Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: (Maybe) impossible quest to find the right canoe for us!

  1. #1

    Default (Maybe) impossible quest to find the right canoe for us!

    Hi,
    Im new here and pretty new to canoeing; my husband and I have paddled tandem down a nice quiet stretch of the Wye several years ago and loved it. 2 kids later, we hired a 17 Hou Prospector on Derwent water last week and had an absolute blast exploring the lake, despite our inexperience and the fact that it was a windy day which made for some hilarious moments, we managed to get where we aimed to go without capsizing the boat or getting into any real trouble and worked it out as we went. So much fun!
    Weve decided we want to do more of this and would love to buy a canoe for family adventures, but are really struggling to work out what we need; our restrictions are budget and my size/physical strength really. Im 51, petite and female; reasonably physically fit but not super strong. The canoe we hired was REALLY HEAVY. Like, stupidly heavy; we could get it in and out of the water but theres no way, realistically I could lift it over my head into a car roof rack. Looking around, it seems any canoe big enough to carry 2 adults, a small 10yo and a 7 yo is going to be similarly heavy unless weve got 2k + to spend, which made my husband look like he wanted to cry bearing in mind we are beginners.
    We arent keen on an inflatable, TBH it seems a total faff to pack them away and we would end up not using it as much. Storage isnt an issue for us.
    Our other option would be 2 smaller canoes/kayaks but then it seems it would be a steeper learning curve as wed both have to get good at paddling solo with a child passenger. I personally prefer the idea of an open canoe that we can throw kids/picnic/camping gear into.
    Were looking at going along to one of our local canoe club sessions, hopefully we can see a range of different craft and so guess what I need to do is try picking up different boats to see what is possible! Realistically looking at websites I dont know how the difference between a 30kg and a 40kg canoe feels to lift unless I try it. Ive seen that Silverbirch make a 16 canoe at around 30kg and 12-2400 which seems more affordable than other lightweight options, but reading around that might not be big enough for us?
    Any advice from families gratefully received xx

  2. #2

    Default

    Welcome, I'm a beginner myself with 2 kids around the same age so I can completely relate. I'm pretty sure the 16' would be plenty big unless you're planning long trips away with loads of gear (and even then...). As others will no doubt suggest, it might be worth trying one out before you commit.

    I have an Apache Tribe which is around 16' and we've had two adults and two children out in it with loads of space to spare. In fact I'd happily recommend the Apache Tribe - its very stable, comes in around the 30-ish+ kg mark and is actually a bit cheaper than the Silverbirch.

    30kg is still pretty heavy as far as I'm concerned by my wife and I can car top it no bother (I've never been brave enough to try it myself).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Bucks
    Posts
    6,828

    Default

    I think about 30kg is a tipping point for solo carrying. once you get a little over that they become a handful; 40kg I think is just too much!

    If you can find an Old Town Penobscot 17 that should do you nicely, I've heard of several people in your circumstances using them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    389

    Default

    Personally, with the family and wanting to keep options open, I would go with a 17' canoe. Because you are new to the game I would definitely encourage you to join a club and try out other canoes. Material choice is always a compromise between weight, durability and cost and much of this comes down to intended use.

    You can't really go wrong with a 17' Prospector style canoe made of fibreglass and I would use that as your benchmark.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,182

    Default

    Hello and Welcome!

    I think you'll struggle with a 16' for anything other than short day trips, both on space, and in having to squeeze two kids next to each other, which never lasts well for long

    That OT Penobscot 17 is a great call, but they don't come up often. As Adrian says, 30kg is a rule of thumb cut off for manageable weight off the water.

    Realistically though, you won't last long with 4 of you in one canoe whatever the size (within reason). Friends with kids are generally finding they'll need to move to two canoes when the kids are about your age. You could of course just buy one now, and recover most of the cost on selling it, but you might want to consider one larger canoe, and one smaller one or even a kayak. An adult and 2 kids in a Prospector type canoe will be fine for a while yet, so the other adult can use something smaller. The bonus here is that as the kids grow, they'll want independence, and I bet that 10 year old wants his/her own canoe/kayak very soon, rather than be stuck in the canoe with the parents and annoying younger sibling

    Make lots of use of the club you mention; if they have a strong open canoe section, you normally get to borrow the canoes, which might solve your problem of a second canoe for now. Of course, you'll also have to get to know how to put two canoes on the car, but that's perfectly possible.

    Paddling with kids is great, but remember that if they're just sat in a canoe, keep the actual paddling times fairly short or they get bored/cold. What they really love is the beaches, islands and camps. There are numerous blogs on this site by "Lynne" about adventurous family paddling, and I've been lucky to go along on many of those trips too; search for our "Pirate" blogs too. Some are also featured in the latest The Paddler magazine.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Wantage, United Kingdom
    Posts
    44

    Default

    An option to address the loading problem might be to buy a side loading roof rack such as a Kari-Tek. Not cheap though. As others have said youll grow out of a single boat in due course but in the short term it will let the family see what they really like/need.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Dumbarton
    Posts
    2,608

    Default

    If you have some DIY skills it may be an option to build your own canoe, especially if you are mostly going to be tripping on lakes rather than rapid rivers where many people worry about the toughness of a wooden canoe.

    Selway Fisher have several designs over 17' that may be worth considering - note that most can be made from different thicknesses of ply giving different weight and strength, but at a glance through I wonder if the "Ralph" might suit your needs in 4mm ply?
    http://www.selway-fisher.com/Opcan17.htm
    Strip building from Cedar is another option for a light canoe, I don't think Selway Fisher have any designs the right sort of size but other designers may have some.

    How hard can it be?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Eastern England
    Posts
    1,136

    Default

    And a last option which few people in the UK try, but which is more popular in North America and Scandinavia: a skin on frame boat weighs a lot less than a fibreglass or plastic boat. My 16.5 DR Ally weighs around 20kg (possibly a kilo or two more), can be managed single handed by someone without weightlifting experience (though handling over long distance portages you might benefit from adding a yoke), and will carry a family (though you might have to improvise seats or kneeling saddles for the two kids in the middle). Mal's point about as kids growing you may want a second boat is a good one. I hate assembling the Ally, but people forget that you don't have to assemble or disassemble a skin on frame boat every time you use it. Many people in North America and Scandinavia keep their boat assembled in garages or at their lakeside cottages through the summers and then pack them away for the winter season. They do, however, have the advantage that you can pack them down if you want to take an overnight train to Scotland, or do a trip using a train for a shuttle, or fly your boat to foreign climes, or fly into remote Canadian wilderness by seaplane--or even just save on the fuel efficiency of your car by putting it inside the car for a really long drive rather than strapping it to the roof.

    Have a look at the Pakboat website for info on the Pakboat folding canoes: http://pakboats.com. Or search this forum for Pakboat (US-made, developed by the former importer of Ally) and Ally canoes (Norwegian).

    Like other canoes in the UK they hold their value pretty well second hand. But they don't come up second hand very often. They are also tougher than many people expect. And while it is possible to bend the frames or hole the skin if one is careless with them, they are very repairable. (See the foldingkayaks.org website for stuff on how to fix various skin-on-frame kayaks --the technology is the same.)

    PS There are also skin on frame boats that don't fold. If you want to see a really light one of those have a google search for geodesic canoes: http://gaboats.com
    But for that sort of light-weight I think you do have to be quite careful about nannying your boat. But there are also skin-on-frames made from tougher and heavier fabrics, hypalon and heavyweight pvc.
    Last edited by idc; 1st-August-2018 at 02:04 PM. Reason: PS

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southwest Michigan
    Posts
    39

    Default

    Hi Kristal. I think you have already gotten great advice...spend time with your local club, lean towards 16.5-17 feet, and consider fiberglass as a way to keep cost and weight reasonable. I just have to add that given that you and your family are new to the sport, it would be great if you all could take some sort of basic canoeing class. Hopefully your local club can give you some options. A little basic training could make it more enjoyable and also safer for you. It's easy to underestimate the potential,dangers of boating...like changes in the wind while you are out. A 35 year old man drowned in our local river just a week ago on a paddle with a paddling club after two days of rain.

  10. #10

    Default

    I have paddled a similar 17’ Hou canoe on Windermere, it was made from plastic, so as heavy as they come.

    I started with a 16’ Wenonah Aurora in Royalex while my kids were small, as they grew we added a sit upon kayak and have now bought a second canoe (a 17’ novacraft prospector in royalex). Having the canoe and kayak has worked out well for us, the kids took turns paddling it and when they were tired my wife paddled it or we towed them behind the canoe. It’s much easier to paddle than a canoe, no worries about J strokes or getting the trim right.

    The Aurora has served us well, as we were beginners and had kids with us we stayed on flat water. The weight was reasonable enough, I can carry it about solo but my wife never has. Together it is no problem. The 17’ Novacraft is a fair bit heavier.

    We we looked into canoe clubs but found them to be really expensive. Our local
    club charges 8 per person for each session. So 40 for the five of us.

    i would look out for a second hand Novacraft or Wenonah 16’ canoe in royalex that has been well looked after. They come up on eBay reasonably regularly and go for 800 to 1000.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Bucks
    Posts
    6,828

    Default

    That cost for a canoe club is ridiculous and certainly not representative. Our club charges 42 per year for an adult, about 70 for a family. For that you get changing rooms, use of a huge range of boats, paddles and BAs. We usually make a charge for an introductory course to avoid being inundated by people who would otherwise use commercial providers but the basic cost we think is really reasonable, we've not put our charges up for 10 years.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Dumbarton
    Posts
    2,608

    Default

    Sometimes clubs are forced to charge due to venue, my club charges 3 for a FW session and 6 for a WW session - we have to cover the hire fees for the venue.

    How hard can it be?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Cumbria
    Posts
    1,605

    Default

    My club is 44 a year for family membership. Based on Derwent water and it includes use of the marina facilities and club equipment on the lake at any thime (subject to fair use, ie don't take up paying parking spaces at the marina if they are busy).

    You need a local address to join though.

    I'd agree that 30kg is about the limit for solo car-topping. A bit more for a 2-person lift.

    The thing is, they pick rental boats to be tough and abuse resistant so they choose heavy-duty plastic. You will look after your own boat better than a weekend rental party... (or not I suppose, you might decide to go bouncing off rocks down white water, but you would be making that decision yourself). So as said, you can decide to buy one in a more "fragile" but lighter material.

    How about a family long weekend weekend camping in the Lake district making your own canoe?

    http://www.orcadventures.co.uk

    They aren't as spohisticated as some other self-build boats but that's a function of the build time. What it will do is get you all on the water reasonably cheaply and in a boat you can carry. Possibly give the kids more of an interest if it's a boat they helped build?
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  14. #14

    Default

    Thank you all so much, lots of ideas to take on board here. We will definitely try some of our local club sessions and see how we get on and if need be will take some lessons so we feel confident when ot’s time to get out by ourselves.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    North Lancashire, South Lakes
    Posts
    128

    Default

    Definitely second the suggestion of making a canoe with Orca. I have made 2 now and it is EXCELLENT espaecially with kids.

  16. Default

    Hi,
    My wife and I have just bought a 16' silver birch broadland for us and are 2 kids to paddle. We are both just under 6' tall and on the large size. The kids are 8 and 10 years old and we all fit in. We had an extra wooden centre seat added by silver birch for the girls to sit on. We went for the duralight construction to save a bit of weight with the bonus of extra colour choice. We also went with the high line option so we had plenty of free board when carrying everybody and kit. We have only had it a little while so haven't been on any big adventures yet but we love the boat, very easy to get moving and easy to manoeuvre. Weight isn't to bad and we car top it quite easily on to a ford grand C-max which is quite tall.

Posting Permissions

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