.

    Todd, like the other writers, responded accordingly. Rob Stevens wrote about the reported location and posture of Native Americans paddling birchbarks. dholes wrote about Paddling ability vis-a-vis secondary stability, and about Native American play. Dan Miller wrote about design qualities, old plans, and new designer/builders. Josh wrote about German plywood canoes. Indeed, all of those others replying to your post have responded to what really is of interest -- are there, or can there be, birchbarks with secondary stability, and if not, why no, and if so, why and what is required?

    For the record, I have paddled (in Maine) a modern birch bark modeled after a Native American craft that had some limited secondary stability. Now, that answer, directly responsive to the first form of your question, doesn't seem very helpful, does it. Certainly you were seeking a more expansive answer, and both of Todd's postings seem to me to appropriate.

    Todd is one of the forum's more knowledgeable contributors who has been most generous with his time, expertise, and ideas. Your gratuitous insults, off-the-wall anger, and narrowly restricted point of view are really remarkable, completely uncalled for, and not at all in the spirit of these forums.
     
  12. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    My, that was pleasant. We'll sure miss you. You're free to form whatever opinion of me you wish. I'm actually quite proud of the reputation and credentials that I've built and the contributions I've made over the last 35 years or so in the canoeing community, both nationally and internationally. It's going to take a lot more than one newbie with an attitude problem who doesn't even have the spine to post under his real name to drive me away - especially when much of the information he's posting shows a blatant lack of knowledge of the subject matter.

    What I do fail to understand is how either of my posts were off topic? You originally stated that none of the BB canoes you had tried had any secondary stability and were wondering if any existed.

    In my reply, I said "You should also consider that there was a vast array of traditional designs which were built in birchbark. Just like modern canoe designs, some were better suited to certain tasks than others, depending on the hull sections used. The birchbark itself doesn't have a whole lot to do with it until you get to extreme shapes that are hard to build in those materials.....I suspect it's more a matter of the style and design of boats which that particular builder tends to build aren't great for what you want your canoe to do. A birchbark of a different style might work great for what you have in mind, but it's not about that material, it's the hull shape."

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't see anything dull-minded or lacking in logic, information or manners there. I was an honest attempt to help you answer your questions. If you want to ignore it, it's your choice but I don't see it being off topic at all.

    In a subsequent post, while you were attempting to play the role of junior moderator and focus the responses to your issue, you state:

    "The question is whether any native or modern birchbark canoes have secondary stability"

    I responded that yes some did, explained what design characteristics they would need to have and even gave you an exact reference source - the best documentation ever written on birchbark canoe designs, with lines drawings and measurements taken from genuine examples while they still existed - right down to the page numbers where you could find the section and profile drawings for some that fit the bill. I've actually built canoes to some of the plans and drawings in that book, so I know that they're for-real and extremely accurate. There is one of those canoes sitting out in my garage as we speak and you're not going to find many people on this forum or any other who have actually built a boat to the lines in that book. If actual experience building canoes to original birchbark designs makes me a wannabe know-it-all, then I'm proud to be one, but I still don't fathom how my reply can be taken as off-topic or anything but a direct answer to the question you asked.

    dboles stated:
    "Maybe they had the ability to paddle a canoe without secondary stability and therefore didn't need a design for it in their canoe building."

    Your arrogant and extremely niave reply:
    "There is a stringent limit to the development of paddling technique without secondary stability."

    My reply to the issue:
    "...you'll also find that some of these things were done for a reason, trading-off high amounts of secondary stability for other characteristics which made them fit specific uses better (stability and capacity with a heavy load, seaworthiness and lift in big waves, etc.)"

    Off topic? Didn't seem so to me.

    I will freely admit that what I really wanted to say (but didn't, in the interest of maintaining some "decorum on the forum") was that real native paddlers would have laughed their asses off at a bunch of sissy white boys paddling their heeled over canoes trying to impress everybody with their hot-shot "style-paddling" technique. After they quit laughing, they would have left you in the dust. (You can hate me for that comment if you really want to, I probably deserve it. I also rank my appreciation of freestyle paddling right below that of synchronized swimming.) I used to race against some Native Americans. Little short guys with shoulders about three feet wide and I've never seen anybody move a canoe down a river more efficiently. You could actually hear them coming up behind you and they would pass us like we were sitting still.

    I do tend to ramble a bit, tell some old stories, crack a few jokes and even stray off-topic at times. I've been fortunate to spend some time over the years with some great paddlers and some of the best canoe designers. They passed a lot of good information down to me and the forums are one way that I try to pass it along to the next generation. If you find something offensive in that or in the way I do it, that's your privilege, but it's not my intention and I think most people know that. At this point though, every time you sit down at the keyboard you dig the hole you've put yourself in a little deeper and folks get a little better look at an attitude that's very rare on this forum. If I wrote stuff like that, I wouldn't post it under my real name either.

    "Lose the attitude and you'll probably learn more and last longer around here."
    Gee, another one of my statements that seems to have been right on the money......
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2006
  13. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Folks,

    I have regrettably taken the step of banning the user Gate9797. It seems that common civility was abandoned when they sat at their computer chair.

    I am inclined to leave this this thread, as I believe Gate9797's persona shines clearly, and their is other valuable information here that our other users took considerable time to write. If any of the participants feel otherwise, let me know.

    Regards,
    Dan Miller, wearing his administrator's cap.
     
  14. Denis M. Kallery

    Denis M. Kallery Passed Away July 3, 2012 In Memoriam

    Dan - Here! Here! Good for you! One immediately gets a sense of self inflation on 9797's part when he refers to himself as " Master canoeist" obvoiusly he knows all there is to know about canoeing. His lack of maturity is demonstrated in his resorting to name calling and then taking his ball and going home. I have been a member for a long time [#926] and this is the one group I have belonged to that has many, many, kind, helpful, and generous people in it. Although through circumstance I am finally becoming active here; I must state that it is people such as yourself and Todd and Rollin and Pam W.,and Dave M. and Gil C. and Ken K. and so many more that this organization gains it's strength. You all deserve our thanks and deep appreciation. You also Todd deserve an apology - so from all of us- I apologize for gate 9797! Most respectfully, Denis
     
  15. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Thanks Dan
     
  16. Ric Altfather

    Ric Altfather WCHA #4035

    What all the rest have said...

    Thanks a lot for getting that guy off here!

    Ric
     
  17. Wetweasel

    Wetweasel WCHA #8341

    I guess we should count ourselves lucky that we get so few of Gates type here. I think Dan showed great restraint in waiting so long to ban the SOB. I always am amazed at the time Todd and the others who make their living at this spend giving knowledge and advice to us weekend warriors. I hope a jerk like that never chases any of you away.

    Richard
     
  18. DGuertin

    DGuertin Inquiring Mind

    Ditto

    Amen to that!

    When I originally read "Master Canoeist" I thought "Well, okay...", there seems to be a helluva pile of guys and gals here who know a lot more than me...then I read about "secondary stability" which I didn't have a clue about, so off to Google I went and read, and read...

    So I thought "This seems pretty easy to understand." Then I started to think "Well, maybe this guy ain't such a Master anything!"

    Least I can say is he pushed me to learn something new!

    Who said "Nothing is ever a complete failure, you can always use it as a bad example."
     
  19. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I hearby declare myself a "MASTER CANOEIST" by virtue of the fact that I've been paddling for about forty years and only almost drowned once (absolutely destroyed a lovely Old Town Berrigan in the process). Had I not been a master canoeist (young and dumb) at the time, the fifteen minutes that I spent going around and around in the roller below the dam would have scared me, but I was armed with the knowledge that I was full of crap - and crap usually floats!

    ...if Gate9797 gets to be one based on what he seems to be full of, then I do to.

    In any event, the basic discussion topic here was an interesting one. I don't know if there is anyone still alive who could really tell us the whole story of the obvious design variations present in birchbark canoes and why specific tribes chose certain design functions at the expense of others, but it's worthy of a good (civilized) discussion.
     
  20. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    You know, the Darwin Award site I posted does have "Honourable Mentions" as well...:rolleyes:
     

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