Rookie with tons of questions

Here goes-

The wife and I are looking at getting into paddling. We will be bringing our dog along, and have been steered away from kayaks. We are wanting to hit the local reservoirs on week day evenings, maybe mountain lakes, and slower rivers, maybe working up to class 2??? Maybe some overnighters, and fishing. We do realize that more difficult rivers may require another vessel.

My wife won’t let me make my usual impulse buy:( and wants me to research this. So I found this forum and thought I would see what you wise folks had to say!

Questions- What length? Width and depth? Different styles?? What determines these decisions?? Anywhere you recommend I can go to find this basic info???

Thank you in advance for taking time to help a noob!!!

Right here.
Point your curser to the “Articles” link on the banner menu above. Click on “Guidelines”. Start by reading the articles listed under “Getting Started”.

There ya go - and welcome to!

How big are you, your wife, and dog?

– Last Updated: Jul-10-13 2:21 PM EST –

The dimensions of a tandem canoe are going to depend on planned load and use.

If you and your wife are of average size, and your dog is not too big you can probably get by with a 16' long tandem. If the dog is small and the two of you are below average weight, a 15' long tandem might suffice for day trips, but if you plan overnighters with some load I would go at least 16' and more would not hurt.

Beam (width) also depends somewhat on load. Longer canoes can be narrower and still have as much buoyancy as shorter but wider ones. A longer, narrower boat will be faster than a shorter, wider one, but might not feel as stable to new paddlers and might not be as easy to fit packs in between the gunwales. If you go with a 16' long tandem, it will probably have a maximum beam of around 36" give or take an inch. A longer "performance" tandem might possibly go a couple of inches narrower.

Depth depends not only on load, but intended use. On windy days where the water remains calm, you usually want as little canoe sticking up out of the water (windage) as possible. But when paddling through waves (as might be the case in Class II whitewater) or when you have a heavy load, you need a deeper canoe to maintain adequate freeboard to keep the boat dry. If the rapids you foresee paddling are not long and have good recovery pools at the bottom, you can probably get by with a shallower flat water tandem, but if paddling longer rapids in fast current such a boat might quickly take on enough water to become uncontrollable and virtually unstoppable.

For the purposes of this discussion I would consider a tandem canoe with 13.5" of center depth or less as "shallow" and one with 15" of center depth or more to be "deep" but the amount of rise in the sheerline and the heights of the boat at the bow and stern stems also enter in.

There are lots of other variables to consider such as whether to get a symmetrical or non-symmetrically shaped hull, the cross-sectional configuration of the hull, and the amount of rocker (upward curvature of the hull bottom from the center of the hull toward the ends). For your purposes I would probably select a boat with a shallow arch hull cross-sectional configuration and at least a modest amount of rocker.

Another consideration is weight. Lighter is usually more expensive. It’s not so important on the water, but makes a huge difference in the ease of transporting the canoe on land. This is especially true if you 7 your wife are on the small side.

If the thought of wrestling the canoe onto the roof of your car fills you with dread, you’re not going to use it.

You don’t want to spend a lot on lightweight unobtainium for your first canoe, but I’d stay away from the 80+ pound “bargains”

Where in Colorado
I’d wager that some here could point you at places to try kayaks if there are any near you. Class 2 with 2 people and a dog is, I assume, not a combination you are thinking about. But if dog plus 2 people even on flat water, you should be thinking about a canoe.

Steve- I will definitely check out that section!

pblanc- Wow! Thanks again!

angstrom- I’m 6’2" 200 lbs, wife is 4’ 10" 110 lbs, so I’ll be unloading and loading it myself, onto my full size Dodge. But being in construction, I am used to loading up big stuff like that, but I will definitely heed your advice regarding the 80+ lbs.

Celia- I’m in Denver, but will be going all over the state once we make a purchase. I have nixed the kayak idea because the dog+ fishing/camping/cooler/other stuff we may bring on day trips would obviously be too much. I am thinking to start off with a basic canoe to handle still water and slow rivers to hone our skills with. Then down the road, maybe move up to more of a whitewater canoe.

Thanks for your input!

canoe trim

– Last Updated: Jul-10-13 6:14 PM EST –

The 90 pound weight difference between you and your wife will require you to take some measures to be sure that a tandem canoe is in reasonable trim. Assuming you sit in the stern, if you and your wife paddle a tandem with stock seat placement without your dog and without a load it will likely be quite bow light. This can cause the bow of the canoe to stick up out of the water and catch wind making it difficult to control. It also sinks the stern down into the water and reduces the effective water line length of the boat, both of which tend to slow it.

If your dog is well-mannered and will sit just behind your wife in the bow seat that might do it. Otherwise, you can use gear placed in front of the center thwart or yoke to trim the canoe. If you don't intend to paddle with gear, a couple of gallon milk jugs filled with river or lake water and placed right up in the bow stem might do the trick. You could also consider repositioning the stern seat closer to center, but this would likely require you to buy a new seat (for 30-40 bucks or so) since your existing seat frame would be too short to reach the gunwales if moved forward. Moving the bow seat forward might be an option but might reduce leg and foot room for the bow paddler too much.

Some canoe hulls are symmetrical and paddle as well "backwards" as they do forward. If such a boat does not have molded seats that prevent sitting on them backwards, and does not have a thwart right behind the bow seat (that would do the same) then the boat can be paddled with the stern paddler sitting on what would ordinarily be the bow seat and the bow paddler sitting on the stern seat (if there is adequate leg room for the bow paddler to sit this way).

If you go to test paddle some tandems, take a few gallon milk jugs and have someone check the trim of the boat before you take it out. Otherwise you might get a false impression of how it really behaves when properly trimmed.

sea kayak Colorado
Well believe it your not there is a sea kayak community in Colorado,I think out of Denver.The Rockie Mtn Sea Kayaking club.These guys paddle everywhere and have a link that has a nice tandem kayak that has a center seat for dogs.If I remember right it has enough space for gear for a week out.Of course canoes are a great option but this may allow you to try both.

I’m a Colorado native now living in Maine I paddle both kayaks and canoes but in Colorado I prefer my kayak because of ease of use.

Have fun.

river tripper

– Last Updated: Jul-11-13 9:23 AM EST –

apply a bit of logic: either get a lake canoe for lakes and a river canoe for rivers - or, get the option that will work best for both. a lake canoe, with little or no rocker will suck on rivers and will be relatively difficult to manouver and take on more water. the only real downside to a river tripper (aside from weight of royalex vs kevlar)used on lakes is that they will be slower due to being heavier and having a blunter bow.

kind of like having only one vehicle - your basic pickup will do it all, including hauling your construction tools, and will take you up the mountain jeep roads - a lot better option than a porche

there are currently 2 old town trippers on craigslist - one for $800 in Salida could be a decent choice. likely already gone, but there is a very nice Mad River Explorer for $740 in Grand Junction (ad says fiberglass - might be the K-Glass layup) - I'd jump on that one if it was still available. Good deals don't last long.

"prospector" models are generally good river trippers

to get an idea of which boats are better for rivers, spend a bit of time looking at manufacturers websites - they generally categorize thier models, and generally, any river tripper should be suitable for class II

if you want to spend more money, you can get a river tripper style of boat in composite materails, which will be considerably lighter than a like kind royalex boat. the cheapest options are going to be some form of poly.. - plastic is cheaper and easier to work with, so boats are cheaper, though much heavier. With very few exceptins, there are no portages to worry about, adn many people use carts to get thier boats to the water at the boat launces, so weight isn't that big a deal as long as you can load the boat on the vehicle int he first place.

you can find Old Town, Wenonah, Nova Craft, Esquif and Mad River dealers in the region

I'm in Denver area as well - I highly recommend joining the Rocky Mountain Canoe Club. you'll have other people to paddle with (safer), and more important maybe, people to do shuttles with on the river trips, as well as having the opportunity to learn a lot just by watching other people (or take structred classes if you want) You can do lake trips by yourself, but river trips require a shuttle, either with others or paying a shuttle service. most trips are overnights on rivers, North Platte, Colorado, Gunnison, White, Green (most are not well suited for dogs) -- and occasional lake trips - South Platte is day trips. even if you don't join, look at the website for links to other groups and resources (e.g. places to paddle - Rocky Mountain Sea Kayak club has a good list)

"how to choose the right canoe" - this isn't bad, you may want to look at it

the basic canoe

– Last Updated: Jul-11-13 1:31 PM EST –

16 to 17 foot long, 34 to 38 inches wide, royalex, kevlar, quality fiberglass (not the chopper gun stuff), or even aluminum. Most any well made canoe with those specs will handle slow rivers, lakes and class 1 rapids and most will manage class 2 with intermediate paddlers. I agree with Matt's idea, buy something used. You'll be able to buy a good or even great used canoe for what a new crap canoe will cost. Buy a couple of good comfortable PFD's and wear them. I can't tell you the brand names of the crap canoes because whenever I write Coleman, someone gets offended.