old town disc 169 for rowing upstream


New to the forum. Here is my situation. I’m a waterfowler who uses my Old Town Discovery 169 to float hunt the Potomac. Love it. That said. It’s a drag to set up shuttles (especially solo) and I want to avoid adding power to the boat with a troller or gas motor. I think a rowing setup might be the answer.

Has anyone configured this model for rowing? How would it sit two people if I have to locate in the middle? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

You can have basically one or the other. With two people you’ll be paddling. Solo you can row. Can’t do both on a canoe, the weight will all be in one end.

Bill H.

Not true, but there’s another problem
It’s not entirely true that you can’t row a canoe with either one person or two. You could set it up like a guide-boat, which works great for one person rowing and with two people, where one person rows and the other paddles. Solo rowing is done from the boat’s center, and with two people, the bow station is used for rowing and the stern station is used for paddling.

Where the problem comes in, is that thwarts of canoes tend to be in the wrong places to allow rowing. Second, this particular model of canoe normally has molded plastic seats, which might even be shaped to only allow facing one direction, not either direction, which could eliminate certain desirable seating options.

The basic setup
First Issue:

For rowing, you need the seat to be substantially lower than the gunwales so that you don’t end up trying to force the oar handles lower than your lap during the recovery stroke. Most canoe seats are too high for that. The alternative is to mount the oars higher than the gunwales. There are easy-mount rowing rigs that do exactly that, as well as allowing placement of the oarlocks outside of the gunwales, which is handy because many canoes are too narrow for ideal oar placement when oarlocks are mounted on the gunwales.

Second Issue:

You need to be able to extend your legs out in front of you when rowing, and to place your feet against a solid footrest that’s somehow attached to the boat. Try to do it any other way and you’ll see why. In a canoe, this body position can be a problem, as you will likely have a thwart crossing over the tops of your legs somewhere. If you use very short oars, a thwart that crosses over the lower half of your shins won’t matter, but with longer oars (much preferable if you want to be efficient) you’ll want the area above your legs to be clear all the way down to your feet.

Canoe’s pretty narrow to row to start with, if the rowing station isn’t in the center you’d need awfully short oars or use and overlapping stroke. Unless you’ve got outriggers which are pretty expensive.

Guideboat carries it’s beam more towards the ends than a canoe does.

Bill H.

Basically agree

– Last Updated: Jan-19-16 9:32 AM EST –

That's all in agreement with what I was saying.

As a side note, most people don't realize that a bit of overlap of the oar handles (8 inches or so) is no big deal. I've actually come to prefer it, simply because I would gladly have the advantages of oars that are as long as practical for a given width of boat instead oars that are only as long as can be used without having any overlap. Of course, oars are only available in certain lengths, so this isn't something that would be easy to customize to maximum advantage.

not sure about that river
but wondering if poling is a possibility? Requirements would be shallow water, moderate current, hopefully a non-muddy bottom, and at least at first, going solo.

Poles are also great to slow down and stop while heading downriver.

Oarmaster sliding seat with your canoe
might be an option. Something to consider anyway but might require some mod’s be made to your canoe, as others have stated. See here:


Guide Boat - Love the idea of it… but

Thanks for the thoughtful responses.

I like the idea of a guide boat. It would move on that river nicely, draft well on shallow points, carry loads, rowable upstream… I like it.

Problem is I looked them up online and saw that they are really expensive. Any recommendations for a source for guide boats that is easier on the wallet? Thanks again…

No such luck

– Last Updated: Jan-22-16 8:40 AM EST –

I've never heard of a cheap guide-boat, though I've seen pictures of a couple of poorly-made fiberglass models that *should* have been cheap, and maybe they were when still being made. They'd be an awfully rare find on the used market, though, and the ones I saw were awfully heavy (very unlike any reasonably accurate copy of the original guide-boats).

On the other hand, it would certainly be reasonable to shop around for a used tandem canoe that's a little more amenable to being customized for rowing than the one that you have now. The main feature you'd probably want would be traditional seats, because it's easy to change their height, their location, or even just take them out. One guy who used to post here years ago was quite the specialist on the topic of rowing canoes, and he preferred to use no seat at all, and just sit on a beanbag cushion when rowing.

Besides the various rowing rigs you will find with an online search which can be attached to a canoe, Old Town used to offer rowing accessories for canoes, and maybe they still do.

For a canoe that's 36 inches wide, 7-foot oars would work pretty well without the use of outriggers. This type of boat and setup would be pretty cheap to put together.

skin on frame
Brian Schulz out in Oregon makes ultralight (30 to 40 pound) skin on frame guide boats for $5000 or you can take a class with him and build it with him for $4000.



Not cheaper than the boats …
… he was looking at, but it is an interesting concept.

Try using a double blade. The advantage of that is you can eliminate the correction stroke needed with a single blade, so all the power from your paddle stroke goes in propulsion. The disadvantage is you end up with a lot of water in the boat from the paddle drip. But what the heck, you are heading home by the upstream part of the trip, so just put up with a bit of slop in the bilge.

You’ll need a longer than average paddle to span the canoe (a lot wider than a kayak) and so you can reach the water from your higher-than-kayak seat position. It takes a lot of strength to pull on that long blade, but if you can turn it, you’ll do better going up river.



For a skin on frame rowing boat might look at Dave Gentry’s boats: http://gentrycustomboats.com/

I like Brian but Dave’s boat are a heck of a lot less money.

Bill H.