Greetings all,

being that this is my first post, I will start with a little about myself.

I am a 37 y/o married father of two boys (3&9) from North East Texas working as a paramedic.

I have been an avid camper all my life and the has carried over to my wife and boys.

When I was a kid, I took several canoe trips on local rivers with the Boy Scouts. As of late I have been itching to get back on some rivers around here.

I am planning a series of solo trips along the Sabine river in the upcoming year. Starting off small with a day trip, to an over-niter and work myself up to doing the length of the river.

My first thought were to start learning and shopping for a kayak. How ever I am on a very limited budget (paramedics don’t make much money) and began to consider a canoe. I canoe would give me more versatility for use with my family when I am not taking a solo trip. I also have more experience with a canoe, but that was 20 years ago, so it is as if I am stating from scratch.

I have been educating my self as much as I can, and as apart of that I have come here for advice from those with experience.

I may go the kayak route in the future but for now I want to stick with a canoes, but I need a advice. I am asking a lot but don’t have the budget to spend a lot.

I need a canoe that I can take on my solo trips that won’t kill me after a days worth of paddling, and can be portaged without breaking my back. I have no intention of seeing any rapids or white water. Not yet at least.

As well as river travel, I plan to take it out on the lakes of the area. I plan on carrying the kids along on some day trips and maybe an overniter after I feel comfortable with my skill level, while they are still small. In a few years we may need on get a companion kayak for the older boy.

I would love to keep this at the $300 range, but shopping around I can see this is unlikely.

Any advise or direction would be greatly appreciated.

In addition, I am a member of wilderness skills groups (hoods woods for those of you that may know it) and every so often, almost like clockwork, we get someone that shows up and announces that they are going off on a solo wilderness trip int to the bitterroot mountains (or some city park) with just a knife and a pack of crackers. No matter the fact they have no real experience.

I am sure that happens here from time to time. I am here to be educated, so if you think I am stupid for even thinking of a solo trip with no real experience in the last 20 years, I understand. But don’t just call me stupid and walk away, tell me why you think so and what other options I should consider



no your’re not stupid for thinking …

– Last Updated: Aug-20-10 9:08 PM EST –

...... about something you'd like to do .

Please proof read future post (preview function) prior to posting next time . Your spelling and/or typos are worse than mine and it's irritating . Not expecting perfection , just try harder .

Welcome to the forums , much good experience and advice being shared on here , much nonsense as well but mostly all good .

I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to
grammar skills, but I didn’t think your writing was all that bad. It was maybe a little telegraphic in style, but I didn’t find it irritating.

Anyway, welcome to pnet, from a fellow Texan, and one from roughly your part of the state (albeit a little South of you, as I live in Houston.) I grew up in the northern park of Harris County, so I am one of those Texan, like you, who feels at home in pine forests.

You ARE asking a lot…
from one canoe. There are a lot of canoes that will work for you, but unless you can find a used one, it will be tough to find one for $300. Few if any new ones, even the really cheap, junky ones, are that low. A lot of us could give you advice on canoes that will work well for you if price is not in the equation. But another way to go about it would be for you to check around and see what’s available that you can afford, and then ask us about it and somebody can surely tell you whether it’s workable or not.

Here’s What Worked for Us…

– Last Updated: Aug-20-10 10:35 PM EST –

...many years ago. We had two young daughters, and bought our first canoe - a well-used 14' cedar and canvas Trembley - for $200. It did us just fine for a few years, but with the girls growing and Scottie the Canoe Dog and our camping gear aboard, it got to be a tad too small for us.

By then, we'd made a number of paddling friends, and let them know we were looking for something a bit bigger and very cheap. Friends of a friend had a 16' home-built fiberglass canoe the guy had moulded some years before that wasn't being used, and offered to 'sell' it to us for two bottles of Mateus Signature white wine - total cost, $28.

It was a godsend, and, in reality, a very generous gift from people who enjoyed seeing a young family without much money on the water more than they enjoyed seeing the canoe mouldering away in the back yard. When we purchased a better used canoe some years later, we in our turn passed the Mateus Special along to a couple in our family who needed a canoe but couldn't afford very much.

That sequence of events started us on a lifetime of paddling as a family, and my wife and I now have a fleet of 2 canoes and four kayaks - the canoes were both bought used, and we've built three of the four kayaks. We have less invested in our fleet than friends have tied up in their 'top-of-the-line' boat...

So maybe you could get whatever you can afford now, start making paddling friends, and keep mentioning your need for a bigger but affordable canoe. There are boats mouldering away in backyards whose owners would probably be willing to cut a young family a "gift of a deal" for the pleasure of seeing you and your family enjoying life on the water...

two words of advice

– Last Updated: Aug-20-10 11:36 PM EST –

Shop used.
It sounds like you'll stick with it and you'll also expand your horizons. The canoeists here can tell you more about this, but there are numerous used canoes out there. Since you will expand your horizons, it's likely you'll either trade up or add to your fleet. Don't shop for the final be-all end-all boat. That way you'll spend less time second-guessing your decision also.
If you're canoeing flatwater and you have experience backcountry hiking, use good judgement and you'll be fine on a solo trip. My first kayak trip was solo and it's what got me started.
Shop used.

to clarify
First, the spelling errors. I have mild dyslexia. It has slowed my reading a bit, but I cannot spell. It is much better than it once was, but I am utterly dependent on spell checkers and there is a bit of an inherent failure rate for me there as well.

Sorry if it is irritating, it is for me also.

Thanks for all the advise. I want to clarify that I am not expecting to get anything for $300. That is what I had in my mind when I started looking into this, and quickly found that to be unrealistic. I have not set a limit, but I am still in a tight budget.

One question I failed to get across is what should I look for. What features and characteristic will hold up to the versatility that I am asking for. Not so much as to “this is how much I have, what should I buy”

I have been looking into buying used. I have been checking Craig’s list and the local classifieds for used canoes and so far with little to not luck

Again, thank you for your time and replies

I found and purchased a Pelican Dakota 15.5 today for $250. A lower end canoe, but the price was right ans it gets me in the water sooner.

Way to go Dad!
Get a cart for your canoe and consider adding a rowing rig to it.

For more details on canoe rowing you can look at the yahoo group I started here:

Nice, I’ve got one as well
Suits me and my family of 4 just fine. May not meet all your eventual needs, but it will get you on the water just fine. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts you bought it at Academy. :wink:

but that is werhe it came from

congradulations …

– Last Updated: Aug-24-10 2:42 PM EST –

....... now you can begin to get comfortable in a canoe again . Each time you go out you'll be noticing different things that have an effect on the overall picture .

As you suggested before , your experience , competence (and confidence) will grow little by little as you encounter the many different aspects of just what you and a canoe can (will) get into .

You'll find your comfort zone will expand as you take on greater challanges , but don't allow over confidence to substitute for lack of knowledge , experience and common sense .

I'm not saying "paddling" a canoe is a difficult thing to do , quite the opposite . And it is this relative ease of one being able to just jump in and paddle that can get you into trouble (or worse) .

For the most part as a beginner , common sense and just plain fear will keep you out of harms way . But as you expand your horizons , you may (will) encounter more challanging water , obstical and weather enviroments .

There are dangers that will need to be understood in advance so as to have the ability to manage them well . Risk management is the key to success and an as planned outcome . As with all elevated risk activities , your "judgement" is going to be your strongest (or weakest) asset .

There is a wealth of knowledge in reference to paddling , gained by the experiences of others before us that has been put down by the written word , illustration and photo ... aquire it , read it , "understand" it , don't go into this blind .

It's too easy to say "of course I understand what drowning means" , because although drowning in itself is easily understood as dying ... the many possible scenarios that can lead up to that final event are the things that a paddler needs to always be aware and conscience of ... remember , drowning is what happens last after the fatal errors have been made . Learn in advance where the pitfalls are , plan in adavance how you will manage each one of them .

Always , and I mean "always" ... have an out , a plan B , something in reserve , or whatever you want to call it .

For what it's worth (and I think priceless) , check out Tamia's archive of written work here on under "Articles" - "In the Same Boat" ... a wealth of experience , knowledge and information , and she has a unique and enjoyable writing style that is inviting .

Best to you , it's always just another mile or two ahead of us no matter how far you go , so no need to rush ...

Pilotwingz That Was Great
Congrats on the new boat, and Pilotwingz had some very insightful thoughts. I get funny looks and smirks oftentimes on the river in the summertime by the no-PFD crowds. But, stuff happens and sometimes you need to be prepared. WW