15' aluminum for first canoe?

I have some canoeing experience. I’d like to start taking my kids out on small ponds, lakes, and slower rivers. I have a chance to get a 15 foot (maker unknown) aluminum canoe. I’d be in it for $200. I also have a chance to purchase an OT Stillwater 14 for a bit more. I’m a little divided. Or should I wait till another longer canoe comes along?

It’s hard to go wrong for 200 bucks if it gets you on the water. The Stillwater, if I’m not mistaken, is fiberglass which is definitely a step up in overall quality and performance, but at 14 feet, it will be at least as limiting as the other boat, in terms of handling growing kids. Maybe your decision should depend on how big the kids are right now, and how much you’d mind looking for another boat later on, considering the convenience and low cost of this particular boat. Also, it might be hard to know right now if the kids will even enjoy canoeing as they get bigger, and maybe you won’t ever need a larger boat. I’m sure other posters will point out other “non-definite facts” to help you make up your mind.

Three year old girl, six year old boy.

14 foot is too small for a tandem boat - even 15 foot is on the short side, but I’d go for the aluminum boat if these are the choices. The weight differential - you in the back, much lighter kid in the front - means the boat is going to be way out of trim. In a short boat it will look like you are doing a wheelie, and that can be pretty unstable - especially if you have a kid moving around in the front. I paddled with my young daughter for years, and had the same problem. We used a 17 foot boat with a sliding bow seat that I could move way to the front. Moving the seat forward helped with the trim and also got her in a narrower part for the boat so she could paddle easier. Even so, we were way out of trim. (This seems like so long ago - she was 8 or 9 then with a pretty determined stroke)

A 3-year old and a 6-year old aren’t going to paddle much anyway, so another option is to get the 14 foot boat and paddle it kneeling from the middle.

Can’t help it - here’s another one with my daughter - all decked out for whitewater. Moved the seat forward in this boat as well. She was 11 at this point so there was a little more weight in the front, and I was kneeling closer to the middle, so that helped with trim, Unfortunately, she was also approaching the age when it was no longer cool to go paddling with dad. :frowning:

So much fun - I hope for your sake that your kids like paddling. Sorry for the trip down memory lane.

I have no problem with you sharing. Thanks. I’m not in a hurry to buy, so I think I might wait and see what else comes up. Michigan is in a deep freeze at the moment.

$200 for an aluminum canoe is tough to beat, in my neck of the woods anyway.
I have a fiberglass canoe I pad $200-250 for I bought strictly to learn how to work with fiberglass which it excells at. A FG boat at that price is likely to be pretty old and offer you lot’s of chances to repair it. I store it on a specially built rack, under a suspended tarp to protect it from UV.

My aluminum canoe is lying on the ground where I last took it out of the truck several moons ago. Next time I need it I will sweep out the spiders and load it up and it will be fine. The big advantage to aluminum canoes is storage, you don’t have to worry about it.

I’ve taken a 3 yr old paddling. He had my collapsible emergency paddle. He loves having a paddle and only occasionally does something I can’t compensate for then I say “Good job, paddle on the other side now”

You’re not going to be hauling any camping gear in a 15’ with two kids but what you can do is sit in the middle of it, put the 6yr old behind you and the 3yr old in the bow and maybe a couple gallon jugs of water under her seat for trim. Get out on the water and have some fun. When your ready for something else it should be easy to sell and get your money back, or hang on to it and in two years get a kayak for an 8 yr old and paddle tandem with your little girl

My daughter got to an age where she would rather stay home and clean the house than go paddle but when she got her drivers liscense she loved to shuttle bunny and her and her husband would kayak when they were dating. My son just came home from college for Christmas break and we got in a day on the water, been awhile since we’ve had a chance to paddle together.

For $200 bucks it’s not about having the best boat available, get out on the water with your kids and make it fun for them.
You can always fill it with ice and use it to hold beer at their graduation.

I found a fiberglass Mohawk for sale. It’s a little far away, but might be a better investment… $300…

That’s way better than the first options you found. Here’s another good thing about it. When you go out alone, sit facing backwards on the bow seat (many tandem canoes have a thwart in the way if you try to sit like that, but not this one). You’ll be a lot closer to center, so trim will be better. In fact, you could sit there when accompanied by your kids, as small as they are right now. This boat probably won’t easily let you hang an additional seat from the gunwales (note the aluminum sheet metal used for seat hangers), but there are lots of easy options such as short-legged camp chairs that simply sit on the floor of the boat.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, but it would be good to replace those solid-wood seats with webbed seats (the original owner probably just covered the factory seats with wood when the webbing wore out). Replacement seats are readily available and not too expensive.

I think you could make either the 15’ aluminum or the Mohawk Royalex tandem work for your needs. If the hull is in decent shape the extra expense of the Mohawk is probably worth it. Try to get at least some photos of the hull underside on the Mohawk before you go look at it.

If you decide to go with the aluminum canoe, try to at least briefly test it on the water. A lot of old aluminum boats will develop leaks at the holes the rivets securing the hull to the keel, and ribs to the hull go through. These can be repaired, but it would entail additional trouble and expense on your part.

@eckilson said:

A 3-year old and a 6-year old aren’t going to paddle much anyway, so another option is to get the 14 foot boat and paddle it kneeling from the middle.

I don’t know - depends on the kid … and, to some extent, on dad (or mom) and the group you are with. This is on first grade spring break on the Little Muskegeon after paddling the Bordman the day before.

Hard to beat an alumimum canoe in good condition for $200. They go $300 to $600 around here. But that Mohawk is a very good deal too if the hull is in good shape. It’s ideal for paddling with the small kids because you can flip it around and paddle from the font seat to trim the boat and when they get older and heavier, you can flip it back around paddle it normally.