Trimming a solo canoe for a dog

Hi, first time poster but long time lurker. My question has to do with trimming a solo canoe to accommodate my new dog.

I would really like to get one of the faster solo canoes for day trips with my dog.

I am interested in paddling with some of the local kayak groups in my area. While they are not exactly speed demons, they do paddle a lot faster and farther than my old Grumman 15 will take me. Given my ever shrinking budget, I’m probably looking at some of the older performance models. For example I missed a Jensen 18 for $500 a while ago, and there is a Sawyer DY Special being listed here for $700 now (I found a nice pic a a guy paddling his DY Special with the dog in the back and his camping gear in the front).

So my question is this: paddling one of these boats with a 55 pound dog in front of me is going to change the trim quite a bit. Would I be better off moving the seat back to compensate for the dog? Generally, how far back can you move the seat before you run into problems with that? On the other hand, would water jugs behind me be a better option? I’m not wild about that idea just because of the added weight.

My paddling weight is about 170, the dog weighs 55 and maybe 20 pounds for the lunch cooler and other stuff. The dog does have to be in the front for a bunch of reasons.



move seat
I’d try changing the seat position first. I’ve got a solo set up to be trim with an 80-pound dog in front of me, and it works fine for the paddling we do.

One disadvantage is that you’re not at the pivot point, and your maneuvering strokes will be different. But I’d rather deal with that than carry ballast and be even heavier.

It might make sense to get a second seat & set of hangers instead of trying to modify the originals. That way it’s easy to swap back to the original configuration.

Installing a sliding seat might be the best concept.

Where are you located?
I’ve got a kevlar performance solo with a slider that I may sell. I’m in western PA.

Water is cheap
At 8lbs a gallon, 4 milk jugs might just do it.

Also provides clean water for a hot dog & paddler.

Another good thing about ballast

– Last Updated: Apr-08-13 12:38 PM EST –

You don't need 55 pounds of ballast to provide counterbalance for a 55-pound dog. You would nmeed the same weight if the ballast were placed roughly the same distance behind center as the dog is ahead of center, but put that counterweight way back in the stern and you will need much less, maybe even just a quarter of what the dog weighs (depending on dog location, etc.). Your boat will have more "swing weight" with a little extra weight in one end than it will with a balanced load and no ballast, but then, as the OP points out, balancing the load by moving the seat moves the paddler away from the pivot point, so either method has a certain disadvantage. Pick your poison.

Two dogs, bow and stern.

A second dog is not that far fetched
A second dog is not that far fetched. My old dog Perra, who moved to the suburbs a few years ago, loves canoeing. She just loves to stand up tall on the fore deck of the Grumman, which was fine because I was paddling backwards from the front seat. In a solo boat I could keep the new dog a lot closer to the center with me.

I am in the metro DC area, so I have all of the upper and lower Potomac to play in. Personally, Perra likes Violets Lock the best, but prefers to swim the rapids.

I appreciate the comments, thank you,


Gonna depend on the dog and boat
I’ve had several dogs over the years in the 45 to 55 pound range. My current solo boat is a Bell Magic and a well behaved dog that likes to sit in the bottom goes right between my legs and essentially becomes additional weight in the center of the boat with no effect on trim.

If the dog won’t get low enough that you continually “bonk” it in the head while switching sides, then the dog moves behind you and you will need something up front.