First time in my first canoe

-- Last Updated: Jun-19-10 9:15 PM EST --

Finally I got my first canoe, Penebscot 16 by Old Town. I like it a lot! Only problem I have is that after couple hours of trying my longest trip was one meter or two. Then - overboat and my wife and my dog laughing on me from the shore. They are smart and made me try first. After this I went to Cabelas and bought stabilizer - aluminum bar across the canoe with two floaters on the sides. Will try it tomorrow.

Question - am I hopeless old (50+ yo) person without any chance to paddle canoe normal way, without any "stabilizers" etc? Or it is like the bike - you have to learn it first?

– Last Updated: Jun-19-10 9:43 PM EST –

Are you sitting in the stern seat in the boat by yourself? If so that is your main problem. Most canoes are very tippy when used in that manner.

For solo you need to be a bit aft of the middle thwart.

Of course some will recommend that you turn the boat around and sit in the bow seat facing the back to paddle solo.

I was trying
I was trying to seet everywhere - front, back (sorry, stear, bow, sitting, kneeling) - same result. It was strong wind also, but I think I need more (and more :)) practise. I’m soooo jealous to see pictures of you guys paddling very relaxed way!

That doesn’t help when you are in it for the first time.

Don’t sit in the back (stern) when you’re alone in the boat. Otherwise, try to keep your weight centered in the boat whichever position you choose.

Make your wife sit in the other seat.

Make your wife sit in the other seat
Are you sure? Looks like it will be even more troubles…

your stabilizer floats are …

– Last Updated: Jun-19-10 11:05 PM EST –

...... an OK thing to do until you become more accustomed to the motions and movements of the canoe ... those floats can/will cause some drag in the water and create thier own problems to deal with .

Since you've gone ahead a purchased them , just think of them as trainer wheels , it's OK ... but , and this is a big "BUT" ... I will highly recomend that you "DO NOT" use these stabilizer floats in any river or moving waters (only still non-moving waters) , they can be/are a realistic danger in moving/river waters ... others can speake on this more , I gotta get some shut eye ... the river awaits early in the morning .

ps., ... fine choice of canoe , the Penob. is just "slightly" more challanging for beginning , but you will understand her in short order and be perfectly safe and comfortable in it ... and will be laughing at this experience before you know it .

Where do you live ?

– Last Updated: Jun-20-10 6:10 AM EST –

You need an experienced paddler to help you out and to teach you.

If you are serious about wanting to paddle a canoe don't use those spoonsons. Get your money back if you can.
Wait until there is a calm day, and try it then.
As you enter the canoe, lean over it and place one hand on the opposite side of it from where you are standing so that your weight will be over the center of the boat. Then get in all the while trying to keep your weight over the center.
Also have the boat in only a few inches of water.

Your best bet is to put some weight(like a concrete block) in the bow and you paddle from the stern.

Once you are seated, just sit there and get a good feel for it. If it starts to rock on you, just put your paddle over the side and into the bottom and hold it so it won't rock or until you are comfortable.
Keep the boat in the shallows, parallel to shore so that each time you feel that it is going to tip, you can put your paddle into the bottom to prevent it from tipping.
Then try slowly paddling forward. As you do it, make sure you are not leaning over the side.
Try it and see how you make out.
You should eventually get the hang of keeping it balanced and then finally being able to paddle forward.
When it comes time to turn the boat around, just get out of it and turn it around

Once you get comfy with that, report back and either I or some other paddler will give you the next step on steering and turning.

And yes, a person of any age can learn how to paddle and enjoy it.

Remember, boats don't tip over. People tip them over!

Jack L

Try Kneeling
Try kneeling in the boat to lower your center of gravity. A cheap closed-cell sleeping pad will make things easier on your knees.

The Penobscot is supposedly “tippier” than most, but that makes it better in other ways.

Going straight…
Because canoes have more exposure to wind than kayaks, you have to learn how to paddle them properly if you don’t want to get blown all over the place. It’s not a step you can skip like many do in little kayaks. I agree with the suggestion above that you find someone to teach you how to paddle this canoe.

As to the capsize issue, you have to learn how to stay balanced in it because you’ll have to get it over a little bit to turn it in wind. If you haven’t learned to stay balanced in the middle you certainly aren’t going to be able to do what is needed to turn it. Those stabilizers you got may be a good investment for if you decide to go fishing with it, or take out someone else who is a newbie, but they are not going to help you while you are learning how to paddle the canoe. If anything they’ll make it all take much longer.

Look - the water is warm now, if there is a time that you wouldn’t mind ending up taking a swim it’s this time of year. So just stay near shore and get used to it and risk the capsize for a a bit. You will find it to be much easier surprisingly fast.

Going for the second day
Thank you for the great advices! I’m about to go for second day on the water. I will try these floaters and will report then. What I particularly like about them is that you can adjust how far they are from the water level and how wide they are. Theoretically, I should be able to keep them close to boat and high enough so they will touch water only to prevent capsizing. It will give me more time to stay in the canoe (first day most time I spent pulling conoe back and drying it :)).

I hope this is like to learn how to ride a bike - a lot of fails at beginning, but then you even can’t understand how one can fail.

I love it
Another newbie comes here pretending to ask for advice and then goes about it his own way.

I have some advice that will top the stabilizer ridiculousness…

Buy a second identical canoe. Bolt them together. Install an outboard on your now pontoon boat. Don’t laugh. This isn’t as dumb as stabilizers.

I give up ! -NM

Jack L

Stabilizers, second day with first canoe
Wow, people really against these stabilizers!

I used them today and will report result later. Shortly - it works. And, I think, better then two canoes bolted together.

Reason is

– Last Updated: Jun-20-10 1:52 PM EST –

as long as you aren't trying to stand up and cast or something, the darned things are completely unnecessary if you just get used to the boat. Yes it may involve getting wet at first, but you'll get little sympathy for that one. Especially since the first time you go over with them deployed you'll have much more difficulty remedying the situation.

Even standing to fish…
…the floats are not needed. I stand to fish in my Penobscot all the time. Several others here who do the same, and we also stand to pole them upstream.

Dmitry, you’ve done half of what is often advised here. You skipped past the “beginner” boats and started with a canoe that is known for pretty good performance. But then you “detuned” it drastically with the addition of pontoons. I won’t chastise you for that if it keeps you in that boat long enough to become comfortable and then take them off. It may prove to be cheaper and quicker than the method I used - starting with a “beginner”

canoe and trading up as I learned.

You didn’t mention if you have any physical handicap - so assuming not, your main goal at first is to get comfortable and learn to keep your hips loose and your head centered above the canoe (think “plumb line”). Once you’ve done that, you should be able to sell those pontoons and start learning to paddle.

Don’t give up on that Penobscot - it’s a good boat that you won’t get bored with. Seek out some formal instruction if it’s available in your area. If not - get a copy of the book “Paddle Your Own Canoe”.

Help is available
Call the American Canoe Association or go online and find the nearest Essentials of Touring Canoe Instructor.

Call them, go take a lesson. The initial learning curve can be steep, but a lesson shortens it considerably.

Second day on the water
I have to answer a couple of questions and statements:

To jackl: “Where do you live?” - I’m in the Bartlett, IL, west Chicago’s suburb.

To Cliffjrs: “Another newbie comes here pretending to ask for advice and then goes about it his own way.” - you are right that I’m newbie and am looking for advices. And I’m taking all advices seriously and thanksfully (not counting, however, your one about bolting two canoes). It may be news for you, but most people are listening for other people opinion and apply this opinion to their concrete situation. We will never have any progress if people blantly follow up previous people experience. But all this strictly IMHO.

About floaters (stabilizers). My wife and I, both over 50 years of age and well over 400 lb total, never been in the canoe before (not counting me capsizing several times yesterday) was able spent two hours paddling and not getting wet any single time! We are happy and proud of ourself. Firstly I put them all the way out and setup floaters all the way down. Then, after short try, I move it half way out and half way down. And this was very comfortable setup. I was able to try different types of strokes and was pleasant how easy it was to keep canoe strait. By the end of the exercise I move floaters all the way close to boat and as high as it go, so there was about 3" between floaters and water. I paddled alone seating on the bow seat facing back. Yes, it was tipping a lot, but never capsize! And more I paddled, less it was tipping and less floaters was touching water. I’m happy. Sorry if I dissapointed several experts here :slight_smile: - summer is too short!

Next week I’ll be able to go to Racine, WI where is a very shallow bay. I hope to spend whole day there and try all recommendations I got here without stabilizer. Also, will work on the “get back to canoe” drills.

And, no, I’m not going to give away this canoe, I like it!
There are a lot of Bill Mason videos on the internet that can give you some pointers.

When it comes to tipping issues, most important thing is to keep your paddle in the water. It will act as an outrigger and can be useful for bracing in rough water or when someone is getting into / out of the boat. If you can kneel you will find it improves the stability a great deal. I never feel super comfortable in a canoe while sitting on the seat and choose to kneel almost all the time.

formal instruction options plentiful
in your location in Bartlett, IL


Elmhurst, IL