Paddling with a 2.5 hp motor

I do a lot of week long paddle trips in the everglades national park in FL. I paddle an Old Town Penobscot 17 RX. The problem is my favorite places to paddle are deep in the Everglades and take too long to reach and make it back out if i only have 7 days for the trip. I am thinking of purchasing a small 2.5 hp outboard motor to mount on a side motor mount on the stern of the canoe to allow me to make it further into the back country in a shorter amount of time. I just want to use it to cover the open water miles so i can then paddle the more adventurous areas. My question is…has anyone had any experience paddling a canoe while a small outboard motor is mounted on the stern but not in use? Will i still be able to paddle efficiently or will it constantly be in the way? Also, anybody know how many miles an hour i can travel with a fully loaded tripping canoe and two people using a 2.5hp outboard motor? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Some thoughts

– Last Updated: Jan-09-14 10:08 PM EST –

Okay, I haven't paddled that way, but can envision where that motor will be and the consequences. Yes, for the stern paddler, I am pretty sure the motor will likely be in the way of your lower paddling arm, and you'll be prevented from reaching back for ruddering types of course control. Of course, if you can manage to paddle only on the side opposite the motor there should be no problem. Still, that motor will probably weigh 40 pounds, and the boat would be in better trim if you could lay it on the floor somewhere closer to the middle of the boat.

Quick way to answer the question: Put the canoe in your yard right now, sit in the stern seat and do paddling motions, and see if your lower arm enters that area where the motor's power head will be (notice that your elbow reaches back farther than anything else - I think that's where you'll encounter difficulty).

As to speed, it won't be very fast, but faster than paddling by enough to make a big difference. I looked online and found a few answers to this very question as being "4 to 6 mph". Well, the people who said 4 mph, if correct, might have been talking about a very heavily loaded boat. I think you'll go faster than that because two halfway-decent paddlers already have no trouble making a tandem canoe go 4 mph, even with a big load. I suspect you'll go slightly faster than hull speed, because two really good paddlers could hit hull speed if the boat were not carrying a load of gear, and the motor will generate much more push than two paddlers. In that case, your speed would be a tad more than 6 mph. That may not sound like much, but it is if you consider that your easy cruising speed while paddling will be about 3+ mph, so with the motor you can easily double your travel distance on the main trip in and out. You'll notice the weight difference when paddling though, as carrying the motor will be about the same as adding another good-sized pack of gear.

It works ok
I used to use a 2 hp motor on my 16’ Mad River Royalex Explorer 34 years ago. The canoe is symmetrical, so I first put the motor on the bow (backwards) and sat in the bow seat, which gave me more distance from the motor. I tossed some ballast up front to level out the trim.

Later, when I had installed a wide cane center seat, I used to sit on that, controlling the motor with an arm extension I jury-rigged.

I zipped around a lot of reservoirs in northern California and out in San Francisco Bay in that canoe, which was tricky and probably dangerous. I was going a lot faster than I could paddle. Much faster.

As far as a laden craft, I used to use a 3 hp motor daily on a wooden rowboat for two months every summer in Maine when I was a boy. Many times we would have four adults and me in that boat, touring them around the lakes. It still went much, much faster than I could row or paddle. An Evinrude.

motor breaks down at the far end of the trip?

Not as bad a situation as …
… for a motorboater who’s motor breaks down on a camping trip. I say don’t fret too much about it.