help for a beginner?

Well, like the title says, I’m a beginner. Actually, i’ve never even canoed or kayaked. So, im a beginning beginner. Ive tried to do reasearch on my own but there is a lot more to picking out the right canoe than i initially anticipated and since its not exactly a cheap purvhase i want to be confident in my choices.

I was initially torn between canoeing and kayaking but because id like to take my small daughter with me sometimes and my fur baby i chose a canoe as we can all fit comfortably.

Now that i made that decision i dont know how to take the next step and pick the right one.

I’ll mainly be canoeing in the rivers by our house. Starting out obviously i wont be going for more than a few hours at a time. But i would eventually like to go for day trips/overnight camping. Im sure once i buy it my boyfriend will want to take it out for fishing trips.

Im a small girl. 25. Im obviously not the strongest and im worried about how difficult paddling and manuevering the boat would be for me.

Im not sure what other inormation might be considered important when picking a canoe. If i failed to include something just ask.

If anyone can give me any advice to help me pick my first canoe i would greatly appreciate it.

of things to consider. First, what kind of rivers are they near your house? I would assume they are slow and mostly flat water. If not…if they are even a little fast, you’ll need some practice and probably instruction before going out on them with a kid and a pet. And instruction wouldn’t be a bad idea no matter what. Also, the type of water will have a bearing on the kind of canoe you want.

Second, how do you plan to load and unload the canoe? Understand, unless you want to spend the bucks on an ultralight design, any tandem canoe you buy will weigh 60-80 pounds. If going with only your child, you’ll have to be able to handle the loading and unloading yourself. It’s doable with an 80 pound canoe even for a smaller female, but the lighter it is the better.

So give us a bit more information on where you are.

Id recommend something that is 15 to 16 feet long. If you got the dollars to spend, then look into a composite canoe that will be light weight. If weight isnt an issue, then a 3-ply poly canoe such as Old Town Discovery or Old Town Charles River canoe. Mad River makes the Journey 15’ 6" that may suite your needs.

Stay clear of cheap bargain canoes. They dont keep their shape and dont paddle nice & smooth.

Here’s some good info…

Some more to consider
First, do others canoe near where you live? if so, there may be a paddling club near by. If so, it may be worth your while to check them out & see how they relate to newbies. You might get some advice and pointers to local boats that might be for sale. I wouldn’t expect to be able to borrow boats, but some members might invite you as a tandem partner on a local paddle.

Second, look for a used boat … unless you have deep pockets. Check Craig’s list & the Classifieds here.

Third, remember to budget for paddles - at least one decent one and you should have a spare. You also MUST have PDFs for your self and for your daughter.

Fourth, You will probably want the boyfriend to buy his own boat & gear. Unless he is near your size, something that will fit a small woman is unlikely to be appropriate for most men.

It’s worth thinking about yourself and your personality to help this adventure to be fun and successful. Where are you on a spectrum from timid to bold. Also from Unathletic to athletic. A bold athletic newbie will likely start the process differently from a timid unathletic newbie. Both may end up with similar skills but will probably take different routs to get there.

There is a lot to be said for being intentional about how you introduce your daughter to paddling. Your skills and attitude can make a big difference. If possible have the introduction be about general water play. Get some swimming in & play in & with the boat near to shore.

Most of all though, have fun & be safe. Spending time messing around with boats is great fun and can do wonders with a kid’s confidence once he or she learns how to paddle.

I always see a lot of people telling others to buy a used canoe. I wouldn’t trust a used one. You never know how it was taken care of. A new canoe isnt all that expensive. $1000 for a 3-ply poly, $2700 for fiberglass, $4000 for kevlar.

Whats wrong with buying a new one?

Nothing, if you have the money.
Most of my canoes have been used. No problems. Not much to go wrong, if you know what to look for.

The keyword is ‘know what to look for’. Most beginners dont know.

Thinking about your main concerns
It seems that your biggest concerns have to do with handling the boat by yourself, and you should be worried about that. With the right solo canoe, you can minimize that kind of difficulty (you can even get solo canoes that are much lighter than equivalent kayaks), but whether taking a kid along in such a boat will be do-able will depend on the kid’s age (size/weight). On the other hand, a small tandem canoe would be great for one adult and a larger/older child, or for two small to medium-sized adults, but not so good for two larger adults (that last one is not a concern for you, but it is for many). I’m guessing that a small, general-purpose tandem canoe might work, but depending on your priorities and the age of your daughter, you might prefer a solo model.

A single small adult CAN do a pretty good job with a full-size tandem canoe with the right skills, but those particular skills (Candian-style paddling) are not commonly learned these days. All traditional solo-paddling skills take quite a bit of time to learn, but a double-blade paddle is a handy shortcut, and it’s an easy method that many solo paddlers stick with forever. Still, even with good skills, a small adult solo-paddling a tandem canoe will have difficulty on windy days. Even moderate wind creates a huge difference in solo-paddling ease between a solo canoe and a tandem canoe.

There are tricks to make it a lot easier for one person to get a canoe onto and off of your car’s roof rack, but no matter what, lightweight boats are easier to handle. Solo boats are naturally lighter than tandems, but when it comes to really lightweight models, even the tandems are not too bad (less weight = more $ though).

The idea that kids or another adult may be part-time paddling partners is the most common complicating factor when choosing just one canoe. It’s so much easier to choose the right boat when the paddling will be either full-time solo or full-time with a partner, but not both. I think your first order of business is to decide which method (tandem or solo) will be most important, and which method you could compromise on the most.

Two ways to learn. …
Read here, and look at a lot of used boats. Worked for me.

the common advice to shop used. Many of us end up with multiple boats for those reasons, but couldn’t do so with new prices. If you choose to go that route, consider that the used market has far more tandem canoes than solo.

Sounds like you’re willing to learn
which is very important. Too many people think there’s “nothing to it” and just strike out on their own not even knowing what they don’t know. The result is usually a frustrating and sometimes dangerous experience that leaves them disheartened and ready to quit. So, congratulations on not being one of those people. I strongly encourage you to seek out your local paddling community. If it’s a good one you’ll not only get some valualbe advice, you’ll likley make some new friends and get the opportunity to try out some boats and even get some instruction that will mean the difference between good and bad experiences on the water.

As for a boat, I agree that it sounds like a fifteen foot tandem might be your best bet. Room for you, daughter and dog, can be camped out of if loaded correctly and can be handled solo with some basic skills. As others have said, what’s available to you depends largely on where you are and what kind of water you hope to paddle, so fill us in on that please.

Also, be advised that if you like paddling and decide to stick with it you’ll quickly find that one boat isn’t enough.

you can’t get blood from a turnip
Some people have limited expenses and have to make difficult choices. no one said a used boat is the ideal. But it makes sense in some cases and for more reasons than just immediate economy.

One thing I forgot to mention…
There are some excellent brief articles on Pnet that will really help you demystify the purchase process. They address everything from the anatomy of a canoe to hull design (including which hull design is the most appropriate for which intended use) to what to look for when buying. If you read these you’ll be much better prepared for the purchase process. If you’d like I can link some of them for you but you can just click on the articles tab and browse around until you find them. There are quite a few that you’ll find helpful; much more useful than looking at reviews.