Family of 4 are looking for a canoe

Hi everyone! We are new on this forum. Let us introduce our family. I am 35, my hubby is 39, and two girls 9 and 16. We are a very active family. Recently, we decided to buy a canoe and try it. We are loooking toward calm lakes and rivers. What would be better to buy: one long expedition type canoe for a whole family 19’ or two smaller ones.

Two smaller ones
Two 16 or 17 foot tandems would be your best bet.

The girls are at the age where they can learn the proper strokes for tandem paddling, and you guys can switch back and forth.

Dad and mom, dad and daughter, Mom and daughter, daughter and daughter, and then each of you can try the bow or the stern.

cheers, and

happy New year,


two canoes and make the girls’ canoe a
Wenonah Solo Plus. It is a great tandem for smaller sized paddlers. And, it will make a pretty good solo for a larger person too. With one of the boats being a Solo Plus, you’ll essentially have three canoes, 'cept you can’t paddle them all at the same time.

My wife…
really likes our Wenonah Solo Plus. She’s 5’2" and our daughters are 8 and 12. She was really impressed with how stable it is. One thing my daughters don’t like is sitting in the middle of our 17’ canoe. They are ok for awhile but get bored within an hour. They like to be in the bow paddling and “reading the river”. And they like to just lollygag and look around too! :slight_smile:

Your kids are older, and I agree, they would more likely be happy with their own canoe.

Another thought
Chances are you won’t all want to go out at the same time, and if you and your husband, or some other combination of 2 people want to go out on a day trip, a smaller tandem canoe will be more fun and easier to paddle than a large 19’ monster.


Wat they said…
But yer might consider one of dem smaller tandems bein’ an Old Town Penobscot 16. Great tandem fer soloin’.


where to find it
Thank you guys for your help. We will look around. We live in san diego area and do not know where to find a canoe to try it our first. My husband is all about water! he is a very good scuba diver, but we do not know where to check our the canoes.

Might Try Local Rental Dealers
Where you can sample a variety of boats, and maybe get a deal on a older rental/demo if you wish to save some $$. Also possibly “google” for a local canoe club whose members are often willing to share a ride in their different boats.

4 - Kayaks or 2 - Kayaks & 1 Canoe
as a kayaker I just couldn’t let that get by without offering another alternative.

I’ll bet the girls would rather have kayaks than a canoe. Those are tough years and canoe (even tandem kayaks) can be trying.

how about 1 kayak and 1 canoe
and leave the 16-year-old teenager at home.

Sorry, but perhaps you have not reached the point where your teenager is not going to want to hang out with the family, especially if it means beginning a new sport that looks dorky to her friends.

Having survived the upbringing of kids through the teen years, I don’t recommend leaving 'em back home by themselves. OTOH, when they make up their mind they don’t want to do something, you will usually end up paying a price if you make them do it. They can, while comlying with your commands, make themselves such a PITA that you regret having had children, but still, don’t leave them back home by themselves. Find another alternative, any other alternative.

I would also suggest once you are out paddling, to change boats, partners, and positions on a regular basis.

I hope you are lucky and your daughters take to paddling. It has been my experience that kids into outdoor activities are the nicest children I meet. But I don’t think you can force them to like it.


16 y old
My 16 y. old wants to try it together with family. Her friends are all doing some sports, and generally, are very supportive. Thanks. We will try to find something.

Wenonah Canoes
Check out the Wenonah Canoes at

I like them!!! We already looked at them, but we do not have any dealer here in san diego to try

Ditto Newport Beach dealer
It’s only 1.5 hrs away from your place. Look into Spirit II.

1 canoe and 1 sit-on-top kayak
I own the Wenonah Kingfisher in Tuf-weave. I really enjoy it! We use a kayak paddles (already owned the paddles for my yaks) to paddle it and/or also use a 30-lb trolling motor that I use for fishing and crabbing from it. The Kingfisher is 40" wide, if I wasn’t using it for crabbing and only just fishing then I probably would have bought the Adirondack or Spirit II. I’ve never paddled the Adirondack or Spirtit II but I bet they paddle nice at 36" wide. Get Tuf-weave (fiberglass) or Flexcore (kevlar) if you can afford it.

The answer your original question, get two. A 16-foot canoe and maybe a 12 or 14-foot sit-on-top kayak (Tarpon 120, Prowler 13, Tarpon 140). Your husband could also use the sit-on-top kayak for scuba diving in the ocean. Sit-on-top kayaks are easy to get back on it from the water.

So many options and opinions
I think as I read through all the responses I agreed with each one. That is good an bad. There is no right answer, it is just up to your personal choice. Which was the reason to come on and ask about things, to help you make up your mind.

I don’t know how you are set for money, but it is just about ALWAYS my biggest concern.

There are so many options but the better the option the more costly it seems. If it were me, and I didn’t worry too much about money I would probably get a WeNoNah Spirit II, a Penobscott and an Old Town Cayuga 160 kayak. That would give everyone an option and always be able to accomodate what ever the situation calls for.

Then comes the question of transportation. it is hard enough with two canoes, now throw on a kayak, and we are getting into trailers or creative strapping.

Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to talk you out of any of this, and i am not trying to sound derogatory, I am just looking into the other sections. I mean you are going to have to buy 4 decent life vests, 5 paddles (for two canoes) a kayak paddle if that gets in the works, a rack or car-topping kits, I don’t know if you have state registry required where you live (we do in Ohio), there are a lot of incedentals and small items that will add up the more boats you get. The rest of us don’t mind, we have part of it already and are prepared to keep buying more stuff, but sticker shock can hit HARD when beginning.

There are so many options. We can all give you ideas all day and tell you how much we love our boats, but it is going to come down to you and availability of products. You have a whole clan that could constitute having a fleet of boats, or you could say “forget the kids, we are buying a boat for us and using it to get away” you can do what ever you want. Just don’t let money hold you back, go the extra mile when it comes to paying for comfort and safety and all that.


who’s post may have seemed disconjointed due to MANY interuptions over the time writing this. SO I appologize if that is the case.

two of the same model
If your husband is a diver two canoes of the same model are easy to lash into an awesome lake diving catamaran. It is also good for hauling heavy supplys.

One model I think paddles great solo or tandem is the old town penobscot 16.

If I was really short on cash an didn’t need to carry much of a load I’d get two of the Mad river explorer 14 tt models. They are smaller heavier and less expensive, but they are very durable, well made, and paddle well.

hold on partner
You don’t recommend leaving a 16-year-old home alone for a few hours on a weekend afternoon?

As my teenagers are now 24, 25, and 30 years of age please allow me to state that if a parent can’t leave their teenager home alone for a few hours something is very, very wrong.

Also, in my experience, at age 16 guys are only interested in cars and girls are only interested in guys, so good luck with the canoe thing!

canoes for family of four
Here is a sight for Bell Canoes, check the dealer locator list. I think they have one in Irvine Ca.