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Your recomendation on a canoe please

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A while back, I asked about canoe recomendations.


WEll, let me add this: I went to Ga last week and had the oppertunity to canoe with my son.


The Ga state parks rented out 18 foot aluminum canoes. They seemed well built, but with all the use, I could not make out the brand on the rivited tag.


I am 6'2" tall and 248 pounds/ My son sat on the front seat, but I had to sit in the floor about 2' in front of the rear seat as the canoe wanted to eject me. I mean, it REALLY wanted to.


Basically, the weight/ hieght ratio was not in my favor! :)


Oh, the canoe was maybe 24" wide....maybe. The gunwhale was 15" tall.


So I saw this one online at WalMart.com:




It's 15'6" long, 18 inches tall and *** 40" wide ***. Way wider than the aluminum one and is "supposed" to hold 3 people as compared to the two person capacity label (stenciled in spray paint) on the rental canoe.


It's that polyethylene injection molded plastic material.


For a first time /beginners canoe...what do you think?


If it's a great begginer canoe, say so.


If it's total crap, tell me.

If it's middle of the road, tell me that too.


I will say I plan on using it, but not talking about daily use. Might be 3 times a week in the summer, 1 time a week in the spring fall. Or vice versa. Depends...never had a canoe before.

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Before I can make a judgment about the GA state park experience, I'd need to know if those were Grummans or something else like AlumiCraft. From your description of the beam I doubt it...sounds kind of narrow. As for sitting in the floor of the canoe, you can greatly improve stability and control by kneeling on the floor with feet slid under the seat and merely leaning with your butt against the front of the seat. This tends to cramp your legs after while but it lowers the center of gravity and gives you the ability to control the canoe with your knees. I put pads down to reduce abrasion. On my whitewater craft the pads are glued into place permanently.


You're my height but about 50 pounds heavier. I'm going to guess that your weight is distributed higher than average, otherwise I can't see a big top-heavy problem in a well-designed canoe. I take scores of students out in a fleet of canoes every semester and I see lots of problems, but rarely this one...only once could I not fit a guy into a canoe (we finally resorted to a Boston Whaler, no pun intended). He was so big that a canoe was simply impossible.


OK, without more info, my advice is to get some more rentals under your belt before you make the long-term investment. Go to some good outdoor equipment places and see what's available with the Old Town, Mad River, or We-no-nah label..and there are others as well - Grumman is still a great canoe. They'll probably have a better idea of what you really need as well.

I think you're on the right track with the high gunwhales and wide beam. I also know that if you're interested in a decent lake canoe, the 18 footer is about the right length but We-no-nah makes a couple that are 19 or 20 feet and designed for three paddlers. There's a carrying weight tradeoff. They'll cost more too.

I'm partial to Old Town, mostly because of the classic design but the canoe you need might cost a bit more than the WalMart option.

If you're going to stay on lakes or other flat water, aluminum is really durable and a good option. Fiberglass is also good and there are plenty of designs in both materials that offer great flat-water tracking and stability. A good outfitter will know about all this.


Plastic canoes are great if you're planning to hit rocks or trees a lot (whitewater) and they are very forgiving if designed well. I have no knowledge about the WalMart canoe so I really can't comment...But my personal first inclination is to keep looking in the right places.

Get a better set of personal experiences under your belt and then reconsider your options.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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I believe it was probably a Grumman or AlumiCraft, and I would bet that the beam (at the widest point) was 35-38", which is pretty standard for boat of this lenght (any similar lengthed vessel with a 24" beam would be extremely unstable and I cannot imagine this boat as a safe rental).


Regardless, one of our committee members has a Grumman, probably a 20 year old canoe, with not a scratch or dent and still shiney. This is due to good care. Another of our committee memebers has a kevlar canoe, which is very strong and weighs 40-50% less than the Grumman. I have another friend with an Old Town (modern plastic) canoe which is also fine. My canoe is a 16' 1974 Mohawk fiberglass canoe; my neighbor has an identical one (different color). Mine is currently unservicable as I am in the middle of a very rustic restoration (replacing aluminum gunwales with ash/walnut, Peruvian alder decks-bow and stern, ash deck-inside, ash/caned seats, ash minor fiberglass repairs and repainting-inside and out).


Consider these materials carefully. Aluminum is mostly indestructible, but dents and scratches easily. It can be welded if needed, but will usually take years before you get to this stage. They are generally loud when bumped and used. The newer plastic polymers are virtually indestructible, dents pop out, they are scratch resistant, but if holed are essentially disposable, as permanent repairs cannot be effected. Kevlar is not cheap, but is extremely strong and light. BrentAllen can tell you about repairs in the field which can be realistically accomplished. Fiberglass is heavier though less expensive than kevlar, and can also be field repaired. General use for these canoes should not require any field repair work, only whitewate and other more extreme experiences.


After I finish doing the restoration on my Mohawk, I intend to begin work on a stripper (no, not some sleezy nightclub), a canoe build out of wooden strips. Even with minimal woodworking experience, these are possible to be built by relative novice. Cost for these is comperable to a nice canoe (less than kevlar), but if done right, finished value is double to triple the cost of an new kevlar.


I agree with packsaddle, try out several before you jump into one. Remember too that transportation can sometimes be an issue. If you canoe lakes you can return to your starting point. If you canoe rivers, someone has to meet you at the other end and probably ferry around.


Good luck.(This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)

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Buffalo, Now that you mention it, I was sitting about a foot or so in front of the back seat. It was about 24" beam at THAT spot, but I'd say no more than 30" at the widest point. Had a Brother in law and nephew beside us in identicle canoe. Pretty much the majority of our conversations were:


"Stop! Your gona tip it! Don't do that! Wait! Stop!" LOL!


It was my opinion that the canoes were a bit unstable, but figured my lack of canoeing experience was to blame.

The canoes were aluminum, but years of scrapes and scrathes obscurred any name brand. The vessle tag that was rivited to the boat was woorn slam out. Even the Ga State parks logo was almost worn out.


If it matters, I live about 100 yards from the intracoastal waterway and am not familiar with too mant lakes actually big enough to boat in around here. There is the Cape Fear river, and the waterway.


Pretty much all of my canoeing will be done there.


As for a starter canoe, I don;'t want to spend a bunch of money, just in case i discover that canoeing isn't what I thought it might be. Yeah, I have been raised with having a motor on the back of my boats.

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First off save your money and DON"T buy junk like that from wally world. If your set on buying a canoe look for a used one to start.


What kind of canoe depends on what kind of canoeing you intend to do. If your talking mosting flat water with maybe a occasional rapid then an aluminum canoe with a keel like a Grumman is fine. they are stable and easy to paddle and keep on a straight course.


If you start getting into a lot of river running with rapids, aluminum canoes suck. They dent and bang and aluminum tends to cling to rocks and the keel will make steering sharply more difficult. For river running an Old Town or Mad river made with Royalex or Polyethelene. They are durable and will take a lot of punishment and contrary to popular beleif a hole or cut can be repaired.

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If you are serious about purchasing a canoe, head over to the Scout shop and pick up a copy of the Canoeing Merit Badge book. Read it and become an educated buyer. Then visit Craigs List to find what you want. Usually lots of canoes for sale, just looking for a new home.

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Like Packsaddle said, don't SIT in a canoe unless you're drinking beer; KNEEL!

I even kneel on mini-cell foam pads when I'm fishing from a canoe. Better hook-sets!




Used canoes can educate you.


First canoe in '73 was an aluminum Ouachita. Fed it to Bull Sluice when the first drop flooded enough water into the boat to dislodge my flotation block. The boat had a 'nose up' snooty attitude after that.

Second canoe in '76 was a 17 foot Old Town Royalex hull. It's still in heavy use in Wisconsin.


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UCEagle72, my first canoe was an Old Town wood and canvas (Guide 18), vintage 1950's but I got it in the mid-60's. Still have it and love that beautiful classic design (need to rework the canvas though). FWIW, I also have a couple of those that are 25' long but in need of total reconstruction (retirement projects with the grandson someday, maybe).

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Boomer, I'm not in a position to rent.


The canoe we rented was 2 states over in Ga while on vacation. We stayed in a cabin in a Ga state park.



Here in NC, along the coast..at least in my local area, there are no canoe rentals.


But that would be the best idea if it were plausible.(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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I agree with Scoutfish that there is a surprising dearth of canoe rental facilities in NC. I do know there is one company in Goldsboro that will rent them for trips on the Neuse, but it's just very different from up north where canoe rentals are an everyday occurrence.


At jamboree, they had a Wenonah Champlain as their demo for the canoeing merit badge, on loan from Northern Tier. Theirs was Kevlar, but unless you are doing a lot of portaging, I'd recommend going with the Tuf-weave version. I've had the opportunity to paddle the Champlain, and it is big and very stable (and I've been in some canoes that were pretty tippy, too - I know what you mean about wanting to eject you - I'm just a tad over your height and weight). Great for hauling a bunch of camping equipment down river. It's also long, so it moves fairly quickly through the water.


That may be a bit out of your price range, though. If you can get a chance to try different canoes, by all means, do so. Sometimes stores will have "Lake Days" or something like that where you can go try out different items that they have. That's a good thing to take advantage of.


The best canoe for you will also depend on what type of water you plan to canoe in, how much gear you want to haul, how maneuverable you'd like it to be versus how much you would like for it to hold a straight line, etc. Wenonah makes over thirty different canoes, just to give you an idea of how much variation there is.

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As was previously said skip the Walmart canoe. In addition to the repair issues many single layer polyethylene canoes do not have added buoyancy and if they swamp they will sink. To me this defeats the purpose of the canoe as just about all the other types float (even the aluminum ones because foam is contained in the ends.)


I have an Old Town Guide 147 (14'7" long with a 38" beam.) If you are looking for a low priced canoe this one can't be beat. They can be found new at Bass Pro Shops, Dicks Sporting Goods and the like for about $100 more than that Walmart one. As a result you will probably find more of these on craigslist than Royalex canoes. The Guide 147, along with several other Old Town models, have a 3 layer polyethylene hull. Basically this makes the canoe nearly indestructible and gives it natural buoyancy. The drawback is that it is heavy, 74 lbs, about the same weight as if it were aluminum. Still I can put mine on top of my truck by myself and with a dolly I can easily portage it alone. I found mine on Craigslist for $350.


I am 5'11" and 190 lbs so my experience may differ from what you might expect so if you find a used one get it into the water first. Initially I found it to be a bit tippy but you quickly find you don't notice it. It also has great secondary stability. With over 800 lbs of useful load it makes a great family canoe (which is why I bought it.) A downside if you are camping with it is that it has no thwarts, just a single yoke, so you need to get creative in securing gear. As I said I do solo it but it gets difficult in the wind since solo it sits so high out of the water (very buoyant.) Usually it is me plus my wife and 6 year old son and then it very easy to handle.


My recommendation is to take time and educate yourself. A great resource for reviews on canoes is:




Look at craigslist and then look at the above link to see what people are saying about the model you are looking at. Also there might be a canoe/kayak club or group near you. You can meet folks that can help you make a good decision that will save you money and headaches.


Good luck and happy paddling.







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I like an aluminum canoe. Grow up with a Lowman but now have a Grumman have not had any problems.


I weigh about what you weigh and while the front will lift up out of the water if I sit in the back by myself I have never flipped it over or swamped it, although it makes it hard to control in the wind with the front out of the water. Like you discovered with a lighter person in the front it better for the heaver person to move forward and kneel. If I'm alone and want to sit on a seat I just turn it around backward and sit on the front seat.


If I was you I would purchase a 16' aluminum one. Don't get in a hurry look a round and you should be able to pick up a used one in good shape for half the price. I stole mine paid a $100 at a yard sale.





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Like computers, the first question one must ask what are you going to be using it for, and what is the experience level of the users.


I own two canoes, aluminum, old and beat up pretty bad. I bought them both from a canoe rental place so they were pretty used up by the time I got them. That was 15 years ago. :) They look pretty much the same at first glance. However, one canoe is rated with a load capacity of 350#'s and the other 750#'s. Both have keels and do well on lakes. I have taken them down whitewater rivers, thus the beat up look to them. Neither of them tip over easily because they tend to be flat bottomed and wide. Terrible for lake canoeing because they are slow, there is a lot of hull in the water causing friction. The troop I was formerly with had v-hulled canoes carried about 300#'s of load but were very tippy. I can stand in my canoes, but wouldn't even attempt to stand in the narrower v-hull canoe. For speed crossing a lake the v-hull is a lot easier.


Plastic of some sort is good for whitewater rivers, but none of them have keels that I know of. They buckle and bend easily because of this. Not a big deal unless they are heavily loaded. My aluminums need a duct tape patch every time I go anywhere because rocks over the years have worn off the rivet heads leaving nice little holes in the bottom. I tried to patch them, but the patches don't last any longer than duct tape.


If you wrap an aluminum around a rock, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye. A plastic, if you can get it off the obstacle, should pop back into shape, but may need new wood/metal trim on the edges. Salvageable at least.


One more thing to consider is the height of the sides. Remember that the closer you get to the load limit, the deeper the canoe rides in the water. Empty, you might have 12"-14" from the edge to the water. Heavily loaded, that might go down to about 3" clearance. Not a problem on a quiet lake, but if the wind picks up, one can sink pretty quickly by taking on water. Some sort of waterproof cover is needed on a heavily loaded canoe to minimize the water getting in over the sides.


I've never messed with Kevlar or fiberglass in that I do whitewater and I wouldn't take either on a rocky bottomed river. I don't know how sturdy these canoes would be under a heavy load either.


My kayak is plastic and I use it on lakes and whitewater rivers all the time with no problems. My kayak partner uses a fiberglass on sandy bottomed rivers and lakes. She has a plastic for whitewater. Her fiberglass is a lot lighter, is 18" shorter and carries about half the gear I can. Her plastic carries no extra gear of any significance.


Unfortunately there is no one canoe that does it all. Evaluate your usage and go from there. It will restrict your activities, but maybe start out with some stable aluminums for lake, slow rivers, or maybe some mild whitewater and once these boys get good at it, then look into investing on some plastics for heavier whitewater. For some of the older boys, switch over to plastic kayaks for some really heavy whitewater fun.


If you have multiple experienced boys, you are not going to find just one canoe that fits all their needs.


In any of these issues, I would suggest having the boys rent the canoe and try them out to see if that's what they want before they purchase. Then as they mature in water activities, rent the next challenge and purchase and for the high end boys, maybe they will be satisfied with just renting if they are going to take only one big whitewater trip a year. Get the boys involved in the process, they're the ones that are going to have to use the equipment.


Your mileage may vary....



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