Canoe questions

I have a Nova craft Fox 14 that I found the initial stability less than comforting while I re-entered the sport. I placed a few jugs of water in the bottom for a bit while I gained confidence. Now my wife would like to try it, and she has relatively no experience. My question is with her being nearly 100 pounds lighter than I will she find the craft more stabile, or less so than I?

Well, there’s a lot to it, but just looking at the weight aspect, the boat should be less stable with a lighter person everything else being equal. Also consider where the weight is… men tend to be top heavy, women not so much as a general rule.

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Nicely put Dick.

Thanks. That is what I had suspected. I also considered the differences in gender. I’m thinking about adding five jugs of water, and can remove them as she gains confidence. I appreciate your help.

If she can kneel with her knees in the chines (sides) of the boat that could make a big difference since a tripod formed by your knees and butt adds a lot of stability and putting a little weight in your knees also lowers your center of gravity a bit. Even if kneeling is just during the learning phase it could help. Lowering the seat can add a lot of stability too, especially if one doesn’t plan to kneel.

I agree. I explained the kneeling option to her. Not sure if that works for her. (Age). The seat in the Fox is low, so low in fact it prohibits me from getting legs under so that I can kneel.

I’ve never paddled one but based on the reviews you’re not the only one that finds the boat lively.

But given that your wife has such a great opportunity to tease you I’m thinking that she may like it. :wink:


Yup, I’m sure she will have fun. I just want it to be an enjoyable experience.

You have a solo boat with a 32 inch beam which is relatively narrow for a canoe. If it feels tender, it probably has an arched bottom and not great initial stability. Forget about the water jugs. Take the boat out near shore on a warm day. Practice heeling the boat over. Loosen up and rock the boat. Find out how it reacts. It may firm up quite a bit as the gunwales get near the water and show its secondary stability. Find the limits of how far you can rock the boat without knocking it over. A light person should be able to handle the Fox just fine. Get some more time in this canoe. Kneel in it. Notice how that moves your center of gravity forward and lowers your center of gravity. Sometimes lowering the seat can help a lot in how the canoe feels. Good Luck.

My solo is 24" beam. Your fox is 32". It is likely more stable than you think.

Thanks, I am quite confident in the boat at this point. I was just looking for ways to make her first experiences pleasant. As previously stated, she will likely not kneel, and I am unable to because the seat is so low it interferes with my feet and legs. Secondary stability is adequate, but that does little to soothe the nerves of a beginner. Hopefully she will gain confidence quickly.

Your wife will find it more stable than you do…Heads have a strong influence on primary stability. Taller people are more unstable in a small boat.

The boat is too big for her. Let her try it. If it is truly 32 inches that is just too big to reach over and get a good paddle plant without risking the head getting over the gunwale. She should be in a 24-26 inch wide boat.

Go ahead and go in warm shallow water. If a capsize happens it is often less of a big deal than is feared.

Women tend to be less stiff than men and the key is to keep paddling and breathing. If you stop breathing you stiffen up and trembly stiff muscles are never good for keeping balance like Ppine alluded to.
I start my students in the canoe just sitting there and breathing and relaxing before putting the paddle in the water. Fear of hitting something or doing something wrong is widespread at the start so relaxation exercises are worth it.

I had intended to start her out in waist deep water to test primary and secondary stability while I was there. She will be using a kayak paddle in the beginning so that should help with reach.

That may not be as helpful as you intend. The paddle idea is fine… But let her go. When I taught womens canoeing we always got out of sight of husbands. Most of the women had never paddled and were actually in performance solos. like the Bell FlashFire. When the men were watching the men offered “hints”. This made the ladies more nervous. We paddled out of sight of the men and then had class!
One hour later we returned and all the ladies had a great J stroke even the first time out. Hubbies were flabbergasted.
I know you have good intentions but back off if it seems wise.

I’m 6’2" 155lbs most of it above the waist… can make just about any boat feel tippy.

I know what you mean. I have taught many subjects since 1984. I have always found women much easier to instruct than men. I coached my daughters to medalist levels at National championships in Archery. Get her set, Get her comfortable, and let her go.

Thanks, That helps put it in perspective. I am taller and weigh at least 100 pounds more, thankfully most of it is still holding above the waist for now.

Thank you all for your participation. It’s all good stuff to consider.

Women in canoes. All most of them need is patience and some competent instruction. I agree with kayamedic about keeping the husbands and boy friends away. Same with tennis, golf and any other technical skills.

I did a 5 day trip on the Trinity River which is one of the most technical stretches of river I have ever paddled. My bow partner was my wife’s younger sister who was 16 and green as grass. But she was a good listener and took instruction well. She was able to learn her strokes quickly. I could ask for a draw stroke at the precise right time and she could execute it, allowing us to break across eddy lines and stay out of trouble. She taught me some important lessons.

Since then I have taken some other good listeners and made paddlers out of them in a week. All they need is some instruction and confidence. Same with your wife. Confidence is really important going solo. Some people are more comfortable in the bow of a tandem.

Which is precisely why I support her trying this.