Canoe Motor ?

I’ve got a square back mad river canoe I want to put a motor on and run in lakes and also in salt water creeks and rivers.

I’m trying to figure out if i need electric or gas? and then what are some recommended motors from each class?

I won’t be out longer than 5 hours a trip. I’ll be in some fairly strong currents and would like to be able to get out to about a 5 mile radius. i’ve read that the paddle motors designed for canoes are good but they’re not for saltwater. do people use these much for saltwater and just keep them maintained? i’ve also read about a mariner 2.5 or so for gas and minnkota for electric in the post down the board.

can you folks help me get my search started?



This looks interesting

Wonder who makes the engine?
Those appear to be a take off on the weed eater type jobbers that were sold a few years back. Hopefully, the drive mechanism is better.

Better to look around for a Suzuki, Nissan/Mariner, Honda, or other outboard.

electric vs outboard
are electric motors not used in saltwater and/or do you just think outboards are the better choice for me?

If you choose a trolling motor

– Last Updated: Jul-06-08 2:55 AM EST –

consider a remote control model, that way you can sit anywhere you want for better trimming.
Electric trolling motors are nice and quiet too.

I have a little 2 1/2 Evinrude
And I have had elec. 36 lb. thrust. They both have good and bad. My Evinrude with gas isn’t as heavy and I can get gas anywhere when needed. The elec was quieter and easier to start. Both of these I have had on a 17’ canoe. Myself, I liked the Evinrude for it’s speed.

Good electric choice …
… Minn Kota “RipTide” 55T , 12v , 36" shaft (saltwater transom mount).

Double check this w/Minn Kota , but I’m sure the 55T has “digital maximizer technology” (saves alot of amp. usage).

Get a 115 AH marine deep cycle battery , and consider an extra 115 AH for spare .

With electric motors you’ll want a good 3 stage charger to keep the batts. maintained , Minn Kota has good ones . A single bank charger will charge and maintain 1 batt. , a 2 bank charger will charge and maintain 2 batts. .

Or go gasoline , up to 5 hp. (check canoe mfg. max. rated hp for gas engine) .

All in all I think your best range , lowest combo. gross weight , and least complicated is the gas engine . You can run forever on 6 gals. (44 lbs.) of fuel with a 5 hp. . The 2 115 AH batts. will weight about 120 lb. (60 each).

Some random thoughts
Electric is quieter. It is instant. It is not terribly powerful.

Gasoline powered is noisier and smellier. It is not instant. It is far more powerful and a lot faster.

If you’re going against strong current, and you want to go five mile distances from the ramp in saltwater, I’d suggest one of each. Seriously. Five miles from the ramp with the extra weight of a motor & battery or engine is a looooooong paddle home, especially against current. I’d like a spare with that sort of distance and location you’re talking.

Get a good hand-held marine radio, GPS, and compass too. Learn how to use the GPS and compass together in that you are going to be in strong currents. Be safe.

  • Big D

Minn-Kota makes very good saltwater
trolling motors. They are more expensive. When looking at a trolling motor versus an outboard, consider the weight of the battery. Its substantial.

That is so true Yak. …
… the electric motor’s best use is for fishing purposes of minor position changes . As Big D said , it’s great advantage is the “instant” off / on power at demand and quietness / no fumes .

It is also the only allowable motor on certain bodys of water (ie. no gas engine allowed) .

By far the gas motor is tops for getting some place non-stop , cruising , covering a distance .

Not that too many would carry a whole 6 gals. of fuel for a small gas engine , but even the 6 gals. doesn’t quite equal the weight of a med. size AH marine battery which requires the charger and constant trickle maintnace .

5 miles is a bit of a distance to paddle if something doesn’t work or things take a turn. Good point Big D!

my 2 cents
I’ve bought close to 20 small electric and outboard motors in the last 15 or years in my search for teh perfect one.

Here’s some of what i learned.

Electrics are nice IF you take allong twice the battery you need. Electrics work great when you start out but tire quickly ( and always just as the wind and current pick up). Of course, the more tired they ( the batteries really) become , the faster you try to run them, and it just gets worse FAST. I’ve paddled/rowed home many a day with a weak electric. If you wnat to go electric, get a BIG one and be ready to haul 2, 55# battery’s around. ( You can run a FW electric in the salt. Jsut maintain it well and rinse it regularly.

Gas is much more dependable for predictable power but just about all of them under 3 hp have no neutral/or reverse. That means you start in gear and have to shut off at every stop. A real PITA around structure/wind etc. Smaller gas engines like this are light (usually 21-30# for a water cooled one) but are also (as a rule) single cylinder. This makes them vibrate ALLOT at lower speeds. ( AIR cooled engines are LOUD BTW>) At around 3.3hp and up, you start to see neutral/forwrd or F/N/R gears on outboards. These are much better /more convienient and run more smoothly on two cyl ( usually) but pay for it by weighing in @ 33-55#.

My take:

If you want reliability, get a small 2 cycle gas motor (with neutral/forwward at min) to run from point A-B and menuver with paddle/pole from there. If you want to menuver with the motor, get one with F/N/R.

FWIW, my favorite to date is the johnson/Evenrude 4 hp. ( 2 cyl, self contained & external tank, 34#, N/F gears. VERY reliable and quiet.) These are pretty common on the used market for $250-$400.

My second choice would be the Tohatsu/Mariner/Mercury/Nissan 3.5 hp. 28#, 1 cyl, F/N gear. you can find them around for roughly the same $.

my 2 cents. hope it helpes.

When you consider a motor, see it you will have to register your canoe/Kayak with the State DNR. In SC, any motor on a canoe/Kayak you must register your boat. It costs to have one, so I have stuck with paddling.

Just a thought

MD requires registration for …
… a motor on a canoe also , including electric .

Suzuki 2.5
I have my Pelican Bayou powered by a Suzuki 2.5 4 stroke. I can run full out for 2 hours on the built in tak. I carry an extra gallon of gas, and that would last a good 6 hours wide open. The motor a cheap, got it brand new on ebay for 625 CAN $.

The Bayou is 115lbs, so it is a heavy boat, and it puches at about 10-12 km/hr wide open.

honda has nice 2hp with clutch
Honda has a nice 2hp with built in clutch,won’t run the prop until you give it some throttle. 27lbs, air cooled 4 stroke, 360 tiller so you can pivot motor 180 degrees and “reverse” out of narrow creeks.

Kinda pricey though, maybe catch one on sale???

Money to Waste???
I bought a 110 watt solar panel. I have thought about using it in my canoe. If one used a couple of batteries teamed with the solar panel and a electric trolling motor you could do multiday trips. the panel puts out about 7-8 amps at 12 volts. Mount the panel on a hinge so that it doesn’t imped access. If one wanted to go fancy put a couple of solar panels and three batteries. Then you could use battery power around camp at night!!! I actually bought the soalr panel for my sailboat but haven’t installed it yet. One thing is that you should never run out of gas…assuming the sun is shinig and you have time.