How to tuck in gunwale/how much is safe?


Carl (at rookie racing night) said I might be able to take an inch or 2 off my gunwale width by shortening the thwarts on my new Jensen solo. I did a google search and nothing came up. Has anyone done this? I’d like to take it in as much as is safe for the boat. How much do you think I could get away with? I was thinking 1-3" depending on what people say.

Also Id like to put on “trim tape” on the bow and stern so I can see if Im sitting off level.

What tape works best? when I do this, do you just set the boat on a flat surface (like my garage floor with a drop cloth underneath), measure up 4 or 5" and put the tape there? is there a better way to measure?

I dont think my boat has any rocker but of it does do you just add a little weight to the middle so it sits on center?


I’d remove the thwarts first …
… then I’d pull the gunnels in and see how much resistance you feel and how much you are changing the rocker as you pull the gunnels in. Then I’d make my decision based on what I feel and what I see.

I forgot about rocker
I forgot about the effect on rocker… as I pull them in it will increase rocker right? I like a flat keel boat so that makes me think twice about doing this…

but I want it a little skinnier waah


Pulling gunwales in should reduce rocker
Look at it this way, pulling the gunwales closer together makes their curved path, as viewed from above, straighter, and therefore the “peaks” of the boat at each end will have a longer distance between them (you’d pull those two ends closer together to increase the rocker). However, since you are starting with a no-rocker boat, you might end up with reverse rocker, and every boat with that configuration which I’ve paddled had very poor handling and slower speed too. I bet someone here has some pretty direct knowledge of whether this will work well for you or not.

Best way i ever heard it described was to picture an envelope. When it’s closed (gunwales tucked way in) the bottom is flat (no rocker). Spread it open to get what’s inside (spreading gunwales apart) and the bottom ends lift up (lots of rocker).

After cutting down the sides on my Jensen WWC1 boats I cut down the thwarts on one of them for the same reasons as you. I couldn’t see it affecting rocker as I pulled them in and out but I was the only one there so it was probably tough so see. I think I got mine pulled in a couple inches and it didn’t feel like I was really stressing anything. It is nicer to paddle that way. The only difference I can feel between the 2 boats is that the one with the tucked in gunwales has quite a bit less secondary stability, which I guess makes sense.

As for the tape, I’ve always measured when the boat is in the water. Float it empty and measure up 1, 2, 3, 4 inches or whatever from the water line at bow and stern and make marks with a sharpie. It’s easy to mark it yourself, not so easy to see if you’re floating level without someone outside the boat. I suppose since yours is kevlar maybe you can see through the hull to the tape if the sun is hitting it right.

How’s the boat feel so far?


initial thoughts
So I got the boat yesterday. I was somewhat apprehensive about driving 11 hours for a boat without a bunch of pictures but it turned out to be in near mint condition and its from 79’! it was stored inside and not used much. Nice. There is no name plate on it. Just a serial etched into the rear gunwale with an electric etching pen. So if there are any old guys who recognize a Jensen solo fron that time please let me know what the model is called.

I couldnt see it in the pictures but it does have an adjustable foot rest, you just need a screwdriver to adjust it. (the seat and foot brace are wood! thats oldschool. to be expected though considering its 6 years older than me =) Ill probably end up buying a new seat from wenonah as the old one is so so but it will be fine for this summer.

I took it to rookies night last night for a good couple hour paddle and like it quite a bit. I ended up dumping it in the mississippi (needed a good shower last night) which was my first time unitentionally swamping a canoe =( my cherry is officially popped. I need to get a better feel for leaning as I see how important it is to turning a solo boat.

I got to paddle Carl’s J-203 solo racer and have to say I like the final stability feel of the 203 more than the Jensen. The jensen has a fairly round bottom and doesnt have much “feel” or resistance between hard lean and in the water. Ill get used to it though and its not too big of a deal. I wont be taking this boat on any big or questionable waters. Its more a decently fast trainer/light easy to get anywhere boat. (32lbs is Awesome to portage!)

I know where i screwed up when I went in. once I realized I was too far over I instinctually tried to lean back to the middle instead of putting my paddle in the water for a brace. I probably could have saved it if I did but this is counter intuitive to a noob such as I. Im going to take it to a beach and just practice leaning too far and bracing and try to break the instinct to lean back to center. Muscle memory and unconcious decision making is what makes anyone good at anything so I know this is just something I need to hammer in my brain.


– Last Updated: Jul-11-12 6:40 PM EST –

If it's a '79 I'd have to think it's a WWC1, like what I have, though mine are fiberglass. Mine are 1979 and 1982(?) respectively. Mine have the wood mountings for the seat and foot brace. Does yours have the foam core and ribs? I didn't think they were doing that on anything that far back but at 32lbs I'd think they'd have to.

Does it have really tall sides? Mine did when I got them, like sitting in a bathtub. I drilled the rivets out of the gunwales to remove them and then used a jigsaw to cut the sides down a couple inches. Then re-riveted the gunwales back on. Huge difference and easy to do.

Only thing that makes me think you might have a different model is that the secondary stability on mine is fantastic (except the one I tucked in the gunwales on). Primary stability isn't so much but really firms up when leaned.

Pics of mine:

The boat in the pictures has a Wenonah sliding seat in it.

Don't get too comfortable in the J-203. I've never paddled anything tippier than a C1 but they lull you into a false sense of security. They feel very stable when you're sitting still or paddling, but give very little to no warning when they reach the tipping point. I owned one for 6 months or so and didn't put in enough time to get comfortable with it. I'd be paddling along feeling pretty cocky when a little boat wake would come rolling in, nothing major, and next thing I knew I was in the water. I spent a couple afternoons intentionally tipping it over, trying to get a feel for where it reached the tipping point. I never could. Frustrating boats.

Happy paddling in the new boat!


Since you are a "noob"
You need to know that you should Heel your straight keeled hull away from the direction of your turn and it will turn better without losing as much speed. Seems counterintuitive but it’s an efficient way to turn a rockerless boat.