??? about 16' Blue Hole

Hello again all,

Just curious about one of my boats. It is an early 80’s 16’ Blue Hole. Been to the web site so I know what “they” say about it. I also know the previous owner used it for. He had it set up with knee pads, thigh straps, and foam insulation in the bow and stern. But what the heck “was” it’s intended use? I use it for slow moving river boat and a cargo hauler for family camping. Doesn’t seem to be enough rocker for a true WW boat. Is it just an ultra-tough rec canoe with high sides or what?

P.S. It catches wind like a kite. HA HA

Thanks All,


Which model is it?

Before my time but I’ve been told that big old Gruman’s were the whitewater playboat of choice.

A few of the geezers I paddle with will still tell you that the Old Town Tripper is all the whitewater playboat you need. When I can run my Outrage as well as they run those I’ll think about arguing the point.

Shoot I’ve been know to play in my Explorer when that’s what I had to play with.

As I understand it heavily rockered whitewater boats started showing up at slalom races in the early '80s and playboat designs followed.

Unlike the whitewater kayak market, canoe manufacturers don’t seem inclined to chase the latest fad.


Ahhh…a Blue Hole OCA
Knew 'em well. Paddled them and sold them retail.

The hull is a basic “Warsaw Rocket” type, designed by the materials engineeers at Uniroyal Plastics. Their primary concern was to design a hull shape that could be easily moulded in the Royalex laminate, and a sophisticated shape it is not.

That said, Blue Hole outfitted the hull with sturdy gunwales, strong end caps, and seats designed for kneeling. Blue Hole specified extra vinyl layers in the high wear areas (stems, primarily). This hull was the first “bomb-proof” design for rocky WW rivers, and it was probably responsible for the growth of open boating during that period. It was not uncommon to see Blue Holes with their entire amidships filled with styrofoam billets. Wish I had a filled hull when I wrapped an OCA in Entrance Rapids on the Yough!

Your canoe is a tank, but a proud tank and will probably soldier on for many years. Sooner or later you’ll get used to the lack of tracking on flatwater.


Relections from a Geezer
All true Tommy! Graduating from a Grumman 17ft shoe keel to a Blue Hole OCA was quite an eye opener. There is a sound and feeling that an aluminum canoe makes when contacting a rock that is undescribable. And the sudden deceleration would send you sliding forward, knees hitting the rib in front of you. With the Royalex hull, that same rock got slid over. Sweet! And two skilled paddlers could really spin an OCA. After starting WW paddling in Grummans, an OCA almost felt like cheating!


at the same time
your blue hole came out i upgraded my ww grumman to a Mad River Courier. It was the same type of design concept as the blue hole which a buddy of mine paddled. Like the blue hole, the Courier was designed as a solo white water boat. It had absolutely no rocker and was as wide as from me to where you are now; and just as heavy. It did go in a straight line well though and was cutting edge for its time. Then i got the Mad River ME…

Blue hole was designed equally for solo
and tandem use. Bob Lantz, an engineer, was the designer.

Tank a good discription
Thanks for info,

I’ll agree that this old boat is well built and sturdy enough to last me many, many more years of service. The battle scars instilled by the previous owner and me add plenty of character too boot.

Guess from the responses I got that we all agree that it was a very well built boat. Gee, think it was worth the $100 I paid for it. HaHa.

As far as tandem vs. solo I will say almost half of my time in the boat has been solo. I cheat and use a double bladed paddle (I can hear the gasps from here!) and it tracks fairly well with it. But I can’t agree that it was designed with any solo considerations in mind. Not that I have any first hand information on this but it’s layout and width just don’t make it a very good solo boat. Won’t stop me from using it as one though.

As far as using it for WW, it seems like you guys think that it would be a more than serviceable boat for me even if the new “banana” boats would be better. After all, why make it too easy (LOL). Good news to hear, might just have to try my hand at it up in Wisc. or MN.

It doesn’t see as much time on the water as it once did (I built a stitch and glue solo boat). But be sure that it will see the water it’s fair share. I don’t have plans to replace it and the only reason I could see getting another boat is to get a light weight, striaght tracking lake canoe. Oh, what the hell, might get another boat or two just for the heck of it.

One last question though. Is there a more solid boat for it’s design and intended usage than the Blue Hole? Seems like it would be a hard canoe to beat.

Thanks again,


Old Town Tripper
Might be close.

There’s plenty of those old dogs still barkin’


16 footer

– Last Updated: Dec-28-05 8:47 PM EST –

the 16 foot (TBH) is a all around tandem boat. Does WW paddles fine....The more fun one for a solo boat is the OCA it's a lower sided 15 footer.

Blue hole has been passed around so much that it's hard to compare a 80's model with the present ones...In my opinion....the older Blue Hole (80's vintage) is a better boat than many of the years (and company owners) made since....The Blue Hole TBH is nothing like a Old Town tripper...they don't handle the same at all

for $100 bucks , you did good

(try it with a single blade paddle instead of the double blade, It will spin on a dime with a leaned sweep, just like a kayak, You just need to perfect your J stroke and then it does everything you want it to....except it will still get pushed around by the wind

Best Wishes

Such durable boats
My brother has a Blue Hole which he bought new in the late '70s or early ‘80s (All I know for certain is that it was pre-1982). He still has that boat, and I can say that it has taken a lot of abuse yet shows only very minimal battle scars. The same amount of rock-scraping on any of my Royalex boats (which are quite new) would be about as much as they could survive. I don’t know what model boat my brother has; all I know is that it’s a big honkin’ tandem with not much rocker and plenty of volume. He absolutely loves that boat. Mike McCrea made a good observation too: the hull on that boat, where a cross-section can be seen between the two layers of the gunwale, is about one-half inch thick.


Now to stray off the topic. Your profile says you enjoy rivers with sandbars to camp on. Stick around on this site into the summer and check out the “Getting Together” section for our Fourth Annual Wisconsin River P-Net Get-Together, which will probably be in August. Also don’t be shy about asking if anyone wants to paddle there any old weekend once the weather warms. If you haven’t paddled the lower section of that river yet, you must.

One advantage of old Blue Hole OCAs
was the very high strength of the gunwales. Old Town Trippers didn’t even come close in that respect, not even when they finally added an aluminum insert to the vinyl gunwale extrusion.

Wisconsin River huh?
Thanks for all the info guys.

Guideboatguy: Is there anyway to get a on an e-mail list for updates on the Wisconsin River trip? Sound like a blast. I was in the Dells last year and followed the Wisconsin River from there all the way to the Iowa (I live in Iowa)border. Great scenery I must say.


First stages of trip organization are…

– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 10:49 PM EST –

... already in progress. Keep your eye on this thread in on P-Net's "Getting Together" board:


As you can see, things are getting off to a slow start, but I think that 20 - 25 people has been about average for this trip so far.