Anybody here paddle a Pirogue?

I bought a Gator Traxx aluminum pirogue and I was wondering if anybody else “canoes” in a pirogue?

Pirogue people forum

I hadn’t heard of an aluminum pirogue. Link to picture? There’s folks near New Orleans who make a fairly light, sophisticated composite pirogue, though they use a bit of chopper gun fiberglass.

Most pirogue efforts on Sparkey’s are marine plywood with light interior frame, glassed on the bottom. Resin is always epoxy. They have some good ideas on design.

Find us a picture.

Here’s a picture from the company website.

I’m really surprised at how high the sides are for such a small, flat-bottomed boat. I don’t imagine paddling with such high sides would work too well for a solo paddler, though two paddlers could at least make it work. For solo travel, I’d put a set of oars on the thing, and rely on a paddle only in places too confined for rowing.

Pirogues aren’t usually paddled
or rowed.

Poling is the way to go. I see pirogues used here on clam flats especially in Acadian New Brunswick. I have never seen one propelled with something other than a pole.


– Last Updated: Apr-23-14 11:01 AM EST –

The description on the website made it seem like they are great for paddling ("or glide down a bayou for what seems like forever with one stroke of the paddle!"), and I just said what I did because I didn't buy it. Stand-up poling would probably be fine, from the looks of it.

I had one
I had a cypress pirogue built In Louisiana for a while. It came with a long double and a single paddle. I bought it for my living history paddling as a cheaper alternative to a birch bark canoe. It had a lot of rocker and was a hoot to paddle, but I couldn’t keep up with canoes so I sold it. it was remarkably light considering it was made with planks.


Are they symmetrical?
God, I hope not! ;^)

I have paddled an authentic pirogue…
built by native Americans in Louisiana. The originals were a dugout bald cypress hull. These are pretty much a rounded bottom and a bit dicey to handle. They are shallow draft hulls for use in estuaries (used to be marshes) or wetlands (used to be swamps). They were mostly poled in the swamps and paddled in the marsh ( due to deeper channels) and usually solo. Modern designs are nothing esoteric but flat bottomed due to limitations of possible shapes using marine ply as a material. Most modern pirogues have a Briggs and Stratton gas engine in the center with a shaft and prop running to the stern and a small rudder controlled by a stick near the engine. The Cajuns call them putt-putts due to the 2 cycle engine noise.

BTW the Gator Trax webpage has the pronunciation as “pee-ro”. I never heard a true Cajun in La. use that pronunciation. They say, “pee-row-gah”.

Pagayeur ( Cajun for “paddler”)

Use to be?
Estuaries are brackish, a marsh isn’t necessarily and is a type of wetland, as a swamp is also a different type of wetland.

A round bottom dugout wouldn’t be a pirogue, it’s the flat bottom that let’s them float in a puddle of duck piss. A round bottom would have a deeper draft.

I have a homemade fiberglass one I bought from a guy who had a good hard luck story. I think it weighs close to 300 lbs and would make a suitable backdrop for my pistol range. And I agree with pole them when you can (need a duck bill on your pole). If I paddle it I find myself wishing I was in a different boat.

Cajun’s enjoy pronouncing everything wrong on purpose I think. Everyone else says “pee row” like Hank Williams did.

Probably lots of regional variation
We see pirogues in New Brunswick, which has little bald cypress.

I know Pag has his geography OK and won’t bring up 1755 again. Were it not for 1755 there might not be round bottom pirogues.

Used on clam flats in NB.

I grew up in a cajun family and
we do not enjoy pronouncing things incorrectly. You are right about one thing, Hank Williams started this “pee-row” thing but he was just an Anglo making a mistake.

BTW, 'used to" means that folks used to call estuaries, marshes and wetlands, swamps until it became politically incorrect.


Usually they are not. The ad brags
on how theirs

Can handle shallow better than canoes, but our nearly symmetrical canoe has a very shallow draft and weighs 30 pounds less.

Most LA shallows can be handled quite nicely in a 16’ Legend, too.

Something about boats for shallows,
it isn’t just about the average depth of the water and the deepest draft of the pirogue, canoe, whatever.

If shallow water is a broad, relatively even gravel bar in a river, or a fairly even mudbank, like I’ve seen in New Brunswick, and in places on rivers like the Eleven Point, then a flat bottom may seem to make sense at first glance.

But shallows are rarely that evenly shallow. The canoe I solo most often, a moderately rockered, roundish cross section boat, draws more water for the same load than, say, an old Blue Hole OCA. And on flattish gravel bars and mud banks, an OCA has an advantage.

But most shallows are channeled somewhat, and because of that, a round, rockered hull can be guided through some channels where an OCA may catch on its chines. And when poling up through channels in shallows, at least some roundness and some easing of chines helps the boat shoulder through the opposing water and up little steps. That’s probably why NB pirogues are like they are.

One thing about the plywood pirogues in the deep south… the builders do put in some rocker, important for climbing onto and parting weed banks and twig clusters. When I started paddling my rockered Synergy in the south, I was impressed with how the upswept, rounded bow pushed over and past water hyacinth and marsh trash.

As with the rest of canoe design, there are different kinds of solutions to different kinds of wind, water, and shallows conditions. It doesn’t seem to bother the guys on Sparkeys Forum to call rounded dugout cypress boats and flattish, sharp chined plywood boats, pirogues in the same breath. It seems to depend on how they are used.