Suggestions for Wedding Gift

-- Last Updated: Dec-05-08 12:47 PM EST --

My fiance and I will be getting married in March 2009. As a wedding present I am hoping to buy him a canoe and accessories.

We have recently moved up to Inuvik NT and the majority of our paddling over the next couple years will most likely take place in the surrounding area.

Might anyone be able to offer advice on canoes that might best suit our needs?

We would both be rather novice paddlers and would have a budget of approximately $2000.

Thanks so much, I truly look forward to your advice and suggestions.

with a good local canoe shop and seek their advice. You are likely to make a big dent in your budget with 2 high quality paddles, two PDFs, roof rack, straps, and a full day of lessons. My wife would have suggested that you save a little for marriage counselling as canoeing can be a bit taxing on young marriages - you know the person in the back (that you can’t see) is always slacking and the person in the front (who you can see) is screwing up the navigation. If you buy locally make sure that you can take back anything you purchase as a gift as paddles and PDFs require a little personal fitting. On a similar question someone here suggested that you go to the Paddlenet store and buy a little canoe ornament and put a note for the gift in it and wrap it up. I think that you would still get credit for a great idea and the two of you could enjoy learning about and trying out canoes together.

Sounds like a great idea for something the two of you can do long into the future.


Pick a really cool train for your gown

– Last Updated: Dec-05-08 2:49 PM EST –

... then have Novacraft lay it up in a canoe!

A prenup

I guess I’ll try to help

– Last Updated: Dec-06-08 3:09 PM EST –

I will assume that you two already know you like to do outdoor stuff together, and that it's "safe" to spend that much money to get into canoeing right off the bat. I will also assume, that like the vast majority of people, you don't have a decent paddleshop nearby (if you do, go there first and ask a ton of questions). What you probably don't already know is that there are dozens of good canoes to choose from, but for starting out, and for the kind of canoeing most newbies envision, a pretty basic general-purpose boat is probably the right choice for starting out (more on that later). Still, there will be many to choose from.

The first step is to decide on a hull material. Since you will need accessories like paddles and PFDs too, Royalex is a likely candidate for as a "good" hull material (a composite boat - usually fiberglass or fiberglass + Kevlar) will use up your $2,000 budget if bought new). Aluminum has a few good points, but aluminum boats can't be designed as precicely as other materials so the boats are less than graceful or speedy in the water in comparison to the *better* boats out there (there are crappy boats made from Royalex too). Look at the "Guidelines" section on this website for a description of different hull materials, as well as various hull shapes.

A good second step would be to get yourself a Wenonah (canoe company) catalog. Unless they've changed it in recent years, it has a lot of good basic information that is not brand-specific.

Third, learning to paddle a tandem canoe (that means two-person boat, not two hulls (I say that because every non-canoer I meet needs that explained to them)) can be either a lifelong process or a very short process followed by a lifetime of fierce arguments on the water. Choose the first option, and buy a copy of "Paddle Your Own Canoe" by Gary and Joanie McGuffin. "Path of the Paddle" by Bill Mason is good too. Here's where I will say "pay no attention to the Wenonah Catalog": Learn to paddle from either of these two books, NOT from the folks at Wenonah (you'll see why).

As to boats to choose from, I'll list some in the "tandem, general-purpose" category, and add to the list as I think of more.

Wenonah Spirit II
Wenonah Aurora
Wenonah Adirondack
Novacraft Prospector 16 (or 17, or "maybe" 15)
Novacraft Tripper 16
Mad River Malecite
Mad River Horizon 17
Mad River Reflection 17
Bell Alaskan
Bell Morningstar
Bell North Wind
Old Town Penobscot 16 or 17

Of these choices, the Prospectors will require a little more basic skill development to make them behave well. Most of the others will be relatively easy.

Don't overlook the possibility of getting a used boat!

A good plan would be to read about them on-line, and come back here with specific questions.

Get to know
area and your paddling likes first. Gift certificate or money set aside would be the good present. Don blow a couple grand until you know exactly where you want to be with this.

wedding gift
I think the idea of giving him a little model canoe is a great one so you can go pick out the real stuff together.

There are some inexpensive paddles that are really quite nice…Grey Owl Scout and Bending Branches Loon for example.

The folks on this chat board would need to know your height to take a stab at correct paddle length and your weight to help you pick a boat…if you are both over 200 pounds and plan to take a big dog it makes a difference in canoe choice. If you are both small and light and plan to take nothing with you it also makes a difference. Another major consideration is the weight of the canoe…you want to keep it as light as is reasonably possible so you can easily throw it on your vehicle and never hesitate to just use it…are you both healthy and of average strength? Do you want your hubby to be able to handle the boat by himself? Does he have any back problems? It would be good for the two of you to try lifting a few boats.

In general I think a Bell Morningstar in Royalex would work fine for almost anyone and the cost would leave you money for a rack and paddles and PFD’s. New boats are really getting expensive and it can also be worth looking for used boats since you might get something a bit lighter in fiberglass or kevlar which tends to paddle slightly better than Royalex. Buying a used canoe is like buying used furniture, it can actually feel better to get something that already has a few scratches so you don’t worry about using it and putting on more scratches and typically a used boat will function just as well as a new one and last forever with just minor (or zero) maintenance. See to check out Dave Curtis’ used tandem boats for example.

If you two hate driving together because one criticises the other then I’d recommend that you strongly consider two solo canoes.

We-no-nah Cascade
great, easy to manouver river tripping boat, which I’m assuming a lot of your paddling will be on? Never had any issues w/it on big rough lakes either, and it holds a lot of gear.

Curious what part, exactly, in the We-no-nah catalog you have issues with guideboatguy? I guess I’m not ‘seeing why’. Do explain?

It’s what they say about steering
They imply that switching sides is “the way” to maintain your course. Other than racers and some long-distance trippers in go-straight boats, who actually uses that method? Better for a person to choose that method if it really suits their needs and to also learn ways to truely maneuver the boat.

well… I for one use that method
I guess we all use what works best or is most efficiant for our own tastes, eh? I’ll admit I throw a J-stroke out there when I’m feeling lazy or just screwing around, but otherwise I tend to find the method you see as odd or un-natural, quite efficiant. Not saying other methods don’t work for me, it’s just that they tend to rob speed and glide compaired to ‘We-no-nahs method’ as you call it.

Never said it doesn’t work well in…
…the right circumstance, else why would racers and trippers use it? The problem is, anyone who resorts to that method from the start thinking that’s all there is (like virtually every inexperienced rental-boater out there, for example), , will never learn how to maneuver a canoe. In fact, a lot of dedicated sit-and-switchers I’ve seen look just like rental-boaters anytime they need to do some very simple maneuvers. I think any beginning canoer is a lot better off learning how to make canoes “do what canoes do” than immediately being tempted to avoid learning the basics.

switching sides does make my canoe
"do what canoes do", and to me that is the basics. Switching works for me on flatH2o and whiteH2o, and works well to manuever any canoe. Not sure what “basics” you are talking about that you have infered folks are avoiding. Are you insinuating a paddler should always paddle on ‘his’ side of the canoe?

“What Canoes Do”

– Last Updated: Dec-08-08 11:27 AM EST –

I believe you are only trying to be difficult for its own sake, but as usual, I'll play. Some things that "canoes do" that make them so graceful and soulful are movements such as sliding away from outside-bend hazards and weaving between obstacles in a manner OTHER than simply steering like a ship at sea. To carry that analogy further, a canoe at its most graceful and most maneuverable is more like a ship in the harbor under the control of several tugboats rather than when using it's own straight-ahead thrust. When, instead of always "aiming" the boat in the intended direction of travel, it moves in the most efficient direction applicable to the situation at hand. Perhaps it suddenly slips straight sideways to line up with a clear slot, or instantly shifts to a diagonally-backwards course with a single paddle stroke seamlessly blended with the previous forward stroke, before changing once again to some other direction, perhaps without wasting any motion lifting the paddle from the water, to snake between rocks or exposed tree trunks, while never turning awkwardly broadside to the obstacles or the current. THAT's "what canoes do" that you don't see ordinary boats doing, and it can NOT be done simply by steering with forward strokes on one side or the other. I could list a bunch of additional real-life examples of what can be done with traditional paddling methods, but seriously, I believe you DO know what I'm talking about. Think of all the paddlers you and all of us have seen who are worse off than any true beginner simply because they neither know nor care about any means of maneuvering a canoe EXCEPT by switching paddle sides (by my way of thinking, a "true beginner" will be a better paddler someday, unlike ANY of these people that I refer to), and then say with a straight face that that's as much of the "basics" as any beginner needs. I don't think a reputable canoe maker does a service to beginners by telling them to do exactly what every no-nothing person who sets foot in a canoe already does. Again, there's nothing wrong with sit-and-switch in the right circumstances, but making it sound like that's all there is to canoeing doesn't help any newbie a bit.

Oh, and I forgot one of the most basic things. Sit-and-switch, at least as a solo method, doesn't even work with a lot of boats, unless you switch sides on every single stroke. Two uncorrected forward strokes on my Odyssey 14 will turn the boat about 20 degrees, and my Supernova will turn a lot more than that with a single uncorrected forward stroke. Some boats are just made for traditional paddling.

As a bit of clarfication to what I originally said, I looked at my newest Wenonah catalog (which is three years old) and don't see any paddling instructions. Somewhere, I do have Wenonah literature of some kind which "explains" "how" to paddle a canoe, and sit-and-switch is what they say.

not rying to be difficult at all…
it was just a bit difficult to know exactly what you were infering by the limited info you provided. We-no-nahs suggestions you refered to (I couldn’t find a catalog that gave any suggestion of paddling style at all) might not suggest folks are going to be avoiding learning ‘the basics’ by using their method, I’d look at it as their recommendation of an alternative, often more efficiant paddling style for many normal paddling situations once ‘the basics’ are aquired, nothing more. Not having the print you read and refered to (and your limited info) handicaped me here. Your post wasn’t too clear about what you were objecting to, or what ‘basics’ you felt they were leaving out, if any. Is there any chance the paddling style they were suggesting, and you are refering to, was related to paddling their solos? I do remember their reference to hit-and-switch for flatH2o solos many years ago.

Pak Boat

– Last Updated: Dec-08-08 5:57 PM EST –

When you get away you most likely will be faced with fly in and air transport.

LOL at the poster who suggested your local dealer. Everything to Inuvik comes by truck or barge or plane. Read at this time of the year "ice highway"

Transport is not cheap.

But a Pak Boat (the 170 ) will save you tons of money in the long run.

That is unless next summer you find an Old Town being left because its too expensive to fly out. The Arctic is full of perfectly good second hand boats and some not so good because they were either too beaten or too expensive to fly out.

Prior posters might want to visit Inuviks website

Anyway did you ride up the Dempster prior to ice up?

What a Lucky Guy

– Last Updated: Dec-08-08 10:54 PM EST –

The Pakboat would probably be your best bet as mentioned. I have a friend who has the 16' model. Never paddled it myself, but he loves it. His is probanly nearing 10 years old? Here's a link. WW

Actually found a Swift dealer in

and a Hellman

And Nova Craft

now its just about that drive… and the nitty fact that flying is the way to go.

As the Pak Boat fits inside a hockey size gym bag and can go inside you two could conceivably fly in a smaller cheaoer plane. Deductions from interior passenger capacity are made if your canoe is a hardshell and has to be lashed to the pontoons…or you have to hire a larger wheeled plane (like a single Otter) because the canoe wont fit inside a smaller plane.

Local Dealer?
Yeah I was thinking the same thing. Not sure how much opportunity to test drive a whole bunch of different boats up there.