Open water solo/pack canoe with weird, specific needs

Hi all,

I like to fish and explore the inshore mangroves here in Sarasota Bay, Florida.

Right now I am using a SUP, but I spend a lot of time seated using a wonderful Bending Branches bent canoe paddle. I enjoy sitting because of the aerodynamic and general speed advantages.

I would like to upgrade to a canoe for the following reasons: 1. pack more gear for overnights 2. stay dry and 3. sleep in the canoe (camping is prohibited along the coast here in most places. Sleeping in the canoe opens up the entire coastline as potential “campsites”).

I would like a canoe that is at least as lightweight as my paddleboard (around 30lbs) that can also mount a trolling motor. Also, the center seat would need to be removable to allow for

My thinking with the motor is that it will allow me to cover more distance, to get to shelter quickly should the Florida weather roar up in 30 seconds (as it often does) and also for situations where the wind is not so bad that I am afraid to venture out, but bad enough that tracking becomes a serious challenge.

I have searched and will continue searching for answers to these questions, but there is no replacement for advice from the experienced. So, if you feel called to help me out, consider yourself my hero!


Welcome to the forum.

I came here a few months ago with somewhat similar requests as is a canoe a good platform to convert to a special needs boat? My answer is Yes.

I think they can be converted to do all the things you want.

My first question is if you are going to be using this for open water and fishing is weight really going to make much difference once you are in the water and loaded with some gear. I wanted something like a solo pack canoe and I started with a cheap used tandem canoe. The cheap part took away a lot of my concerns about ripping it apart and changing things. I started with an OT Guide 147 that weighed 80 pounds and taking out the clunky plastic seats and wood center yoke took out a good 10 pounds. I don’t sleep in mine, but making a center seat that comes out and adding thwarts where you will need them and having a nice wide and stable canoe would make for good sleeping down the middle. I can even picture a centerline and a rain fly or bug netting as part of it. Setting up camp would be quick and no looking for a level campsite and all that.

My seat is a stadium seat back on a wood frame that spans the canoe. Very comfortable and sits on a hanger and comes off with a couple wing nuts. Seat folds down so would be easy to take on and off. You could do something like that.

Now you have me thinking I love hammock camping I wonder if you could string one between two thwarts. :canoe:

Tough set of restrictions.
For example, a Wenonah Prism solo canoe can get down around that weight, but in doing that you have light weight layups and foam core. Not exactly something I would want to rig a motor mount to.
Another issue for me anyway would be sleeping. A light weight boat will have thwarts. There has to be side to side bracing in all but a heavy construction. This means curling up in a ball between braces that are probably only three foot apart.
When fishing from my Prism, it is tight keeping a couple fishing poles and a tackle box in there.

Your post got me wondering about sleeping in my canoe. I never planed to do that and likely never will but what if?

I started with an OT Guide 147 14’7’ and put a thwart exactly 4’ in from each tip and that area contains my floatation. Leaving the center 6’7” open to find my perfect seat location. I don’t haul a lot normally and it would be under 40# was my guess in the form of a good size cooler so my seat ended up being slightly behind center with my legs in front along with my cargo and my body just behind.

My platform for my seat is removable and I have been told here it acts as a stiffener at least equal to a thwart maybe more. I then went on to add two more thwarts one behind my seat to define a storage space and have something to tie things down there and another sized to my cooler to contain it and a place to tie it down. Adding them you are right I only have 4’ with my seat removed for sleeping so I would have to have my feet under the one and my head slightly under the other. But what to do with camping supplies and seat storage needing 6+ feet.

Now if I didn’t have the flotation and maybe added sponsons to the outside giving me the two ends for gear it would be a pretty nice sleeping area and I think my canoe would be fine without center support just sitting there. I would need at least a 1” mat under me to isolate the water temp and it would be pretty easy to rig a tent roof, but I would want to cover the full length for rain.

I don’t know around here I could see some advantages to it as a lot of land although remote is private land and most don’t want people camping on it even though they do. Staying in the waterway I think would be ok.

So my canoe would match some of the OP list but not weight. Reason I asked him why weight on open water was a big factor and really so if he’s leaving it in for camping.

I saw a guy make a bike camper he pulled along not much different.

I don’t know about you, but sleeping in a canoe with my legs and head potentially restricted in the event of tipping would scare the crap out of me. If for some reason it tipped during the night and your legs and head being under supports, plus gear in there, it could end badly. Also, unless you are 100 percent sure that no motor boat could under any possible circumstances end up in the area during the night you need to have a couple lights blinking right over your head. Even if they don’t cut the canoe in half during the night they could easily swamp you, leaving you upside down in the water with your legs and head on the wrong side of the thwarts for an easy quick departure.

Yes you would want lights on each end and I’m assuming you would be tied or anchored close to shore.

That was my point if setup like mine without the extra thwarts I put in my open space with the seat deck pulled would be 6’7” long x 36” wide and the bottom over that area is pretty flat. I could be comfortable enough in that space I have been in worse spots sleeping. With being on the bottom of the canoe I would think it would be pretty stable. I wouldn’t like it much if there was lots of wave action.

If I was planning to do this I would make a quick removable seat setup.

Of course if you started with a longer tandem say 16’ that would give you even more options. I like 14-7 as a solo if it was 30 pounds lighter it would be perfect.

I’ve napped in solo canoes…specifically my Swift Osprey with sliding seat. It is incredibly stable when all your weight is down low, I think it is pretty much impossible to flip over. It’s nice on cool days when the breeze passes over you and you’re protected inside. I think the depth of the canoe is important so if your legs are under the front thwart you won’t feel trapped and it’s easy to roll over. Depending on your boat you might replace the nuts under a thwart or seat with wing nuts so you can remove a thwart…the boat doesn’t need all the structural supports if you’re just laying down in it. I like tying off to a stump or sunken tree branch.

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