Better to have loved and lost...?

I just missed out on a used Old Town Discovery 164 for $325, with paddles. And it got me thinking. Alot of the advice here is to buy cheap first, to see if you really like canoeing. Then, buy the boat you really want. But is that a false economy? How many here have NOT liked canoeing, after actually getting out on the water? That being the case, is spending hard-earned savings on a boat you didn’t really want counter productive to just hanging on to your savings until you can afford the one you really want? Is it truly better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?

I haven’t bought anything yet…
…but a good view, is something is better than nothing. many have said to me, it’s better to be on the water than not. now, if you have the money lying around, ready to play full price, then it wouldnt’ seem economical, unless of course, the boat you’re buying fits the activities you plan on doing.

besides, it gives you experience. you can practice and learn.

Any one that buys first …
“to see if they like canoeing” is making a big mistake in my estimation.

Rent, rent, and rent some more, and then if you enjoy the tubs that the rental places normally have it would be time to buy.

Then if you find a cheap used one try it first, and if you like it buy it.



The people who bought
and then rarely used their boats, either because they didn’t like it as much as they thought they would, or they were too busy with other work, family, or other recreational activities, are not likely reading posts on this board.

There’s no one formula for the “right” thing to do. Some folks live nowhere near a place that rents boats. Lots of folks have families, and family budgets have long lists of needs and wants–and sometimes it is hard if not impossible to justify a huge upfront investment in a relatively new recreational activity.

This is one of those areas where you probably should take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt–we are all speaking from our own unique circumstances. If getting a high end boat is what that voice in your head is telling you to do, and you can stand to wait or afford to take it out of the budget, go for it. The financial risk isn’t the whole price of the boat, as if you end up selling it while it is still in very good condition, you might recoup 75-80% of the cost.

or go to

– Last Updated: Sep-02-06 6:45 AM EST –

a "DEMO days", if you have any dealers who do them.I have demoed various canoes, including the 2 I own, and have bought the demo model once and a lightly used rental once, for quite a bit less than the cost of new.Rentals around here are about $50 for the river run, $65 for the night trip, I'm sure less for the "mosey around" rate, but the fees would be severely eating up my budget. I prefer the "Nike" sneaker commercial method "just do it". Starting out I'd go for the good deal versus the "dream boat". Nothing wrong with adding to the collection later on or passing along the good deal to an aquaintance later on.

Buying styles
"That being the case, is spending hard-earned savings on a boat you didn’t really want counter productive to just hanging on to your savings until you can afford the one you really want?"

Tough question! I’d say that if you really don’t like the boat, don’t buy it, no matter how good a deal it is. But if it’s close to what you want, at a good price, it may be worth a shot. A used boat usually won’t drop much more in value, and you can resell it without losing much.

The bigger issue is that it’s hard to know what you “really want” without experience. Imagination and reality often diverge, and increasing skills can quickly change your standards for boat performance.

I’ve had some fine times afloat in canoes that many experienced canoists would consider junk – if you’re just drifting along, almost anything will do. But my first paddle in a “nice” canoe was a real eye-opener, and changed my impression of canoes from family truckster to something much more responsive.

Many folks here followed the “just do it” path: just buy something, get on the water, and start learning. I’ve been the polar opposite, the demo/rent/research-it-to-death type. I’m happy, they’re happy. Everyone’s wired differently.

If you have your heart set on a particular boat, go for it. But make a real effort to try some others, and to try the one you think you want before you put your money down.

Any boat is better than no boat
Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t demo and do reasearch but…

Once you have a boat it’s much easier to get out and paddle. You can paddle on your schedule rather than the livery, club or stores schedule.

The more you get out and paddle the sooner you will figure what you want from paddling and what boat(s) will get you there.

Most folks who really get into paddling go through a few boats before they find what they want. I’d say it’s more educational than “loved and lost”.

a different thought
The “buy cheap” approach makes me cringe. The reason it makes me cringe is because, to me, it means that you should buy a poorly designed boat that is made out of excessively heavy material. That is what “cheap” means to me. What that means to the prospective paddler(s) is that that they get a boat that they will hate to load on their vehicle for the drive to the water, then, once they get there, will find it so unpleasant to paddle that the odds are pretty good that they will not enjoy the sport.

The approach I would prefer is to borrow or rent a boat a few times to make sure you like it. If you do, and money is a significant concern (as it is for most of us), look for a good used boat.

A lot of folks will disagree with me, and that’s fine. I started with Boy Scout aluminum canoes and re-found my love for paddling in another aluminum canoe, but it didn’t cost me anything to paddle them and, when I went to buy the first time, I knew they were not what I wanted.

Just one person’s opinion.

true for some
The problem is when someone paddles a barge and thinks “This is canoing? What a pain!”, and doesn’t realize that “This is canoing in a cheap heavy rental. It might be more fun in a different canoe.”

I changed one person’s mind about the fun of kayaking just by loaning them a decent paddle instead of the crowbar that came with her rental.

It depends somewhat if your goal is to enjoy being on the water, or to enjoy canoing. They aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Rentals usually bite…

– Last Updated: Sep-02-06 10:37 AM EST –

I never/ever suggest to anyone that the way to get started in canoeing is to rent a canoe:

#1 Too expensive(a few trips will cost you the price of a decent second hand canoe). Buy a used boat. When you find the canoe you "really" want; resell the used one you bought to get started/get onto the water.

#2 Lots of "beaters" in rental fleets; you can easily find a 17 foot Grumman, Buffalo, Osagian, or Old Town (typical livery boats here) elsewhere & demo them for free.

#3 The rivers "around here" where most of the canoe rentals are available are usually jammed during the summer with a mass of "river dorks". They have virtually no idea what they're doing; they're doing it loudly, obscenely, and with a blood alcohol content hovering around .10 and beyond. Not likely to inspire anyone to continue their canoeing quest.

I would never suggest to (a beginner) that they invest in a new canoe that requires a substantial investment; examples might be a Swift Osprey, Bell Merlin II, Bell Magic, Wenonah Prism.

I don't think any beginner should put nearly 2 thousand dollars into any new boat that they haven't had the opportunity to paddle on numerous occasions.

You don't have the opportunity to paddle that particular boat on numerous occasions? Buy a similiar boat, or buy a used one (for hundreds/ maybe a thousand less). Get some experience, paddle what you bought for awhile. If & when you can; test paddle that "dream boat". Try out other "possible" dream boats. Read reviews, talk with those who do own the boat you "think" you want. Go to paddling get togethers; pick some brains, do test paddles. Keep an eye on the for sale ads; sooner or later what you're seeking will pop up.

If & when that time rolls around that(you're really hooked); sell what you bought to use till it was time to buy the "dream boat". Perhaps a year has passed, maybe that time you should have a handle on what you really need vs what you want.........and there is a difference.

I am certainly not advocating buying some 25 year old, aluminum, 17 foot beater, when what you really want, or "think" you want is a Bell Wildfire in Black Gold. Common sense has to enter the equation too.


P.S. If you go for the brand new Black Gold/White Gold Magic, or Merlin II, and it doesn't work out for problem....... contact me........I'll help you get rid of it.

Good points
The only rentals around here are the beater barges.

…per JackL/Bob…rent/demo 1st

To know what a Porsche is, you need to learn how to shift gears…the same goes for kevlar/composite-anything canoes, “feeling” the difference in a nice canoe comes from knowing how to paddle & most importantly, how to stay balanced in a canoe…particularly in wind/sm-med-sized-waves…

Royalex/Polyeth boats…OT Penobscot(15-16solos)-17(tandem), Daggers, MadRivers possess good initial (& secondary) stability…they give you some help. Initial stability opposes speed(initial tippiness)…so what feels super tippy when attempting to step into…will be your faster, more efficient boat…learn this with the slower, more stable canoes for a couple weeks…you’ll then appreciate the fast/efficient ones with great secondary stability…cause today, NOTHIN’s cheap!


Not quite!!!
""“and then rarely used their boats, either because they didn’t like it as much as they thought they would, or they were too busy with other work, family, or other recreational activities, are not likely reading posts on this board.”""

No - - - We just bang our head on the wall every time we walk past the kayak hangin from the rafters. Starting to feel punch drunk!!!

If someone didn’t like canoeing,
they probably wouldn’t still be hanging around PNet. If you are looking for reasons why some people didn’t like paddling, they will not likely be here. What many of us have found out is that we didn’t like paddling a heavy plastic canoe for longer distances. Becomes tiring, and even painful. Going down a river is different, but you still have to load and unload the canoe. What is surprising is that a move-up to a new and better model is not a 20 or 30% price increase, but rather double of the entry level market prices.

Starting off with economic constraints is very common, so keep looking for a “good buy”. That is what most of us are taught, anyway. Demo days are typically in the spring, although some users may have facilities where you can test for stability and short glide of the canoe. There are also many used canoes for sale, and ususally you can demo those before making a purchase.

I missed out on a “good deal” a couple of times, and have found that it’s best to forget about them. Keep moving forward. Happy paddling!