Bear Creek Mirage questions/general fiberglass boat questions

I just purchased this used canoe. All I ever had was a 17 foot coleman from the early 80’s, so I am a newbie. I have done a little whitewater kayaking and we have some sitontop cheap kayaks for the lake.

First question, what is the best option for protecting the bottom? It has some dings in the gel coat along the keel I need to fix, and then I want to protect the bow and stern keel regions. The boat will be used in deeper lakes primarily.

Next question, where can I find a replacement seat? Bear creek is not answering me. One of the seats has the wicker caning blown out. I can make a wooden one, or maybe weave webbing, or something else in the old frame. I am open to suggestions.

Next, what kind of flex should I expect with the hull? I notice it likes to rack when I shift around. The floor is more rigid than the plastic coleman, but the hull racks along the axis of the keel if I shift around. Is this normal in a fiberglass boat? Do I need to do something to stiffen it?

Last question…I think, what double blade paddle works well for these? I used my wife’s sitontop kayak paddle the other day, and I really like it, but it needs more blade to it, and more length. I really have no idea how to size a double blade for a canoe. I an sitting on the bow seat for solo, so not as far forward as I could.

Any advice to a novice is appriciated, I intend to do some extended camping trips on local tva lakes. This is something I have never done in a canoe, but since my knee blew out, backpacking has become a thing of the past until I can have surgery.

Thanks for the help

@Redman2006 said:
First question, what is the best option for protecting the bottom? It has some dings in the gel coat along the keel I need to fix, and then I want to protect the bow and stern keel regions. The boat will be used in deeper lakes primarily.

You can install skid plates on the bow and stern. I followed these excellent instructions:

https://tinyurl.com/y8ls4akc

I’m describing my own progress and errors here:

https://forums.paddling.com/discussion/2936942/skid-plate-prep-work-on-damaged-bow

I wouldn’t install skid plates until you have some wear on the boat’s ends.

Next question, where can I find a replacement seat? Bear creek is not answering me. One of the seats has the wicker caning blown out. I can make a wooden one, or maybe weave webbing, or something else in the old frame. I am open to suggestions.

Ed’s canoe (www.edscanoe.com) and Essex Industries (www.essexindustries.org) sell canoe seats at a fair price. Some people like to recane their seats or build their own.

Next, what kind of flex should I expect with the hull? I notice it likes to rack when I shift around. The floor is more rigid than the plastic coleman, but the hull racks along the axis of the keel if I shift around. Is this normal in a fiberglass boat? Do I need to do something to stiffen it?

Are you talking about oil-canning, where the bottom of the hull temporarily flexes upward due to water pressure? That occurs to varying degrees in most canoes and can be alleviated by loading the canoe up with cargo.

Thanks for the help. The floor is stiff and stable. This is in the sides. Imagine e two people grabbing and end and twisting it in oposite directions. That is what I am seeing.

@Redman2006 said:
Thanks for the help. The floor is stiff and stable. This is in the sides. Imagine e two people grabbing and end and twisting it in oposite directions. That is what I am seeing.

How many thwarts do you have? Post some pictures.

The 16’1" Mirage shown here

http://bearcreekdev.chicagoips.com/canoes/mirage/

has only three cross member: a center thwart (not yoke) and two wooden handles at the end. My 16’6" canoe has five cross members, with additional thwarts behind the bow seat and between center thwart and stern seat, like this:

https://tinyurl.com/y9ovgta4

I bet installing one or two additional thwarts would help resist the twisting force you describe.

Mine has a yoke and one thwart. Two seats and the grab handles at the end. Mine is older, and was made before they moved.

I have never had a yoke on a canoe, but this seems positioned oddly. It is too far back, and you have to pull down to keep it off the ground in the back. It sure paddled nice compared to the old coleman, but a tree stump would too.

I will get a few pictures when I can. I don’t have any handy.

OK, sounds like you’ve got the thwarts you need then. I’m out of ideas.

I would add a stern thwart roughly midway between the center thwart and the stern seat. Make sure that it is far enough in front of the stern seat to not be in the way of the stern paddler. If the canoe still seems to want to wind after you add a stern thwart, go ahead and add a bow thwart just behind the bow seat, but far enough behind so that the bow paddler’s back does not hit it. Another thing you could try is to use one piece truss-type seat hangers on each side of the seats, instead of simple dowel-type seat hangers. This will provide a little more rigidity. Ed’s canoe sells all this stuff. You could also price check the items you need at Essex Industries: http://www.essexindustries.org/. Generally Ed’s canoe and Essex have comparable prices.

If you are going to be carrying this canoe solo any distance, I would replace the center thwart with a carry yoke and possibly reposition it. Having it placed so that the bow comes up a little is not necessarily bad, however. Some people like to balance the weight of the boat on their shoulders and tie a short rope to either a bow thwart or bow seat frame, so that they can pull the bow down as needed with one hand on the rope and one hand free, but allow it to rise up a bit so that they can see where they are going. But if the canoe wants to make the yoke slide backwards off your shoulders, it should be placed further forward.

The short carry handles at each end of the boat will really not contribute much to rigidity. Some 16’ hulls do fairly well with a single center thwart/yoke and two seats (the composite Mad River Explorer is an example) but most have at least two thwarts between the two seats. It really depends on the nature of the layup. The sides of the MRC Explorer are pretty thick.