I am looking for the best 3 seat family canoe. I would like one with oarlocks and good stability since my kids are very small. Do I need a flat stern or do the side motor brackets work just as well? Will be mostly fishing (plunking, no trolling) and just rowing…no long trips likely. I will be transporting it on top of the car so something lighter would be better. The Old Town Discovery 15 looks great but damn! It’s heavy! Thanks in advance for your help.
When our daughters were small, we just added a temporary seat or two - usually the lightest “plastic weave” back from a discarded stacking chair we could find - and lashed 'em in well amidships in whatever regular tandem canoe we had at the time. This worked just fine for us until they were literally able to paddle their own canoe.
OldTown third seat
I recently saw a drop in plastic seat that Old Town sells for their canoes. It fits right over the gunnels. Don’t know if it fits other canoes. I’ve never owned a square stern, but have heard and read that the don’t paddle as well. The square stern is not needed unless you are going to hang a motor over it and, even then, there are mounting brackets for motors that fit on to regular canoes.
You can also buy a regular wood/web canoe seat. Mohawk Canoes sells one for about $30. You cut it to fit and bolt it in just like the other seats, except put it in the middle.
cheap Infatable boat in the center
When my kids were small, I used one of those $30 inflatable boats that are sold at any beach shop or wall mart. I put it in the center then pumped it up. It gives them a soft bottom, room to move around, and best of all, it keeps them centered in the canoe. It also provides ready extra flotation should it be needed. As a final added bonus, you can add an couple inches of water to the boat and they have a canoe bound kiddie pool!
A two person boat entirely fills and tightens up in a Wenonah Spirit II from gunnel to gunnel.
Once they outgrew that, I used milk crates cut down to lower their center of gravity.