Hi All, I am seeking advice regarding an upcoming trip and was unable to find a clear cut answer for my dilema by searching the web. I was hoping that this forum would be a great way to bounce my ideas off of a strong knowledge base.

My brother and I are interested in heading up to the Adirondacks in August (when we can both take time off) for a multi-day canoe/fishing expedition. Preliminary plans are that we will spend approx 1 week canoeing and camping. Since we each have medium sized dogs (which we would like to bring along) as well as gear, food, and fishing equipment; we are coming to the conclusion that there is no way we can fit all of this in 1 canoe. We have 2 aluminum grumman canoes (similar but not identical in size) and 2 kayaks available to us (the kayaks are not sufficient in size to carry the loads).

My question is, does anyone have experience with lashing two canoes together (leaving a gap between) to create a sort of catamaran vessel that can be paddled? Would a craft like this be too much to manage for 2 people? Where would be the best position for us to sit in the canoes and best place to load the weight of the other gear?

Thank you in advance for your time and thoughfullness.



I have no experience with such a craft, but paddled with a fellow who had constructed a cata-canoe on the North Fork of the White River in the Missouri Ozarks this spring. He had constructed a platform and used an oar rig and seemed to do very well with it.

I have also seen boaters in Quetico and the Boundary Waters lash their canoes together using tree limbs, paddles, rope, etc and put up a jury-rigged sail when the wind was favorable.

If you don’t want to use an oar rig I would suggest distributing the load so as to trim the canoes neutrally and sitting so that your body mass is positioned at or near the center of buoyancy of the hulls. You should be able to maneuver using not much more than forward and back strokes and perhaps the occasional lateral draw.

With the added stability gained from having two hulls catamaraned together you can probably be seated a bit higher if you desire, and might need to use a little longer paddle.

Just tow a cargo canoe?
Thinking about the lashing seems like it might be difficult to rig something that is fixed sufficiently, that allows room to paddle, that would be turnable…

Could you and the dogs just go in the larger canoe, and simply tow the smaller canoe with all your gear in it on a line? Rigging would be trivial, and it would leave both boats free for handling; the other canoe has no paddler but with gear on the floor should be very stable.

Try this link

We rented one of these to go down the Green River one year. The outfitter put it together pretty fast at the putin. The cross members were 2X4’s with slot holes cut into to them for short straps to hold them to the canoes. I think the plywood had the same type of slot holes to hold it also. Worked real well.


not too much of a problem
If your two canoes are such that they each have a pair of thwarts placed at the same distance from center, or close to it, you can use sturdy aluminum tubing or hardwood cross members lashed to the thwarts to secure the hulls together. The cross members will really not be much more intrusive than the thwarts themselves and should still allow plenty of room for seating.

Steering such a rig is really pretty easy and is done in the same manner as a two person raft, the old Perception Revolution, or the more modern whitewater Shredder. To turn the craft one paddler does a forward stroke and the other a reverse stroke and it pretty much pivots in place like a tank. Once it is pointed in the right direction, both paddlers resume forward stroking. The only exception to the rule is the occasion in which an abeam maneuver is required to go directly laterally without pivoting. In that event one paddler needs to draw and the other can help out with a lateral pry.

that looks fantastic.

Just where are you going to use this?

– Last Updated: Jun-22-15 6:38 PM EST –

The Adirondacks are very different from the areas other respondents have mentioned.

I think its a poor idea for the Adirondacks.. Most rivers that have gentle current have sharp turns.

And this arrangement is risky without experience on the bigger lakes like Long and the Saranacs.

Hopefully you wont be learning why the portages in the Adirondacks are called Carries.. You do.. and Grummans are not much fun.

You can rent suitable craft at Macs or Adirondack Lakes and Trails outfitters. They both have lightweight 18.5 foot canoes of Kevlar.

The Adirondacks were the birthplace of the lightweight canoe for a reason.

Did It Before
With our sails setup and ready to rock and roll. We set it up the night before and woke up to a calm lake. Not one breath of wind the whole day. Broke it apart and called it a good try. I think it would have been fun as hell though!

Been there; done that.

– Last Updated: Jun-23-15 7:13 PM EST –

Lashed 2 old 17 foot Grummans together. Used two 2x4, lashed to thwarts. Added plywood decking over part of the canoes; left space for cooler & gear bags. Could be easily paddled by one man in bow of one canoe, and one man in stern of the other.

We seldom paddled; mostly drifting along on the current of the Mississippi River. Had a makeshift sweep oar we'd fashioned out of an old oar, and an old 4 foot rudder. Worked great. Didn't mess with a sail; no need for one. Lawn chair is required equipment.

Did about 120 miles.
Great way to travel on a wide, moving water river.
If I were going to do it again in the dead of summer as we did, I'd have a permanent sunshade rig.

In case of OP; just take two canoes; be easier.