I am looking for some advise on buying a stable canoe to paddle with my 3yr old solo. Our tandem makes it difficult to go at it alone, and current solo canoe is not stable enough.
Tandem as a solo
Of course having two paddlers would be best. However, you’ll probably get your best stability from a tandem. What you do is turn the canoe around (ie the front becomes the back and the back, the front). You now paddle from what was the front seat. This moves you closer to the center. The child should sit in front of you.
What tandem do you have now? It may work for you. If not I’d look at a smaller tandem, probably a 15 footer with, ideally, a symetrical shape (the front half and back half are shaped the same). I’d look at the Nova Craft Bob Special or wenonah Heron. I’m sure there are others that will serve.
Then, too, the canoe can be used as a tandem when you do have a second paddler or when junior gets big enough to paddle.
Here’s a Few
You didn’t say if you would be paddling lakes or rivers primarily, so here’s a mix of both. I have a Mad River 14TT (formerly known as St. Croix) that is 14’6" with 35-36" beam and it works great as a river solo and does well tandem. The boat loves rivers, but would be a PIA on lakes as it’s forte is turning, not tracking. Yes, it’s heavy for it’s size, poly, 70 lbs, but I really like this boat to paddle rivers with and have paddled LOTS both solo and tandem in one. I also have a 16’ Wenonah Adirondack. Have used it solo and tandem, both rivers and lakes. Even paddled solo in the BWCAW several times. Not that fond of Wenonah’s royalex, I’d get that boat in Tuffweave. The Bob’s Special, as already mentioned. And a couple Dagger boats (Dagger no longer makes canoes, but you can find them used, and IMHO they made a darn nice canoe). First, the Suwanee. I sold my 15’ Dagger Suwanee to a friend for the exact purpose you wish to use yours. He sometimes paddles solo, sometimes with young son. It’s 15’, 35" beam and asymetrical, but still paddles fine if you turn the boat and paddle stern first. Works well on all waters. Also, the Reelfoot, the Suwanee’s replacement, essentially same dimensions. And the 15’ Legend and Reflection. I get the two confused, ones a bit narrower, but both decent boats. I wish Dagger had continued making canoes, they made a fine royalex boat. Hope that gives you a bit of help. WW
turning the canoe around
When my kids were younger, I turned the canoe around, using the bow as the stern. It worked, my canoe is a 17 footer, but there was still too much air for my taste. I’m back raising a 2 year old, my grandson, (at 56) and will start taking him out soon. This time, I’m thinking about adding 50-75 lbs of barbell weights near the front of the canoe to balance it out. Can’t afford a new one and the weights are relatively cheap. Its a pain to carry them to the canoe, but worth the results.
water bladders or milk jugs
Carry a couple of those soft plastic water cubes as ballast (or a bunch of milk jugs, if you're really cheap). They weigh next to nothing empty and can be filled at the putin right from the river...
So, what solo do you have that isn’t
stable enough? I never had one like that, and I’m not sure where to go to buy one.
Plenty stable for me, but I do not feel comfortable paddling with my three yr old
My tandem boat is a adirondak
The Wenonah Solo Plus worked well for me when I was paddling with a young child.
Kneeling? Voyageur is long enough to
sit steady if you are kneeling. I used to take my son and daughter on small lakes in a 13’ Mad River Compatriot with a 30" beam. Kneeling, it was plenty safe.
with the solo plus that c2g recomended ,and agree that the voyager is a bit unstable for kids to be bouncing around in , i have an advantage and dont feel comfortable at all with my son in it .
Row your Adirondack
I put Old Town oar sockets on the gunwales (fit perfectly) about 13 inches behind the bow seat (I’m tall) of my royalex Adirondack. It rows well with short (6.5 foot) oars from the bow seat (facing backwards) when someone sits on the stern seat. If rowing solo, I place a cushion on the canoe bottom and slide close to the yoke to row over it the opposite way (stern first). Either way, I can drive the canoe easily to moderate speeds (3.5-4.5 mph cruise) and have full control of it … even in difficult wind and wave conditions. Rowing makes venturing out with small children much more secure because of centered positioning (with low center of gravity too) and leveraged power of the oars. You already have an ideal canoe for your stated purpose. Just row it.