New life for an old canoe

Well, not really that old. I bought this Old Town Penobscot 16 in the early 2000s at the REI in Tempe, AZ. Used it for a few years until my partner lost interest in canoeing, so I loaned it to a buddy. He and his family used it for a few years, then it sat in his woodpile for the next 10 years. This spring the water called again, so I got a kayak - another Old Town, the Castine 140 - and it has been truly wonderful to be on the water again. Arizona does not have a ton of water to paddle, but some of the places are just spectacular.

I thought I should finally rescue the Penobscot from the wood pile, shoo the porcupines out of it, and give it a better home. It will be sold to some friends, a young couple who will make good use of it. Before it goes to them I wanted to restore it back to good condition, because I feel bad about how I’ve neglected it these last 10 years.

So much for back story; here are the things I learned from old threads on this forum:

How to get the manufacture year from the serial number (2001)

Three layer poly or Royalex (Royalex, for some reason I always thought it was poly)

How to restore the vinyl on the hull (303 aerospace protectant)

Where to find replacement seats (Ed’s Canoe)

Cane or webbed seats (good arguments both ways from the forum; I went with webbed, it will relieve the new owners of that bit of maintenance, and I think it looks sharp with the black gunwales, and I’m not really a traditionalist)

Weather sealing for the yoke and thwart (again lots of opinions here from the forum, I used Minwax Helmsman for the excellent reason that I already had some.)

Where to get new seat hangers (again Ed’s Canoe)

How to repair gouges and abasions in Royalex (just a few small worn spots and a few scratches to ABS, but nothing that calls for dissolved Legos. I’ll pass along what I learned but leave repairs to the new owners)

All in all it was very rewarding and the boat turned out great. So, thanks for sharing your knowledge and helping me with this.


Looks great. Penobscot’s are very good canoes. Your friends are lucky.

Keeping canoes in circulation can be addictive. I have owned a lot of canoes in my life and have never bought a new one. This process you describe means they are always worth more than you pay for them. It makes the hobby much more affordable, but then we end up with a yard full of boats.

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Awesome. It’s great to whip a forlorn canoe into shape.

In addition to Ed’s, Northwest Canoe is a great resource.

Agree with cannonball, the boat looks great, Penobscots are very nice canoes and your friends are lucky to get it.

I like the black webbing instead of ash and cane. I have 3 canoes with cane seats, and it seems like one of them always needs to be repaired. I took the cane seats out of the OT Canadienne and replaced it with a solo seat with the black webbing.

Penobscots are good canoes. I have almost bought a new 17 a couple of times.