Drilling Wenonah Tuffweave


I have a Wenonah Wilderness in Tuffweave Layup. I’m planning to drill a hole just below the gunwales either side of the bow to thread a rope through. Presumably best to drill from the outside of the hull inwards (above the floatation chamber). Before I do so, just wondering if drilling this layup is likely to leave a clean hole? and if the layup would take up some water at that point, say if the canoe was capsized?

Not had this canoe long so haven’t yet practiced a capsize with it. Does the tuffweave layup have any inherent bouyancy or after a capsize will it be full to the brim and just afloat? I paddle on large open water/on the sea, sometimes alone, I’m wondering whether it’s worth fitting a couple of large airbags in case of a capsize just to reduce the amount of water then left in the hull.

I’ve drilled holes in composite boats for flotation bags without giving it a lot of thought and without encountering much difficulty. I’d start with a small bit and work up.

You may want to attach your grab loop or painter anchor closer to cutwater, though. Check out the recent thread titled “Painter Rings” for a couple of options.

Composite boats are dense and have no inherent buoyancy and thus require flotation tanks, unlike crosslink polyethylene or Royalex boats which have a foam core. Even with the float tanks, the swamped canoe will be virtually full to the gunnels and extremely difficult to empty unassisted.

Even with float bags, reentering a swamped boat is difficult. If you haven’t tried it, don’t assume you will be able to do it unless you practice. Two paddlers in a tandem boat have an easier time of reentering since one can stabilize the canoe from the opposite beam while the other makes his way in.

If you paddle alone on open water, any conditions under which you capsize are going to make unassisted reentry extrememly difficult.

Don’t drill quite yet…
Before you drill, two thoughts:

  1. Talk to these folks:


    They make a very good product that will help you avoid a bunch of the problems you (correctly) imagine. There is a phone number listed on the site and the gentleman who answers was most helpful about using his product as I restored an old Malacite for my daughter.

  2. In the past year here on Paddling.net there have been a number of very good strings about how to do this project yourself, accompanied by good photos. You might do a search for that. One of the culprits might even chime in to help you. What you want to do is a good idea, but you want to do it just once, eh? It is a topic that has some experts available to walk you through it.

Agree. I drilled exactly where you
want to so I could attach a carry loop to my Wenonah Voyager(Why doesn’t Wenonah do that?;Mad River does.)I used a drill bit with hole edge cutting spikes and went slowly. No problem.

36" Gaia lightweigh air bags would be
quite sufficient. If you develop re-entry skills, it is actually easier with smaller float bags. Then, if the waves are not still crashing over your gunwales, you will need to bail the water out while sitting low in the boat.