First Canoe

The Pelican Navigator is looking good to this 56 year old newbie (bad lower back). Its light (57 lbs), flat-bottomed, and wide (39"?). Sounds what I need for birding on lakes and slow rivers. Based on the physical specs and the great price, it seems like a good canoe for both tandem (with wife) and solo. Does anybody have any advice (other than bashing Pelican) or experience with this canoe. The write-up says “made for experienced paddlers”, this is what gives me pause.

Thanks in Advance.

Pelican canoes are like coleman ramx canoes and to me they are not a good boat. Coleman canoes paddle like barges. Use this site to read reviews of other boats and if you have a sporting goods store that has boat demo days, then go and try out lots of boats. I started out with an old Grumman, it was 15 feet long, weighed 80 pounds and was a great boat. Not fast but stable and easy to handle. It depends on where you are but I have paddled a Ranger canoe and it was very stable and fast. They are made on the east coast. It will take you down rivers and handle lakes just fine. They are beautiful boats. Look at Old Town, Mad River, and Bell. Spend a few more dollars and you can get a much better boat.

Flat bottom and wide means more
difficult to paddle, especially solo. A flat bottom canoe can give an illusion of stability. They’re great when you get in them and start paddling, but they don’t always have good secondary stability. You aren’t going to find many on a website like that will advocate buying a canoe like the one you suggest. Many of us have been that route, became disillusioned with the canoe and went looking for something better quickly.

My take

1.The canoe would be durable;

2. the price is probably good; and

3. 57 lbs isn’t too bad.


  1. Unless you and your wife are pretty light, say under 275 lbs combined, a 13’6" boat isn’t going to be big enough to hold both of you comfortably and safely (I have 7 canoes and all of them, including my 110 lbs wife’s solo are atleast 14’ long);

  2. the easiest way to paddle a tandem solo (assuming since you’re about my age that you’re not big on kneeling) is to sit on the bow seat and paddle backwards–and the room to do so looks pretty cramped from the pictures;

    3.the boat will paddle like a barge, although this may or may not bother you much, it can be a safety issue (say the wind blows you to the other end of the pond and you can’t get back)or a social isssue if you paddle with others (I don’t very much) but I don’t think that’s a big concern if you’re careful; and

  3. resale value isn’t good with Pelicans.

    If I were you, I’d want to try paddling it both tandem with your wife and solo (if those are your intended uses) and make sure it will work for you before buying.

    But if you want to stay in a comparative price range, then I’d probably look at a used aluminum Grumman, either 16 or 17’. There are lots of them around. I know that will hold you both and if you don’t like it or want to move up to a fancier boat, then you can sell it for the same $300 you bought it for (that’s how I got started–besides, it’s indestructible so you don’t have to keep it in the garage).

    Or if you’re going to be serious about paddling, try a bunch and buy what you want–a whole garage full of canoes is cheaper than one bass boat.

Don;t beleive that weight
I haven’t seen a single pelican that is less than about 80 pounds. I’d try to lift it before you buy it. If it is indeed that light I’d like to know where to get one. It might make a good drift/row boat.

They’re great canoes to grow out of
quickly, like the second or third time you paddle one.

At 13.5 feet the weight might be…
…correct. That’s as much as I can say in defense of the boat though. As bad as these boats are, lots of people use them and don’t mind, but a canoe this short is really too small for two people. You can put two people in a Jon boat that’s that short, but I wouldn’t want to do that with a canoe of that length.

If the original poster has his heart set on only spending a few hundred bucks while also getting a brand-new boat, he should get a 16- or 17-foot Pelican, but that boat will weigh as much as FrankNC says it will.

Cheap, great, aluminum canoe, D.C.

Light Weight Pelican
Pelican Navigator at Dick’s Sporting Goods

Its still a bit small for a tandem, too
wide to paddle well, and has limited secondary stability. Lean over too far and in you go.