I am currently the owner of an Old Town 14.7 Guide Canoe. My wife and I are senior citizens and we only use it to float the river so we don’t care anything about swift water or white water. This canoe is not stable enough for me and I want a tub that floats and doesn’t tip. Is there such an animal? What is a stable canoe I should look at. I don’t care what its made of but would like to keep it on the lighter side. My Old Towne is supposed to weigh 74 lbs. but it feels much heavier. I’m guessing 16 foot would be as big as I would need and load.
Most of us don’t have stability as one
of our priority goals. We want a more dynamic stability along with easier paddling.
I think the relative lack of stability you're experiencing is related to the short *length* of your canoe. You could be paddling a Wenonah Spirit II in Tuffweave, and it would be lighter than what you have now, and more reassuringly stable. We have a similar 17 foot tandem, also quite stable, but unfortunately the model is no longer in production.
We are both 70, and we used that canoe on the Buffalo. No incidents, safe and sound.
It might also help for you to get an experienced person to work with you on how you sit and/or kneel in the canoe. Sometimes a bit of tweaking in how your back end, feet, and legs are interfaced with the canoe can do a world of good.
I concur with g2d
But if you are not concerned with efficiency, you could go a bit further with stability in the Wenonah line with the Kingfisher. Skip past the royalex version to the Tuff-weave hull.
As I’ve come to learn, stability means a lot of things to a lot of people and seems to be somewhat in the eye of the beholder. What some folks have described as stable I’ve felt decidedly unstable in. Some of that may be physical size differences and some of that is undoubtedly experience. Some boats that I felt were too unstable when I first started canoeing I’ve come back to and they’ve become my favorites.
That said, what you describe sounds a bit like what my wife and I were looking for when we first started canoeing. Something that made us feel at ease while paddling and floating in relatively calm lakes and flat rivers and not fearful that we could easily take a swim. Something that would allow us to take pictures, watch the wildlife, that sort of thing. We ended up with an Old Town Camper 16rx and it was perfect for that sort of outing. It doesn’t really go fast or run particularly straight, but for a lazy calm day of paddling on the lake, it feels rock solid. In the Royalex it will save you a few pounds from what you already have, but there are times when I wouldn’t mind it being a little lighter.
Steve mentioned the Wenonah Kingfisher. We tried one of those and it felt as stable, if not more so, than the Camper. Very nice boat and available in even lighter materials depending on how much you want to spend. If I hadn’t found the Camper we bought used at such a good price, the Kingfisher was definitely a prime choice for me if buying new. But I never see Kingfishers selling used, which is probably an indicator as to how good they are since those that have them seem to keep them.
Stability - # 1 question on these forums
People need to educate themselves on hull shape.
A kayak is basically just a covered canoe
so the same principle apply very well.
Influences on Stability
1) Water conditions
2) Boat shape
3) Boat loading
4) Skill of the paddler
5) The paddle
Perhaps you want an outrigger canoe of
Hawaiian Islands design type :
without knowing combined weight I’d
agree with others..check out Wenonah's 17'+ tandems(UL or Flexcore),plus a 18'6" Bell Northwoods or a used 18' MadRiver Lamoille(don't be scared off by its slightly narrower specs) and (other MadRiver I haven't paddled...but has been mentioned somewhere!). Ditto g2d...the lack of length, with hull design, is your biggest factor of instability...and OT's stiffer hulls sure are heavy beasts.
The original Penobscot16(Royalex) is a little lighter but a little more stable, but not with the stability of a longer boat. Penobscot17 will be ok but is even heavier than the shorter OT...imho.
Camper vs Kingfisher
I’ve had the Camper but not the Kngfisher. I had a Wenonah Fisherman though, and I felt it had about the same initial stability as the Camper but with more secondary stability. Given that the Kingfisher is an inch wider and a couple feet longer than the Fisherman with a similar bottom, I would expect it to be about as stable as a 16’ canoe can get and still be not too difficult to paddle.
The Camper is plenty common on the used market, and if money is an issue and you can find one to try - you should. Can’t get hurt trying a used one and re-selling. But if it doesn’t do the trick for ya, don’t give up - you can still go for the Kingfisher. If buying new, I would definitely go with the Tuff-weave or lighter, as a 40" wide canoe gets a little awkward to lift to your shoulders with “normal” weight.
Couple of Thoughts
Spade, you may want to describe how the capsizes happened. I don’t know the Guide 147, but it is fairly wide at 38", and wider usually means more stable, all else being equal. Maybe the I’m not trying to talk you out of a new boat, but nearly anything can be turned over if not following some basics.
Several boats came to mind such as the OT Camper which has a flat bottom (high initial stability)and will probably save you about 20 lbs. If you can find a Bell Eveningstar that would be a great boat.
You guys getting some help with some basic canoeing techniques will probably add more to your enjoyment safety, and dryness than the particular boat you get.
Skin of Frame w Outrigger
It will be light. It will be as stable as you want it to be. If you have a table saw and you can build one in a weekend.
Lots of stable boats, my suggestion is the Swift Algonquin… http://www.swiftcanoe.com/canoe/classic/algonquin16.htm
Good advice so far…
but you need to understand something about stability. There is initial stability (how stable the canoe FEELS) and secondary stability (how resistant it is to actually tipping). They are two different things, and a wide, flat bottomed canoe that feels rock solid can still be flipped very easily once you get it up on its side. Primary or initial stability is more a function of width and bottom shape, secondary stability is more a function of the shape and height of the sides of the canoe.
If you absolutely have to have a very stable canoe, one that simply won’t tip, probably your best solution is simply to get yourself some outriggers. Several companies sell them. Then you can pick out any of several fairly wide canoes that are light in weight, and with the outriggers they will be solid. Or just keep your current canoe.
A set of outriggers is probably the OP’s best bet. The OT Guide is a wide fishing canoe - as stable as they come. Initial stability, of course. Keep it and get some outriggers.
We’re talking about the guide 147 here…
Not the Guide 160. So it is by definition not “as stable as they come”. Two feet in length makes a lot of difference.
does it have to be a canoe?
I see you are not way north, so (with stability as your priority) a sit-on-top kayak might work as might an inflatable kayak (though SOT kayaks are generally pretty heavy). The reason I mention “not north” is that you can be sitting in a bit of water with the two types boats mentioned. AIRE makes an inflatable that is very canoe-like as does SOAR.
I don’t know much about canoes, so others who have already chimed in might reply confirming or denying that these boats might offer maximum stability.
Not sure I agree…
I really don’t think length in itself has much of anything to do with stability. It’s all a matter of hull shape and load distribution. A 14 ft. canoe that’s 30 inches wide at the water line, and a 16 ft. canoe that’s 30 inches wide, will both tip just about as easily. If two canoes have the same proportional hull shape and one is longer than the other, it will also be wider than the other and thus more stable. The Guide 147 is 36 inches at the waterline, the 160 is 37 inches. I doubt that the extra inch will make much difference in the initial or secondary stability. The 160 is a half inch higher on the sides, which would make a tiny bit of difference in secondary stability. And I would definitely consider the 147 to be about as initially stable as any canoe on the market, with secondary stability pretty good as well.
How about payload weight?
For example, if the canoe is rated at 800 to 1,000 pounds, and you are using it with a 200 to 300 pound payload, then you are not getting enough “wetted surface” into the water for the hull to perform as designed. This is common for folks who use tripping designed canoes for day trips, and results in “tippiness” and poor control overall.
You can experiment by adding weight into the bow and stern to see the difference in handling.
You can also move to a craft designed for a lighter payload.
I too, am curious as to why you classify your 147 as “unstable.” We (also seniors 62 and 64) have the same canoe and paddle it often, even taking it down some fast creeks with Class I+ rapids. Like any canoe, it feels wobbly when you are climbing in it, but once underway it feels stable as a barge to me. We have had it heel over enough to have water come over the gunwales a few times and it never capsized or otherwise chucked us out. I suppose it helps that both of us also use touring kayaks a little more often than canoeing so we are accustomed to trusting the secondary stablity inherent in all our boats.
Have you really had it capsize on you or does the wiggly primary when starting out just make you nervous? Purists may disagree, but one thing I might suggest is to paddle it as we often do, with kayak paddles. Rich uses a 240 cm in the stern and I can use a 230 cm in the narrower bow. We carry canoe paddles too – when we come to a fast or rough section we switch to them and drop to our knees in the boat to lower the center of gravity.
Before giving up on your canoe you might want to try taking it to a local waterway that has kayak rentals and renting double bladed paddles for an outing – this might change your sensation of the movement of the boat. Test paddling some other canoes might also give some insight on what characteristics mean “stable” to you.
I also agree with the suggestion to add some ballast to the boat, especially if both of you are rather slim.
I disagree on almost all points.
You can’t escape physics.
No, Al, if you take a short canoe that
has marginal primary stability, and add a foot of length, it will be more stable.
You’re right about hull design and all that, but adding length helps stability, and is at least as good a way of doing so as adding width.
fair enough Steve
I respect your experience and I’m sure that as an avid poler you are well attuned to issues pertaining to canoe stability. A bit of hyperbole on my part perhaps. Nevertheless, its not like the Guide 147 is some kind of notoriously tippy racing design. If the OP thinks the Guide is tippy, he’ll probably find all the other designs mentioned here tippy too. He just wants to float down the river and chill out. A set of those foam outriggers is the most cost effective way to do that. On the otherhand, if he’s looking for a different canoe anyway, maybe a lighter one like he alluded to, maybe a 16 foot flat bottomed something something is up his alley.