Canoe recommendations?

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by AlanCT, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    All good stuff. I'm a bit spoiled, as my inventory is currently 81 boats...yes, an ex-rental can be a good deal and is probably an appropriate hull shape since most rental liveries are going for stability (mine, not so much, as I deal with experienced paddlers doing expedition trips), but some are beat to crap. Be careful of plastic boats that have an "oil-canned" bottom, the foam core is gone, they're slugs and feel weird to paddle, not a good introduction.

    Kayaks are an option, but less suitable if it's family use (wife and daughter), it's nice to have the ducklings under control. Also a bit different sense of paddling and use. A small kayak (I sell ones in the range of 13' - 17') is fun but only has volume for about a 3 day trip unless you go really light. After that, you're into a sea kayak for big bucks. There can also be issues with the fixed seating position as someone mentioned.

    A canoe allows more flexibility in that sense, and the ease of in/out is good for someone with bum knees (me). A pack boat is a combination craft, and don't forget that there's nothing wrong with using a kayak paddle in a canoe. A canoe has the option of paddling with others, or solo, depending on the boat, rather than having a fleet of kayaks for each family member. I'd say your intent to start with a canoe is the right one, move forward from there as you see fit. We don't even want to talk kayak hull shapes, as that can just get strange. Kayaks are more a fashion item than canoes, so design trends come and go.

    Royalex has been the plastic standard for some time and is still incredibly tough, but some composites have advanced significantly. Mention was made of abrasion with composites although you can add a wear strip - and if you're paddling in water so shallow the boat is always dragging, how are you wetting the paddle anyway? Don't drag it up on the beach without lifting. Aluminium does stick to rocks, more of an issue if you're river paddling.

    Plains Ranger and others have mentioned the other aspects. Always, always wear your PFD. A pocket or two is not amiss for the whistle, etc. If it's not on your body, don't count on having it with you after a dump. For the pond, leave your wallet at home. Bailer (cut down plastic milk bottle) tied in, sponge in the bailer to mop up the last wet spots, throw rope in a bag, spare paddle.

    Start cheap to see if you like it, you can always unload the first canoe. One thing, get a canoe that you can easily handle. Too heavy and it's going to sit on the beach or car top. As I get older, the thought of heaving a big Royalex expedition canoe onto the truck sometimes makes me avoid paddling. My Kevlar solo boat has no second thoughts regarding dropping it in the water for an hour.

    Last thought, you will learn to paddle more quickly and get a better feel for action/reaction of your strokes if you paddle solo some of the time, which means a boat no longer than 16' (and at that, you'll have to reach/lean forward and back to be effective, from a slightly aft-of-centre position). Most people learn to paddle tandem, but it's tough to discern what was you, and what was the other person. A strong solo paddler, when paddling tandem, can pretty much overcome the goofs of a noob bow person; someone who only learned tandem probably can't. Just like riding a motorcycle makes you more aware of the road surface than a cage driver, paddling solo makes you more capable of reading water and handling the canoe appropriately.
    #21
  2. Dan Alexander

    Dan Alexander Ride Far - Ride Fast

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    #22
  3. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    I think the hybrid is an interesting idea, although I don't have experience with the Canak. The concept is very similar to a "pack canoe", but it leans to the kayak side of the equation (a kayoe?), while the Swift version leans to the canoe (canyak?) side http://swiftcanoe.com/packcanoes/pack12.html , two sizes at 12' and 13'-6".

    The Canak is lower volume (thus needs to be longer), so perhaps check if the packs you want to use will fit in the "hatches" or if they'll hump up - maybe not a bad thing to shed water. Also that the covers are really tight fitting and not going to let water in if the waves come up. I suspect the Canak is a little faster, while the Pack Canoe can take more gear, although you'd need to add a spray deck to get the same "waterproofness". The paddling experience is probably pretty similar. Pack light, I bet you can get a week into a Canak, depending on weight. Like any boat, it's going to get sluggish if it's low in the water.

    Is there a test paddle opportunity? Report back!
    #23
  4. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    I ordered one of these http://www.swiftcanoe.com/canoe/solo/osprey.htm in Kevlar, but got shipped a Carbon boat with integrated gunnels by mistake. 27 pounds, stiff and strong, of little black lightning. I have resisted taking it off the "sales" rack and using it myself...so far :evil. Then I ordered some boats in the coloured Kevlar cloth and am also addicted to that now. The "barracuda" (silver) Kevlar looks like little fish scales and the reflection shimmers in the water. This can be as bad as bikes. Be warned!
    #24
  5. hwy61

    hwy61 Been here awhile

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  6. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder 速 Flat Biller 速

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    You just need a smaller dog:rofl
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    I pretty much feel the same way about the Kayaks. I had a 16' Perception Chinook NW "Sea Kayak" that I picked up for $700 from a group of college kids that paddled down the Mississippi from MN to New Orleans (The boat I'm in above is a rental). The only downside is you need 2 if you want to go out on the lake with the SO, Kid, Buddy etc.
    #26
  7. AlanCT

    AlanCT The Byronic Man

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    I want to start with a canoe, since I want to be able to take my wife and/or daughter all in one craft. I can add a kayak or two later as my daughter gets old enough to handle one.

    My previous boating experience involved ownership of a Hobie 16 catamaran about 15 or 20 years ago. It was fun but a pain in the ass to set up, take down, and haul around since I didn't live near water back then. A canoe will be much easier if I decide to take it anywhere.
    #27
  8. Mista Vern

    Mista Vern Knows all - tells some.

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    Look for something that is light enough for your wife to handle when you take it on and off racks - we bought a Discovery 169 once, and while it was great on the water, we hardly used it because it was such a heavy thing to load and unload.
    #28
  9. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    And once you're into a while, learn the Canadian stroke, a modified J stroke that is much smoother and way classier. And quieter, and more flowing, and... :D
    #29
  10. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    2min?!? You a speed reader?! Yeah, a lot of good info but Aquadog, you must REALLY like to type!!! :lol3

    To the op Alan, you haven't said if the canoe will just be left at water's edge or if you'll be carrying it. When talking to customers about boats, I tell 'em they're kinda divided into cheap & heavy (approx 80lbs) or lightweight (60lbs or less) & expensive. If it's a couple shopping I'll encourage them to pick each up and carry it just a few feet then put it back up on the rack just to see how much difference 20lbs can be. :D

    I have a lot of photos in that Canoe and Kayak Photo thread on here tho mostly ocean kayaking, my passion for years before turning Ducatisti. :wink:

    Good luck and have fun. Paddle on, Mark H.
    #30
  11. JR Greenhorn

    JR Greenhorn Been here awhile

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    With the same question in mind as the thread title, I've been looking around ADV recently. Rather than start a new thread, I thought I'd recycle this disused one (hopefully the OP doesn't mind).


    While I am indeed looking for some advice and canoe recommendations, my canoeing history is different than the OP's. As a kid, I canoed in Boy Scouts and on a school trip. When we were a little older, Mom and Dad bought us a brand-new 17' Alumacraft. We spent a lot of time on the waters of a small country lake with it, with other kids from our rural neighborhood and cousins who visited frequently. Completely unsupervised and a mile from home, we paddled through reeds and lily pads a lot, but didn't have the patience for fishing at that age. We rolled and swamped that canoe endlessly on hot summer days, and eventually learned how to get it afloat again without dragging it back to shore under the water. We took our dogs for rides in it, one of which was an 85lb Chesapeake. We learned to jump from it into the water, and climb back in for another go. When I was older, near high school graduation age, I used to take our spaniel-mutt down to the lake in the evenings after school and work. He was always good about sitting nice and still at the very front of the bow, allowing me to paddle solo in the stern seat. I paddled many laps around that little lake with him as ballast up front. Then, after I had started college and without warning to my brother and I, Mom put and ad in the paper and sold the canoe for $400.

    All that said, I've never really covered any distance in a canoe, and apart from dogs and other kids and a big broken casting from a combine harvester as ballast, I've never had to load a canoe. I've never been on a river in a canoe, or anywhere but Minnesota lakes and a couple of large but shallow sloughs. I went more than a dozen years without ever being near canoe and water at the same time.

    In the meantime, I got married, had a couple of kids, and eventually moved back closer to home. A couple years ago, an old friend and I started doing overnight camping trips to that same lake with our young children. A relative had left a similarly standard (around here) 16' or 17' aluminum canoe there. This one hasn't had registration on it in many years, and has many dents, scrapes, and some patched holes, including a few bolts with body washers and some sort of caulking squeezed out around them. Still, the temptation was too much, and we found branches to improvise as paddles and set out in it. The dents have affected stability in a big way, and a branch broken from a deadfall doesn't make much of a paddle, but it was enough for us to reminisce and wonder why it's been so many years since either of us has done any canoeing. We also want to share those fond memories with our kids by helping them to make their own.

    Before moving on, here's a couple of photos:

    [​IMG]

    My friend and our daughters going for a ride. I don't think he was going for a J-stroke in this photo. Note one of the more prominent dents up there in the bow.



    [​IMG]

    My friend and I fishing in the rain. My daughter (4 years old at the time) found my camera, and this is one of many shots she took before my cousin on shore caught her with it.




    So that brings us up to date, and my friend, my cousin, and myself all have children of similar age and are all trying to acquire canoes for this year's camping. My friend and my cousin both have leads on canoes from relatives (my cousin picked up our late grandpa's old canoe this winter), but I'm going to have to go about it the craigslist way. My wife is somewhat comfortable with me spending up to $500, less comfortable with me spending up to $1000, and I'll have to do some convincing to get my budget much over that. I'm going to buy something used and I'll wait for the right deal, but I'm not sure what I should be looking out for.

    I've got several considerations in mind, but I'm not quite sure what they all point towards.


    • I'm a big person, and so is my friend. I'm 6'5" and 250lbs; my friend is an inch shorter than I, and at least 40lbs lighter. It is likely that if I buy a canoe, the two of us and our kids will have to use mine sometimes, because the one he can use can't "live" at his place and he'll need to make arrangements to get it (most likely for trips further from home).



    • Our sons are both 7, and our daughters are 5½ and 4 right now. None have any aversion to the water, nor to being in that beater canoe, nor even less seaworthy craft. The quirky and inconsistent lack of stability in that canoe hasn't bothered them. My friend even managed to dump himself and both our sons into 60-something-degree water one night shortly after sundown, and they're still both raring to go. I don't think beginner-friendly primary stability is a very big concern for us.



    • Comfort is a concern for me. I won't be kneeling in a canoe ever, and in addition to bad knees, I broke my back quite a few years back. I don't think paddling is going to be an issue for me as long as I can sit, but I just don't know if my back will hold up to long days of paddling or not.


    • Our most likely use will be day trips from a base camp, or setting out from a lakeshore or riparian camp. We're not set up to camp very lightly, and most trips would likely include canoes in addition to ATVs and/or dirt bikes, or other outdoor activities, especially cooking and fishing, and eventually shooting and hunting. Lakes are the easiest to access in this area ("15 lakes in 15 minutes," as a local boat dealer advertises), although I don't think there are very many around here that are linked together navigably. However, with more than one canoe available, the Crow Wing, North and South Forks of the Crow, Minnesota, Pomme de Terre, and Yellow Medicine Rivers are all likely water trail destinations for us. All of those are rated at "few Class I or less rapids," or no rapids at all. Portages are few, and mostly only dams in towns.



    • Even for day trips or short lake cruises, we're not likely to be lightly loaded. Instead of bringing a reasonable amount of gear along, my friend and I tend to double up on things. We used to try to coordinate more, but we've developed our own setups so that we're each self-sufficient (that didn't used to be the case when we were poorer and coordinated gear--we could hardly camp without each other). For short cruises, we're likely to pack as many kids as we can fit in my canoe, unless my friend can buy his own or borrow one more frequently.



    • We will certainly do a fair amount of fishing out of a canoe, but it won't be solely a "fishing boat." Similarly, I'd love to take my kids out harvesting wild rice sometime, as it grows where we camp up near the Crow Wing River.


    • I will almost certainly be transporting a canoe on the roof of my car. I drive a rather large older Cadillac, 18.75' from end to end. I don't plan to fit a roof rack, and I'd be shocked if anyone offered a kit to fit my car anyway. With my height and the low height of the car's roof, I'm not concerned about that aspect of loading. I am concerned about manhandling the boat's weight with my bad back, at least until my son is old and tall enough to provide meaningful help. I also have a lot of roof area to support a boat, but I have an aversion to doing the through-the-windows strap thing. Finally, I'm thinking a longer vessel will be easier to tie down than a shorter one, because I can run straps more straight down to the corners of the car's bumper. I also have a 2" receiver hitch, which opens up some options for some of the types of support devices that mount that way (at least when I'm not pulling a trailer on a camping trip).


    With all that considered, I'm leaning towards a longer boat, something 18' or more in length. I understand why longer waterline length makes a displacement craft faster, and that makes length appeal to me as well. (I also understand that there are other significant factors in hull speed beyond just length.) Really though, it's load capacity and ease of transporting on my long vehicle that really make me look towards longer canoes. For what it's worth, I don't see myself soloing a canoe, at least not in the near future.

    What I'm not sure about is if there is some reason I should shy away from longer canoes, other than scarcity on the used market and possibly price.


    Also, my only experience is in aluminum canoes. I don't have anything against them, and I like the idea of their durability. On the other hand, it's obvious there are lighter options out there, and I do wonder about efficiency of hull shape with aluminum versus modern composite designs. I don't know that I find aluminum durability worth giving up much hull efficiency for, but I don't have anything first-hand to go on there. Then again, the cost difference is significant, even on the used market...


    So far, I've taken note of Alumacraft's 18.5' model (Alumacrafts are very common around here, and I saw a few 18.5' models go on craigslist last year). I really like some of the longer Wenonah's I've seen (such as the Seneca in particular), but I haven't seen many used ones at all. I've looked at some others comparable to the >18' Wenonahs online, but I tend to get lost in debates on who's epoxy is better than someone else's resin, without seeing any significant (to me) differences mentioned.


    Is there anything else I'm missing here? Are there some specific brands/models you can recommend that I should watch for on the used market?
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    #31
  12. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Transient

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    I don't know anything about canoes, but this sure is pretty.

    <header class="bchead"> CL > hudson valley > all for sale / wanted > sporting goods - by owner
    </header> <section class="dateReplyBar"> pjwdt-3605031421@sale.craigslist.org<sup> [?]</sup>
    <aside id="flags"> flag <sup>[?]</sup> : miscategorized prohibited spam best of </aside> Posted: 2013-02-11, 12:58PM EST
    </section> 1937 Old Town Yankee - $2100 (Mayfield)

    <section class="userbody"> <figure class="iw"> [​IMG]
    </figure> <section id="postingbody"> Beautiful vintage Old Town Canoe in mint condition. This is a 16ft. Yankee born in 1937 and completely refinished. Oak and cherry inside with new canvas and paint. Beautiful canoe for hanging or paddling your favorite water. Sells for over $8000 new today. $2100 or BO. </section> <section class="cltags">
    • Location: Mayfield
    • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
    </section> Posting ID: 3605031421
    Posted: 2013-02-11, 12:58PM EST
    email to a friend

    </section>
    #32
  13. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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    I also have an old town discovery - its the one with the plastic material of theres that you can drop a tree on.

    Dead nuts durable, it will scratch but you can buff it out.

    Heavy, but you can drag it up onto a beach and flip it easy enough.

    I hate aluminum canoes... boinggggg
    #33
  14. BigEasy

    BigEasy Long timer

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    I didn't read the whole thread but I did see early on alot of votes for the Old Town Disco, I dodn't think they make an 18' but the 17 is one to consider and should be easy to find used. Old Town also makes a 174 Penobscot out of the same Tupperware that is faster and handles better than the Disco but may be hard to find on the used market.

    Since your in MN another option is to head up to Ely to Piragas Outfitters they deal their livery boats every year and you could likely find a good deal on an 18' Wenonah.

    One thing I will tell you is that if you take a 18' boat on moving water that requires some moving about to dodge obstructions you'll have your hands full. Straight line trackability comes at the cost of manuverability.

    Gp have fun:clap
    #34
  15. Hesaid

    Hesaid Long timer

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    I'll just toss in my two cents worth, and say that we're quite happy with our Wenonah Spirit II (which is 17'). We paddle on lakes, slow moving rivers, and fast but smooth rivers. With either just the two of us, or loaded down for a weekend camping on a remote island, it handles nicely. It's true that length can hinder you when quick and nimble turns are needed, but we get by (mostly by avoiding places where quick and nimble are needed!). Ours is Tuff-Weave (fiberglass) and weighs approx 60lbs. As for putting it on top of the vehicle? Well, we tried several different approachs, and what finally worked out best for us was putting a piece of pipe insulation on each gunwale, and then strapping in down. Foam blocks shift, rigid mounts cause stress, this way we've got a lot of contact, and little stress. Which is good when the trail gets bumpy...

    [​IMG]

    You can read some of Shesaids canoeing thoughts here:

    http://afishwithabicycle.blogspot.com/2011/07/side-channel-of-doooom.html

    http://afishwithabicycle.blogspot.com/2012/04/paddling-uphill.html

    Though I warn you, she tends to slant her stories just a bit...

    MV
    #35
  16. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    I am no expert, but am experienced:D. I'm also 6'5" but lighter - we had a fiberglass 17' canoe that weighed 85lbs, it was a pain to load and slow to paddle. We rented a place with a Kevlar Mad River ($2400) canoe and it was terrific. However, I've tried a few aluminum canoes, some pretty beat, and for a few hundred bucks (that you can ALWAYS get back if you want to sell it) they were acceptably light and easy to paddle - that's what I'd go with for a canoe.

    I bought a couple of 12' plastic sit-in kayaks, and they can be tough on the back (limited sitting positions - I have to raise myself up by my arms and stretch every 15minutes or it will be painful). I do like being able to throw them in the back of the truck and easily launch them, and they are enjoyable to paddle and fish from. I also find canoes can be uncomfortable on my back because I'm always trying to keep my head at 90 degrees, and the canoe from tipping by slightly leaning and straightening. Maybe it's just bad technique on my part, but that's what I've found.

    We once rented a place with an Old Town tandem kayak, and my wife absolutely hated it within 20 feet of the dock. Then she really started to dislike it later on. I guess that's why they are referred to as "divorce boats".:lol3

    I used to have a 14' Alumicraft cartopper with clamp-on seats that was very comfortable, and drew as little water as a canoe. I upgraded to a 15' panfish type boat with an interior, and it is pretty plush, for me anyway. With a 30hp outboard and decent freeboard, I can fish somewhat larger lakes.

    That's a neat looking lake! Your daughter took a great picture, for any age! Have fun this summer!
    #36
  17. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder 速 Flat Biller 速

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    I've never paddled a Wenonah, but it seems they are pretty popular these days. I'm not an avid paddler, but I've taken a few trips down the CT river from VT to MA with an overnight a long the way and usually spend a few days out on a lake each summer for like the last 20 years.

    For years Old Town was pretty much the Gold Standard, for affordable plastic canoes that paddled well (I've only paddled one once and it was a Penobscot with the cane seats, real nice boat). But I've seen the brand at big box stores along side junk like Pelican and Coleman in the last few years, I'll take an Alumacraft over a Pelican or Coleman any day and I hope Old Town hasn't sunk to that level. On one trip I had the unfortunate experience of paddling one of those damn Colemans and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I lived on a "Lake" in New England as a kid and we always had one of those cheap shitty colemans around, and we used it a lot, but we were just kids putzing around and not really going anywhere and it was always a chore to paddled that tub the whole length of the 1 mile lake and back. The cheap alumacrafts are straight tracking speed demons compared to the cheap plastic canoes and luckily for me I haven't been stuck paddling a Coleman since I was a kid.

    So before you get serious and run out and buy a Mad River or some custom fiberglass job, I'd get another used Alumacraft and after a season you feel it holds you back, ditch it for what you paid and upgrade.
    #37
  18. Hodag

    Hodag native

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    grew up paddling Alumacrafts, durable solid work horses.
    bought one cheap off cl a few years ago, used it, but then sold it, but most likely will get another one.
    #38
  19. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    In 1972 I bought a new Sea Nymph aluminum canoe and still have it. It has always been stored outside in the sun, rain, snow, etc., which has had no effect on it. Aluminum canoes are a bit noisy on the water, tend to stick on shallow rocks, but they last forever.
    #39
  20. McB

    McB Joe 40 ouncer

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    Alumacraft, Lowe...... there's a bunch of old aluminum 17 footers out there that aren't the lightest or the latest tech. Any of them would be perfect for the OP's purposes.
    #40