Flat bottom canoe that is light and fast

I have been videoing all my paddles this spring (dozens around Florida and the South), and will be posting them on YouTube.

One way I film is to lash my tripod in the canoe so my videocam is stable and reachable from my solo position.

I think a flat bottom canoe would work better than the Hemlock SRT and Bell Wildfire I have been using. I’m after initial stability. But I would want a flat bottom canoe that is relatively fast, very light weight, and amenable to solo kneeling with a single blade. 14 to 16.6 feet would be OK.

I don’t have such a craft in my fleet. Any suggestions?

Remember that a flat bottom is not
synonymous with initial stability. And a flat bottomed canoe will not be “fast.” But I think if you select from amongst canoes designed for fishing or canoodling, you’ll get what you want.

Souris River
Souris River Q-16 Solo. It’s their 16 ft tandem set up for solo. Don’t own one, never paddles one, but Joe says they’re good. :slight_smile:

a couple of possibilities
The Wenonah Wilderness and Wenonah Prism both have very good initial stability and can be paddled kneeling if you get the bench seat. Neither has a flat bottom, but the shallow arch is relatively mild. Both are pretty efficient with a bent shaft and both can be paddled with a straight shaft. If I was going to be doing most of my paddling with a bent shaft, I would probably go with the Prism. If I was going to be spending more time with a straight shaft, I’d go with the Wilderness. Those are just my preferences, and yours may be different.

considered a helmet cam?

– Last Updated: May-05-10 9:47 AM EST –

As you are pretty good keeping your body upright and your head stable it might be an option..then you can still heel the boat to maneuver those twisty runs.

Some of those Wenonah models others mention come to mind..but I can't see you happy in one...

Particulary when you paddle a va'a too.

I think he wants to avoid camera bobble but he is very much into heeling the boat for turns(almost to the rail) and it might be so ingrained

My Peregrine is pretty flat bottomes and certainly the UL Merlin II is too. In this case it might be an asset.

Another Wenonah model to consider

– Last Updated: May-05-10 12:03 AM EST –

I paddled a Royalex Vagabond for a few years, and thought the stability was rock-solid. Not only is it a "fairly" flat-bottomed boat, it "firms up" quite a bit as soon as you lean just a little, creating a very secure feeling. It's not as flat-bottomed as an aluminum canoe or a Discovery, but it's also not "rolly-polly" in the water like some boats with very rounded bottoms. It's also not as fast as it WOULD be if it had a rounder bottom, but for a solo hull in Royalex, the Vagabond really does move along at a remarkable clip, and probably requires a bit less "horsepower" to move along at moderate speed than some of the larger Wenonahs which have faster top speeds (it's also lighter than those larger boats). It's not an exciting boat, but it sure fits your specs.

I would agree with that evaluation of the Vagabond. Not a bad boat for someone who likes to paddle without thinking about it much.

A john boat?

Look at
A Wenonah Solo Plus. Stable, descent speed, room for the camera…

good suggestion

Very stable, probably near as fast as you’ll get with such a stable boat, you can kneel in it, though I think it’s much better for sitting than kneeling.

Gimbal mount the camera.

– Last Updated: May-05-10 11:45 AM EST –

It's not the boat that's the problem.

A little two-axis Rube Goldberg arrangement would be a fun project for you. Once perfected, you could market them?

I am of like mind
and looking forward to those videos…and perhaps a guidebook though I have several.

Not the boats fault.

Gimbled Shmimbled
Let’s not skimp here. A gyroscopic mount is the way to go. I’m not sure where to find one but the idea is intriguing. While were at it, we could add a wireless feed so he could upload the videos in real time.

Marc Ornstein

Here ya go, Marco.
45 seconds on Google.


type of canoe not the issue
I tend to agree with the idea of a helmet cam for your application. I’ve tried filming both ways; mounting the camera rigid in a canoe and strapping it to my head. The footage while mounted solid sways and shakes WAY too much. Your viewers will literally get sea sick while watching it and end up turning their eyes away. Your body has a built in mechanism to keep it from swaying and it absorbs any shocks very well. Keep in mind though; your head is going to turn towards whatever your eyes are looking at. You must have a focus point when the camera is on to eliminate the “look here, look there, then back again” motion. It takes some practice being a human tripod.

I’m in the works developing a double gimbled steadycam mounting system. This will help eliminate the sway connected with the solid boat mount. It’s in the fine tuning stages; hopefully I’ll have a working prototype in a month or so. This will be great for flatwater filming but I believe the helmet cam will still be superior while in whitewater.

I guess my best advice for you would to use two cameras; one small handycam; handheld with your elbows tucked in by your sides, definitely while kneeling in the canoe, and a way to get it into a waterproof case FAST, a second helmet cam for times when you need to be handsfree. Helmet cams have come a long way in the past few years. Not only are they able to produce much better video (HD in some cases) but they have become much more affordable.

Good luck with your filming, i’m looking forward to seeing the results.

Mark Morrall

Morrall River Films

Thanks for replies so far
I am going to publish all my videos on YouTube eventually, after I edit them. My goal is to have a video “guidebook” of high quality flatwater paddling spots – showing the put-ins, take-outs, and spots of interest along the route, as well as any wildlife and wild life encountered along the way.

I’ve already rejected the helmet cam idea. They are too low quality, except for a couple of ridiculously priced exceptions, and I don’t want my camera view to be linked to my head movements. The helmet cam might be decent for whitewater runs. That’s not what I’m filming.

I use a new Sony HD videocam with the most advanced optical and electronic stabilization, and I attach to the canoe with Manfrotto superclamp devices as well as the lashed tripod.

I want the boat not to heel when filming while paddling. In my elliptical and round bottom solo canoes, paddled with a single blade correction stroke, I have to work to keep straight up because I paddle them with an almost permanent slight heel. Hit 'n switch paddling will cause a repeating bobble side-to-side unless I consciously try to avoid it.

I also want to be able to move around and reach for things without worrying about tipping.

My Old Town OTCA would be perfect but it doesn’t meet the light weight criterion. Neither would the flattish Old Town Tripper or Blue Hole OCA.

Maybe I should get a pontoon boat. In south Florida they seem to come with a bikinied blonde affixed to the bow. More realistically, I’ll check the specs on the Wenonahs and Souris Rivers when I get back home.

Heading north on Sunday from Florida – where my favorite river paddle was the north Withlacoochie River in Hamilton County – to paddle and video my favorite paddling paradise of them all: the Sparkleberry Swamp in Rimini, South Carolina. Then, on to Merchant’s Millpond and the Pine Barrens.

Stay away from the helmet cam

– Last Updated: May-08-10 6:49 AM EST –

The best videos I have seen have the camera mounted on the stern - like this one


Its nice to see the paddler, and the movement of the camera in conjunction with the strokes adds to the effect of being there (in my opinion).

I know its a WW video, and you're doing flatwater, but I still think it would work for you. Look forward to seeing your videos.

Found my ideal canoe

Look ideal: completely flat bottom with 3" of rocker.

Too bad I am unable to make anything. Maybe this fellow would make me one.

Also simple freefall bench seats
Ah simplicity.

Bench kneeling seats that can slide into any position, fall free in a dump, float, and serve as camp chairs.

This is a great canoe and seat system. I think I’ll torch all my carbon and kevlar.

I will gladly accept your WildFire
and give it a better home than the dump.