A Military Surplus Tent Adventure: The Launch of the Lake Wolf

April 16, 2019

I recently decided to purchase a second hand canoe and take my military surplus tent adventures to a new level.

Now it's important to note here that I have been canoeing my whole life. I have always had a canoe in my garage and I would often spend youthful forays out in the water in my 10' Old Towne canoe, and boy did I have a good time. In this instance I wanted to find a canoe that me and the boy could enjoy together, and after a brief search online, I found a 17 foot 2 man canoe that had a 1000 pound capacity.
The one I found came with a reese hitch rack for easy transport in my pickup truck. I went to look at it, paid the man, and promptly dubbed my new purchase the "Lake Wolf". I vowed to take the Lake Wolf on her maiden voyage the following day and left it attached to the truck.
The next day was windy, and though I hadn't been canoeing since late fall, (this was early spring), I was fairly confident that I would get my sea muscles back pretty quickly... boy was I right about that.

I started off by launching from the handicap ramp at the local marina. I just find it easier to slide into the water from the ramp rather than trying to step into the watercraft from the dock. I knew immediately that something was awry, because as she slipped into the water and my weight settled into the rear of the canoe where I had chosen to navigate from, the empty front end of the Wolf reared up into the air in the manner of a viking ship.

I found this big canoe to be much more wobbly than anything else I have ever navigated. The fact that it was reared back was awkward enough, but when I discovered that it was tippy like a kayak, I began to have regrets. Shaking them off, I grabbed my paddle and began to try to move this monstrosity around the lake. I discovered fairly quickly that I had made a grave mistake somehow.

The wind caught in the gunwale of the bow of the canoe and pushed it like a sail. No amount of paddling or thrashing would make a difference as we made our way farther and farther across the huge muddy lake. It had initially been my plan to simply paddle quietly around the shore of the lake learning to navigate and steer the long thing, and as I was forced to traverse the breadth of the lake my heart sank. The dock grew more distant as I stopped trying to paddle from sheer exhaustion and I drifted all of the way across, into a tributary, and finally came to rest against a sandy beach surrounded by dead cattails. After a stern, heartfelt prayer I was finally able to move around in the boat and decided to move to the front of it and try to navigate from there. That did the trick! From the front I was able to navigate the entire canoe easily, (think driving a pickup truck), and even paddled all of the way back across against the wind, which never did relent. So, the moral of this story is that if you get a new piece of equipment make sure you investigate the proper way to use it.In future blog posts, we will go over different tips and tricks to use a two man canoe for camping forays.

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