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HomeNL-2012-09 Brazos Canoe Rescue

Brazos River Canoe Retrieval
August 18th
by David Jacobs

I found this trapped canoe on the Brazos River, just north of the HWY 59 bridge.


On Saturday, August 18, 2012, I decided to retrieve it.

At Sugarland Memorial Park, the lower put-in is a long walk from the dog run area parking lot. Though it is a shorter walk at the upper put-in, you have to carry your boat down an uneven path through the trees there.

I used a standard canoe/kayak dolly (Academy or REI) under the kayak. It was secured with a single rope, attached to one side of the rear frame, routed around the back cockpit rim, to the other side of the rear frame, then to the front frame, to the front grab loop, and back to the front frame on the beginning side.

The tow bar on my bicycle is a four foot piece of 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" angle aluminum (Home Depot), with a 1" hole cut next to the inside edge of the angle, at about two feet. The hole fits over the seat post. A 1" U-bolt secures the aluminum angle to the seat post, while a 1-1/2" U-bolt (Radio Shack, for a TV mast) secures the aluminum angle to the top bar of the bicycle frame, in front. A 1/4" hole in the back end of the aluminum angle provides a place to attach a cord which is then tied to the stern grab loop of the kayak.

I towed the kayak backwards, to keep the paddle from falling out of the cockpit.

After disconnecting the blade from a bow saw, it fit nicely inside the stern. I also packed a throw rope, a pulley, and a lunch. In addition to the PFD, I wore a quick-release tow belt, and a Camel Back filled with water and Gatorade.


I didn't need the bow saw to free the canoe. It was filled with small limbs, which were farly easy to remove.

There was access to the canoe, by walking on the fallen trees, next to it.


Since the boat was filled with mud and water, it was too heavy to slide it over the tree on which the stern was resting.

I happily found a red bucket in the debris pile to use in bailing out the canoe.

While walking back with the bucket, the debris gave way, and my left foot and leg went through it, creating the hole shown above.

The bucket came in very handy.

One side of the bow was dented in, but it still held water.

It floats! Towed it all the way back to Sugar Land Memorial Park!

It was too heavy to pull with my bicycle, so I started pulling it on the dolly, walking. On the way to the car, I began to have second thoughts about taking it home: It needs straightening and reinforcement where it is dented in; It needs a bow seat; I don't have a place to store it other than in the back yard; I don't need it; I could give it to someone, but then, who would want it?; It is heavy, perhaps 85 lbs; etc.

I didn't rescue it for the boat, but for the challenge.

About 1/3 of the way to the car, I decided it was so heavy I would have trouble lifting it onto my car top. So, I turned around, and pulled it back to the top of the bald hill, at the river access point. Here, it won't interfere with the park crew mowing the grass. I turned it upside down, and left it there.

It will be available to anyone who wants to use it. I doubt if anyone will want to keep it enough to haul it all the way to the parking lot. But, it is available to anyone who wants it.


The author, David Jacobs