fiberglass in WW?

Hi All, I have a 16’ Ranger canoe(Kevlar reinforced fiberglass)

Any thoughts if I should take this canoe in class II and III rapids? it feels so light im a little worried about wrecking it on a rock.

I am mostly paddling around lakes and bays, but I want to take it up to the West river in Vermont in late September when they release the dam.

any advice appreciated!

You know … Rocks …
… only you can determine if you are willing to bang some rocks with it ??

It’s one of the more expensive , lighter canoes , but they can be beat up on some just like any other canoe . It’s strickly your choice , you own it …

Dam release ?? Well looks like it has 3/4" of rocker anyway . Quick water maybe OK , but I wouldn’t think any serious WW stuff . Don’t think it’s a WW banana boat .

No, you shouldn’t, you’ll die
Do you have any ww experience at all?

Do you have float bags for the boat?

I’ve seen folks run the West from the campground down in non-ww canoes. Those with skill do ok. Those without swim.

fiberglass in ww
Thanks for the reply, I used to go a lot… 20 years ago. (never thought Id say that) We used old beat up heavy canoes. this one is so light I worry about how it will stand up to the odd rock - though I do aim to avoid them =]

It has two float pockets in the bow and stern, should I have additional ‘float bags’?

I don’t know the river you speak of, and have no experience with ranger canoes, so take my advice with some salt.

It seems that a polyester-resin, foam-core, 55lb e-glass canoe is made to be light and stiff and not terribly expensive. All those things will make it vulnerable to cracking under severe stress.

A heavy plastic tub (old town discovery, novacraft sp3) will be much much more impact resistant.

In the event you do smash up your fibreglass boat, though, it will be fairly easy to repair.

don’t do it
If you have to ask whether you need more floatation than the bow/stern compartments, I’d say you don’t know what you are getting into . Even the lower West, let alone the upper section, could swamp such a boat , which has relatively low maneuverability . Once a glass boat gets swamped, it’s toast.

I would hesitate to run your boat down
the Nantahala, a river I know so well that I can “play” it in my dreams. As Eric Nyre says, the issue isn’t so much the boat construction as it is whether you can control such a boat well enough to get it down the West.

I’m just outfitting and getting used to a Millbrook “Big Boy”, a 13’ ww boat, S-glass outside, Spheretex stiffened, Kevlar inside. It weighed about 32# new, and with outfitting is probably in the upper 40s. I’m not concerned about swamping (the boat is 17" deep) and I’m not concerned about hitting rocks because boats with this layup do not break easily. But, on those occasions where I may run something super difficult and/or rocky, especially something I haven’t seen before, I may revert to my old Royalex Mad River Synergy, losing some boat handling but gaining an extra measure of indestructibility.

I don’t think it is possible to build a composite boat that is as durable as it would be in Royalex, but a lot of people disparage “fiberglass” when the only FG boats they have paddled or seen on whitewater were old chopper gun pickle boats.

The Lower West from Jamaica State Park down to the Townsend dam is rated class II. The current is strong and fast but there aren’t many features to manuver around. There are some rocks just below the soccer field where many folks put in, some nice wavetrains to swamp you after the island, and some boat eating holes just above the Rt 100 bridge (sneak on the left).

I’d happily take your Ranger down that if it were mine. I would outfit it with as much flotation as I could stuff in but that’s only to protect the boat in case it got swamped. With only the built in chambers swamping would likely result in a pin. I’d expect to be picking up bits of boat for a long way after a that.

I am confident I could paddle that boat without any trouble there. Otherwise I might prefer to take a Royalex or Poly boat.

If you havn’t already you might want to try the Fife Brook section of the Deerfield before you take on the West. Except for Zoar Gap, which you don’t have to run, that is MUCH less demanding than the Lower West.

Good Luck,


16 foot canoe

Fiberglas layup

3/4 inch of rocker

Class 2/Class 3 water

Can it be done?


Should you try it?

Probably not.

If you mess up; you won’t need to ask questions about whether you should try it again.

Post some photos if you decide to “go for it”.

I’ll bet I’m not the only one on pnet who loves to marvel at carnage photos of long, fiberglas canoes, tacoed on boulders.



Gee, you would’ve loved watching
the wife and me, taking our 18.5’ Moore Voyageur down Chattooga 3 at 2.1 feet! Of course we portaged Dicks and the Bull, and I soloed the boat through 2nd ledge and Eye, but we were never even close to disaster. But then, the Moore ran absolutely dry as long as it was pointed straight. We did get some ledge damage under the stern, easily repaired.

A lot depends on how well one knows the run in question. But as I said above, I would be reluctant to run that Ranger even down the Nanty. And if the original poster does not know that stretch of the West really well, why risk a nice boat?

Never close to disaster…

– Last Updated: Sep-15-08 3:38 PM EST –

You know the Chattooga section 3; based on previous posts you have paddled it on several/numerous occasions.
How well does the original poster know the West river section he's considering paddling?
Do his paddling skills match yours?

You were never near disaster.....but.....
You didn't run Dicks Creek Ledge, or Bull Sluice.
You soloed 2nd Ledge, and Eye Of The Needle.
You didn't say what you did at Painted Rock?

You ended up with damage to the stern of your boat.
Easy for you to repair.
What damage might the original poster's boat receive?
Does the original poster have the boat repair skills you do?

I do understand the concept of a challenge.
I don't understand taking a 16 foot, fiberglas canoe with 3/4" of rocker, obviously not designed for whitewater out on same. Is the challenge to see if you can do it without tearing up the boat?

I wouldn't understand taking a Mohawk Viper, or Rodeo to the boundary waters?
Or taking a Placid Boatworks Spitfire across Lake Superior?

But I don't have to understand; his boat, his option, possible natural consequences, also his.


Actually I soloed Painted Rock, not Eye
but your points are well taken.

Back in the day, all the kayakers were paddling FG boats, so anytime someone tried something new and difficult, incidents and duct-taping were inevitable. What if we had never developed boat materials more durable than aluminum? We’d have managed.

If you get a chance to read Doug Woodward’s river autobiography, you’ll see someone tackling fairly difficult rivers that NO ONE had run before, using totally unsuitable craft.

Yeah, I wouldn’t put his boat on the West. He has options. Back in the day, the only options were the wrong way, and no way at all.