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Thread: Newcomer looking for advice!

  1. Default Newcomer looking for advice!

    Hi All,

    I've recently had the good fortune to move very close to the river in Twickenham and am extremely keen to get a canoe and get out on the Thames regularly both solo for exercise and with my wife, 3 year old son and pooch. The plan isn't to go on long journeys at the moment, so wont need much gear, but just to get out for an hour or two or three and visit local pubs etc.

    Like other beginners before me I'm a little baffled at the various canoes available and hoped that the lovely people on this forum could give me a little pointer and helping hand getting on the water asap. In terms of experience I have done some kayaking in my youth and recently did a fair amounting of successful, calm river paddling in a canoe on a holiday with the wife and son, who loved it. I'd guess stability is top priority and the ability for me to almost always paddle solo as the others, for now at least, would be passengers enjoying the view and relaxing. Storage is another factor and I'd not want to get anything that was over 14 ft long ideally, it would also need to sit outside hung on a wall, which hopefully is not a problem for a canoe..?

    I came very close to buying an old 13ft Coleman but was a little uncomfortable by the price (400) and then someone else snapped it up. I'm happy to buy new or second hand without spending over 1k, ideally a lot less. For something that's just going to be used on the Thames (for now) it's possibly not worth buying new (?)

    So - any tips, anyone selling something that might work or know someone else that is, I'd greatly appreciate any pointers or help from you all.

    I also have a fantastic pair of knackered knees so would like to sit and paddle rather than kneel.

    Thank you all for reading and hopefully steering me in the right direction!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Hello and Welcome!

    There's a slight conflict in your wish for something of up to 14', and the requirement for 3 people to use it. Whilst the lad is small, you might get away with this, but ideally you'd want something a bit longer.

    I'd be looking at second hand canoes as you say. You want to think about weight, especially when handling off the water, when one of you might be child-wrangling whilst the other lugs a canoe about. Unfortunately all of this adds up financially! Maybe an Apache canoe would be a thought, they come up second hand reasonably often, or something from the Hou canoes stable (14 at a push, but really too small, or 15). You might get lucky and find a second hand Royalex (material) canoe like the Nova Craft Pal or Mad River Reflection, which would be perfect.

    As for the hanging on a wall, ideally you won't want to hang it sideways, as the weight of the canoe may deform the hull slightly over time. They're best stored upside down, supported at around the 1/3 points; plenty of folk have made some sort of wall brackets to do this.

    Whilst the Thames may appear benign much of the time, do take time to practice handling the canoe before you venture out at busy times, as traffic is the main danger. and you need to be able to manoeuvre properly. Downstream of Teddington lock (and especially below Richmond), its tidal, and I'd avoid this part until you've more time in the boat behind you.

    If you wanted to try somewhere a little quieter first, the River Wey Navigation or Basingstoke Canal are within easy reach.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    Hello and welcome Robin,
    What Mal said above really, with some additions.
    Does the weight of a canoe enter into your equation ? As a rule of thumb - the lighter the boat, the more expensive it will be, so unless you're very lucky, a cheap boat will be heavy.
    Stability will be a issue, initially at least, until you all get used to canoes. Your wife and child very likely won't appreciate stepping into a boat that feels like it's going to tip you out at any moment, and the sudden movement of a child or dog can quickly heighten that feeling.
    If you don't mind a heavyish boat, then on top of what Mal mentioned, you might want to consider a Nova Craft SP3 15', which can be had for less than 900 new, and even less used. They are relatively bomb proof, stable, easy to turn and will accommodate you all at present unless your dog is very large. Because they have more freeboard and rocker than many other boats, they do tend to catch the wind a bit more. It's no big thing, you just need to learn how to trim your boat properly when paddling solo.

    If storing a boat outside, especially plastic ones, try to keep it out of direct sunlight as they can warp. A couple of coatings a year of Aerospace 303 or Armorall will help to keep it in decent condition and they contain a UV inhibitor which is always beneficial.

    Probably the best piece of advice to give you as a newbie, is to try and get a test paddle in any boat you're considering buying. The boat that fills your criteria on paper might not suit you at all, especially when you're all in it. It's not always possible to get a test at a dealers, but most private sellers should be able to arrange one. Also, if there's a boat you fancy, ask if anyone here that's local to you has one that they'll let you try out. Most folks here are very accommodating.

    hopefully steering me in the right direction!
    Sorry, that's the bit you have to do yourself .
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Nr Hampton Court, West London


    Below Teddington Lock is tricky, above it is very busy. There are about 4 Rowing clubs, three Sailing clubs, two outdoor pursuit centres, a Boat club, a Motor Yacht Club, and at least one Sea Scout troop, oh yes and Sea Cadets times two, not to mention the oldest Canoe Club in the world, and two Skiff clubs, and one of the few Punting clubs and race course all between Teddington Lock and Hampton Court. Yes can be very very busy. The Wey is a better bet, especially the canal sections.

    The canoe manufacturers brochures, available on line, give basic information regarding stability and performance, and most boats are reviewed on SOTP review section. Form a clear idea of what you want to do, and, perhaps more importantly what you don't want to do. Best of all, join a club, use their boats and knowledge whilst you clarify in your mind what you will need. Not Richmond CC, tide far to fast for beginners at times, and they are basically a competition Club. Royal CC higher up is also mainly, but not exclusively a racing club. Next up Elmbridge CC, again basically racing, and Sheperton CC a slalom club. After that my knowledge is more sketchy EXCEPT, both Marlow and Windsor have strong open canoe sections, and Marlow for sure has lots of club boats.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Berrow, Worcestershire


    Hello Robin. I'd join a club so you can: a) try a few canoes before you commit to buying one; and b) when you do buy your own canoe, the club will most likely have somewhere where you can store it, because, for both solo and paddling with your family, you're going to need something of around 15-16ft long.
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Oldbury, West Midlands


    Hi Robin,

    I have a venture ranger at just under 15 foot, two seats fitted and a kneeling thwart.
    three pfd,s large down to small and a couple of hardly used paddles. good enough to get you started.
    400 - 450 if your interested. will send pm with details if your interested.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2015


    Hi Rob and welcome to the forum, you've come to the right place for advice.
    "I'd far rather be happy than right any day"..........Slartibartfast

  8. Default


    Just logging back in and thank you for all the great advice, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

    I should have a taster session at Royal CC in the next week or so, a great starting point.

    Other than that I think I have found another corner of the garden to store a boat, so something a little longer should be possible. Lee please do send me a little more info via pm.

    Thanks again

  9. #9


    Screw fix the retailer do a great pair,reasonably priced,knee pads,I have kneeling issues due to running with a carl gustav 84mm anti tank weapon but resolved thanks to this product!

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