best way to Stabilize Canoe

I inherited a 15’ Shenandoa Hawksbill royalex canoe. I’ve been told it has flipped nearly everyone who has used it in the past.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to give it more stability. Two ideas I have;

  1. lower the seats
  2. add some weight to it (rocks or another person)

“Boats aren’t tippy
Paddlers are.” Somebody important said that. Now who was it?

Anyway I don’t know your canoe but you might try paddling on your knees with your tail against the seat. If you spread your knees out you should be able to lean it in either direction. On a nice warm day, put on your swim suit and play with the lean. You should be able to get a feel for how far you can go before you go too far. Once you get the feel you will wonder why you ever thought it was tippy.

I doubt it flips
I bet it has little initial stability and the paddler loses their balance and falls out–don’t ask how I know this…

Once you get used to a canoe like this, you don’t want to paddle anything else.

sit vea-a-a-wwyy still! (using best Porky Pig voice)8>)

Lowering the seats
is a sure way to help add stability but first measure the depth of the canoe at the lowest point. I looked at their web site and the canoe they show is already guite low. If you get the seat to low you lose comfort zone. Ballast will also help and many tippy canoes firm up quite well with a load. I can’t find any specs for this boat.

like tommy
i would get some knee pads and paddle kneeling with butt against the seat, i do this anytime things get wacky. its a lot more stable, powerful, and controllable than sitting.

If you DO use ballast…
… don’t use rocks! If you swamp the canoe without flipping it completely over (when people fall out of a canoe, often the canoe remains upright), those rocks will take it right to the bottom. Royalex floats well enough to keep a swamped canoe at the surface, but it’s not bouyant enough to do that when carrying rocks. Use jugs or buckets of water. Water adds no extra weight to the canoe once it is swamped.

Canoes are not tippy . . .
People just fall out of them.

Or something like that :slight_smile:

Omer Stringer


What Tommy & Danny said
Kneeling is a great way to “get to know” the boat. I am lucky that my mentors when I was a teen were seriously into kneeling in Grummans - woe be to the fool who was caught sitting! As was mentioned, test the stability while leaning on low braces. With bow & stern paddlers on opposite sides (you ARE on opposite sides, aren’t you?) each paddler should be able to scull a bit and literally “kiss the water” without capsizing.


sponsons or stabilizers
Do try the other suggestions first, as to kneeling, lowering the seat, and just getting used to the boat in shallow water. IF that does not help, then sponsons or stabilizers are a good bet. try (Spring Creek Canoe and Kayak) for some add-on stablizers. These were designed to add stablility to a canoe so it would be steadier to fish from - kind of like training wheels for a bike, but they look like they would solve your problem. Also useful if you were going to add a motor mount for a trolling motor.

Keep your head within the limit of the gunwales and keep your nose over your navel.

People cannot remember those simple steps.

Sponsons and stablizers suck, and
only indicate that you aren’t ready for the sport. Nobody with half a brain cell uses them. And I mean exactly what I say, so if you want to be offended, rather than realizing the truth, that is your problem.

Thank you, God,…,
…it’s opinionated Real Paddlers like you who almost made me abandon pnet when I was getting started. If you can’t stand stablilizers/sponsons, don’t use them. What other people find desirable is none of your business.

Possibly its a terrible boat
Maybe you inherited it for a reason. Maybe it was designed by an idiot. I wouldnt put alot of time money into improving what may be a dud. Never heard of that brand.

tapelgan, I repeat, anyone who uses
sponsons on a canoe bought the wrong boat in the first place. I don’t see anything opinionated in that. Its like using training wheels on a bicycle.

In a Canoe & Kayak article on fishing from canoes, the author was fly fishing from a MR Horizon. No sponsons, not an ultra-stable boat.

How many canoes with sponsons do we see on Lake Jocassee? On the Nantahala? In Quetico? In the Everglades? In the Ocefenokee? Running the Green in Canyonlands? Paddling the Charles by Boston, or the Chicago River down through the Loop? Intelligence speaks through consumers.

Why can’t you admit your opinion…

– Last Updated: Mar-20-05 1:16 AM EST – just that? Are you aware that not all paddlers are on the Jocassee, Quetico, Green R., etc., and that's all right? Are you aware that not everyone paddles for the same reasons you do, and that's all right? Perhaps you should protect the dignity of Real Paddlers by issuing licenses. Although I'd think a Real Paddler would just straddle a log and paddle with his/her hands, and not use "training wheels" like paddles, PFDs, anything made of a polymer, nor drive an internal combustion vehicle to get to the launch site.

Um. You’re right, they are training wheels. I wouldn’t want a bike designed poorly enough that it NEEDED training wheels, any more than a boat that NEEDED sponsons. It’s like a keel strip. Helps a deficient design.

"Best Way to Stabilize Canoe?
Easy answer: Skill.

your profile…
says that you are an advanced paddler.So,I’d have to guess that you already know that canoes with less initial stability are naturally going to feel a little “tippy” so to speak.Maybe a little more time with the boat will help considerably.It sounds like the kind of boat you need to paddle ww after you get used to paddling it.As mentioned earlier,please do not use any rocks for stability.If you want to get rid of the boat that bad just ship it on over to me.Maybe I could work the “tippy” out of it for you.ha ha ;-} It could just also be a bad design,I would’nt know,just keep trying and see what you come up with.Keep us posted.


The Jocassee is a lake. The Green in
Canyonlands is FLAT. Why can’t you admit that if someone bought a canoe and found it to be too unstable, that someone might need an entirely different canoe, or a jonboat?

Anyone who finds a standard width tandem canoe unstable can always buy a fishing canoe from Wenonah. They will get a reasonably fast, good handling, stable canoe which will pound the crap out of any canoe fitted with sponsons.

The problem here isn’t with my supposed snobbery. The problem is that you and a FEW others think that sponsons are a SOLUTION rather than a kluge. Get the right boat and don’t add things which slow it down, interfere with paddles, and cost extra time rigging and de-rigging at the bank.