Attaching a Motor

So everyone’s knowledgeable advice and guidance in other threads has led me and my wife to a canoe choice for us and our 2 and 4 year-old boys. We’ve settled on the Spirit II.

Now, though, I’m beginning to worry about day trips and fishing with just me and the boys when my wife is not with us. At 17 feet, I’m thinking that a day of soloing with the kids may be a whole lot more like work than pleasure. So, my questions: 1) If I decide to go with a small motor, which mount is better, the sidesaddle-type or the ones with the crossbar that goes all the way across? 2) Electric trolling motor or small outboard? I’ve got a lot of experience with trolling motors (generally attached to bass boats). The one drawback to those is lugging a heavy battery and the need to recharge on longer camping trips. Of course, with an outboard (no more than 2.5 hp, right?), I wouldn’t have to worry about recharging. 3) With a canoe as large as the Spirit II, do you all foresee me needing much counterweight on the side opposite the motor? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Again, thanks. I can’t tell you how many mistakes you fine folks have already kept me from making.

Back to the top!

trade offs
electric requires a battery. Gas requires you hual gas.

As far as how to mount, I’d go with the thwart combination. Will provide more support to the hull.

Here’s a good info page for canoe motoring:

Its really better with
the ones that clamp to both gunwhales. Even on heavy boats you have to really watch sudden moves when you are manuevering with a trolling motor, they will try to flip ya before you get used to it.

It is Paddlingnet
not motoring net.

I’ve used a yamaha 2hp on my two canoes with a gunnel atachment and I have also set it right on the gunnel and protected the sides with just a couple of scrap boards. The down side to attaching it the gunnel directly is that that the motor will not flip up if you hit something but it allows the motor to ride lower in the water so it quiter. A friend of mine mounted a trolling motor on the front of his canoe and his was great for when we both were fishing out in the Everglades. A motor mounted on the back is a pain to paddle around but it is easy to remove. We use a small fuel tank with a small ball valve at the end of the line to refill the motor and the squeeze bulb takes just a couple of minutes to fill these little tanks. Gas motors are a great equalizer but I always enjoyed them the best when I could turn them off and paddle.

This is Paddlingnet
Thanks for the help, buddy.


– Last Updated: Jan-11-06 2:37 PM EST –

....if you don't want to read about different ways to enjoy canoes & kayaks, this is the wrong site for you. Or, you could skip the things you don't want to read. I do. Wouldn't a Real Paddler just straddle a log and paddle with his/her hands? None of this sissy plastic stuff.

I’ve used an electric motor…
…occasionally. The major problem is the battery weight, and I’ve thought about getting one of those smaller ones used for wheelchairs, golf carts, etc. Might provide the power you need. Secondary problem for me has been the length of the shaft, designed for

a motorboat transom. I had mine cut down. Quietness of electric vs. gas is a plus. Have fun with your kids!

Here’s What I Do
I have a motor mount that clamps onto the back thwart and always clamp my motor on my left side, which leaves my right side free for paddling. The trolling motor is wired extra long so that the battery sits amidship to add ballast and stability. Also, I keep my battery in an old soft-sided cooler which I tie to the center yoke. Keeps it from sliding arround and a whole lot easier to carry that way. As for wiring the trolling motor, NT here on did that, I’m no electrician! If you want to see a few pics, e-mail me and I’ll attach a few. I dumped Webshots, so I don’t have any more pics online. Hope that helps! WW

Trolling motor
I’ve used a trolling motor for fishing but don’t use one for paddling in general. there are many pros and cons to using one. First of all they are great if you are lazy and can cruse effortlessly with one and when fishing it will alow you to concentrate on the task at hand. They are also good if you are working alone in a larger canoe or if you have two small kids a wife and a dog, all of which hate to paddle. Many people just hate flatwater paddling and a motor works well for that.

Cons are, heavy battery, limited to the charge on the battery, costly to set up because a good marine battery can cost as much as the motor.

You will want any motor on a canoe mounted as far aft and as close to the centerline as possible. On what side you put it is up to your prefference.

Long battery cables are good for placing the battery forward in the boat. A marine battery is about 80 lbs. so you don’t want it in the back of the boat along with you.

they definatly make life more complicated and you may actually want to consider a regular small boat and trailer in place of a canoe.

Oh and I would never use a gas motor
They are loud, dirty smoke and gas belching pigs and destroy everthing I love about canoing.

went on a trip one time and a guy had a 3 hp. 2 stroke…that will never happen again!

if you live
in the northeast I’ve got an older nissan 3.5(25 pounds, integrated tank), that needs a carburetor. Yours for $50($600 off list)

some lakes and reservoirs
some lakes and reservoirs allow electric motors but not gas.


Is there any way you can set it up to row? That’s a very efficient way for on person to move a load in a tandem.

The whine of motors
Dad gave me a small (15lb) electric motor. I made a real sturdy mount that attached across both gunnels. That was a waste. 15 lbs is nothing, just clamp it on the side.

But the battery didn’t last long and the motor gets in the way when you want to paddle. I didn’t like it and haven’t used if in two years since. More of a pain than it is worth.

Some friends in Maine like the gas motors. They are great if all you want to do is get there. I dislike motorboating because I don’t like to just sit there and do nothing. Kids hate paddling and love the motors. I think there is an inverse relation between age and “need for speed.”

If you get a motor, I suggest gas. If you get a motor, there’s a chance your significant others will never learn to paddle, and you’ll never paddle either, because they’ll whine for the motor. My advice is try the boat without the motor. Maybe get a nice big double blade to help you move it when you paddle by yourself. If you just can’t make it work, post the canoe for sale on pnet and get a skiff.

My $.02.

~~Chip Walsh

Like a bicycle motor
I guess it has its place but to me, it just seems wrong :+) Get the kids some paddles, let them play around. Yeah, it is more physically demanding than motoring, but isn’t that the point? Paddling makes one stronger and healthier and just maybe the kids will learn to prefer it to motor boating and will most likely be healthier because of it. Just my opinion and I know what opinions are compared to.