I took the family down to a popular canoe livery yesterday for a canoe ride. We have done this one other place before and had a great time. This includes the dog 22lbs, my daughter 270lbs, me 250, and a 110-lb woman. The people for the livery insisted we could all go in the same canoe. As soon as we were pushed into the water fully and the canoe got going we tipped over. We were told that we could divide up and take separate canoes, but that my daughter and I would have to kneel the whole 7-miles down the river. (This is not white water). Very calm lazy river.We tried kneeling with our butts against the canoe seat while we were on the bank to see how it would feel, but that did not feel good at all and when we got a little in the water, we were still unstable. The man was very apologetic, but said it was because as larger individuals our center of gravity was too high. Is this true? How come I didn’t tip over before, and is there a cane that would meet my needs? I really would like to get into the sport.

don’t worry
I weigh around 260 lbs, and have paddled lots of canoes with other people and solo (probably never a 270 pound person and a 110 pound person though). My point is that you should not get discouraged. Tipping over is less about your inherent center of gravity than about your balance and how much you move around. When I first started I felt tippy in even very wide stable canoes, but then I realized that I was throwing my weight around while paddling and that’s what was rocking the boat. I have found it helpful to sit on a yoga ball with my feet lightly resting on a chair, and pivoting my upper body around to improve balance and get used to the sensation of keeping my back straight while rotating rather than leaning all around while I paddle. I hope that you give it another try.

That is a LOT of weight for even a 20’ tandem boat. You didn’t mention just what canoe you used. Canoes aren’t like automobiles…the nearer to the gunwales the waterline gets, the more unstable a canoe becomes. Always find out the max weight a particular hull supports.


When in doubt,
rig a pair of canoe sponsons. http://www.voyageur-gear.com/downloads/instructions/3580-6340.pdf#search=‘sponsons’

No guarantee.

True Novice
I thank you all for your help. I will read up more and try again. I enjoy the water very much and like canoeing although I am a long way from having one of my own, I aspire to one day.

A couple of thoughts:
First on the “center of gravity”, the guy was correct. The lower your seat is, the less tippy your canoe will be.

You didn’t say what length, width and kind of canoe you were in, but I’ll bet if you found a wide eighteen footer, and then lowered all the seats, you just might be in business.

I lowered the seats on two racing canoes and it is amazing the difference that just an inch makes.

See if you can rent one as I described above and try it, and then if it feels more stable and you want to buy one and want to persue something like lowering the seats, post back and I and others will explain how to lower them.



Get a wider canoe
Go find a wide canoe, test paddle it, then buy it. Liveries will charge a nominal fee to take you up river.

This, or get a couple BIG solo canoes.

I have several large friends who kayak and canoe. Works just fine in the right boats…

luck of the draw
at the Mohican livery I have heard of many people “just flipping” for no apparent reason. I, of course, don’t believe them and assume they did something “wrong”. these friends of mine that have just flipped have also gone without flipping, and some traded canoes and were fine.

I would just say to keep trying. Time in the boats will make you more comfortable. It isn’t like the mighty Mohican is a killer river, so who cares if you flip a few times? and if you ever want another person to come along I would love it. That would make a nice even four-some, and give you a set of eyes to see what you do right and what you do wrong. I have a lot of fuller figured female friends, so I am familiar with ability and comfort concerns and the like.


living it up in Canton

You must keep your weight over
the canoe. It sounds like someone leaned too much to one side. Even a loaded canoe won’t flip if paddled correctly. It might not be able to handle waves but it won’t flip.