50 year old Grumman battleship canoe -- Aah, scout camp memories!

I would be a lab guy but my wife is not a lab woman. They shed too much.

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Go figure. She has a good dog. Labs are oaffy, but loveable.

She has 2 good dogs.

Honey the Labradoodle is on the right, the lab on the left is Groot, Honey’s best friend. Groot belongs to the guy.

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We used 17 foot Grummans in the Boundary Waters in 1985. That was what the local outfitters offered before the days of fiberglass and kevlar canoes.
The 17 foot canoes are mostly the lightweight model with more ribs and thinner hulls. They weigh around 75 pounds, much less than a wood and canvas canoe.

Locally they are selling for $500 and up.

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I liked those big monsters. Better boats available now, but there were substantial and to admired for that!

Earned muy canoeing merit badge Summer of 75 in a much older Grumman. The scout camp I attended every year on a very large lake (Bear Lake, UT & ID) used to have an over night camp out during the week long camp where we paddled a few miles down the lake and set up a crude camp on the shore. My guess was there about 50 or so Grummans with 150 kids banging the gunwhales with every stroke down the lake -fun times.

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Grumman canoes is where paddling started for most of my generation. When I was growing up in western NY in the 70s and 80s, the Grumman 15 and 17 foot tandems were ubiquitous. They had them at YMCA day camp when I was a kid. They had them at all the Boy Scout camps I went to, and the New York State DEC camps too. And river outfitters and rental places all seemed to use them. I remember seeing Royalex canoes in showrooms and at boat shows in the 80s, but didn’t see many on the water until the late 80s, and kayaks were just something I saw on TV back then. Grumman was all I ever had the chance to paddle before I was an adult.

At 75 lbs, the Grumman 17 is barely heavier than the 15 and the thwarts are spaced far enough apart that two people can portage it. My Dad and I did two 5-mile carries with a 17 footer in Glacier National Park, sharing the load of the canoe plus a pack each without trouble.

The cold, utilitarian nature of aluminum canoes makes it difficult to feel attached to them, and I don’t miss the thunking noises you make from bumping the gunwales with the paddle. But the Grumman canoe is one of the classic product designs of the 20th century. It’s also maintenance free and can live outside and have a service life >50 years (and still counting).

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I got my '62 or '63 18-footer second hand in the 80s, sold it in 2014, and the new owner says it’s still going strong.

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Speaking of pups (and water craft). Note that all are wearing their PFDs…

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Of course there’s a country song about that…

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There has been a resurgence in their popularity with the canoe sailing crowd(of which I am now a full-on member, strictly paddling less and less). Some folks add on outriggers and very large sail area to go all in as trimaran-type boat–Too heavy a proposition for the average car topper with trailer towing mandatory. I myself took my first extended trip in one down the Delaware back in the 70s. I’ve seen them for sale quite often in the $100-$200 dollar price range and also have been almost tempted, be it not for the fact my state requires canoes over 16 feet be registered. And I have much lighter boats already in the stable. Here was one with the original Grumman sail rig included.

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Spiritboat: Have your seen skinboat guy Brian Schulz’s new sailing canoe that he built to be convertible to pedal-drive? He posted a series of videos while spending about a month in Baja camping and fishing from it. Pretty cool set up.

I’ll have to check that out. Haven’t followed him for a couple years, Even though I built a skin boat sailing kayak few years back.


Don’t know how I feel about peddle drives in general, but I s’pose they help, barring a little extra off water weight. For now I’m stickin’ with royalex until I start a new wood build next winter.


Brian has been struggling with some kind of metabolic disorder that hit him about 10 years ago, leaving him often exhausted and with serious brain fade. I think he eventually got a possible diagnosis but it is something rare and difficult to treat or to predict outcomes. Facing costly medical tests and bills, he had to liquidate a lot of his projects, including the Airstream trailer he was meticulously restoring and outfitting to be able to live in while traveling to his skin-boat workshops. Had to suspend doing the classes, too, due to his fluctuating health. So the pedal drive project was a concession to his health challenges at first but also has proven to be handy for his fishing. He and his girlfriend Liz made some impressive catches while in Baja.

He’s turned his skill at photography and videography into a business selling access to more advanced boat building instructions (like his scaled nesting SOF canoes so a family can load 4 boats on one roof rack) and has been developing and sharing plans for more and more of a wider range of boats.

I follow him on his Facebook Cape Falcon site, where he posts frequent updates to his projects. It seems a little hard to find those short videos on his blog site if one prefers to avoid FB, but maybe I did not persist hard enough to find them.

He recently announced he is drafting plans for a skin on frame Whitehall river skiff. This is of interest for me since one of my good friends (who grew up in Clayton, NY, on the St. Lawrence and through childhood rowed and sailed the similar St. Lawrence river skiffs) has expressed interest in buying or building something like that to use along the coastal Great Lakes.

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