canoe with skirt, use in mild ocean?

-- Last Updated: Jul-15-16 12:00 AM EST --

I'm thinking of getting a SOT kayak. I like that it's unsinkable. The cons are several, though. It's sluggish compared to a solo canoe, doesn't have the cargo space, etc. Really, I'd love to get a new solo canoe (I currently have an eleven-footer, which lacks cargo capacity).

However, I would like something that I could use in 1-2 foot waves in a bay for fishing. Until moments ago, I thought that my only options for this type of use were a SOT kayak, or a SI kayak with a skirt. It was suggested to me that I could get a solo canoe, and then use it with a spray skirt.

This seems like it might be pretty good from the standpoint of preventing the canoe from taking on water in waves, but the fact remains that if water IS taken on, it would be far more difficult to deal with a filled canoe than a self-draining SOT.

What it seems to really come down to for me is just how well a spray skirt would work in 1-2 foot waves. Is this something that would be great with constant vigilance/bracing, but not so good otherwise? Is this something that would only really be an "OK" solution under the best of circumstances?

I'm actually looking at a specific kayak and canoe, the Perception Pescador Pro 120 and the Clipper Packer, respectively. These craft would see fishing use, and just a lot of general use. I might take them in a local river, but not in white water.

Any ideas? Thanks.

Could you get back in if you capsize?
If the answer is no, the canoe is not a good plan for being well out in an ocean bay. Skirt or no.

Agreed – if you can’t do a self rescue…

– Last Updated: Jul-15-16 5:51 AM EST –

You don’t belong in the open ocean alone.

Having said that, I do a fair amount of coastal paddling in a canoe, and I have never felt the need for a spray skirt. I spend two weeks each summer on the RI coast, and I paddle my canoe in salt water every day. I usually stick to protected bays and coves, but will get out into open water occasionally. A canoe will easily bob along in 1 to 2 foot rolling waves without taking on water. Trying to paddle out through 1 to 2 foot breaking waves would be a different story, so I avoid that unless I am looking to get wet. I can’t do a self rescue (I don’t know many who can), so open water crossings are out for me when I’m alone. I’m also pretty careful about conditions when I venture out in open water – much more than 1 to 2 foot rollers and I would find someplace more protected to paddle.

My trips from last year’s vacatiion

Can’t wait to get out there again this year.

Price range?
Custom skirts for a solo canoe are about $600-800 if you get a nice one. The other SOTs you mention are probably not much more expensive for the whole boat, so your budget my determine which you get.

Ocean canoes like a Monarch or Seawind are very expensive, but also very nice. Verlen Kruger paddled thousands of miles of ocean shoreline in them, so they are certianly seaworthy boats.

One nice thing about the Seawind is that it has Pole mounts for a catamaran setup (lash 2 boats together and sail). If you put floats on the end of the pole, you could easily make a single or double sided outrigger which would be ideal for fishing.

They come up for sale used every so often if you look hard.

not all SOT’s are slugs

– Last Updated: Jul-15-16 2:20 PM EST –

You perception of sit on tops is n not really accurate. Read BearRiver's description of his Eddyline Caribbean 14 SOT, recently posted in another string on this forum:

"If you want to go lighter, you could look at the 14' Eddyline Caribbean, it will be a little more expensive but still will hold you and gear easily and is sort of a "Bay Cadillac" - and is my go-to boat for interacting with cross wake from power boats and jet skis, which it excels at. It also will float in extremely shallow water that would bottom out a regular kayak, so I can get out of the traffic if needed or explore areas with wildlife. It also has stayed upright in river rapids up to C-2. I can keep up with people in rec boats easily with this model. Recently I have gotten to try a faster boat - and now am really appreciating all over again how this model steers. "

As the ones above stated:
If you can’t do a self rescue in a canoe, don’t do it.

I paddle both canoes and kayaks, and if I am in the ocean, in my canoe, I always stay within a short enough distance of shore, so if I capsized I could swim the canoe in.

Jack L

I’ve done the same as Jack
In calm water I sometimes can do a self rescue with a double blade 14 feet of loop rope and a paddle float

In waves the odds are not good as it’s necessary to stand on the loop stirrup and bail prior to entry

A spray cover greatly complicates things as it is possible to get entangled

I do sonetimes use one but reefed so it’s not around me and the cockpit is open

I don’t do day ocean trips though. There is always a camping load and the boat is more stable

I learned ocean paddling in a canoe before sea kayaks became plentiful. AMC ran ocean canoe trips

I’d love to do some ocean trips

– Last Updated: Jul-16-16 6:29 AM EST –

with a group. Around here the distances for the crossing wouldn't be that far, and the scenery is great. I'd have to try an assisted rescue in the waves though - that might be a little tricky. Agree that trying to get back in a boat with a spray skirt on it would be a pain.

I can’t visualize getting back in…
a swamped canoe and getting the water out in breaking white caps even with an assist from someone in an upright one.

jack L

Because of gear stashed onboard?
I think you probably can visualize how to empty the canoe when you have help like that. You pull the swamped boat upside-down up over the gunwales of one of the others so that it’s empty of water when flipped upright and set back down. That only becomes difficult if the swamped boat has a load of gear that’s tied in. With someone to steady the now-empty boat, climbing back in isn’t all that hard, waves or no waves.

That same situation when paddling alone is hopeless, at least for most of us.

If you are replying to me…
which it appears you are, I’ll repeat I can’t visualize it in BREAKING WHITECAPS.

Jack L

I can’t either
…but I don’t think I would be out in breaking whitecaps - at least not intentionally.

So I’ll clarify

– Last Updated: Jul-16-16 7:02 PM EST –

The context I assumed in reading your post was that it only makes sense that if you choose to be out there in the first place, the whitecaps aren't impossible to handle. And in that case, yes, climbing back into the boat is doable, as the empty boat being stabilized by helpers will not take on water, and climbing over the side without making things worse is very doable. I think maybe you are envisioning a situation that is so bad that none of the boats are safe, rather than a situation where the occupant(s) of one boat screwed up but everyone else is handling the situation competently.

This is basically the same thing that eckilson just said, though I'll add that there's a huge range of "breaking whitecaps", the lower end of which a canoe can handle without terrible difficulty, but if severe enough it's a situation where you wouldn't even go out there in the first place.

There is NO
Everyone else


Not in a solo with a group


Covers usually have a snap on the hull attachment and the cover has to be undone to prevent tangling on re entry

Boston AMC used to run many ocean trips using Grummans in the 1970s and 80s

This worked as they also supplied training

What is between your ears is more important than what is under you

Do I really need to clarify this part?
My reply was to Jack, and he was replying to Eckilson, and both of those guys were talking about assisted rescues when paddling with a group, so naturally that’s what I was talking about too.

That’s what these side-bar discussions are for. They are for talking about other things that people naturally think of as a result of the result of the original post. I’m sure you don’t really think that I was addressing the original poster and the solo-paddling question.

Agreed Guideboatguy

– Last Updated: Jul-17-16 7:05 AM EST –

I'd only go if I thought the conditions were safe and the group could handle any mishaps. That includes checking the weather, which river paddlers don't usually need to worry about. Of course, conditions can still change quickly. I'm pretty conservative when it comes to safety, as are most of my paddling friends. I guess that's why I've never done an open water crossing in the ocean even though I live in the Ocean State (RI). I still hope I will at some point. I've never tried, but I have to think that even 1 to 2 foot rollers would make is a lot more difficult to do an assisted rescue. It would be pretty much impossible in breaking waves

By the way, at the beach now. Just waiting for the fog to lift so I can head out!

Hard for me to judge “how much” is OK…
… for a canoe. I don’t go out in big waves on the lakes here in a canoe, because it’s so much easier in my guide-boat. Going out in head-high waves that block my view of a distant shore (that’s about three feet, though of course they look a lot bigger and more intimidating than just “3 feet”) with whitecaps isn’t that big a deal in that boat, though I do try to keep an eye on what’s coming. The guide-boat is only 12 inches high throughout the center section (more like 11 inches since the deepest part of the hull is pretty narrow) and has about the same volume as a standard canoe, and I can drift sideways in such waves without a care in the world, so I have to think that a good paddler in a canoe, though he’d have to pay more attention to staying upright, would float over the waves just fine. The waves I see in such conditions are not continuously breaking the way they do near shore. Instead it happens here and there, and if one happens to break at your location, a slight downwind lean as it passes will keep the boat dry, because even breaking, the boat floats over it. I wonder if seeing that from a kayaker’s perspective, with waves washing over the deck, makes it seem like an open boat is more vulnerable than it really is.

Anyway, I’m not saying that it would be especially easy to dump out the swamped canoe in such waves. Gotta agree with you there. I’m just saying that once it’s empty of water and being steadied alongside another boat to counterweight the guy who’s climbing in, it won’t be prone to filling up again, because if conditions were so bad that it would, all the boats would be filling up too and that didn’t seem to be a reasonable situation to be considering.

I’ve been at the ocean for a week
and paddled my canoe every day - mostly protected waters, but some open water with 1 to 2 foot rolling waves. I do fine in my canoe, and you definitely don’t need a spray skirt. Paddling in ocean waves is great to practice keeping the boat under you and staying loose in the hips, but adding fishing to the equation would be pretty tough (at least for me). There is a reason that most people in open water are on paddle boards or SOT kayaks - the ramifications of a swim are much greater in a solo canoe. With a PFD, I’m not too worried about getting myself to shore (eventually), but dragging my boat along with me might be a challenge, and it would be impossible to hold on to in breaking waves. If you are on a rocky shore, that would be bad.

For fishing, I recommend getting the biggest SOT you can find. I think the barge-like characteristics would be a plus for fishing, and they are easy to find used (at least around here). That Clipper canoe would still be great for the other uses you describe.

Check this out.
He handled the waves pretty well.

copy and past the image URL to view

I think that is DougD