any thoughts on adding ethafoam sponsons to an old town discovery 119 to add secondary stability?

i’m thinking about buying one and adding oarlocks but i also need some stability.



Sponsons are awesome
They are on all my boats, cause basically they just rock.

ARGH! NOT the dreaded S-WORD!!!

– Last Updated: Mar-05-10 7:19 AM EST –

Timmy is bound to come crawling out from under his rock and attack us!

Might be ok for someone who is a rank beginner, not much of a swimmer, and is just going to “lily dip” on a little pond & catch a few bluegills.

BUT, they do not replace a good pfd, they give beginners & non swimmers a false sense of security, and shouldn’t be used on moving water rivers.

My opinion.


I am thinking of putting them on my
QCC-700 and my comp cruiser canoe!



First application I’ve seen where …

– Last Updated: Mar-05-10 11:29 AM EST –

... sponsons might actually not be such a bad thing. If you ONLY plan to row that boat, and you NEVER need to fit the boat through tight places or pull up alongside a dock to get out (and never launch from a dock), AND if you mount them high enough that they don't contact the water during normal use of the boat, this should be okay.


Consider that if you mount the oarlocks to the gunwales (the easiest and usual way) you won't be able to properly row that boat unless you lower the seat to around 4 or 5 inches off the floor or use extremely short (and basically ineffective) oars. Once you lower the center seat that much, you won't be able to tip the boat over unless you try.

Consider that this is already such a tiny boat, that if you are a big guy, it's already half swamped and you won't be able to mount the sponsons higher than the waterline, so they will drag and turn the boat into a real slug. If you are big enough that the boat is unstable, you'd be better off with a longer canoe, or a tiny Jon boat, either of which will be more stable than what you have, and also faster and easier to row. If you are not such a big guy, but need the kind of stability that lets you stand up in the boat, the same recommendation applies. I have a 12-foot aluminum Jon boat that weighs about 70 pounds, and it's the cat's meow for rowing on small waters where long distances need not be covered, and where stand-up stability and total assurance that you won't capsize and lose fishing gear is an asset. I've even used it for overnight river trips (in those days before I owned faster, sleeker boats).

If waves or boat wakes are your concern, a longer canoe with a seat lowered for rowing will surprise you with its stability, and you won't get rocked back and forth so much when taking such waves broadside as you will if you rely on sponsons.

Still, like I said from the start, this COULD be an okay thing to do, and it's the first situation I've seen where there might not be any real downside to using sponsons, as compared to some other solution.

I thought of this too: If you do this, you will need to taper the cross-sectional shape away from the oarlocks, to keep them from getting in the way of the oars. Alternatively, you could put the oarlocks on outriggers that are the same length as the width of the sponsons. It would also be good to give the sponsons a cross-sectional shape that would keep them from "biting" into the water too much when only slightly engaged to the water's surface. Obviously, the amount of work it will take to do a good job with the sponsons would need to be compared to the slight inconvenience of simply getting a different boat.

Why are these guys talking against
sponsons? Everywhere you look, you see serious, dedicated canoeists with big sponsons on their boats. And how could competition rowing have succeeded for over a century and a half without sponsons?

I’m thinking of seeking sponsonship so I can travel the continent running 100 foot waterfalls and bodacious rapids with sponsons.

thanks for the advice!

i’d be rowing in fairly sheltered areas of the pacific ocean. the water here is really cold; after a few minutes in this water, i get disoriented, then numb, then kind of intoxicated–so i don’t want to ever fall in and have to do any kind of self-rescue. once the numbness sets in, i’d just as soon stay in the water and float away.

my first choice would be the old town osprey 14’ but it’s too expensive. second choice was the old town rockport but it’s too heavy. so i thought the discovery 119 might work if i lowered the seat.

i wouldn’t be in rivers or lakes but some of the currents here are as fast as most rivers, or faster.

i weigh about 140 lbs so i don’t need a big boat, except for the added stability a big boat would bring. the problem with the bigger boat is the cost/weight equation.

thanks again for your input; please let me know your thoughts on this.



Just to add a serious response, I used
to race a single scull with a hull narrower than my rear end and rounder than my head. It would have no primary or secondary stability whatsoever if not for the long sculls in my hands and the gated oarlocks. In a number of years of sculling, I only capsized once, and with experience, I never felt at risk of capsizing.

So if you want to row your canoe, and you decide to buy one of the cheaper rowing rigs like that offered by Spring Creek, you can certainly use the supplied sponsons for the initial period of learning and uncertainty. But in the long run, your hull and the oars in your hands will provide what stability you need.

I think I recall your being in BC, where big waves may be an issue. Sponsons are not always an asset in big waves. If you have a steep wave come in on one side of the boat, it can use the sponson on that side to lever the boat over.

So try 'em if you like, but for the best performance, I’m sure you’ll do without them later.

See if you can save a bit longer and
get a somewhat longer canoe. With hull design left constant, a longer boat is more stable, and of course it is faster.

More thoughts

– Last Updated: Mar-05-10 1:53 PM EST –

Okay, with your additional info, I'd say forget my Jon boat option. On that same line, however, with a little engenuity, you could rig up a 14-foot semi-V, square-back rowboat with a clamp-on set of wheels on one end for easy tranport from your car to the water. Using one of the easy loading methods described here on occassion, getting such a boat on your car's roof is actually pretty easy. Yes, it will be more ungainly than a canoe, but do-able. At your weight, such a boat will be very fast, though a liability in strong wind. On the plus side, you can fish calm waters with virtually total certainty that you won't fall in, and you can actually climb back into such a boat quite quickly and easily if you had to.

At your weight, the little boat you are using should be pretty good if you can keep the sponsons from contacting the water too much during normal use. A rowing conversion rig might be nice, but using a low seat and gunwale-mounted oars will work quite well too if the sponsons can be designed to stay out of the way of the oars.

For what it's worth, I have a little rowboat that's roughly the same length as the Discovery 119, but though it's a little wider at the gunwales, it has a bit less volume and a narrower "footprint" on the water. I weigh 165 or so, and find that boat to be a really nice all-day cruiser, that moves through the water oh-so-nicely with amazingly little effort. The Disco 119 won't be quite as efficient, but it should move quite nicely, just the same. You WILL need to install a lower seat when rowing, or just sit on a bean-bag cushion. You will also need a footbrace (you probably knew that already, but I'm just sayin'). I'd also recommend 7-foot oars on that boat. Most people recommend using 6-foot oars on any canoe, but I guarantee that anyone who says this hasn't used 7-footers or 8-footers. With standard inboard versus outboard oar dimensions, the blade of a longer oar travels a less-curved path for a given distance that you pull on the handles, so it's more efficient. For easy oar storage in that case, just mout a bracket across the gunwales at the stern of the boat, where the blades can "park" without disconnecting the oarlocks.

falling in
Based on your response, it sounds like falling in is not an option. I’m not sure sponsons are going to buy you much more than false confidence in that situation. Not saying they aren’t a good idea, but it sounds like immersion gear might be in order too. Cold water is nothing to mess around with, as you seem to have discovered.

Sorry Jack you cannot do that…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-10 10:12 PM EST –

it would be the same as equipping your boat with a massive pfd! ;-)

Most importantly…
Sponsons provide extras surface area for promoting your sponsors. Just think of all the promotional banners and ads you could place there for you next paddle down the Amazon or circumnavigation of Australia.

WCB what you need is the BHC,

– Last Updated: Mar-05-10 10:06 PM EST –

which is available at a good price. Shipping might be a bit of an issue.


WBC will be saying WTF is the BHC!

– Last Updated: Mar-06-10 12:13 AM EST –

I already know. You went to such pains to get that boat, and now you want to part with it?

(Written before String posted the photo link).

What’s a PFD ?
Is that the thing that decorates the back of my boat?



I built that boat .It is one of a kind.
Built like a tank and almost as heavy.Great on the water though.

I like your boat string , neat !!

If falling in is a real concern…
…you need to dress for immersion. Screw the sponsons and put the money toward proper immersion clothing.