Thoughts on first canoe?

Hello everybody. I’m new here and new to canoeing. I did some canoeing when I was younger in the Boy Scouts. I canoed the Rappahannock and took safety classes and received my canoeing merit badge. That’s was pretty much the extent of my canoeing career.

I’d really love to get back into it and I need some advice on a purchase. I will only be going on flat water lakes and maybe a small rapid river, but not until I gain some more experience.

I basically want a canoe to fish after work that I can solo with and on occasion bring someone with me. I have lower back issues so I don’t want something really heavy or will put strain on my back while paddling for hours.

I was looking at the Old Town Saranac 14 because of the seats. But it appears to be heavy. I also want to be able to put a trolling motor on it.

My budget is no more than $500, give or take a few bucks. I want to go used but the Northern Virginia craigslist ads aren’t really helping. If anyone could give me some sound advice on a used or new inexpensive beginner boat I would be greatly appreciative. Thanks!

Decisions deccisions
take a look at the recent thread with that title. You may find it helpful. with your budget you will be looking to buy used. you may want to talk with some canoe rental places nearby, sometimes they are willing to sell off some of their older inventory

The “Decisions Decisions” thread on the front page asks almost the same question and we’ll give about the same advice. The Old Town Penobscot 16rx or 17rx would be a good choice. The 3 layer poly (plastic) version is probably too heavy for you at around 80lbs. The Royalex version is still the better part of 60 lbs.

“Light” and $500 dont really go together unless you find a smoking good deal, which do come up, but you have to search frequently and act immediately. The couple smoking good deals a year that I see generally sell in the first few hours of being posted. has a useful search tool

Thanks for the replies. I’ll keep on checking the classifieds and do some more research.

Canoes with third seat
Sometimes a “cooler” in the middle, suck for putting fishing poles in. They can’t lay on the bottom.

You can wait a long time for a good deal on a Royalex boat to come up, when they do they go quick.

Old fiberglass can be had pretty regular for cheap. You gotta ask yourself how often you would be running a rocky stream as opposed to a calm lake.

The main problem with heavy canoes is loading them on top of a car… Consider dropping 300 on a harbor freight trailer and you may be able to manage a heavier boat.

be patient

– Last Updated: May-20-15 8:52 PM EST –

Hey Joe - I'm in Alexandria, so a little north of you. I think you're best bet is a 16ft, royalex canoe. Most common used ones are Old Town Penobscot, Mad River Explorer, and various Mohawk models. I see canoes fiting that description popping up on the Washington DC craigslist in your price range not infrequently. You might also want to check Richmond craigslist, as that is a pretty big paddling town. Even with royalex, you're still looking at about 60 lbs, so if that's too heavy, you'll need to save up more and look for Kevlar. I've noticed that Kevlar canoes are a bit harder to come by around here, maybe because this area is more of a river-paddling area than lakes like they have in the upper mid-West.

Another thought is to just rent a canoe, at least until you find a great deal on a purchase. There are several outfitters along the Rappahonock. Then you wouldn't need to worry about carrying or cartopping anything - the boat is right there at the launchsite!

you could
buy a used bicycle

Be patient

– Last Updated: May-21-15 7:05 PM EST –

Hi Joe, jdb said it! I'm kind of in the same situation though I have experience and have owned a few really nice canoes.
I had back surgery in 08' due to chronic pain I thought my paddlin days were over,Sold my Bell merlin II and have been canoeless since. talk about regret !!
fast forward- today the ole back has been doing better so I'm looking for another solo or mabe a smaller tandem that wont break my bank or pocket,I also fish. they come up for sale occasionally but have the cash in hand ready buy.
there's a lot of great people and info here to help along the way. test paddle as many as you can before making a decision.

Rack loading aid

– Last Updated: May-21-15 9:15 PM EST –

To save your back, and your car, you can try one of these Thule Outrigger or Yakima Boatloader bars. It's a bar that stores inside the rack crossbar and pulls out to allow you to put one end of the canoe up there and then lift the other end to get the boat up to the height of the roof and slide it onto the racks. Add a cart to help get the boat to and from the water and you are in good shape.

That’s usually why you should place the

– Last Updated: May-23-15 12:20 PM EST –

rear bar as far to the rear as possible. No need for the extra roller-bar....but it helps if you're obsessed with any scratches on the rear door at all. $.02 = the Penob_17 weighs a ton...the P_16 is a good one to check out...or any Wenonahs, Swifts, Bells....etc. USED can get you some pretty decent prices.

Find a used solo Kevlar boat, or a used tandem around 16 feet. Royalex is too heavy unless you are running rivers. Learn to handle loading and unloading correctly. It is not that bad.

Thanks for all the replies. I found an Old Town Penobscot 16 on CL but the ends are all damaged and scraped up. Would a skid plate affect performance? The seller says it’s a $100 fix and $500 for the boat. Is that worth it? I just want to fish on calm lake water. I don’t really want to invest a lot of money.

i think you can do better
I won’t go for a boat that needs a bunch of repair. You want to paddle, not fix somebody else’s wrecked canoe. Personally, I think if its too busted up to patch with a little JB Weld, I’d move on.

I don’t know if we’re supposed to do this on pnet or not, but there’s a Mohawk Intrepid for $450 in Lorton, VA on CL. I’d check that boat out. There’s also a really nice looking Old Town Appalachian in Ashburn for $650, which I know is a little more than your budget, but the Appy is a great river boat and it looks pretty nice. Anyway, I think there’s better canoes out there for 5 or 6 Benjies than a busted up Penobscot. Good luck with the hunt.

I agree
That Penobscot is too expensive. The seller is right that it would cost $100 to fix it up yourself. The price ought to be around $300.