Crazy Canoe Question?

I’m ONLY toying with the idea of a dacron canoe to help with the rehab of a broken back. I realize all of the downfalls of a craft that is prone to tearing and not being able to be used in rough waters. My purpose is to have a lightweight canoe that I can work out in to build up strength in the area that was broken in my back. At under 20 pds this would be a doable alternative to getting back on the water on a river that is just flatwater. There’s one for sale that would fit the bill/wallet on CL.

My other boats are an OT 158 with extra rigging that weighs in at about 78 pds, a MR Malecite F/G weighing in around 58 pds and am working on a MR Courier that I think will tip in at around 58 pds. Going to be a while before I will be lifting those big boys.

I am wondering if F/G can be applied to dacron as I might want to add a layer for protection on the bottom of the hull up to the chines or if these two materials just won’t mix?

Any opinions are welcome. Many thanks.


Don’t think you can put FG over
a skin on frame (I assume that’s the construction you’re talking about) as the dacron is unsupported between the stringers and thus would flex too much. Just paddle deep water.

Hey Dougd…
I can’t help you on that end, but have you thought at all about a “J” boat.

They are long skinny racing canoes, and most of them now are very cheap, since the “pro boats” have taken their place.

They are only good for flat water, but are a fun boat for paddling straight on

We have two of them, and one is 19 pounds, and the other is 22.

If you watch ads, you should be able to pick one up for between $400 and $600.

I wish I lived closer, I would lend you one of ours.

Jack L

Tom Mackenzie
the owner and maker of Loonworks Canoeworks made a 12’ (or thereabouts) canoe with a geodesic frame of very light wood covered with dacron. It has been paddled on flat water for short periods. I’ll see if Tom would like to respond. He uses dacron to replace canvas on his wood and canvas Loonworks canoes. It has held up well on my Aria Loonworks.


Dacron is pretty tough

– Last Updated: May-04-11 7:07 PM EST –

I am guessing you are looking at a SOF craft. What is probably not so tough is the lightweight frame behind the Dacron.

I have three Dacron covered wood plank boats. No fiberglass ....They are all over ten years old and hit various rocks over the years. Just had to repaint road rash on the one that I forgot to tie on the trailer and it took off and did two barrel rolls on the double yellow. The dacron was undamaged.

Same for a friend who played pull toy at interstate speeds when his roof rack failed and the dacron skinned boat was obliged to get dragged a distance before he could stop. Some planks and a gunwale were damaged but the dacron not.

Unless you promise to stay on flatwater..a lightweight old racer as JackL is a better candidate. I have paddled a couple of Geodesic Aerolite boats and the issue for me is not putting my foot on the dacron and pulling it off the frame.

I have the LoonWorks boats. For serious tripping Pam Wedd in Ontario uses dacron instead of canvas on her thicker planked thicker ribbed boats. The dacron is actually less likely to tear but the dacron does not absorb shocks as well as canvas.

Look to the structure under the covering to determine if the canoe will suit you.

SOF canoe
12 oz nylon covered with Corey’s goop (buy from the Skinboat School) is very tough and abrasive resistance. Nylon does sag slightly in some circumstances and then recovers.

If the canoe on Craigslist is dacron it probably is a geodesic canoe and the question is the strength of the frame. If you buy it, bring some duck tape for emergency repair and have fun while regaining your back strength.


First rule of boating…
Most of us break it on a pretty regular basis, but the first rule of boating is never boat alone. I think it is only a little ahead of never stand in a canoe!!

I bring this up because a possible solution to your challenge is simply go tandem with a friend. Let your friend do the heavy lifting, and you get to work out paddling your half of the boat. Additionally, if you need a rest or have any physical problem, help is paddling with you in the other end of the boat.

JackL’s Jboats sound cool, too.


"a lightweight old racer as JackL"
Jack ought to approve of that description of himself.


– Last Updated: May-05-11 12:50 PM EST –

I boat alone and stand in my canoe[s] pretty often.??

You didn't mention your size, but GRE, Hornbeck, Placid boatworks and Swift make more rugged canoes at or under twenty pounds.

I agree
I agree try a Hornbeck, Placid Boat Works or Swift canoe. All make boats in the weight range you are talking about. You can inquire about optional seating in them to suit your needs. Unfortunately finding one used is going to be a problem so you’re probably looking at a new boat. Hornbeck would be the lowest cost option. Swift offers a number of options for solo paddling and some of them are more “traditional” in layout then the Hornbeck or PBW boats. If price isn’t a concern I’d lean towards the PBW Spitfire or Rapidfire but all three companies make nice boats.

SWift canoes weight

– Last Updated: May-05-11 4:37 PM EST –

is around 20 lbs only for Pack models - they are very short. Better than not being on water at all, but it's just 12ft boat...
Other Swift models are 27 lbs and more. Not sure this includes seats - manufacturers aren't always honest with numbers. May be he needs a racing canoe or SOF - two very different things, and either one is different from a 12ft Swift. So he needs to set some priorities or compromises. There will be some compromise in either case, but it beats sitting home.

Wenonah Advantage
There is one for sale in the Classified section located in RI - your profile says you are in central NH. They don’t come up for sale that often, but they are a good compromise between a pure race boat like the J series and normal boat suitable for cruising. At 32 pounds it is way lighter than any of the boats you have now.

If it will help you get better faster

There are plenty of skin on frame kayaks out there that get used all the time, and they are tougher than you think. And some are just plain old canvas and house paint. Works fine.

If the dacron canoe will get you paddling, I say go for it. Just put float bags in it and bring some duct tape, just in case. If it will help your recovery, it’s worth it.

Get better!

“No” to the last question
>“I am wondering if F/G can be applied to dacron as I might want to add a layer for protection on the bottom of the hull up to the chines or if these two materials just won’t mix?”

Sorry didn’t realize that you want to BUILD a canoe. I thought you were just looking for some already made light boat.

The answer to your suggestion quoted above would be “no”. It’s not that FG and Dacron (aka polyesther) don’t mix. It’s just that nobody does it this way. I think because FG is too heavy and not flexible enough in a thick layer on SOF boat (skin on frame), and not strong enough in a thin layer on fabric. People cover plywood boats with FG, but not SOF boats. All SOF that I saw were made with a proper commercial skin - usually PVC or Hypalon. Hypalon is synthetic rubber coat on some fabric (at both surfaces), and PVC is a vinyl coat on fabric (also both surfaces). Both materials are available in bulk, PVC is usually cheaper and used by DIY boatbuilders more often. Painting a fabric with some tough paint doesn’t work well, you better forget about it.

Perhaps more pertinent
is whether or not your back can be comfortable with you sitting on the bottom of the boat

I have a friend with a chronic back problem who has a modified geodesic skin on frame boat reinforced for kneeling as kneeling keeps the back straighter.

There is nothing wrong with a twelve foot long boat either. There was a gal in a ten foot boat who paddled the 740 mile long NFCT. Sure its no speedster.

Well, Doug, which is lighter?
300 bucks or that purple SOF?

Lightweight Double Paddle Canoe
You could go with a lightweight double paddle stripper canoe. I stretched Nick Schade’s Nymph canoe to 12 ft and built it this winter. I’m doing final varnishing now.

I wasn’t all that concerned with weight and used hardwood trim. I bet if you focussed on weight you could get it to about 20 lbs or so.

Here is a build photo log:

I’ve put FG on a SOF.

– Last Updated: May-07-11 9:20 PM EST –

But over vinyl, not dacron. And not full sheet FG cloth to cover the entire hull, either--Only three inch wide FG tape(Yep, that's right...The kind contractors use.) I coated only over the chines and keel line to conserve weight. I'm pleased with my results. Yours with dacron may vary.

I say, do a test sample with the dacron, first. If it works...Then build, brother.

The experiment itself will help with your recovery. Both your body and head.
(I've been there.)

Short of lightweight loaner offers, leave ponying up the bucks for just another boat to all the big spending "experts" out there.

And by all means, definitely paddle alone the first chance you get, when you feel well enough.

Doug was looking at the boat on
Craigslist and I suspect he is out paddling it as we babble.

Thanks for the Replies
Yeah, it was SOF on Craigslist but have decided against it. Just don’t see myself getting out for a while as sitting in any boat right now will be a challenge. I was only toying with the idea but after reading up on it more that type of boat just isn’t going to swing it for me. Guess I was in one of those moods, grasping at straws to get out again. Some things you just can rush I guess.