Blue Hole OCA--Should I buy it?

Hi all, I’m in the market for a canoe. I’m not super experienced and would like to use it for camping trips and day trips on lakes and rivers out West. Primarily it will be flat water, but I need my canoe to be able to handle some swift water and riffles. I also am on a real tight budget, and can’t spend more than 400 on the whole setup, so I am perusing Craigslist.

I’ve found a Blue Hole OCA 16’ that looks like its in decent condition for 300. I’ve read good reviews about this boat but…the tag on the boat says Blue Hole OCA 1953S. Will this old boat have any life left in it if it’s over 60 years old??

Suggestions? Thoughts? Alternatives? I’m just looking to spend some time on the water this summer!

From what I see the boat was built in the mid to late 70’s, makes it maybe 40 years old. Didn’t think there were any 60 year old Royalex canoes.

From what I’ve read it’s heavy but works pretty well, and from what you’ve said cheap. Might work ok if the weight isn’t an issue.

Bill H.

A favorite of mine
I owned one that I took on a week long solo wilderness trip with only a little bit of portaging. It was flatwater to occasional mild class II. I soloed from the front seat facing backward and trimmed using the load. I thought the boat was very well suited for the outing.

After a while I sold the boat as space was an issue around here. I missed enough that I have since bought another one.


Blue Hole Canoe
The Blue Hole Canoe company was founded in 1972 in Antioch near Nashville but the first boats Blue Hole sold were generic “Warsaw Rocket” hulls that were virtually identical to models sold by Mad River, Perception, and other companies.

I do not believe that the OCA model was introduced until sometime after Blue Hole moved to Sunbright Tennessee in 1974. The number that you cited was not a hull identification number (HIN). It is a Blue Hole serial number that appears on a brass plate fixed to the top of the bow deck plate. There may be a separate badge with a HIN on the hull near the stern, or an HIN might be etched into the plastic. The HIN would identify the year of production.

Blue Hole Canoes were known for their durability and great (as in heavy) weight. The OCA, while not a great design for any use by today’s standards, was at the time of its introduction one of the best whitewater tandem canoes available, and was also used as a solo whitewater canoe since there were no reasonable whitewater OC-1s at that time.

I have Royalex boats of that vintage that have held up just fine. I would try to examine the canoe in the flesh if you are serious about buying it, however.

Ditto pblanc’s comments…
I have one of the Sunbright era, bought new around 1976 and still going strong. Definitely a dated design by today’s standards, but a good boat. The only drawback I have found is that they can be prone to windage on flat water without a load.

I had one years ago
I don’t know if it was the same model, but mine was primarily a white water canoe, and I don’t think you would like it for a long distance flat water boat.

For an inexpensive canoe that would be good for your needs, look for a used Old Town Discovery.

They weigh a lot, but would be much better for your needs.

Jack L

Ditto Again!

– Last Updated: Apr-06-16 10:01 AM EST –

As Jack pointed out, the "Primarily it will be flat water" statement makes the Blue Hole a poor choice. If you wanted to paddle primarily rivers, "Yes." There are lots of Craigslist bargains to be found if you are diligent. Jack's mentioned a used Disco, and you should be able to find one. Good luck!

Disco 164 preferebly
I had a Old Town Discovery 164 which was probably the best of all the Discovery series. It was modeled after the Penobscot. A little lighter that the 158 and 174 and much better paddling. They are a little harder to find for sale though.