Canoe sponsons?

Greetings: I was looking at the Sportspal canoes and noticed that they have sponsons attached. Are those more for unsinkability if swamped, or do they actually help keep the boat from tipping if leaned over too far? I was thinking of buying some for my 13’ Grumman if they will assist in a further lean angle.

Sportspal sells them for about $50. per set.


Consider your paddling technique first
Do you ever plan to use a single-blade paddle, that is, a “canoe paddle” with this boat? If so, ditch the sponson idea. A “good” forward stroke with a canoe paddle requires the shaft of the paddle to be essentially vertical, and right alongside the gunwale (that’s doesn’t mean follow the curve of the gunwale, but being right alongside the gunwale when the stroke passes the widest part of the boat). Sometimes this process gets exaggerated, like this: I often “cheat” a bit on startup strokes or when temporarily wanting to minimize the need for course correction or when wanting to turn the boat toward the paddle side, and I’ll actually reach under the hull during the stroke. That gets the blade of the paddle even closer to the centerline of the boat. Adding a few inches of foam to the outside of the boat will only get in the way of a proper forward stroke and any time you “cheat” on stroke placement like that.

Also, modern purists will cringe at this, but sometimes prying the paddle shaft on the gunwale is useful, as is sliding that paddle along the gunwale while maintaining a prying-type force by means of an angled blade orientation (acting like a wedge in the water). Such strokes are handy for quick maneuvers in some situations, but you won’t be doing them if there’s foam on the outside of the hull.

If none of that paddling advice applies to you, the foam can’t hurt anything, though strictly speaking, even when using a kayak paddle there “should” be times when you will paddle right alongside the boat in one or more of the ways described above. Also, realize that when leaning the boat, only the midsection of that foam will come in contact with the water during that last bit of leaning before you swamp. The foam out toward the ends won’t help a bit, and there won’t be much buoyancy provided by that center two feet or so of foam. Therefore I’m sure such sponsons are much more useful for keeping a swamped boat upright than for assisting with stability during leans.


– Last Updated: Oct-22-10 9:18 PM EST –

If you're just going to be "lily dipping" in some little pond, or fishing some barely moving, narrow, shallow river, they might be worth 50 bucks to you.

If you're going to be paddling moving water rivers, fishing or not, you'd be better off investing some "time" in improving your paddling skills.

I think what sponsoons & outriggers on canoes are "really" good for are giving unskilled paddlers a "false" sense of security.
With outriggers or sponsoons it can't tip over or sink. Yeah right! Tell that to the passengers who went down on that "unsinkable" ship.


What problem do you have with lean
angle on your 13’ Grumman? Though small, it should not be “inclined” to lean too far.

Its very hard to bury
the rail in the water on Grumman…We have all seen those theoretical diagrams of flat bottomed boats get buried in broadside waves but I had one for fifteen years of tripping and never managed an accidental dump.

I think the Sportspals have the tug bumpers for floatation. Your Grumman should have the floatation in its stem tanks.

As for thin skinned…hmmm I have several 40 year old Grummans. They have thicker skin than I do.

If you need outriggers for something like fly casting standing buy some after market ones. Securing minicell to the outside of the boat for security isnt going to work as guideboatguy indicated.

Made Some Years Ago

– Last Updated: Oct-23-10 3:41 AM EST –

I thought the stability would come in handy when used for duck hunting. Even with them only taking up 3' of a 16' canoe, they got in the way. Tried them a few times, rearranged them, finally "Scrapped" them. As others have noted, the sponsons get in the way of your canoe stroke. Better to keep your head "Inside" the gunnels of most 35" or greater width canoes and you will find that canoe will be plenty stable without sponsons.

Have seen the Sports Pals, and the only 2 times I saw them being used, it was with a motor. Those bolted on sponsons are a pain for paddling. WW

That answers that, then. Thanks. I think I’ll save my $50 and put it towards a good paddle. I only dumped my Grumman the day I got it (it’s 35 years old, bought it used a few weeks ago). I was in my swimming pool and reached behind me, leaning over the gunwale. Over I went! Took it out on the bay the next day and had a great time. I was instructed here to keep my head in the boat. Good advice!

Oh, by the way, I asked at a local canoe and kayak shop (big one, California Canoe and Kayak) and the guy said he had never heard of a “double bladed canoe paddle” when I asked him the difference between that and a kayak paddle.(?)

Slabsided tumblehome will do it.
I have a Noah ww kayak with a flat bottom, relatively hard chines, and slab sides that cant inward. It has very little initial stability and very little “final” stability.

That’s not surprising
I just perused their website and if their site is representative of anything I’d be surprised if most folks there have ever even seen a canoe, unless maybe they are older than 45. They did have a three shots of ONE guy in a canoe who paddles using the goon stroke. There’s almost no end to their info about kayaks though.

Actually, there need not be any difference between a double-blade canoe paddle and a kayak paddle, except that most people who use double-blade paddles in a canoe use a shaft length that is much, much longer than what’s available for any kayak paddle. Personally, I really dislike those super-long paddles. Also, the blades of dedicated canoe paddles are usually larger than those of kayak paddles. I have a 230-cm paddle that I got from Mohawk several years ago, and it’s okay, but the Werner paddle I tried before I got the Mohawk lacked the ability to horse a canoe around in tight quarters. The Werner’s blades were too small to work properly for anything but forward strokes, so I sold it to a buddy to use with his kayak). Mohawk no longer makes paddles, so I don’t have many suggestions on where to find relatively cheap double-blade paddles.

Double bladed paddle
if the width of the boat is about 30 inches you might be able to eke by with a 240 cm kayak paddle.

If you have any friends who kayak you might ask if they have any 240s hanging around. Paddlers are going shorter in paddle length and might have some for sale.

I have narrowr solos and 230 works fine for me.

Hope you take a single stick too for fine tuning your travels…nothing more frustrating than getting a double hung up in alders on a winding river.