Old Town Charles River canoe

-- Last Updated: Aug-23-05 10:11 AM EST --

Anybody out there has experience with the OT Charles River canoe?

I am looking for a canoe that can be paddled both solo and tandem, tracks decently and can handle some chop.
This canoe looks symmetric so it should be able to be paddled backwards by one person. I will be sharing it with my 15 year old kid, who will be using it for fishing so some primary stability in flat water has to be part of the deal as well. This is a relatively short boat (15’8”) and therefore it must compromise on tracking somehow.

I found one for under $500.00 and the deal sounds good, IF the canoe fits my needs. I will test paddle it for sure, but it is located about an hour and a half from home and I would like to hear from you guys before taking the trip.

Thanks in advance


looks good
I don’t have any experience with the Charles River, but was curious and looked it up.

Looks like a very nice all-around canoe. Don’t worry about the length or speed, unless you want to be an olympic racer. Looks similar to the classic standard grumman, and I have done many rivers, some up to class ll, and 1 to 2 week long Quetico trips in a 15 foot Grumman standard. Sounds like you have a line on one of the polylink models. I hate the thought of an 85lb canoe - the heavier it is, the less inclined you might be to use it. If you can afford the royalex, it would be a lot better. But even an 85lb canoe is a lot better than none! especially if you aren’t planning on portaging it much. If it gets too heavy, maybe look into getting a canoe cart to move it around on.

It will be slower than many a canoe, and probably faster than some, but you won’t notice. Most of a canoe’s speed comes from the engines, not the boat. Work at perfecting your paddling technique, and you won’t be left behind. Paddle in sync, at a steady, even pace, with a bit of j-stroke in the stern, and you will move right along.

Charles River is Two Canoes
The Royalex version is very different from the Poly-Link version. Weight difference is almost 30#, and the hull sides are shaped differently.

If you can handle the 80#+ weight of the plastic version it is a decent paddling canoe. The Royalex is worth the extra money the first time you have to carry the canoe. And at least it can be carried overhead. The low cost Mad River Adventurer has a built in third seat that prevents an solo carry.

I don’t know how they compare…
but I have a 16 foot 1914 Old Town Charles River (wood canvas)“Ideal” and it is a very fast canoe. “Tippy” initially, because canoes were that way in those days, but good secondary stability.

Also no center thwart, because the young lady would be sitting there!!

There is a photo album showing some pictures of the original Old Town Charles River here:


Mad River explorer 14tt
This mad river is another poly boat that is 69 pounds and 14 1/2 feet. it paddles best with my 16 year old in the front and me in the back. I can easily portage it myself and it can be paddled petty well as a solo boat as well. It is slow because of it’s width and it’s short length but at least it is light enough to carry. Once the boats get past 80# it is really hary for me to carry them.