Beginner Questions

I am looking into taking up canoeing (slow rivers & lakes). I have read some of the reviews on canoes and see that many reviews have been placed for the Old Town Guide 147. Seems like a good canoe for a beginner. The price seems right and all the features seem right for a beginner. Then I ran across an add for a used Alumcraft 17’ Quetico, includes paddles, portage bar, Duluth packs, life jackets and roof pads for $625, which all seems reasonable. The questions I have is the main differences in the length of these two canoes and the is the Quetico intended for more experienced canoeist? Any feedback would be appreciated.

Experience can be overrated

– Last Updated: May-10-06 12:42 PM EST –

I wouldn't worry so much about how much experience you have and try to get the best canoe your budget and desire will allow.

Anything that is thirty couple inches wide at the gunnels will be plenty fine. Unless you start looking at a Wenonah Advantage or something like that, I don't think anyone here is going to tell you that a canoe you may consider buying is not suitable for a beginner.

A little more info on where you are located, your height and weight and strenght (to lift and carry the canoe) and whether you will be tandem, solo or both would help you get the info you seek. I've not paddled either of the canoes you mention. But, I think either can make a fine fishing platform under the right conditions. You might want to elaborate on yours just a little (how far do you have to paddle, how windy is it, how strong is the current, do you have to paddle back upsteam, tandem or solo).

Beginner Questions
The add for the Alumicraft seemed like a pretty good deal to me but I guess I was more concerned and the big difference in length and being an inexperienced paddler would it be easier to control the short boat?

5’10", 200 lbs, consider myself to have average strength, would be tandem 80% of the time, live in Minnesota.

Looking to start with trips of 12 milles or so with slow currents.

tandem 80 percent of the time …

– Last Updated: May-10-06 1:17 PM EST –

I'd take the 17 footer hands down. To me, 17 feet is perfect for tandem fishing. Plenty of room for both fishermen to cast, fish and lay their poles down when not fishing. You'll also appreciate the greater efficiency of the longer 17 footer. Between those two boats going tandem, it's not even a close call to me.

Edit: A 17 foot canoe is not at all difficult to control tandem. Now, solo on a very windy day, whole different situation .... It can be anywhere from damn tough to damn near impossible.

In my opinion, get whatever boat…
…looks reasonable and affordable. As you gain more experience and ideas about what you want, you’ll be

looking to change anyway. The important thing, I think, is to get a boat and start paddling (with PFD, of course), having read a book or two, taken a class or two, or watched a video from the library. I’ll bet by fall you’ll be shopping again with clearer goals.

Alumcraft 17’ Quetico
I’d go for it. It’s a nice boat for starting out. Maybe forever. I’ve had a 16 ft. alumacraft for 45 years. I’ve used a 17 ft a few times and like them. With the Duluth packs thrown in, you can’t go wrong. :slight_smile:

a 17-ft canoe is HUGE …
For the type of paddling you intend to do.

Just remember someone(s) has to pick it up … onto the car … off the car … back onto the car … and off the car …

each time you use it.

If speed is not a major concern, look for one between 15-1/2 to 16-foot in length.

Quetico 17 CL is 61 pounds
If it is the “C” model it comes in at 69. Given the Minnesota location and the the accessories being sold with the canoe, I’d say the odds are decent that it is the lighter 61 pound model.

…there are some Penobscot_16s at Oak Orchard in the $600+ range. It’s a great first canoe, as is MadRiver’s Explorer & others…

here’s a link:

Alumacraft wins this one
Its not often that i would recommend an Alumacraft over another canoe, but this time it clearly wins. It is lighter, paddles better, and at the advertised price, as long as its in good shape, is a steal.

Check along the keel line for damage to the ribs and make sure its not hogged. Put it on a flat surface and check the keel against the surface. it should touch in the middle and lift up at both ends. There should be no space between the keel and ground in the middle.

The only drawback the alumacraft will have vs a poly boat is noise. And that you can cure with some padding on the floor of the hull if you are still fishing.

You can use the Alumacraft for years and get your money back if you ever sell it.

Buy it and enjoy paddling.


Guide 147
The old town will make a great row boar and a decent but slow and heavy boat for two angler/paddlers. However the Guide does not make a good solo boat. For a cheap solo boat I’d recommend the Marriver 14 tt. It is a little lighter at 72 pouns and paddles well solo if you turn it around and sit in the front seat.

Be careful when buying used PFDs.
The flotation deteriorates over time and with sun exposure. Consider them as something thrown in for free, unless you can test them. Put them on and swim. Should keep you afloat high enough out of the water to make swimming a little awkward.

Paddles may not be the right length for you. This is a bargaining tool. Also, check for cracks, loose blades and grips(unless it’s a one piece paddle).

Get all the paperwork for the boat. They should have the certificate of origin (manufacture’s papers)or be able to produce proof of ownership. You will need this or acceptable equivalent to buy your MN sticker. We bought a Grumman with no paperwork from people we knew and had them sign the IL paperwork. Fairly common.

Alumacraft are quality boats. If the boat has any dents or gouges, set it on the ground and run water on the inside to check for leaks. Check especially the rivets and seams. Leaks can be repaired, but the boat is worth less.

Our Grumman was a good fishing platform, but the stability ends if you lean over too far. The hull design of this type of boat has poor secondary stability. Still very useful boat, but don’t be lulled into security by initial ‘lack of tippiness’.

The foam blocks for cartopping are part of a $25-$30 kit that includes straps. You can buy blocks separate for less, so figure they’re worth about $5-$10 for 4 used blocks.

$625 is a good asking price, but not a steal. If it has any minor condition issues, $400 would be closer to reality. Any damage to the keel line would make me walk away unless it was fixable and I could get the boat for $100-$200. There are beaters available in that price range.

All this said, that boat is a serviceable one for your climate and use. Definitely check it out.

The Guide is built for lake fishing and has a hull design that makes it very hard to flip. That also makes it less maneuverable and slower. It’s a plastic boat, so you would need to store it out of the sun and extreme weather. The aluminum boat doesn’t care. However, scrap alum prices are high, so always lock it up.

Happy fishing and shopping!

Beginner Questions
Thanks to all of you for your advice.