canoe versus kayak?

My wife and I have been kayaking for a number of years and love to do long trips in the Vancouver Island area. We both have singles, but my wife prefers to paddle in a double on trips for safety and the extra gear carrying capacity.

I suggested instead of renting a double, we should buy a canoe with a full spray skirt and take that on our next sea kayaking trip. She didn’t like the idea, but I’m not convinced it wouldn’t work just fine.

Has anyone out there done this, and how was your experience?

Carrying capacity
I’m no expert about canoes or double kayaks but I always thought and read that 2 single kayaks can actually carry more gear than a tandem.

And for safety,
I would imagine that two individual boats provide a better safety margin than one tandem, tandem in trouble,both paddlers in trouble, individual boats can assist each other. Agree with Mario ref. carrying capacity also.


Tandem Kayak or Canoe
When the lee shore is Japan, I’d want a hard deck over my knees. Get a Necky Nootka. It’ll be faster than singles, much, much less likely to capsize and way easier than get back into if it does.

Also, wife will be able to paddle in a desultry manner and still fly safely with stability.

If you’re willing to buy a tandem canoe and spray deck, why not buy a used double kayak? What don’t you like about doubles?

I enjoy my canoe, but for open, potentially rough water I’d rather be in my kayak.

Since you have the experience building a Chesapeake, why don’t you build a double?

water with a canoe is very dangerous…I’ve seen the snaps on canoe sprayskirts ondo with being hit by wave action on mild whitewater…airbags and a wet ride are safer. On open water, consider the canoe sprayskirt as a rain only shield…not even close to the safety of a decked boat…get a double kayak if you want to be in the same boat and do open big water.

of course…there’s no safety in numbers, with just one boat (as others have mentioned)

Best Wishes


as much
as I love canoes and only canoes, for sea going purposes I’d have to go with a kayak. Besides the above, windage would be a potential issue.

A canoe on a big lake
is, usually, quite a bit different than a canoe in the ocean.

Heed the other advice herein.


I agree, a canoe isn’t the right
craft for open water. A spray skirt won’t stop the water coming over the gunwales, it just stops the spray from entering the canoe. I go tripping with my wife and the more experience we get, the closer to shore we stay. You’ll have no chance if caught in open water in rough seas.

However . . .
Yes - kayaks are much safer. Agreed. beyond the lower windage and swamp-proof nature of a closed boat, watertight hatches allow re-entry with relative ease. Look at the Northwest Kayaks Seascape and Seascape Expedition as other good options.

However, canoes are certainly capable of doing ocean touring if you are in somewhat sheltered waters. Kanawa recently had an article on this, if I recall correctly. The canoe would also be versatile for other uses. Just know the limits of your craft and your ability.

The above posts about canoeing made a lot of assumptions - basically, that you and your wife will be going alone and be out on the high seas. If that’s true, yes, kayaks.

But, if you are in sheltered waters, know what you’re doing, have a good boat/skirt, etc. there’s lots of canoeing to be done on the ocean.

I believe sgRant used to post here, and he has written articles on open-water canoeing in the past 2 Kanawa magazines. Check out those articles as a start point.

Your answer to your question depends so much an exactly where, when, why and with whom you’ll be paddling, but I wouldn’t write off the canoe if you’re interested.

Also, I believe there’s a club in Victoria (VCKC?)that does ocean trips, and offers canoeing courses on ocean tripping. Go for it!


canoe versus kayak?
Thanks to all who replied. Very thoughtful and helpful comments - my wife loved them, especially the ones that favored kayaks over canoes, which was just about all of them.

yarnellboat’s comments were very closely aligned with my thoughts. We will be in a group of 10, in fairly sheltered waters and both have some experience in a canoe. But, safety is paramount, so it looks like we’ll be renting, buying or building a double kayak.

yep, I did build a clc kayak and am still paddling it and loving it. I have a buddy that built a clc double, but it’s a little more boat than I want.

your wife didn’t like the idea …
but you’re not convinced it wouldn’t work just fine?

Tell her she’s wrong and to get into the canoe.