Sea Canoe

My wife and I are retired and intend to do as much paddling as possible. We are located in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey and have that region’s small cedar rivers, the Delaware, and the Jersey coast all within a forty minute drive. We usually make an annual trip along Canada’s eastern coast and would like to paddle in various spots along that route.

We had decided on a Long Haul Mark II folder until I came across several reviews of the Bell Northstar that raved about its multi-purpose ability including coastal ocean travel.

I’ve also communicated with Ranger Canoe regarding the Otter 16. The company is touting this model as a solid choice for the objectives specified above.

My canoe knowledge is limited. Windage would appear to be a real consideration. Relative to ocean-going kayaks a novice such as I would assume that most canoes would take on more water in rough seas and generally would not be as stable.

Can a properly designed canoe truly compete with kayaks on coastal ocean waters? If so, are there certain characteristics we should aggressively be seeking? What should be avoided at all cost?

In reasonably calm waters, we believe that the canoe would offer us a more satisfying paddling experience. Large tandem sea kayaks tend to be barge-like and apparently have to rely on rudder control to achieve meaningful handling.

Thanks in advance for your response.

Look at Verlen Kruger designs

– Last Updated: Oct-01-15 5:19 PM EST –

Those are sea canoes. They are decked
You are describing a standard canoe used on the ocean. Not a sea canoe
I used a Mad River Monarch in Newfoundland. Tandem we have used a wenonah Odyssey on Lake Superior for multi week trips. 16 feet is too short for ocean travel.
You need to consider that sooner or later you will have waves breaking on the boat and you need also adequate freeboard
A rudder is a godsend in quartering stern winds as it helps prevent a broach. The presence of a rudder to help you stay the course in tidal currents( which are considerable1) allows you to focus on delivering power to your stroke rather than steering.

Sea kayaks are not inherently more stable. But because you sit low in them the lower center of gravity makes them more stable, plus the limited volume that will be water filled when you swamp ( and you will..) makes reentry and emptying far easier.
Tandem sea kayaks are not necessarily barges. They can be heavy or if you go for a composite layup, not an unreasonable weight.

I suggest you and your wife take kayak lessons as there is much about the ocean and ocean travel that you need to learn about. Equipment is actually less important than seamanship and sea sense. For travel in the Maritimes, some experience with clapotis and reflecting waves is a useful bit of knowledge.

While I use a canoe, my sea kayaking lessons and days in the kayak taught me much on the ocean about water, wave and weather behavior

And there is no law that says thou must use a double blade in a kayak. Use some short shafted bent single blades.

What Kaymedic says sums it up
but I’ll add a bit:

Take a look at the Kruger SeaWind if you have big bucks.

It is an ocean going canoe.

I would also suggest taking a look at the Current Designs “Double Vision” tandem kayak.

My ife and I paddle both canoes and kayaks, and we loved the Double vision when we demoed friends of our who have one. It is far from a barge!

Jack L

I think the killer is that for a couple
two sea canoes are required. Boy are they stable and friendly, but not cheap.I am not aware of a tandem sea canoe… They may exist but I don’t know

You can expect to part with about $12,000 for two.

Or go with a tandem sea kayak. You are not again required to use the rudder. Far less bucks.

You are right about windage. It is a factor. If you eventually do the canoe route make sure the seats are high enough to allow you to kneel ( which is the most stable position in the canoe) but not so high as you become vulnerable to being pitched out.

square one

No, go back to square one.

Verlen Kruger and friends are world class explorers.

A canoe on a tidal estuary is fun. Delaware Bay may be canoe able but if the wind picks up against an outgoing tide then the Bay is not ‘canoeable.’

I was looking at ultra light graphite epoxy tandems…42 pounds-50 pounds ‘kevlar’ real beastly kayaks…fersure doahn drop one off the van roof.

Its not that the tandem is barge like, a capable tandem tracks well.

With wave action a tandem hull goes on straight with power paddling where a shorter ‘less stable’ design zig zags with every gust eddy and wave front. This is tiring.

I have followed a group of tandems in rent a short tour form over 3-5 foot swells. The hull action is safe not barge like paddled by people who paddle but are prob not experienced as they are in a rent a group.

Not a water bug but if going downwind and with the tide…a well chosen tandem route…the boat with experience should move around, not anchored to the bottom.’

For the cost of one tandem ultra light, 4 used boats, 2 river canoes and 2 sea kayaks are available this winter.

Your paddling experience is…?
It doesn’t matter what craft you are in, the ocean is the ocean and cold water is cold water. It sounds as though you and your wife are pretty much newbies, or do you have experience you haven’t mentioned here?? It might help get better answers.

Go With Canoes Specifically Designed
For ocean travel like the 2-man outrigger canoe (OC-2), which are mostly designed and made in the good old U.S.A. They are light (under 35 pounds), car toppable and easily assembled. They are fast and both you and your wife should be able to paddle 10 miles in about an hour and a half. They proved their seaworthiness in challenging sea conditions during the most recent Blackburn Challenge. Check out about the 40 second portion of this video:, to see how well this couple easily mastered the oncoming ocean swells.

Can you get yourself back in the boat
Canoes are fine for paddling in the ocean as long it’s not too rough. It’s actually fun bobbing up and down in the rollers outside the surf zone. As is the case with any open water paddling, it is not something you should do alone, and it is not something that you should do if you can’t get back in the boat after an unexpected swim. People self rescue in kayaks all the time. I know it can be done, but I have yet to see anyone self rescue in a tandem canoe.

Paddling around in bays and protected waters is no problem. I’d think twice about getting out into big open water though.

Love to try an outrigger

– Last Updated: Oct-02-15 6:09 AM EST –

You don't see them around here very often, and the ones you do see are real expensive.

p.s. - check out the guys at about 5:30 trying to get back in their boat - is that a surf ski? That would be tough to do in a canoe.

That’s a Surfski
In a canoe, you’d have airbags fore & aft, so no water to bail. In an outrigger, just flip it back upright and scamper aboard. At 6:50, is the winner of the race and his technique is the one to emulate. Great balance acquired from probably paddling K-1’s?

open canoes in the ocean

– Last Updated: Oct-02-15 9:02 AM EST –

Traditional canoes in the ocean are at a serious disadvantage in large, open waters compared to boats specifically designed for that purpose such as decked kayaks, outrigger canoes, or sit-on-tops of various types, regardless of what the manufacturer claims.

A traditional tandem canoe, even fully bagged out with flotation, still has to have sizable unbagged areas where the paddlers sit, and will hold a great deal of water if fully swamped, more than enough to render the boat uncontrollable. Partially decked canoes are much less likely to take on water in waves but are still somewhat susceptible.

If you wind up with a swamped canoe in the surf zone, you might well need to abandon it for safety's sake and end up with a trashed boat. That is not to say you can never take an open boat out on the ocean. I have done so and as Erik said, as long as conditions are reasonably calm and you can safely negotiate the beach break going out and coming in swells and rollers are usually not a problem, within reason. But you need to keep a careful watch on wind conditions and make sure you have a safe landing zone.

It sounds as if you plan to do a great deal of paddling in protected waters where a canoe will do fine. You can also use it in the back bays behind the barrier islands along the Jersey Shore. I would go ahead and get a tandem canoe that suits you and if you feel the need to venture out on the open ocean now and then, just rent a couple of kayaks.

Well said !
My wife and I paddle both canoes and kayaks, and have for many years now.

We winter in Florida, and take our two kayaks and our


We use the kayaks in the Ocean and Gulf, and the canoe in the rivers, and the Everglades

Jack L

peoples Timing is terrible!

– Last Updated: Oct-02-15 11:43 AM EST –

Most people's timing is non-existent in that video... paddle in time people! Not doing so is a huuuuuge waste of energy!

I bet only 30% paddle in time that whole video...

Edit: also, who would take a SUP out on that. no one looked like they were doing well in those conditions...

And I paddle a sea canoe
Which has a spray cover and is more related to a kayak. Or a pack canoe with a spray cover

The use of covers requires a well designed one and practice to avoid entanglement

I’m very comfortable with my Monarch.and RapidFire

Was out on the coast of Newfoundland this summer

But would paddle a canoe (and have ) in Florida. With the shirt choppy waves. But not a tandem. All solos with. A spray skirt

Easier Said than Done
Under those water conditions, you persevere and try to do the best you can, especially if you lack experience or are unfamiliar with paddling in those conditions. Certainly, everyone’s timing was as near perfect at the start to the first lighthouse, but the shock of salty cold water smashing your face, over and over, every time you encountered a big wave, that hit your boat at a different angle, each time, threw many of these flat water paddlers off. You’re right though, timing does matter and the couple that won the outrigger tandem division pretty much nailed it with their timing.

ocean canoes
Big, deep canoes with a spray cover are suitable for use in the ocean, especially protected waters. Canadians paddle the West Coast a lot in canoes. Clipper Canoes in particular are popular. The native peoples still hunt whales in the open ocean in large cedar canoes.

Sea Canoe
Original poster here.

Thanks to all for so many sound responses.

In the main, this thread has confirmed my suspicion that there really isn’t a valid all-purpose boat for paddling in all waters. While I don’t doubt that a skillful paddler can make do with either a canoe or kayak in a surprising number of environments, average participants would seem to risk frustration and/or real danger in challenging all conditions with a single boat.

Almost everyone here seems to agree that canoes make poor open water boats when conditions are less than optimal. While a tandem sea kayak is at home in the open in almost all conditions, it is at a real disadvantage on twisting and narrow rivers. And so it goes.

My wife and I may have to refine our goals a bit. While multiple boats may be a possibility in the future, we prefer to concentrate on one at present. While renting for a specific occasion is a possibility, at $50 or more a daily pop, that solution could quickly become more expensive than would be acceptable to us.

Again, thanks to all.

Here is a thought
Actually a couple of them.

First, try to go somewhere on group tours on open water, preferably one where they will put you and your wife in a tandem and give you some good chat about the wildlife and views you are seeing. You will learn something and hopefully have a great day. You may also get a sense of how well you two do in the same boat, and how well each of you like the bobbing around part.

Couples can do great in tandems or it can be a really bad idea, you need to find that out before opening the checkbook. This is all more expensive than you likely realize now.

Then try to find some pool sessions, in a nice warm heated pool over the winter, to get comfortable capsizing and learn on-water rescues. What you are each comfortable with tells you where you can go in terms of trips and the boats.

If both of you are not equally dumping in and out of boats, either you need to curtail the adventurous level or the more aggressive one has to be very good at handling on-water problems. At least. Or maybe you only do groups until both of you can laugh at a surprise swim because you were looking at the birdies when a surprise wave came up on your rear quarter. The ocean has a sense of humor. You literally need to be able to roll with it.

None of the above will cost nearly as much as the expenditure on touring boat(s), apt clothing and all the other stuff you don’t know you need right now. It will save you wasting money on bad initial choices.