Canoe w/Trolling Motor Safety

I’m trying to set my canoe up with a trolling motor, but my total lack of knowledge on trolling motors has left me with a few questions. I want to make sure I have the necessary safety angles covered so I’m hopeful folks will share their experiences on the questions below.

Do you secure the battery box to the canoe? If so, how?

What happens if the battery becomes submerged? I imagine it ruins the battery, but does it also present a danger while submerged?

Anyone experienced tipping over while underway? PWC have auto-kill switches to minimize the danger in this case - worthwhile for a similar feature on a canoe or unnecessary?

I’m pretty clueless on this stuff so other tips are welcome too.

Thanks in advance!

Battery Box strapped to seat.
My 70 amphour Walmart Marine battery fits the medium size black plastic battery box exactly. Battery in box, then cables attached to battery posts, then box strapped shut. On my Penobscot 16 canoe the box sits on the hull bottom and snugs up against the aft side of the rear seat with part of the lid actually snugged up under the seat. I strap one of the small ratcheting type straps around the seat and under and around the box and ratchet the thing tight. If I ever capsize the box theoretically could slide out of the strap and sink but in backyard tests with the canoe on its side it just slides over a bit till the hull stops it.

FYI; I have a center seat hung in my boat so when I solo having the battery back there causes no weight distribution problems.

Good luck!

Thanks - very helpful. I appreciate the feedback.

Submerging the battery (especially for any length of time) may cause the battery to short out. However, as long as the battery acid doesn’t spill out onto your skin or the battery doesn’t hit you in the head, there shouldn’t be a direct danger to anyone in the boat. The current from a battery like this isn’t the type that can transfer from the water to someone in the water…too much resistance.

Extra floatation
might not be a bad idea. This may have been brought up in previous discussions, but remember you’re adding a fair amount of weight with a motor and battery, especially if you tie the battery in the boat. I’m not sure whether most canoes have enough built-in floatation to handle it.

I once accidentally pushed…
…my canoe under the surface in about 18 inches of water. Thought I could push a small fallen tree up out of the way and pushed the canoe under instead. I immediately bailed out the canoe and tried the battery. It worked fine. Wasn’t in a box. I presume longer immersion would have hurt it.

Gel Pack
The new gel packs can be in any position. They also won’t leak, period. As far as a battery being in the water, 12V’s won’t harm anything substantial, but water is a good conducter with little resistance and will drain it pretty quick

Experiences w/ trolling motor
I have an OTC Guide 147, regularly use a trolling motor and it’s a great accessory to have. My apparatus consists of a MinnKota Endura 30 (30lbs thrust, 30" shaft), an all-ash trolling motor mount, and an AGM (gell) size U1 battery fitted inside a milk crate. Also a rubber mat. The footprint of the milk crate is more than large enough to stabilize the smaller size battery so it never tips. The rubber mat keeps the crate from sliding in the canoe.

As mentioned, gell mat batteries are leakproof and orientation-independent. They also charge thousand times or so. Size U1 might seem small, but I get a good 4-5 miles at speed 5 before power declines. At 3 or 4 speed, a bit slower but 6 miles or more. More than enough distance for what I’m doing. The light weight of this size battery is great.

The all-wood motor mount is very important. I went one week with an aluminum mount, and the edge scratched a fly rod, and later that rod broke where the scratch was.

Only one complaint. The Endura - and just about all trolling motors these days - are doggone heavy. If anyone knows of a motor that is ultralight, I’d be interested. My dad had a small tm he used on a bateau, about half the weight of the Endura, and 18 lbs thrust. They don’t make this motor anymore… why? Isn’t it cool to be light?

OT Power Paddle
I have the OT Power Paddle which is a MinnKota motor. 30lbs of thrust 30" shaft. I’m not sure if it’s just a repackaged endura, but it doesn’t seem very heavy to me.

Tie-downs and regulations
I’ve never used a battery/trolling motor combination in a canoe, so I can’t pass along direct tips. If I saw your outfit I’d have some ideas, but the point I really want to make is that it is likely that the law requires you to tightly anchor the battery into the boat (chances are, if it can slide around at all, it doesn’t meet regulations), inside some kind of enclosure that protects the terminals from accidental contact. Check your local laws (your state’s DNR can provide the info you need). In my state, failure to comply with battery regulations will result in some pretty hefty fines, so I’d suggest that you take the time and effort to “do it right”.

On the water…
Thanks for all the tips - quite helpful. I got my rig (OT Guide 147 w/Minn Kota Endura 30) outfitted in early April so I’ve had some time test a few things out. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Got a 75 Amp Hour and a Group 24 battery box to keep it in. It’s too tall to fit under the seat, but will fit nicely beneath the thwart in the center. I use a tie-down strap to secure to the boat in case of swamping. As guideboatguy mentioned, I believe it is a state reg. here to have the battery secured to the boat.

  • Placing the battery box slightly off-center under the thwart balances the motor hanging off the other side. Had to add cable extensions to get the battery up that far. Made my own from common parts at HomeDepot, but have since found a really nice pre-made one at BPS. They don’t seem to offer it online, just in the store.

  • Would have gone with a gel battery, but cost was the primary factor in choosing the traditional lead acid. I’ve been out at least a dozen times and run the battery for up to 4 solid hours in a single day, often at the higher speeds. According to my cheap battery gauge, it’s never used more than 1/3 of the charge. Not sure what my speed is, but it moves along pretty good.

  • Talked to the folks at OT and they said the boat should support its own weight when full of water and some amount of additional weight for gear. They didn’t want to get too specific on exactly how much additional weight it would take…I should test it but haven’t gotten around to that yet. (Sounds like famous last words, eh?)

  • Trim is a major issue when I go solo. Even with the battery in the center the bow lifts completely out of the water. Placing a 5-gallon bucket full of water in front of the bow seat has made a big difference - it tracks much better now. Unfortunately the Guide 147 has roto-molded seats so you can’t sit in the bow and paddle it backwards - that’s the only drawback that I’ve seen limit its performance so far.

    Overall, I’m really pleased with my setup. I’ll probably tweak it endlessly, but hey, that’s part of the fun.

    Thanks again for all the feedback.

Trolling motor consideration…
You don’t say where you are located. In Indiana, we do not have to register canoes and kayaks. If you put any kind of motor (including trolling) on the boat, it must be registered.

Pat #2

Bad news 4 me :frowning:
Yesterday, I spent $550.00 on a new Endura 40lb thrust trolling motor, the motor mount, a battery with cover and tie downs and a Canoue tote. I woke up all excited to see what life would be like with amotor and discovered that I have to register my canoue now! The website says that it will take three weeks to process!! How depressing is that? I am a little worried about the weight in my canoue and cant wait to see if this is all doable or if i wasted my money. I weigh 260lbs and the 14 foot Old Town canoue holds 700lbs. With me, fishing gear, the battery and motor and my nephew… I hope it will stay afloat! im new to this all and am disapointed that I must wait so long to get registered. I thought I could just go to Wallmart and by a sticker haha. Bumer :frowning:


– Last Updated: Sep-20-08 10:41 PM EST –

Ok.... I am registered now :) So..... yesterday, I loaded her up and headed to the rver. Here is what I found. There is just WAY to much weight in the rear of the boat! The top of the stern is right at the waters edge when uder way with the motor. i went to Home depot today and bought cable extenders for the battery. I will move the battery up toward the center and see how that works. I may try adding some weight to the bow as well.

The motor works great! It really moves out and the only problem that I have is that the control stick is too short, so I can't move toward the center and still control it. I think I saw an extender at Wallmart, so I will try that out.

Somone said something about a battery gauge. What is that and where do I get one? My fear is running out of power and having to row in with all of that weight.

Another Update
Ok… I made a few changes and think that I am solving some problems :slight_smile: I bought the batery cable extenders which gave me a few extra feet. I then moved the battery to the center of the boat… in front of the seat, while running the cables under the seat. That moved a lot of the weight forward. I took it out yesterday with my Nephew in the forward seat and the Old Town did pretty darn well. Moving the weight forward kept the bow down and even when the waves got a bit scary as the tide came in… we did fine. The next thing I am going to buy is a Trolling motor handel extender. Once I have that… I can sit in the center of the canoe and should be able to drive, fish, etc from that location. All in all… the 40lb thrust moves this heavy canoe very well and we powered up and down the river for a few hours with nothing but good things to say :slight_smile: