BY JIM BAIRD

After the last portage on the Adlatok, we began our 14-mile ocean paddle to Hopedale, flanked by the rugged, treeless terrain of the Labrador coast. When we felt wind on the back of our necks, we quickly rigged up sails. Ted came up with a sail system earlier in the trip and we’d used it successfully several times.

The beauty of this sail rig is that it can be set up and taken down very quickly.
No one needs to hold the sail or operate it, meaning both people can paddle or fish.

Here’s how it’s done:

Paddles Up: Wedge a paddle on either side of the canoe between your carrying yoke and gear. Use rope or carabiner clips to further secure them if need be. You can also place the paddles in the bow in front of the carrying handle.

Bag It: Slip a thick grade carpenter’s garbage bag over the two paddles.

Sail on, sail on: This setup works best with the wind at your back.

The beauty of this sail rig is that it can be set up and taken down very quickly.
No one needs to hold the sail or operate it, meaning both people can paddle or fish. A more sophisticated setup with paddles rigged as daggerboards would allow the canoes to sail with the wind on the beam, but this simple rig really only works with a direct, or nearly direct, tailwind. When the wind shifts, you pick up your paddle and get on with it.

With any canoe sail, it’s very important to take it down when you pull your boat up on shore. Otherwise, a strong wind can blow it back into the water and carry your boat away.

We watched a pod of Minke Whales pass us as we were wind bound on a point, with the communication towers of our final destination, Hopedale, in sight. An ancient inuksuk marks our campsite and a seal carcass on the beach made us uneasy. We’d heard from an Inuit hunter we’d bumped into that day that there was a Polar Bear around town.

Burning some drift wood and a discarded toboggan, I slept out for the night, hugging the fire rocks for warmth when the wood ran out. Still windy but paddle-able, I woke the crew at the crack of dawn, and we went for it. Our month-long Labrador adventure was drawing to a close.

Each Wednesday, C&K will release a new episode of Lessons From the Trail, presented by Nova Craft Canoe and Brunton, makers of the TruArc compass.