Motor Canoeing

Has anyone used a small gas motor (2.5hp) on a canoe about 14 feet long?

My wife and I are looking at some long distance weekend canoeing but want to get back to the starting point to get back to work.

Any disadvantages to having the potential cardiac-saving motor?


I’ve been out…
… many times in a squarebacked aluminum canoe with a 5hp motor. We trolled for pike and walleye from it. It could run circles around the small motor boats. I was only a kid at the time, so I can’t tell you much else.

using it now
I used a Mercury 2.5 HP on a Wenonah Fisherman 14. It works great. Much easier on the body in a long distance trip. Make sure you get the good motor mount and bring your paddles.

BE Cafeful
The only times I’ve flipped a canoe unintentionally in the past ten years have been in the surf or with a motor.

Once we were motoring and my wife moved quickly and we flipped and my bathing suit got caught on the motor mount and I have a hard time getting to some air.

If you do it I’d get those floats from springcreek and make it a trimaran.

Maybe it would be better to use a john boat with oars instead of a canoe.

OT discovery sport
I used to fish a lot from a 13 ft square back canoe with a 3.5 hp motor. It would clip along at a pretty good rate. The only drawback to me was the noise of the motor. I use it occasionally now, but most of the time fish from a kayak these days. I prefer the stealth of the kayak. I never had any trouble with the canoe and motor setup.

Love my electric
trolling motor in the heat of the summer. On those rare free days in the summer before the 3 kids came along I’d go out on the big lakes w/ my wife and 2 batteries in the 17’ canoe. Pack a cooler w/ lunch and remove the front seat so my wife could sun in a beach chair up front. One battery was a marine battery and would last for hrs. on high speed (about as fast as slow marathon paddlers, but much much faster than if we were paddling in 90+ degree humidity). When the marine battery would start to loose juice I’d switch to the smaller spare and head for the boat launch. It was a great way to spend those hot humid days w/ sunblock and being able to reach remote swimming spots. These were 4-6 hr days on the water. It was quiet, relaxing and I’da never gotten out in the heat of the summer if I didn’t use a motor. And my wife loved the down time and sunning without paddling.

Never used gas engine, but have…
…used an electric some. Positives: quiet, fast, easy on bod. Negatives: weight of battery, height of motor, risk of tipping (which battery partly offsets). I had the shaft shortened because it was designed for a boat transom. This summer I’ll experiment with a small battery, as used on wheelchairs & golf carts. Wouldn’t consider gas because of noise and chance of pollution.

Motorized Canoeing
Good morning,

No I have not used a motor on a canoe, but I’ve met some who have. As I understand it, stick with small engines or electric motors (trolling are supposed to be good). Keep the shaft long since a shallow propeller is prone to “wash” water into your canoe at the faster end. Also, be sure you have a strong canoe. Most canoes will handle a small motor fine, but the regular use over time will torque the hull in ways its not designed to take, thus ending the canoe’s life early.

Happy motoring,



I think the exercise you’d be getting from paddling would help prevent cardiac problems, not encourge them. I could be wrong but I’ve met many paddlers in their seventies on long journies and they seem to be in great shape.

Motor Canoeing
Thanks to all and particulary Wickerbutt, you relate the essence of what we want. Yes, the silence of a canoe is one of the attributes we are looking for, screw the john boat comment. We plan to paddle the canals and small rivers in northern Illinois and want a dependable way to return to vehicle quickly. Trolling motor is ok thought but I have a personal problem with batteries and their weight. The gas motor I am looking at is under 35 pounds, 4 stroke(not a polluter).

Yes, there are 70 year olds in great shape, both are our goals, to get there you have to start somewhere.

My wife is new to canoeing and has loved the short 2-3 hour trips we have taken but I am looking at worst case being solved by having motor available. I don’t want to discourage a newby! LBJ

paddle with motor

– Last Updated: Feb-25-06 9:16 AM EST –

Might be a good way to get some speed and exercise. Set the motor to it's lowest sustainable speed and paddle while it's running.

That will get you some exercise but keep you moving if you need to stop stroking. Monitor your gas supply/battery charge. Don't want to get way out and the run out of power to get back. Especially if the weather gets nasty.

Also be aware if there's a breeze blowing and if you'll have to fight it on the way back. Allow a little extra gas/battery charge if doing so.

Finally, secureley strap or mount the battery or gas can to the bottom of the hull or under a seat. If you should happen to tip, don't want to lose that.

Motor Canoeing
Scott, What type or manufacturer of the motor mount do you recommend? Your equipment is EXACTLY what we are looking at. Side mount? Do you mount on the back end of the canoe or the front? Is motor shaft length important? I assume you use a motor with the gas tank on top. When you take a trip, what type and size gas can do you take? Thanks, LBJ

gas motor
If you are going for a 4-stroke engine, there are only two brands for you to consider. Honda and Suzuki both weigh at around 30 pounds. Mercury, Nissan, Tohatsu (all made by Tohatsu), and Yamaha weigh 38 pounds. By the way, the Tohatsu engines are brand new 2006 models. The 2005 models are 2-stroke.

From my personal experience (owning 3 different gas motors currently), you don’t want any motor heavier than 30 pounds on a canoe. It is too heavy to transport and makes the canoe unstable.

Also, I used to own a trolling motor and I am not going back! Speaking from an angler propective, the trolling motor’s only advantage over a gas motor is its use on positioning the boat at a fishing spot. And you probably want to use a foot-pedal control to be effective anyway. Hand controlling a motor and reeling in a lure don’t mix well together. If you use the motor to take you from point A to point B, a gas motor is much more efficient in terms of power-weight ratio. You can run full throttle for one hour on a full tank (0.25 gal).

I use an Old Town motor mount on my canoe. Make sure your gunwale is strong enough for it. Don’t mount the motor directly onto the canoe side, or you can flip it. Every gas motor has a safety mechanism to lift the shaft when it runs aground. Mounting the motor to the side directly will disable that safety feature. My motor is mounted on the left hand side, I sit near the right side of the canoe to balance it out.

Motor Canoeing

The motor I am looking at is a Mercury 2006, Bass Pro Shop. Listed weight is 35lbs. Do you think gunwales on an Old Town Guide are strong enough?

Motor mount- I have seen ones that hang the motor directly out the back and the side mounts that I assume are used in the rear of the canoe. Any preference? What is “full throttle” speed with your setup? Do you have a spare gas can, how big is OK? Reading your description, motor left, sit right, is steering a straight course difficult?


For a double ended canoe, I would use a side mount that could support the weight of the motor. It will also be easier for you to tend to the motor if you need to lift it out of the water for any reason and less stress on your back from twisting to operate the motor. Some folks make their own. I prefer the side mounts that are sold at because they aren’t very expensive and are designed to do the job. Here is the link for the side mount they recommend for a gas motor

motor setup
The OTC gunwales are quite strong in general. I am just more concerned about the weight of the motor. Make sure that you can lift that motor in the store before purchase. Don’t forget that wet weight (with motor oil and gas) is heavier than dry weight.

Any well-built (e.g. Old Town) side mount bracket will do the job. It is easier to put your hand on the handle of a side-mounted motor than that of a directly rear-mounted motor. Try that position on a chair and you will know what I am talking about.

All general canoes (12’ to 18’) have a similar theoritical hull speed which is around 6 mph. Half throttle can get you at that speed in a calm day. You need to have significantly more power to plane your boat above hull speed.

A half gallon container will be fine.

Steering straight is easy. Steering a U-turn is hard especially when it is windy. Front mounted motor may make it easier but I have not tried that.

Good luck and have fun!

Front mounted makes it easier to turn my canoe…but I don’t use a gas motor. I use a Minn-kota Endura 30lb.