Canoe stabilizers on a racing canoe?

Hi folks,

Several weeks ago, I saw an add for a super-light Wenonah Canoe. My wife and I have been looking for a canoe to paddle around in. I currently have a beautiful surf ski, and a couple of paddle boards.

It was around a 100 miles away from us, but I took the drive and made the deal. The price was right. Turns out, it’s not exactly what I thought it was - I thought it was one older model, and it’s another. Decided to buy it thinking I could probably sell it for a little profit.

It’s more of a racing model than touring - 30 inches at its widest (I had thought it was 36). It is fast as all hell. Wondering if canoe stabilizers would make this more of a boat I could use as a day tourer, and not worry about stability. Have never used them.

Would be easier to buy them instead of selling the boat for something wider. What do you experts think?

Thanks, as always.

My thoughts are that just like your ski, you need to get used to that boat! An outrigger seems awkward and it certainly limits where you would take the canoe, which means it can’t be used so well as a canoe.

People make double outriggers out of PVC pipe on the cheap. There are some good mods shown on the forums of where the ultra racers have taken extremely tippy skis and made them into bastard outriggers for cheap.

But like cowell suggests, just getting used to it is probably best.

Wenonah has 2 racing boats, a V1-Pro which is 27" wide at a 3" waterline. These boats are indeed tippy and have low primary stability, but once you’re used to it they have a lot of secondary (for a racing boat) and are quite manageable with some experience.

The other boat is a V1-Mixer which is 32" at the water line. Which one do you have? (the Pro is V shaped all the way from bottom to gunwale. The Mixer has tumblehome at the gunwale.

The mixer could end up being an ok touring boat for small conditions. The V1 will never be a good touring boat unless you put in the seat time and master the stability (which can probably be done in 1 summer of paddling 3-4 times a week)

One thing that will limit a racing canoe in touring is they have low bows and low bow volume. This means even medium sized waves will come over the bow. They are not particularly seaworthy boats, but arent designed to be

So this model is from 1986 - a USCA Marathon model. Specs can be found here:

What’s the verdict on this boat?

The Jensen was a popular canoe for racing, as well as for recreational tripping back in the day. I have raced in one owned by a friend, and not found it to be any problem to paddle and is not particularly tippy. You should know that “tippiness” in such canoes is an asset to aid in maneuvering and control. But the Jensen has been discontinued and now newer different models take its place, such as the Minnesota II and Monarch. I have one of each of those and have used both for tripping with camping gear. My daughter and novice canoeing husband have also. I would never think of modifying any such canoe with anything like stablizers.

The gunwale width is 30" but the maximum beam is 34 3/4" and the 4" waterline width is 32". A beam of 32" at the waterline is narrow for a tandem canoe, but not all that narrow.

Consider the extremely popular Wenonah Minnesota II which is also an 18 1/2’ boat which is widely used as a flat water tripping boat. The Minnesota II has a maximum beam of 35" and a waterline width of 33 1/2", not all that much more.

Or consider the very popular 18’ Jensen that Wenonah made for many years. It has/had a maximum width of 34 1/8" and a waterline width of 32 1/8", almost identical to the boat in question. While the Jensen 18 was a popular competitor in the stock cruiser class, it was also widely used as a recreational day touring boat.

I would think that if you are used to paddling a surf ski you could easily become comfortable in this boat with the right tandem partner (meaning not squirrelly). If that proves not to be the case, sell the boat and get something that suits your needs better. Don’t disgrace a Jensen hull with sponsons or outriggers.

Man, I really appreciate the information. I’m really looking for a canoe that can sort of extend the season on the water for my wife and I, and not wind up divorced. We’ve made it this long (36 years) I think in large part because I sold my tandem canoe decades ago and got into kayaking. SOLO kayaking.

I’d describe us as novice canoers at this point. My wife is novicier than me, so I think we probably average out. Greatly appreciate your thoughts on the lame-brain outrigger idea. I promise not to do that to a Jensen.

I’m looking for something at a super light weight, which is why I picked up the Wenonah. My surgically repaired back and knees would appreciate it. And looking for something for, shall we say, the next phase of my paddling career. That’s the reason I sold my beloved heavy kayaks, purchased a surf ski (33 pounds!), and started looking for something for my wife and I. Awesome help. Thanks.

Just remember the most important single thing about keeping the canoe stable and upright with yourself remaining inside …sit centered, still, and do not let your head wander outside of the vertical plane of the gunwales. Doing so invites getting wet.

Accept the possibility that you might get wet a couple of times starting out and avoid assigning blame to anyone but yourself when it happens. Discipline yourselves not to make any sudden, unanticipated shifts of weight. Stay loose in the hips and if the boat heels (“rocks”) unexpectedly, let your hips rock with it keeping your upper body vertical. Practice the low braces and head “dinks” for the times when you need them. All of this becomes second nature after a while.

You will eventually learn how to use “heeling” to your advantage. It is a great maneuvering technique that will become a natural action as your strokes improve. Yes, as pblanc says, keep hips loose to maintain your head and upper body centered vertical.

Canoes have a primary and a secondary stability factor. Most higher performing better designed canoes will have that tippy feel in primary stability, but as they heel and roll slightly farther, firm secondary stability kicks in to keep them upright. Some canoe designs (usually flat bottom) have great primary stability (feels good to novices), but poor secondary stability as tipping continues. This can lead to instant capsizing without warning past a certain point.

Most times a boat that feels “tippy” to a novice paddler does not really tip over, what really happens is their head wanders off centerline and body balance is lost. Attempting to look backwards is especially bad. Falling out overboard, they attempt a save by sitting on or trying to grab a gunwale on the way down, causing the boat to fully capsize. You don’t want to do that in front of an audience (been there, done that).

Advanced learning may come slow, but don’t be afraid to take chances in safe water near shore, always with a PFD on of course.

Good luck with the wife… patience is key on both of your parts. Of course you know that an alternate name for a C2 or tandem canoe is “divorce boat”.