Triming a Canoe

I’m new to canoeing and her people talk about propperly trimming a canoe. How do you determine that a canoe is properly trimmed?

I understand the point is for the boat’s weight distribution to be such that it’s hull performance is maximized. For a solo canoe the optimum positon would seem to be a slight aft bias since the seats are usually mounted slightley aft of center. If the answer to the question depends upon the canoe then please answer in context of the Wenona Prism because that’s the canoe I’ve decided to purchase. Thanks for your advice.

purpose is
basically to maximixe your use/fun. For control on windless days in flat water you would go for level.(throw some water in the bilge and see what it does)

In moving water the general feeling is slightly stern heavy. In a Wenonah in the wind you probobly would want to skeg the rear by going stern down, if you were turning into the wind. For all out speed I trim bow down at rest and paddle like heck to bring the bow up. At least that is how I recall with out any coffee in me.

Trimming a canoe
Generally speaking in calm conditions your boat should be level, but without gear and/or another person aboard, this can be difficult to achieve without using the center position. In wind however, you want to trim a little DOWN on the UPWIND end as this will cause the boat to act somewhat like a weathervane and not get blown from side to side as much. If the upwind side is higher, the wind will try to swing the boat end for end.

Trimming on the fly

– Last Updated: Jan-16-09 9:16 AM EST –

You'll have a slider in that Prism and it's meant to be moved around when you're on the water to trim the canoe on the fly. You've already got good advice for being out in wind: trim slightly bow down going into a wind and slightly stern down with a tailwind. With experience you will get pretty good at guesstimating where that slider should be based on your load. I think a good way to find that sweet spot is to start with the slider further back than it really should be to trim stern down. Bring the canoe up to a moderate cruising speed and note the considerable amount of yaw in your stroke and the correction required for control, by watching the bow. Now inch forward a bit with the slider and watch that bow as you paddle. When the yaw becomes more of a few inch twitch you are trimmed pretty close in a Prism or a Voyager. For experience, you should also bring that slider all the way forward and note how the bow digs into the water and how it can become a struggle to maintain control as you gain speed. First hand experience is a good teacher with a slider.

let me count the ways
Bow down the boat will plow left of right. Bow light the boat darts let or right with each stroke. Take it both extremes and back off until the boat goes straight with a paddle stroke.

Water in bilge is a good double check but how the boat tracks is the end point.

My boats run straight whether trimmed
a little up or a little down. Must be something wrong with my strokes, I don’t use any J, C, or rudder on most strokes.

On the level
I had a heck of a time getting my kev flex spirit II to behave. I installed a small level near the stern seat with the boat sitting on a “level” garage floor. Now I use the level as a guide in trimming the canoe. Once you find the sweet spot you can adjust as needed. It seems that current had a big effect that I was not taking into consideration. Now she paddles really nice.


…agree with “get lowerbody dressed for a swim…and throw some water in” to see where you evenly balance out. Gauge the weight of any used gear…to help in tweaking the trimming. You don’t need an over-abundance of bow deep trim on windy days, the more you weigh down the bow the further back you wanna sit…to prevent windshield-wipering with the ligher stern. Just put the hull on as long an edge as you can and let the hull do the work(with your strokes) as far as keeping you in a straight path…


Trimmimg a canoe
A classy way to trim a canoe is to use Mink. Buy an old mink coat at a consignment center and separate the pelts by cutting the stitching. Then glue the pelts onto the gunwales. You will have a fine trimmed canoe.


Thanks for the Advice
I appreciate the great advice. I have a much better understanding and feel I can put that advice to practical use.

Especially yourr ret603. I might just do it and post the pictures.

Thanks to everyone.

Here’s another way to check your trim
If there’s a good breeze, turn your canoe 90 degrees to the wind and just sit there still. If one end starts to blow downwind more than the other, that end is lighter than the other.

Unless you have an asymetrical …

– Last Updated: Jan-17-09 1:46 AM EST –

... canoe having more rocker up front and/or more freeboard up front. With a symetrical boat this is a good method.

trimming canoe with mink

– Last Updated: Jan-17-09 12:53 PM EST –


A few days ago I had passed a decrepit mink coat in a consignment store close out wearhouse where they sell the stuff by the pound. I was thinking what a shame that so many mink were killed to make the coat, that someone paid a ton of money for it many years ago and now it was going to be sold for maybe $1.00.

Was thinking about what it could be used for when I saw your post. Inspiration! However, presently I don't have a beater canoe to trim out in mink, but if you do it please post the pic, I loved to see it.

Another thought-Would the Canoecentric folks at Raystown accept a kayak if it was trimmed in mink? I'm sure NT would view it as putting gold leaf on skunk cabbage.