Narrowing Gunwale width

I am considering pulling in the gunwales of my Lotus Dandy from 29 1/2" to 27". The hull has lots of flair so I want to narrow the width. How would this chance the handling of the canoe? Would it make it more difficult to edge the canoe to gunwales?

pulling in gunnels

– Last Updated: May-20-09 7:35 PM EST –

I've pulled in the gunwales on a couple of whitewater Royalex boats up to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. It was mostly to get a more efficient vertical forward stroke and to make cross-forward strokes easier. In the case of one canoe, I had hoped it would make it easier to roll (it didn't).

In neither case did it really change the hull width at the waterline, but it did decrease the rocker, a bit.

The risk you run

– Last Updated: May-20-09 7:45 PM EST –

is deforming the hull along the keel line in addition to stressing the composite, particularly an older boat. Probably only gel cracks if anything, but still...

Dandy is one of the most elegantly shaped hulls as is and I understand it's a bit wide, but personally I wouldn't mess with a classic--especially if it's a Lotu--since it's maker has been recalled by his.

edit: as for handling, secondary stability will be the greatest as is...constant flare from keel to gunwhale.

take things slow.
When you pull the gunwales in, you will change the over all rocker shape of the boat. In is better than out, chances are you will get a bit more rocker bow and stern. You will also tend to round the bottom of the boat off lowering your initial stability. Small adjustments won’t change things a lot. As long as you keep the original thwarts or are willing to make new ones you can always go back to the original shape.

In=less rocker, out=more
Pulling the gunwales in flattens the keel. Might’ve just been a typo, but just want to makes sure that’s clarified.

interesting topic , I’m about to do …

– Last Updated: May-20-09 9:47 PM EST –

...... the same thing , or at least considering it .

The canoe in question is an Old Town Acadia 16'-10" made of Roylex (1984) ... picked this up last winter and have cleaned it up and just the other day decided to pull out the two thwarts amd replace them . This canoe has an ever so slight arch but is more like a flat bottom with that slight arch , and has a small amount of rocker .

Got a nice piece of B.Mahog. ready to go ... just haven't cut to lengths yet ... can't make up my mind about drawing in the gunnels because not sure what effect it will have .

My thoughts are that by drawing in the gunnels , a few things will happen .

1. the hull bottom will just be slightly more arched (good for stiffness in bottom)

2. the tip to tip length will increase a slight bit (has to)

3. but , and this a bit more iffy ... by increasing the tip to tip length slightly , it seems as though the water line (or keel line) would almost have to have some upward negetive stress applied to it , which might be countered by the increased arch (cross section) .

I'm not sure how much or what I can get a way with . It is a plastic hull and the forces I'm guessing shouldn't be too drastic , plus the increased arch should counter that negetive I invision at the keel line .

Something has to stretch a little somewhere I think ... I'm ready to make the cuts but I'm a bit hesitent , although I would like to draw in the gunnels maybe 1-1/2" total .

Haven't had this one in the water yet , but soon !!

And the Dandy has little or no rocker
to start with. Its an older fiberglass boat.

Yes its wide but that’s one boat I would hesitate to mess with.

It was one of the early FreeStyle boats which I find amusing…it does christies and not much else…It wont carve a running pry worth diddly.

It however is a magnificent sailing canoe.

I gave mine up a few years ago. Interesting elegant cruiser.

gotta agree with sloopsailer…
Some years back, Mohawk Canoes made an adjustable thwart to go in their WW hulls. The idea was to change the rocker and bottom roundness as desired while on the water. It did not catch on but provided an interesting lesson on pulling hte gunwales in.


Narrowing Gunwale width
The Dandy is fiberglass with great deal of flare. When I pull the gunwales in does not appear to put a lot of stress on the hull. The reason I wanted to try narrowing it, was to make it easier to stack hands on both sides. My plan was to keep the original seat and thwarts so I could change it back to it’s original specs in the future.

consider this:

Stacked hands increases efficiency especially in the forward stroke;

pulling in the gunwales increase rocker which tends to increase yaw;

increased yaw requires increased technical skill for the forward stroke which might negate the advantage gained from easier hand stacking.

At best your forward travel will call for more attention because the inherent course keeping of the hull as it exists, will be reduced.


Don’t understand. Pulling in gunwales
should DECREASE rocker. That’s the way it worked on every boat where I changed gunwale width.

me too
Pulling in gunwales decreases rocker, at least when I have done it. I have a hard time imagining how it could do otherwise.

decreasing rocker
on a Dandy, which has none, will probably result in a hogged keel line…NOT a good thing.

You might try aiming yourself (and knees) very slightly to your onside to make the reach easier.

Thats what I did.
I suppose you could do that sitting though the seat in my Dandy was pretty high.

You really have to heel to the rail to get the stem out and since you most likely wont be doing that putting a little heel on your Dandy so you can stack your hands isnt going to affect the boat much.

And its so much simpler than tearing out fittings.

pulling in gunwales?

– Last Updated: May-22-09 1:20 AM EST –

Truth be told I’ve never pulled the gunwales in on any canoe. The thwart business came when Darryl and Darryl first rolled out the Mohawk Solo 13 and called to ask my opinion after I took a test paddled one home. We discussed what class WW the Solo 13 might handle and I pointed out that a bit more rocker would up the WW potential. They go to discussing this adjustable thwart. The paddler twisted it to tighten or loosen, kinda like those tensioning curtain rods. I thought worked like you guys but they insisted to pull the gunwales in. They had been experimenting with it so I just took their word. I’ve always had dedicated hulls for Flat, Moving, and WW so never felt the need to pull in gunwales. Never saw anyone do it either. Reckon I’m a gunwale pulling neophyte or not.


If it’s not broke don’t try to fix it!
I do kneel most of the time in the Dandy. Narrowing the gunwale width was to help out with cross bow rudder etc. strokes. Don’t we love to tweak our canoe’s! What else is there to do if you can’t afford new one’s!

wondering if I should move the seats …

– Last Updated: May-21-09 8:29 PM EST –

.... slightly towards the center as well .

I wasn't considering doing that , only shortening the two thwarts (a center and aft thwart) . 1-1/2" max. for center and probably a bit less for aft one . (BTW , I know how to maintain the semetry with a string line taught through center line tip to tip , I can do )

But I could just as easily slide the seats a little inwards too , effectively narrowing the gunnel width all the way from bow to stern , instead of just the section between seats .

I've read a couple post here from some who have done the gunnels narrowing thing (pblanc , g2d) on apparently a couple/few canoes ... to those who have the experience with the before and after , how's it all work out , is it a good thing or not ??

I'm going to put the canoe back together this weekend , but still don't know if i should narrow the gunnels ... don't know if it's a good thing or not ... is it ??

Cross bow axle
can be done with a vertical plant if you move your onside knee forward in FRONT of your offside knee. Try this in baby step increments. Yes you will be facing somewhat sideways. This is good…its called “facing your work” and enables you to be shouder safe.

The cross bow axle is essentially the same as a cross bow rudder but with boat heel.

You will find the Dandy will tilt(heel) a little. But that flare will hold you.

Getting used to moving around in the boat efficiently will allow you to do many things on flatwater and mild moving wwater.

pinched gunwales
I pinched the gunwales on two whitewater hulls, a Dagger Impulse and a Dagger Encore. Both were highly rockered boats so losing a touch of rocker didn’t hurt their maneuverability. The Impulse I use primarily as a whitewater river tripping canoe. The Encore I still use as a whitewater day trip river runner.

My primary goal was to narrow the gunwale width a bit to facilitate cross forward strokes and make forward strokes more comfortable over longer distances and I accomplished that. The boats might have lost a touch of secondary stability and become a little wetter in waves, but being whitewater designs, they had plenty of stability and flare to begin with.

I guess I was satisfied with the results as I have left both boats pulled in.

thanks pblanc , I really don’t know …

– Last Updated: May-21-09 9:12 PM EST –

..... why I want to do this , just curious I guess , or something different to do .

My O.T. Acadia is really more of 16'-10" rec. boat with just a "slightly" arched hull and fairly broad face and flare at bow and stern , with just "slight" rocker ... it's sorta like a flat bottom on steriods , a tandem Royalex from 1984 .

Though I haven't had it in the water "yet" , I think it will float higher than my O.T. 169 Expedition (almost just like the Disco.) .

I don't want it to be very tippy because mostly inexperienced friends will be using it to partner with us on occasion . But I will use it too , so wouldn't mind giving up a hair of initial stability , it's not a little boat , pretty high volumn design .