I'm looking for some advice on a lightweight family canoe. We have two adults (5'1" and 6') and 2 kids (40 lbs each but growing). The kids don't need to paddle (and are probably too short-armed at this point to do so anyway) but a third seat for them to fight over would be nice. There is also a dog (80 lbs) that can be positioned where ever needed to even out the load.
So we have a load of under 500 lbs (that will grow over the years but if it grows too much, the extra load can get their own boat) and don't plan on tripping--so very little gear. We are looking for stability on lakes, estuaries, easy stuff. We also want it to be really light.
I'm short and my kids will be short for a long time (possibly forever!) so something narrow appeals to me. Is that really better or does it just seems better? I would prefer to not have to stretch to get the paddle in the water like the fiberglass Sears canoe I grew up with. :)
We don't have anywhere local to try out canoes. If I can find something cheap used, I'll pick it up. But I may have to buy new. And untested. So I appreciate any advice!
-4 people + 80 lb dog (dog and children are trainable)
-fairly stable in flat water, with some wind
-under 60 lbs, preferably less
-nice to paddle for short armed people--not like that WaterQueen we rented!--and one that actually moves. :)
I know it'll be a little squishy, but this is just for day trips around town or on camping trips (but not camping OUT of the canoe).
Rescue / Throw Bags
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Maybe the Wenonah Spirit II in |
Posted by: ezwater on Feb-26-13 5:41 PM (EST)
Tuffweave. Light, moderately priced, stable, easy paddling. Kinda narrow in the bow so you can reach the water. You can put in some sort of third seat for the kids once you have the boat.
Posted by: MoriMori on Feb-26-13 7:07 PM (EST)
Tuffweave will hold up as well or better|
Posted by: ezwater on Feb-26-13 11:52 PM (EST)
than their Kevlar layups. It won't fuzz when dragged,and it's easier to repair. The Spirit II has a flattened arch bottom that provides good stability.
I don't want to sound negative, but|
Posted by: jackl on Feb-26-13 7:00 PM (EST)
I think you are asking too much.
Posted by: MoriMori on Feb-26-13 7:08 PM (EST)
Okay. What if there's no dog?
Agree NO on dog! Also material choice?|
Posted by: yatipope on Feb-26-13 10:10 PM (EST)
I also recommend leaving large dogs at home if possible. Another important decision is choice of material. You say you would like to do some coastal stuff, and obviously living in the Sierras, most water you are paddling is going to have rocky, course shorelines and riverbanks so having a very durable material is important. As long as you are not paddling moving water, a light Kevlar or similar material would be great paddling but bad on pocketbook. Royalex would be good paddling and easy on the pocketbook. Don't even consider aluminum or plain poly!
Posted by: MoriMori on Feb-26-13 11:13 PM (EST)
Do skidplates offer much protection for landing on rough shores? Even without a dog, 4 people seems to demand a pretty large boat. They seem to get awfully heavy in even Royalex at the larger sizes.
Champlain would be ok |
Posted by: ezwater on Feb-26-13 11:55 PM (EST)
but heavier. On the dog, you just have to wait and see. Some large dogs adopt a place in the boat and mostly stay there. But I don't think you should posit your paddling happiness on your dog's cooperation.
And on skidplates, I advise against |
Posted by: ezwater on Feb-26-13 11:59 PM (EST)
spending to get them on a new boat. Kevlar felt skid plates are mostly thick, stiff, heavy, and hard to repair.
Skid plates aren't so much for landings|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Feb-27-13 8:22 AM (EST)
Boat weight and transport|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Feb-27-13 12:57 PM (EST)
Yes for the skidplates...and a thin layr|
Posted by: bigspencer on Feb-28-13 8:42 PM (EST)
of foam will please the dog immensely as well as preserving the interior hull. You Wanna go big...20'+ tandem. The added volume will make for a happier crew..
Mad River Kevlar Explorer|
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Feb-27-13 12:43 AM (EST)
The first of my 18 or so canoes and kayaks was a 16' Mad River Royalex Explorer I bought 33 years ago in San Jose. I paddled everything in NorCal with that canoe: Sierra lakes, Sierra and coastal whitewater, local reservoirs, San Francisco bay, and northern California whitewater.
We started off with 5 in a Spirit II|
Posted by: clarion on Feb-27-13 2:04 AM (EST)
a few others|
Posted by: pblanc on Feb-27-13 7:40 AM (EST)
A 20 footer is in order|
Posted by: mgc on Feb-27-13 9:02 AM (EST)
Just do it .....|
Posted by: seadart on Feb-27-13 12:24 PM (EST)
I was in the same position as you about 20 years ago and bought a used 16.5 ft Smokercraft Aluminum canoe used, I got paddles, lifejackets and roof rack for $300. The boat was very heavy but I was young and strong and knew how to carry a canoe. We had years of fun with the canoe, two kids and a dog. As the kids got older one got into kayaking, waveskis surfing etc. Dog, wife and one son not so enuthusiastic. Don't spend a ton of money when you have small ones and a dog.
Posted by: MoriMori on Feb-27-13 12:56 PM (EST)
This discussion is helpful. :)
A couple comments|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Feb-27-13 1:29 PM (EST)
Wenonah MN II, MRC Kx Explorer|
Posted by: pblanc on Feb-27-13 1:36 PM (EST)
Canoes are dying out in CA|
Posted by: seadart on Feb-27-13 1:44 PM (EST)
Honestly you don't see many canoes in California, most people go with kayaks, since they can be used on our enormous, easily accessed coastline. Lakes and gentle rivers in California are not that abundant except for a small slice of the state.
There are some river estuaries in CA|
Posted by: ezwater on Mar-07-13 2:39 AM (EST)
and in OR that are suitable for canoes. From my experience on part of the Trinity, I could get my wife and grandchildren down OK. In OR one has the lower Rogue, the Umpqua, the Chetco. Plus some large lakes in both states.
Posted by: CEWilson on Feb-27-13 1:57 PM (EST)
Posted by: deuce on Feb-27-13 2:13 PM (EST)
Others much more knowledgeable than I have weighed in on boat choices, so I'll stick to something else that's bugging me. If you're limited to a sixty pound boat you're pretty limited. Why not invest in a skeleton to take the weight off the camper shell? That would be advantageous for a number of reasons.
Preventing scratches and dings|
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Feb-27-13 3:21 PM (EST)
I would never again put skid plates on a canoe, particularly not on a lake canoe. Ugly. Expensive. Heavy. Unnecessary.
Ultralight Kevlar Spirit II|
Posted by: plaidpaddler on Mar-01-13 5:35 PM (EST)
The Spirit II will fill your needs better than any other hull mentioned. The Ultralight layup is not as fragile as others make it out to be. I've put thousands of race miles on Ultra-light Kevlar Wenonahs from 16' solos to a 23' Minnesota IV. Landings during races are not made cautiously. Most are made at speed. None of my canoes has suffered damage requiring more than an epoxy putty repair to fill in a chipped bow. Paddle reasonably and it will last as long as you are able to paddle. I still have a 1983 Spirit that has taken me and 4 kids fishing and camping, has been raced dozens of times and run into rocks at full race speed and survived it all.
above math is off|
Posted by: kayamedic on Mar-01-13 5:54 PM (EST)
We have a Wenonah Odyssey..18.5 feet and a truck cap with an eight foot box. The racks are all on the cap. Divide 10.5 by two and you have 5 feet not eight.
Posted by: MoriMori on Mar-01-13 7:22 PM (EST)
Thanks for all the suggestions and comments. I think my first move is to try to find something used and cheap locally (anything 17 ft+ under 60 ls that looks like it'll float maybe?) and see how that goes. Of course I probably will fail to find anything. But I WILL look, and I am less picky if I'm not paying new prices.
MR Explorer vs. Wenonah Sprit II|
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Mar-02-13 3:34 PM (EST)
I will use these two boats to illustrate three design aspects that are important to me. The Explorer is superior in all three aspects, in my opinion, but only because they are more conducive to my paddling style and favored waters. Other paddlers could reach opposite conclusions, but these design aspects are at least something to think about for a new buyer.
Another to toss in|
Posted by: sloopsailor on Mar-03-13 9:17 AM (EST)
I haven't paddled it yet, but it looks very nice and you can get a light version.
Just be sure to modify that load limit|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Mar-03-13 12:48 PM (EST)
Posted by: MoriMori on Mar-04-13 3:33 PM (EST)
thanks for the warning about the weight capacities. That's sort of interesting and kinda good to keep in mind!
Posted by: bilnik on Mar-04-13 9:11 PM (EST)
I've had one for 3 years and my family and I love it. Too bad you're in CA, I'd let you try it out. I have a 4 and 7 year old and a wife who packs too much. No problem, great boat. You won't be disappointed with it. If I could I would post pictures that would make you believe. Good luck with it all!
Yes! but not as much as you would think|
Posted by: sloopsailor on Mar-07-13 8:21 AM (EST)
I took the Supernova on a trip with a couple of other guys. I asked how we were traveling, light or heavy. They said heavy. Wow were we ever.
I stand by what I said re 6" freeboard|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Mar-07-13 9:21 AM (EST)
Oh I agree..|
Posted by: sloopsailor on Mar-07-13 2:59 PM (EST)
I think on the Supernova they are 200-250 over if you want a boat that still performs. I am assuming for a 1000lb they are probably 250 to 300 ambitious. so .. 700lbs.
Might wanna think about the height of|
Posted by: bigspencer on Mar-06-13 6:25 PM (EST)
Posted by: old_user on Mar-07-13 9:44 AM (EST)
Swift canoe has a very good rating system for each of their canoes.
Posted by: MoriMori on Mar-07-13 3:18 PM (EST)
...squirm less, so good kid seating is probably worthwhile.
Posted by: MoriMori on Mar-07-13 1:01 PM (EST)
Thanks for helping me with this y'all. I know it's not exactly possible to pick out someone else's canoe but this discussion is helpful!
Might consider drop in seats.|
Posted by: deuce on Mar-07-13 1:13 PM (EST)
Not too expensive and put the occupying butt fairly low in the boat I think.
Posted by: pblanc on Mar-07-13 5:48 PM (EST)
I used a folding chair like this one when my kids where too young to paddle: