Finally, the moment had come to get in my canoe and see if it floated. I put it on my car and headed down to the Rideau Canoe Club on the Rideau Canal with my parents in tow as spectators and official photographers. Carrying the canoe was no problem as it weighs in at about 35 pounds.
I put the canoe in the water and... it floated! I got in and found that it was quite tippy. It didn't immediately sink, which was a good sign. I set off and found the canoe handled wonderfully. It was quick, turned on a dime, and floated like a leaf on the water. By this time I was grinning from ear to ear.
After about five minutes of paddling back and forth I also discovered that it leaked too. That was to be expected but it was still disappointing. Taking the canoe out of the water I couldn't see any obvious places where the water could get in. In fact it was a year before I actually managed to seal it so it didn't leak at all. The water was coming in very tiny holes in the bark that I could hardly see. I finally found them by hanging the canoe up with rope slings and filling it up with water. I watched where the water came out the bottom in tiny drips, marked them and gummed them over until there were no leaks left.
Since then I have spent many happy hours paddling my birchbark canoe.
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© Judy Kavanagh 2001