stable canoe for calm water

We have a 17’ alumacraft canoe that is very fast in our calm water, but I am scared that I am going to tump it over.

I would like a more stable canoe but I have heard that the more stable canoes are fast and hard to paddle.

Any and all suggestions and discussions would be appreciated.


Granny DP


Real and percieved stability

– Last Updated: Sep-30-13 9:37 PM EST –

Are there any extenuating circumstances that make you feel like you are going to tip that boat over? Alumicraft canoes have a pretty flat bottom, and should "feel" more than stable enough for most people. The trick is to realize that a bit of rocking, or a slightly tippy feeling, is normal. It's not a sign that the boat is going to tip over.

I can't recommend a more stable canoe in good conscience, except perhaps for a pair of very large individuals. Still, I see rental boaters on our big local river loading up their canoes for overnight trips with so much gear they look like container ships that had an explosion on deck but didn't lose the cargo. General-purpose tandem canoes really ARE a lot harder to tip over than some people think.

There's really only one trick to remember. Keep your weight centered, which is easiest to do if you keep your body relatively straight up and down as well. An easy way to make sure you do this is to keep your head directly over your feet when getting in and out, and keep your feet near the center of the boat. As long as "all of you" (that's all of your MAIN body mass) is kept between the gunwales, you probably can't make the boat tip over even if you try. But on that note, before the water gets too cold I'd encourage you to deliberately tip the boat over in shallow water a few times. Once you see what it takes to force a capsize, you should be a lot more confident that it won't happen by accident. Not on calm water anyway.

I second the recommendation to
deliberately capsize in a nice sheltered area where you can simply walk out. The fear of capsize makes most people stiffen up and not being loose and relaxed in the boat is a real impediment to enjoyment. Capsizing is often a bigger monster in the imagination than it really is.

I can’t think of a more initially stable boat than a flat bottomed boat like you are in. We need to help you take out the fear factor.

Another point to remember
If you get hung up sideways in moving water do not lean the boat against the current. That would lower the gunwale against the current and let the river into the boat. Always lean so the current washes your ass (down stream in the main current and up stream in the eddy.)

As others have said
As others have said, flat bottomed boats like an alumacraft have as much primary stability as any canoe is going to have.

Do you know the difference between Primary and Secondary stability? This is a good article explaining the difference as well as some other basic boat design:

A shallow arch bottomed boat will have less primary stability and thus feel tippy to someone with your stability comfort zone. Most nice boats (shallow arch bottom) have tumblehome that result in the boat firming up as you lean it. Bell carries its tumblehome up near the gunwale so they are quite tough to tip over IMO.

If you keep your weight centered its almost impossible to tip over. Get used to what it feels like to pivot at the hips while keeping your torso centered. Also, practice bracing in shallow water (2-5 ft). In a race canoe, you can be well past your point of final stability (i.e. ‘in the process of tipping over’) and save it if you get a brace in quickly and powerfully.

previous experience?
Granny, how long have you been paddling the Alumnacraft? What other canoes have you paddled? I assume you are paddling with a partner; what experience do they have? Are you paddling from the bow, stern, or both? When do you feel unstable… getting in/out, paddling straight, turning, going through a boatwake, etc?

I’d thought/hoped all alu. canoes had been fed to the Golden Goat. That said, there are few around with wider waterlines or flatter bottoms. Try Wenonah’s Kingfisher at 38’ max beam, several wider than the Alu.

Hmm, very different part of the world
I see at least one aluminum canoe almost every day that have some reason to drive more than just to work and back, and often on those days too. Some days in summer I see 50 of them in use. I’ve never heard of a “golden goat” but I suppose that is some local recycling outfit. Anyway, around here aluminum canoes are still very common, and a person could never get the idea that most had disappeared by now, nor hope for it to happen.

Golden Goat is a can recycling machine
They seem to be popular in the Midwest.

In the East I see relatively few alu boats anymore and hardly ever a Wenonah except for racing.

Without humor should be limited to lager beer until their attitude improves.

OT: beer type = f(attitude)
Where do stouts and porters lie on the attitude adjustment scale?

Without exception stouts and porters,
at least as compared to lagers, guarantee expediency with regard to attitude adjustment. Therefore in my mind it would be counterproductive to deny those in greatest need of said adjustment access to them.

In MN aluminum boats are still quite common. maybe 30-40% of all canoes I see.

Wenonah’s are probably 30-40% Bell’s are a little less common (~10%) and Souris rivers are less prevalent (

need micro brews… Particularly those of Hill Farmstead. The ABV content will adjust attitude quickly.

Nice Choice!
Hill Farm rules. Want to send me a growler or bottle? I trade beer on BeerAdvocate all the time, but HF is elusive. Im serious. Ill pay you through paypal or trade beer depending on your preference. Email me if you’re interested.

I only have it
when I go to a couple of gatherings in Vermont. The brewery is only open a couple of days a week.

I wish I could get some more easily too.

some less well-known brands
like Michicraft and Smokercraft had the wide part of their flat bottoms carried further toward the ends of the canoe and may be more stable. Maybe you can find some to try.

The president seems to favor Budweiser
for attitude adjustment. Or, maybe he’s just to cheap to offer something better.