Are Canoe Stabilzers a Good Idea

I am new to canoeing, and just purchased a Wenonah Sandpiper solo canoe. I had a close call a couple of years ago when, being young and stupid, I foolishly tried to float a river in a flat bottom boat at near flood stage in the winter (lost all my gear but came through it in one piece). I now have a healthy respect for the power of rivers, and I am looking for some advice on how to do things safely.

I will be doing most of my paddling alone mainly on fairly slow creeks and medium sized rivers. I would like to do some duck hunting during the winter months. I plan on doing all my paddling from the kneeling position for stability. DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A COULD INVESTMENT TO PURCHASE A SET OF CANOE STABILIZER FLOATS FOR SAFETY, OR DO THOSE THINGS CAUSE AS MANY SAFETY PROBLEMS AS THEY SOLVE?

Thanks for any guidance you can provide a novice paddler.

I’d Hesitate to Hunt From That Boat…
…UNLESS it had stabilizers. Over 10 years ago I made some stabilizers and tried them in several configurations and they got in the way and made it difficult to portage, they were a PIA. I’ve heard good things about Spring Creek Stabilizers, and the foam sponsons that attach that you can get through Cabela’s. I think your best bet is to get a canoe more suitable for hunting and fishing from. If you are only going solo, a 14 foot boat would be better, but if you are going to tandem 14’ is pushing it. A few you might consider are the Wenonah Fisherman, Old Town Osprey, Mad River Winooski (they’re no longer made, but if you can find one they’re a dandy sporting boat), or Great Canadian Adirondack Sportsman. If you do choose to hunt from the sandpiper, you need to look at some stabilizers, but IMHO, I’d use a different boat, because that’s just not the best boat for that particular job. Good luck! WW

stabilizers = sponsons.
a good idea for ‘hunting’ perhaps … but if you expect to actually get anywhere paddling a canoe with sponsons, … not a good idea at all.

best way to think of them…
Use them once you get to your spot. Stow them when you’re traveling to and from your spot.

Capsizes and recovery methods
It is always a good idea to know what to do WHEN not IF one’s best plans mess up because you WILL capsize in cold water in the middle of the lake and then you will be glad you practiced emptying the boat, and learning how to get back in it, either tandem or solo. Sponsons, floatation bags, tying down gear, and kayak paddle floats are all helpful methods of assisting this process. Consider professional instructors to assist you in learning and equiping yourself!

You will probably
take a lot of flak here for even mentioning “spoonsons”, and most canoests wouldn’t even think of them.

On the other hand, if you are a non swimmer and have a fear of tipping and strictly have the canoe for fishing then by all means get them.

One of my son in laws, (thankgoodness doesn’t read p-net) is an avid fishermen and has them, and absolutely needs them. I think he could tip over a 20’ by 20’ raft very easily.

On the other hand if you want to enjoy the wonderful world of canoeing and learn the various strokes and become one with the canoe, do without the spoonsons and stay in Shallow water until you are very comfortable.

The choice is yours, but on reading your post I think you should opt for the spoonsons.



If …

– Last Updated: Nov-07-05 10:40 AM EST –

If you plan to keep the Sandpiper, use it as a platform for fishing & duck hunting in winter, and have no plans to get any canoeing instruction, the stabilizers/sponsoons might be a good investment in your continued safety/well being.

I think you might be better off selling the Sandpiper, using the proceeds of it's sale plus the cost of stabilizers/sponsoons to purchase a canoe more suitable for fishing & hunting. A day or two of instruction might still be of benefit, even if you do purchase a more suitable canoe.

If your skill level is low, the stabilizers/sponsoons may just give you a false sense of security. In the wrong situation, any boat can capsize, with or without stabilizers.

I have owned & paddled a Sandpiper.
Not too bad a canoe for a light weight person who wants to day float on non technical rivers.
Not a boat I'd want to use for hunting, fishing, hauling a multi day trip load of gear, or any river in flood stage.

Just my opinion; others may say they use it for whitewater & moose hunting, and it is ideal.


P.S. For more insight from former/current owners of Sandpipers, check out the product reviews section.

Additions to What’s Been Said

– Last Updated: Nov-07-05 11:41 AM EST –

As others have said, a something a little bigger is probably the way to go, but there are two ways to think about that idea too. A 14-foot boat will provide a lot more stability than you get with a Sandpiper (yes, one extra foot helps a lot), but so will one of those very wide "sportsman's" boats that have been suggested. You'll fine those wide sport canoes to be very stable, but if you don't mind going through a minor learning curve (meaning get a little practice first, especially climbing in and out), a "regular" canoe might suit you better (just don't stand up to shoot). I have a Mohawk Odysey which I have used for jump-shooting ducks, and I absolutely love that boat for that purpose and many others. My 14-foot Wenonah Vagbond is similar in terms of stability. For my purposes, I like these boats better than a sport canoe because of overall paddling ease. For paddling short distances and where overall ease of propulsion isn't an issue, sport canoes are great.

This doesn't directly answer your question, but suggests some things you might think about when deciding.

Moose hunting???
…in a Sandpiper !

I would strap three or four of them side by each and then use spoonsons on both sides!

On the WW; I got a second in a class I down river race in my daughters in June, but I am a lightweight. It was the first time I was in it and I thought it handled real nice.



I was being more than a little “facetitious” about the moose hunting…

Or you could call it a “levity” troll…



Bob, I don’t know what those…
big words mean, but I was too!

Hopefully “Red riding hood” won’t jump in here or we both will be in trouble!



I actually test-paddled a Sandpiper before settling on the Vagabond, and I too found it easy to handle and felt that it was quite forgiving. Overall, it was just too small for me (and too slow, being shorter in length and deeper in the water).

Hunt ducks with a bazooka.
It will cut down on the recoil.

not a bazooka and a canoe
you need a PBR with twin .50 cals and maybe a recoiless rifle!

What Jem said
Jem’s advice to use them once you get to your spot and then Stow them when you’re traveling to and from your spot is what the Spring Creek Stabilizers are all about. I have them and they are very easily adjustable…they will span 6 feet or they can slide in next to the hull. I will say that after I started to understand the “feel” of my canoe, over time, the wobbliness that a novice canoeist typically experiences started to go away. After about 5 trips, I quit using the stabilizers and haven’t gone back to them.