Canoe outriggers entry/exit?

As newbies to canoeing I’m wondering if outriggers might be a good idea. Myself, wife and 10 year old son just got our first canoe, a 15/6 Pelican, poly entry level canoe.

We had our first outing on the weekend and did enjoy, however the canoe felt pretty unstable, more so than I remembered canoeing 20+ years ago, we’re big people, could that have something to do with it? Or maybe just old age?, so I’m contemplating outriggers, however my main concern is entry/exit, I could see from a beach it would be no problem but what about off a dock? Any experiences?

Thanks in advance for any help.


Give it some time

– Last Updated: Sep-07-16 6:34 AM EST –

All canoes will rock from side to side, and it might take a little getting use to. Having said that, a 15 foot boat is not particularly big for three people - especially if you are sitting high in the seats and have a 10-year old moving around in the middle. Also weight distribution is important - you want the boat to have a level trim. Often if the heaver paddler is in the back, the bow will be riding up out of the water, and this will feel much less stable. Try putting the heavier person in the front and the lighter person in the back to see if that feels more stable.

Two parts
One is, as above, you might want to consider a bigger canoe for all three of you.

The other is that, as you spend some time, you should be able to find ways for one person to help stabilize while the first person gets in, even from a dock, and vice versa. You and your wife will just have to spend some time figuring that part and getting comfortable with it.

FWIW, I was able to stabilize a canoe on the water in a training day at one point while my husband climbed in from the water at the other end. It went so easily he had to tell me he was in the boat . He outweighed me by a solid 50 pounds. So it is not a big deal once you get used to it.

Unfortunately that is a poor
choice of canoe

The seats can’t be moved. The bow seat may be too far forward . On older models that was the case. Not sure of new ones. That leads to boat instability… IF you could move the seat back that would help.

If the bow paddler is unstable everyone will be. The load limit on a boat that length is about 450 lbs. Anything more leads to too much lack of reserve stability. Never mind what Wal Mart published. 1100 lbs is ridiculous. Not enough freeboard.

Instability is exacerbated by high placed seats. If they could be lowered things would feel alot better

Putting your head in the boat as you enter… rather than leaning back towards shore helps a lot with stability. Outriggers wont help. The bow person should get in last… If they are in first they cant see what is going on behind them and movement is scary…they grab the gunwales and pull themselves over.

If the Pelican had thwarts you could snug ropes around them to dock fittings. You don’t seem to have that option.

I think if you return it and go to a paddlesport store where they can fit you you would be way better off. Old age has nothing to do with it.

BTW the 10 year old is old enough for his own boat… budget buster!

10 Year Old Deserves Own Canoe
And professional instruction. After he’s proficient, he can instruct you. Best for him to learn properly and not develop bad habits. This is an investment that will pay off rewardingly, especially on safety.


– Last Updated: Sep-08-16 3:22 PM EST –


with experience all of us stopped rolling the hull over on entry several years ago ceptin' the resident alcoholics.

look in Utube for: paddle float rentry

buy a foam paddle float or 2 n a longish inexpensive wood paddle with a strong shaft.

where are you entering the hull ? screw in a loop of ? screw in a loop of ? ( wide strapping see Seattle Fabrics) onto the gunwale or outer thwart afore your entry area

slide paddle head up threw the loop, float in water, then get in holding paddle head or outboard shaft with that side hand.

the float paddle may be useful for rentry when in water over your height.

place a shin on the paddle shaft n crawleap into hull.