Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: New guy's first potential build questions

  1. #1

    Default New guy's first potential build questions


    First off, I want to apologize if this is in the wrong subforum. I didn't know if it should go with canoe sailing or the questions thread.

    So first I guess a little back story. My wife and I recently bought a home which is two miles from a pretty large lake/dam area in the USA and I've always wanted my own boat. I don't need anything big, I just wanted to camp and fish mostly (the lake has a TON of fantastic little islands to camp on, which I do often, I just have to hitch a ride on a friend's boat to get there)

    Initially I was thinking of just getting a small jon boat with a 5hp outboard motor or something along those lines, but the last time I was at the lake I noticed there's a LARGE group of sail boats and a small yacht club so obviously sailing is a possibility in the area. (I guess it's a possibility anywhere there's water, but I'm very new to this, so forgive me if I say something dumb)

    I've always wanted to sail, and I really want something more in tune with my hobbies (camping and fishing) and low and behold I discovered the fantastic world of sailing canoes, which have apparently been around since forever but I've been living in a cave I guess : )

    Anyway, now that the intro is out of the way, here's the setup I'm thinking of.

    I want to get the Old Town Sportsmaster 15'4.5" Canoe (1st post, can't use links yet) from Academy sports

    And either the sail boats to go canoe rig OR the spring creek canoe rig (they're evenly priced and both look like what I need)

    So here's my questions

    1) Is the canoe I picked out suitable for a sailing conversion?

    2) How safe is this for an amateur like me who has never sailed? I can handle a boat tipping, I'm a decent swimmer and will obviously have a life preserver on, but I'll most likely be carrying my dogs out with me. They both swim, but I don't know how they'd handle something like this turning over.

    3) How do these sails work? I.E. Do I have to put up the sails from shore or can I put them up/break them down on the water? I ask because I'd love to sail across the lake, then break down the sail to use a trolling motor to do some fishing in closer quarters.

    4) If I go with that canoe, is the sailing conversion going to make the storage area in the middle seat useless?

    5) Can I put seats on the rear or front bench, or will that throw off my center of gravity too much?

    6) I drive a standard size pickup truck, can I just load the canoe on the back of it, or will I need a trailer? I guess what I'm asking is how much weight will the sailing gear add, etc.?

    Sorry to just barge in with new guy questions, but I really want to learn more about this and a few pointers in the right direction would be much appreciated.

    Creator of the online comic Fortune Pancakes (Fortune Pancakes) and Trouble Ticket (Trouble Ticket)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    Hi New Guy and welcome ,I've rigged my old town guide 14ft 7in canoe for sail with a Bermudan rig (look up Solway Dory on the net there is tons of info there to guide you). You normally rig up on shore but can strip it down while afloat,the sailing gear won't add a lot of weight so your pickup will do nicely a couple of doggie life jackets and you'll be well away with ,enough space for gear , I'm not sure about putting seats on the benches. take things slowly and ask more questions if you're not sure and have fun,I took up canoeing 2yrs ago and sailing it a year ago and I'm 70 and I love it.

    best wishes Ted

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Helensburgh, Scotland.


    Hi Amateurhour, it's difficult for us Limeys to say how well that canoe will convert to sailing with the kits you specify as they aren't well known over here (maybe someone from your side of the pond will be more help) but the canoe looks to be beamy and stable which would make it a decent choice for learning to sail with. The squared off stern would also make it easy to mount rudder fittings to the transom. It does sound like it will be quite a heavy boat which could make loading and unloading from your truck hard work if you're on your own. As far as sailing and safety goes, common sense goes a long way. Choose a nice light wind day for your first sail, have someone else there to help until you know what you're doing and maybe leave the dogs at home until you start to get the hang of things but in principle and as long as you're sensible I'm sure you'll have a blast. There's loads of info on the net about the theory of sailing so read everything you can before you start then go and have a try. It may take a little while to get going but it's not really too difficult. The Solway Dory website has some excellent starters tips (written by Oceanic from this forum) here; Lots more wisdom can also be gleaned from reading through the Solway Dory and OCSG websites ( ). Good luck, have fun and keep us posted on your progress.

  4. #4


    I would second everything that has been said so far.

    I would add that you really need to add buoyancy bags (flotation bags) especially side flotation bags, to insure that you can recover from flipping the boat. Don't wait to flip, put the bags in, and go out and turn the canoe over and figure out what to do. Again, Solway Dory has excellent videos on what to do.

    Unfortunately, on this side of the pond we do not have a resource as valuable as SD to supply accessories. With a small sail, I would suggest no bigger than 36 square feet, flotation bags, and no dogs you would be in good shape to start learning. Todd Bradshaw's book is a great resource, as is the Skinny Hull website, and Yahoo groups devoted to sailing canoes. Song of the Paddle, along with Solway Dory are the absolute best sites world wide for open sailing canoe information.

    You can analyze this to death. If you get into canoe sailing, I can guarantee that this will not be your last boat. Don't spend too much money to begin with in case it doesn't take.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Near Banbury, England and just South of Poitiers France.


    Some people add outriggers to their sailing canoe. Might be something to experiment with if you want that extra stability while you're learning. As others have said, loads of threads to show you ways of doing that.

    You say the dogs can swim, that's fine but they won't be able to climb back in the canoe after you've righted it. Dog flotation devices have a handle on them. Absolutely the solution to getting a grip and hauling them aboard.

    Personally I'm a fan of the 'coward' method of staying upright. If the boat heels too much... let go of everything and hide in the bottom. Sail flaps, boat rounds up into the wind and everything stays upright! Has worked for me for 40 years. Never capsized anything with a sail on it except when told to do it deliberately to pass instructors exams. Now I've said that I'm doomed to a dunking aren't I.

    Will be OK though. I've never gone afloat without preparing like I was going to go in.

  6. #6


    Thanks for the advice so far!

    First off, no worries about the dogs safety. I've taken the older one out on boats, and I'm going to start introducing the younger one to water now that he's about 8 months old and they'll both have life preservers with handles. Also I won't even think of taking them out until I at least have some idea what I'm doing. Also I'll definitely have front stabilizers and airbags just to be more secure.

    Also I've got the money thing under control, I'm not an impulse buyer, which his how I found this awesome forum, for reference and reviews. The canoe at academy sports is about $400 and I figure the sailing conversion will cost about $900, so with other miscellaneous stuff I should come in well under $2000USD.

    I notice that most people here keep referencing SD equipment. Do they do a good job of shipping to the US and are the shipping costs reasonable? I'll totally go that route if so since they have such a glowing endorsement.

    As far as weight goes, I know the canoe dry weight is about 110lbs and I'm assuming the sailing rig is probably about 90lbs so that should make the total dry weight around 200lbs which I can lift on a good day. If it turns out to be a problem I can get a trailer.

    Keep the advice coming, I'm glad I found this place.

    Creator of the online comic Fortune Pancakes (Fortune Pancakes) and Trouble Ticket (Trouble Ticket)

  7. #7


    New Guy,

    Before you home-in on your initial choices for a canoe and sailplan, I would suggest that you do a bit more reading on the subject. First I would suggest that you go to this site

    and check out the left hand tab that is titled "members boats". This will give you a good idea of how different boats are set up.

    Second, try to get a copy (library, friend, whatever) of Todd Bradshaw's book "Canoe Rig". It contains a wealth of information.

    Three, check out this site

    which is the newsletter of the American Canoe Sailing Association. They have a number of boats and accessories for sale. The most recent issue has a

    "Balogh 36 batwing sail rig 1999, like new, never
    used $400 includes sail, mast, leeboard, located in
    Powhatan, VA. .E:mail John Rothert -"

    This is a nice sail with the needed accessories at a very nice price.

    Fourth, remember that sail boats, power boats, and paddle boats have different design criteria. A canoe that sails well will probably not paddle as well as a canoe that is designed solely for paddling. Sail boats need a certain amount of rocker(curvature front to back) in the bottom. The same is true of whitewater canoes but not flat water canoes.

    Finally, weight is very important. 100 pounds may not seem like much, but trust me it is. Aim for 60 lbs or less, even if used.

    Also there a multiple materials used to manufacture canoes. Some are easily repaired, others are extremely difficult. The cheaper ones very often are harder to repair, or modify.

    Last piece of advice, read, read, read, then read some more before you decide to buy.

    Hopefully this advice is worth more than you paid for it.


  8. #8


    Thank you for those links wd0d, there's a lot of good stuff there.

    You made a statement about some being easy to repair and some not. In general, what's the opinion of the cheaper/lighter plastic/fiberglass canoes? They seem to be much cheaper here in the US and more readily available than some of the nicer models. There's literally three stores that carry four different styles of plastic/fiberglass canoe within 20 miles of me, but I haven't found one yet that deals with the kind of canoes I've been seeing here. (Which could be because this site is primarily based in the UK, understandable)

    Is it more difficult to rig the sailing kits up to them due to the plastics?

    Thanks again for those links, reading through the back issues of that magazine and it's a good one : )
    Creator of the online comic Fortune Pancakes (Fortune Pancakes) and Trouble Ticket (Trouble Ticket)

  9. #9


    I am in the States, south Florida actually. The "problem" or "challenge" ,choose your word, with plastic canoes is that you cannot use epoxy to repair, or adhere anything to. Fiberglass works much better. Do a search on Royalex, fiberglass, kevlar, and aluminium canoe construction materials. There are a number of good discussions. Then think how you are going to attach various items to your canoe -- rudder, leeboard, mast-step etc. Get all of this figured out before you start. It's much easier and cheaper that way.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Helensburgh, Scotland.


    Quote Originally Posted by wd0d View Post
    The "problem" or "challenge" ,choose your word, with plastic canoes is that you cannot use epoxy to repair, or adhere anything to. wd0d
    Err I'm not trying to be a smartass but actually you can.

  11. #11


    That's awesome you're in the states! I'm in TN myself but I grew up very close to FL so I've always got the beach in my heart.

    I've set my mind on this canoe

    I think it will be a good first canoe. I got to sit in it today and feel it out to make sure it's what I want. I'm going to start simple with just the canoe and some camping/fishing gear, then I'll add the dogs, and maybe a trolling motor (maybe not) and next spring I'll add the sails and really take her out.

    Thanks again!
    Creator of the online comic Fortune Pancakes (Fortune Pancakes) and Trouble Ticket (Trouble Ticket)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts