electric canoe

-- Last Updated: May-11-07 5:50 AM EST --

I'm sure a trolling motor on a canoe will offend hardcore paddlers' but I'm also certain that many paddlers use trolling motors for various reasons. Has anyone, considered mounting a trolling motor directly to the rear of a dble ended canoe using foot controls etc. (i.e. like how creek boats are rigged, see http://www.creekboats.com/) Pros? Cons? How to?

Tried it
It make the canoe really really unstable even with that big heavy battery down in the middle. It also weather cocked so badly that in any wind I could only go upwind.

Get a square stern. You can build
a mounting system to do it, but you’ll need a long handle on the motor and, as Frank said, it’ll freak out the control of the canoe. As light as trolling motors are, side mounting makes more sense.

What I would try:

– Last Updated: May-11-07 10:59 AM EST –

I think this sounds very do-able. If you want foot-controlled steering, I'd mount a plywood deck on the gunwales as close to the end of the boat as the upward curvature of the rails will allow, such as right over the stern seat. Bolt the bracket of a bow-mount trolling motor diagonally on that plywood deck, positioned in such a way that when the trolling motor is deployed, the shaft drops down alongside the hull, and hopefully a bit to the rear of the decking where the boat is even narrower.

Building your own foot controls for a standard hand-controlled motor would be pretty straight-forward if you have some building skills. It would be a lot cheaper. I'd still mount the motor to some kind of bracket which is fastened to some length of the gunwales on boths sides of the boat, rather than clamping it to the side of the boat. You should have a ridged framework of some kind to distribute the load over a wider area than a single-point attachment will allow (unless you use a square-stern boat).

The biggest problem I foresee is that bowmount trolling motors are a lot bigger (and heavier, which will be an issue when the motor is folded onto the deck) now than they used to be, and they also have shafts that are way longer than what would be best for a canoe. I have a 1976 model that would work well for your application, because the mounting bracket is quite compact (about 14 inches long when the motor is in the operating position), and the shaft is only "a little bit" too long for a canoe. Such an old-time motor would be the way to go, but I expect you either all ready have a motor or will be buying one new.

One thing to remember
In some state once you put a trolling motor on a canoe it becomes a power boat and subject to the same rules.

You may need to register it as a power boat, have number on it, carry a fire extinguisher, other things.

Just a thought.

There are problems…
The others have pointed out some problems. There just aren’t good new foot-control motors available for what you want to use it. Closest might be the Minnkota Edge 40 pound thrust foot control.

Your biggest problem is probably going to be raising the motor out of the water.

I once rigged up a foot control motor for my Old Town Pack solo canoe. I happened to have a very old Shakespeare foot control motor, which had a regular transom mount and simple gears to operate the foot control. To raise it vertically out of the water, you had to lift it straight up, but you could also tilt the prop end upwards until the shaft was horizontal, by pulling out on a knob to release the catch and then pulling the top end of the motor. I studied it for a while, and finally figured out a real hillbilly way of rigging the whole thing. I took a 12 inch long 1 X 8 inch plank, bolted a 7.5 inch piece of 2 X 4 across one end of it, and attached it to the front end of the canoe by running bolts through the plank and down through the gunwales and end cap of the canoe in four places. The end of the plank with the 2 X 4 stuck out from the front end of the canoe, with the 2 X 4 on the end of it serving as a “transom” upon which to mount the trolling motor. I put a big eye bolt in the end of the 2 X 4. Then, I attached one end of a loop of nylon rope to the release knob on the trolling motor, ran it through the eye bolt, back to the center seat of the canoe, and then attached the other end of it to the top of the trolling motor. By pulling on one side of the loop with it running through the eye bolt, I could pull out on the release knob, then by pulling the other side of the loop, I could tilt the motor so that the top came toward me and the prop end lifted out of the water…pull it far enough and it would lie horizontally. I kept part of the mounting bracket that surrounded the shaft of the motor very loose and lubricated, so that the shaft would easily slide up and down through it, and when I wanted to re-deploy the motor, I simply lifted UP on the end of the rope that was attached to the top of the motor, while pulling on the other end to release the tilt knob. The weight of the power head pulled the motor downwards and tilted it back to vertical.

It actually worked VERY well. I had a long enough power cord to be able to stow the battery well behind me in the canoe in order to balance the load. The other problem I ran into was that it was difficult to operate the foot control from the low seated position in the canoe, but I solved that by mounting the foot control to another plank so that it was tilted kinda like the accelerator pedal on your car. I used it for a couple of years whenever I was fishing flat water or a local river that had a lot of long, dead pools. Eventually I got rid of the Pack, and didn’t rig up my new solo for trolling motor use.

I’d tried the Pack with a standard canoe motor mount, but the shortness of the canoe meant that a motor off center either to the front or rear would make the canoe travel at an angle when under power. Mounting the motor so that it was on the very front end of the canoe solved this problem. I found it to be very adequately stable.

Don’t know if any of this gives you any ideas…this is definitely something you must experiment with. It’s probably doable, but it will take some thought and some modifications. By the way, a lot of good marine dealers will be able to shorten the shaft of the trolling motor as much as you need for use in a canoe.