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Category: X On And In The Water

If you have a raft you must know how to pole it, and at times it is
necessary to pole other kinds of craft. Select a straight pole of
strong, green wood eight feet or more in length. The length of the pole
will depend upon the depth of the water, for it must be long enough to
reach bottom. Trim off all the small branches and make it as smooth as

When the water is deep and calm a pole may sometimes be used as a paddle
to send the raft along, but its real purpose is to push from the bottom.
In poling you must necessarily stand near the edge of the raft and must
therefore be careful not to lean too far over the water lest you lose
your balance and fall in.

Poling is a primitive, go-as-you-please method of propelling a craft and
is almost free from rules except those suggested by the common sense of
the poler. Like the early pioneers, you simply do the best you can under
the circumstances and are alert to take advantage of every element in
your favor. Where there is a current you pole for it and then allow your
raft to float with it, provided it goes in the direction you wish to
take and is not too swift. In this case you use your pole for steering,
which may sometimes be done from the stern, making a rudder of the pole,
at others from the side, and at times reaching down to the river bed. If
the current runs the wrong way be careful to keep out of it as much as

Shallow water near the shore is usually the most quiet and the safest
for a raft. Here you can generally pole your raft up-stream when the
water is deep enough to float it and is not obstructed by rocks, logs,
or snags. A raft is not safe where there is a swift current, and there
should always be strong arms to manage it.

Next: Swimming

Previous: Primitive Weaving Method

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