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  Pros and Cons of Aluminum Canoes
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-16-10 3:26 PM (EST)
   Category: Canoes 

Aside from portability issues (i.e., weight) what are some pros and cons of owning an aluminun canoe?

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Messages in this Topic


  I'll bite.
  Posted by: Jsaults on Apr-16-10 3:38 PM (EST)
Heavy (compared to modern composites)
Cold to the touch
Noisy if you are fishing
Sticks to rocks in rivers

Lasts forever even if stored outdoors
Relatively high initial stability

  Posted by: angstrom on Apr-16-10 4:13 PM (EST)
The great virtue of aluminum canoes is that you can leave them out in the sun, snow, and every other kind of weather for years with no damage. Most plastics and composites should be stored under cover to protect them from UV exposure.

Used aluminum canoes are also relatively inexpensive.

Disadvantages are that they're noisy, cold in cold water, and heavy. They will stick to rocks instead of sliding over them.

  theft a bigger problem these days
  Posted by: pamskee on Apr-16-10 4:40 PM (EST)
The price of aluminum has made aluminum canoes a target for scrappers.

Aluminum can be made quieter and more comfy by putting foam or light rubber pads on the floor. Also, pipe insulation on the gunwales helps.
  DONK !
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-16-10 4:53 PM (EST)
I rest my case.
  Posted by: TommyC1 on Apr-20-10 9:18 PM (EST)
I believe the sound is closer to BOING.

Just sayin'
  Pros and cons
  Posted by: PJC on Apr-16-10 5:26 PM (EST)
Agree with above but also (and I am talking about Grummans and Alumacrafts only - don't have much experience with stuff like the Beaver Super Aluminum racers or anything like that)
Carry big loads without a lot of degradation in handling -partly because by many modern standards they don't handle that well light either.

Don't draw much water

Can be used as heat reflectors for a campfire when cold weather camping.

Flat bottom makes a decent supper table at campsite.

More flotation when swamped than many newer boats.

Most dings can be repaired with a rubber mallet.

Very good initial stability for kids and dogs.

Due to the different tones produced when hit in different places, you can do a pretty good "drum circle" with one aluminum canoe and several drummers. Especially effective under bridges that produce echos.
That's a good thing, right?

Difficult for a thief to steal quietly.

Don't ever "taco" one around a rock. You'll never get it right again - IF you can ever get it unstuck.

Have to learn to stroke without touching your paddle to the gunwales (prys in particular) or you'll have to revarnish your paddle shafts every other trip. And you'll never sneak up on wildlife, or anything else, until you learn to paddle that way.

Makes a mess of the paint on a roof if you car top and load clumsily.

Weight makes them easy to load clumsily.

Nicks in keel wear out straps quickly.
  Con: shiny in sunshine
  Posted by: cd1 on Apr-17-10 12:47 AM (EST)
Wear your sunglasses.

And they are slow. Heavy and darned slow.
  there is cons to owning one?
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-17-10 7:26 AM (EST)
I am looking for one for a beater boat. I love em.
  More Thoughts
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-17-10 8:19 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-17-10 8:35 AM EST --

I used my 17 foot Grumman as my Quetico tripper for over 30 years. PJC has an excellent list, but here are some more.

- You don't have to stake an aluminum canoe down in a wind storm.
- They serve as an excellent source of loud noise to help scare bears out of camp.
- They are the very definition of flat bottom hull. Any 6" wave you have to pay attention to rolling with the exaggerated motion of the canoe. It's a darn good abs workout keeping you nose over your bellybutton out paddling in quartering waves. And that rocking feeling will last for hours and maybe days after you are done canoeing.
- I'd much rather trust my fate in a forest fire to being underneath an overturned aluminum canoe floating in the water than in a canoe that would melt or burn away.
- An aluminum canoe is sure to announce your arrival at the landing after every portage. Kind of comforting to your friends in composites that are already at the next portage 2 miles down at the end of the next lake.
- You are sitting high in the stern throne in one of these babies. The seats are at least 11" off the bottom. An if you need a more commanding view, just sit yourself down on the stern deckplate, but you'll need a traditional length paddle to reach the water. Darn near stand up paddling.
- Lost the portage? Not to worry. The multitude of aluminum canoes passing before you will have clearly left their mark. Just look for the aluminum streaks on the rocks. Who needs a map!

- When traveling in a group of composite canoes, you will either be exerting much more energy to pace with the group or you will be barely noticeable on the horizon.
- An aluminum canoe over ones head while portaging is an echo chamber. Kind of an early warning system for mosquitoes, but the source of unearthly screeches and scratches going through brush... kind of like amplified fingernail scratching on a blackboard.
- A beastly burden when portaging uphill or longer than a quarter mile.

  They make an excellent outdoor
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-17-10 1:39 PM (EST)
washtub, planter for a raised garden, compost container (wont melt!) and lobster cooker.

I used to have a 15 foot Grumman and we travelled many Quetico miles in it. Somehow. It didnt change but we did.
  Good summary
  Posted by: mr_canoehead on Apr-17-10 9:43 AM (EST)
A couple of excellent summaries.

I would add, as has been alluded to, that aluminum might be a decent environmental choice, as even though it is energy intensive to produce, it is completely and fully recyclable. Recyclable only if it is damaged beyond repair, though. With careful use, I expect one could last hundreds of years. I believe Royalex is much more toxic to produce and when it gives up the ghost (much shorter life, as it is soft) not much can be done with it.

  Good point
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-19-10 2:57 PM (EST)
Good point about being recyclable.

There are few choices for aluminum canoes.
The manufacturing process seems to have a limitation in shaping them, though Grumman canoes look okay.
If the seats have flotation foam built into them, kneeling becomes impossible.
  Sportspal 16'
  Posted by: Lv2canoenMe on Apr-17-10 1:00 PM (EST)
I bought a used 16 ft Sportspal for certain rivers that love to scratch the gelcoat off my We-No-Na Spirit. Paid $300 for it and actually enjoy using it. The inside is lined with some kind of insulation to keep it quiet and it only weighs about 58-60 lbs. I also don't mind loaning it out because I'm not worried about anyone scratching it. It's not perfect but it serves a use for me.
  One more pro
  Posted by: vic on Apr-19-10 11:48 AM (EST)
Our horses like the sound it makes when they kick it.
  Posted by: grayhawk on Apr-19-10 12:13 PM (EST)
They are rented in the park near me..

Pro.. You can hear them coming.
Con.. You can hear them coming.
  Posted by: CEWilson on Apr-20-10 9:51 AM (EST)
They paddle so horribly that they really are only useful for rentals and unskilled entry paddlers who will not be portaging. Yeah, they are also way heavy, but they do have an advantage over any other material.

When the thing starts to leak at the rivets, just cut it up and feed it to the Golden Goat. You'll get enough quarters back to buy another!
  An advantage of aluminun canoes
  Posted by: ret603 on Apr-20-10 11:20 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-20-10 7:59 PM EST --

(sorry about the lame spelling of aluminum in title)

My late Aunt and Uncle took my cousins and me on a two week Adirondack adventure in the mid 50's. We camped at Racquet Lake and paddled there as well as about 6 other lakes. Our canoe on those ventures was a huge 18-20' Grumman. All that has been said about demerits is true and I'll add that they can get very hot in strong sun. However, there is one attribute that no other canoe material can match.

When my cousins hit high school they lost interest in canoe camping. My aunt and uncle changed their focus from canoe camping to weekend sailing and bought a sailboat. The grumman was relegated (abandoned) to the back yard for 40 years, gradually becoming overgrown with weeds and brush, finally so overgrown it was hidden from view.

When they sold their home (NY) to live near their daughter (CA) in their old age, they cut the abandoned grumman out of the brush, cleaned it, buffed it up with a power polishing machine and sold it for more than they had paid for it many years ago.

  I have never disagreed with any of your
  Posted by: jackl on Apr-21-10 6:52 PM (EST)
posts, and have taken your advice and help on many occassions, but I have to disagree with you on this one.

I have a Wenonah, Jensen 17 ultralight, a ultralight Comp Cruiser, a J-190, and a Savage river carbon kevlar Susquehanna, as well as some plastic and royalex canoes, so please hear me out.

Two years ago, while we were camping down in the Everglades area of Florida, our daughter, son-in law and our two grandchildren came down for a weeks vacation. they wanted us to take them on a day wilderness canoe trip, and we just had our two kayaks and our Jensen with us, so I rented two aluminum canoes, from the Everglades NP.
I wish I could remember their makes, but I don't, but they were one sweet boat.
I am guessing that they only weighed about 50 pounds, since I had no problem mounting them on the top of the cap of my pick up truck.
They paddled very nicely, and were well built, and each one held two adults and a child.
When we returned them I was talking to a ranger and told him how much I liked the boat, and he said that they were just about industructable, and that was the reason they used them for the rental fleet.
I have no idea what they cost, but if it was my very first canoe, I wouldn't mind having one at all.

  Not Horrible
  Posted by: mr_canoehead on Apr-20-10 7:24 PM (EST)
I wouldn't consider "not horrible" a glowing endorsement, but I have found the shape of Grumman's to be not too bad, really. They are indeed worse than many other boats, but far better than Coleman/Pelican canoes, and for someone not in a hurry who likes a bit of initial stability, they do just fine.

In fact, I bet 90% of people who canoe occasionally wouldn't notice that they are going a bit slower than they might, or not turning quite as fast.

I like the aluminum canoe for what it is. When I can pick up a used kevlar boat and refurbish it for less than aluminum price, I won't own one. However, I would much rather go on a canoe trip in a Grumman than not go in something better.
  Posted by: paddletothesea on Apr-20-10 7:24 PM (EST)
makes a great ice chest for family parties. The aluminum will get really cold when you toss in ice and fill with beer.

Cheap: You can get a used one for about 200 bucks.
Can smash the hell out of them and pound them out with a hammer.

CONS: Make a great lightning rod!
When bashed into rocks the zillons of rivots pop and the boat will leak a lot. Some rivers out where i live you are not allowed to bring an aluminum because of the rocks and consequnces.
Cold feet and feel. The metal is nice and cold in the mornings and you cant sleep in your boat like other ones...very cold.
  Is it true
  Posted by: booztalkin on Apr-22-10 10:57 PM (EST)
That you can cook (fry egg, bake bread) in aluminum canoes if you leave them out in the sun? I hear they get hot.

On one of my first ww trips the aluminum canoe got stuck in a rapid (by it's painter, long sad story). We got it back the next day, but it had some rips in the hull. Do rx hulls rip? Ya, I suppose they do. But the rip isn't going to cut your arm off.

  The most important point of all . . .
  Posted by: Angell on Apr-23-10 12:19 AM (EST)
Those aluminum canoes help young boy scouts fall in love with paddling!

Ah, the fond memories of those old Grumman clunkers . . . happy memories of sweet summer days at camp. I can close my eyes and bring them to mind - the sights and smells of the sun, the woods, the docks and the water . . . and the boats. Those memories often come back to me as I put my modern boats into the water. All of it beginning with those aluminum Grumman canoes.
  Posted by: guideboatguy on Apr-23-10 12:30 AM (EST)
And without those childhood experiences in clunker canoes, most adult paddlers who now paddle "good boats" wouldn't be paddlers at all, and in turn there would be virtually no reason for those who make "good boats" to even be in the business. That's why ALL of us would be in a very different situation, a much worse situation, if aluminum canoes didn't make it easy for folks to get their first exposure to canoeing. Nowadays, there are cheap plastic boats too (which I think are worse), but for most of us who've "been around for a while", aluminum is what first got us on the water.


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