I started out my paddling life on New England estuaries in an aluminum barge canoe - so kayaks came as a revelation. But now arthritic spine is making kayaking pretty uncomfortable and I’m considering switching back to a canoe for mostly day trips in coves, bays, occasional open water -tandem plus light gear. Any thoughts on a good canoe for those purposes? (Or is it daft to consider using a canoe in saltwater) Surely technology has improved since days of the barge. Thoughts on most important design features to look for. Thanks.
Certainly there are many very good canoe choices for saltwater. I have paddled a variety of canoes in both calm and rough ocean conditions and as with any boat choice, you must decide which is best for your “intended” paddling criteria. Obviously the biggest negatives that canoes have in regards to ocean paddling is the greater freeboard to catch wind and the lack of flotation. Certainly the flotation issue can be cured with airbags or other options but that leaves hull design as the biggest variable. This us where some Steve Scarborough designed canoes excel. I have paddled some scary big water in a tandem Dagger Reflection 16, many less demanding in a solo Dagger Sojourn. The sides of these canoes have little perpendicular flat side areas. They have excellent lengthy flare in the bow, slightly rounded sides and tumblehome in the middle so little to catch the wind. Reflections have some bow rocker to ride over waves and swells. The Sojourn is very straight with no rocker so its fantastic for calmer condition. A great compromise I believe is a Mohawk Odyssey 14. It has rocker, good flare in the bow and a nice center tumblehome area. All these canoes have less hieght at the stems and middle than most all other popular canoe models so again, less surface area for wind to catch.
There are sea canoes
but they are expensive and hard to find used.
I use my Mad River Monarch in Maine…I have also used a Placid Boatworks RapidFire in the Isle au Haut area. Both are solos.
Aluminum barge canoes are still used in Maine in estuaries… not so much the open ocean. We have a fleet of them in Georgetown on the Sasanoa River which is a mile from the Sheepscot. After 40 years exposure to salt they are fine.
I would avoid wood canvas because of the corrosion potential of salt and avoid kevlar as it will flex a lot in ocean waves.
Your best bet is that honking aluminum barge that all coastal paddlers used to use before kayaks came around. The Maine Island Trail started as a canoe trail.
Aluminum barges NO
Besides the fact that aluminum lasts forever around saltwater, there is litlle redeaming value in the DESIGN and ENJOYMENT in paddling these metal objects as the original poster remembers vividly. Abrasion resistance on oysterbeds may be another plus but seriously don’t even consider the metal barge when there are so many better options.
The real issue is secondary stability
and volume of boat. Pack canoes do well but the OP has trouble sitting low.
So something that has good secondary stability for the sitting paddler is needed. Tandem needs are different from solo needs as the ends are “pinned” and the stations narrower than a typical solo station.
If it aint broke dont fix it… Old Town Discos do well on eatuaries too.
The only downside to alu and poly canoes is that they sometimes don’t come with adjustable seats. You do not want to be sitting at gunwale level.
So far the only trouble we have had with Grummans is that clients forget to tie them up and the 13 foot tide comes in. Then we get calls from the Coast Guard about loose canoes.
I have used a Grumman Eagle canoe for coastal canoeing, and that was not bad compared to their regular designs. But, I don’t think they make an Eagle anymore.
Best tandem canoe for that kind of paddling that I have experienced is the Winisk, designed by John Winters.
Solo I use his Osprey design, but that is a compromise because, so far, there isn’t a solo canoe like the Winisk.
I just bought a WS Pungo 140
in part because of lower back issues. It is sort of canoe-like, but the selling point is the multi adgustable Phase 3 seat. It is the most comfortable I can be while paddling.
Grumman Eagle and OT Discos
I remember the Grumman Eagle was touted as their “Whitewater” canoe with ads showing a young Jon Lugbill inside one and recommending it. That was a long time ago and many great designs have come out since.Both that model and all the discos have totally flat sides for catching wind and discos are HEAVY for their size so not good on a badback. The original poster sounds like an experienced paddler so he is looking for something beyond the rental barges I believe. Don’t exclude quality hand laid fiberglass canoes either because they hold up great in saltwater and their are many excellent designs out there.
If you don’t mind hefting a big old pig
Get an Old Town Discovery.
We used ours for twenty years in just the conditions and areas you want it for before finally selling it for lack of use
You should be able to find a used one for under five hundred dollars.
Be forwarned they are heavy !
How does the arthritic spine adversely
effect your kayaking experience and how do you perceive canoeing to be an improvement?
Is it the sitting position?
Is it the stroke mechanics? Kayaks can be paddled with canoe paddles and canoes can be paddle with kayak paddles.
Is it entry and exit of the boat?
Good luck in finding the right tandem for your needs.
Maybe he has a canoe slide or a cart
The Boston Whitewater Club got coastal canoeing started in Maine with …
If any of those oldies were still alive I wouldn’t diss them… The paddler as well as the canoe counts.
Solo or Tandem?
Saying that you are having trouble with a kayak makes me think that you are looking for a solo canoe.
I’ve had good luck with a Bell Magic and a Mad River Independence. The Bell is kevlar and fiberglass, the Mad River is fiberglass. Both are plenty stiff.
I’ve also had my Swift Osprey out there. But I don’t care for that boat in following seas.
I kneel in those with my fanny on the seat. Stability is not a problem for me.
These boats are not as fast as my old Caribou (17.5’x 21") Touring kayak was. Being open boats, I won’t take them into the surf. And I do have a narrower window of weather than I would in a Touring kayak.
But I can paddle them all day while I had to get out of the kayak after a half hour at best.
Those are good choices TommyC1. One other aspect that i feel is important is a shallow arch hull that allows the waves to roll under you when paddling parallel to waves and swells. Flat bottomed boats like most Old Town discoveries or virtually all aluminum canoes will swing back and forth and can make for an unsettling ride.
For what it’s worth,
From some seat of the pants testing on Lake Michigan in four footish waves/swells, I have concluded my Mad River Fiberglas explorer was the most secure in beam and fowling seas. That is with about 275 pounds on board with the paddlers kneeling. It is a slow boat though. And does not side surf easily.
Attributes that seem to be positive are lower initial stability, with high secondary stability for steep wave faces abeam. Hollow entry and exit lines , some rocker(2 to 4") , and a stable bottom profile developing quickly in the stern. All those are for stability in following seas. When waves from behind move under the stern you are briefly bridging the trough somewhat so the ends of the boat need to be somewhat stable when the belly is raised up a bit. Many contemporary canoes are quite round bottomed in the ends which makes them shakey when floated at the ends. Look for width under the stern seat, by the time the wave gets that far under the stern it is desire able to develop some stability.
NO KRUGER ?
‘like’ I dunno from what…but Kruger is or not the base line for coastal canoe design ?
A Grumman handles well but the windage is waaay too much.
I think the OP is just looking for a daytripper design easily transportable (bad back) that might not cost a lot. Krugers are like taking a Hummer on a canoe trip because there is a nice short gravel road at the river access. Sure the Hummer will handle it fine but so will a Subaru!
Coastal Canoeing -
The most proven approach -
Both of those videos feature Keith Morris: unarguably one of the most experienced coastal canoeists on the planet.
This is his boat:
Alternative approach - me in a Bell-era Flashfire:
For more info visit:
Krugers don’t feel like hammers
The weight is the main reason I don't paddle my Mad River Monarch more often for day trips. I Like the handling just fine for day paddling and exercise.
The OP hasn't said how his arthritic back effects paddling.
the zk video
is just super with the sound off…I see the craft has airbags. Say, what’s the skipper doing with the broomstick and holder ?
Balance ! Actually most times I have problems preventing the hull from flying down the beach in the wind…
As for the Kruger…where’s a Kruger in CF ? The back sufferer could use water bags velcroed in for ballast control, wheels for in/out. Wheels go on when hull is floating.
But I would not imagine a bad back in coastal. On the Saco but not in a sudden stiff breeze.
Google Images for: ultra light kayak/canoe always paddles my curiosity. maybe there’s an ultra light coastal cruiser in there for back sufferers ?
OK Hugonaut where are U
Time to check back in. Lots of ideas and even more questions of your particular needs. We are interested.