Trolling motor mount options

Hello. Last winter, I acquired a Phoenix Maxi II “poke boat”, which is an unframed, fiberglass lay-up, tandem boat most similar to a decked canoe. The boat is 18’6" long and weighs about 60 lbs. The price was very low, the boat needs some work, and I want to experiment with it a bit. My first experiment is mounting my Watersnake 23 lb thrust trolling motor. Side mounting it would be fairly easy (I’ve done similar tasks on several double-ended canoes) but I don’t much like the effects, and would rather find a way to mount along the centerline. The boat came with a peddle-activated aluminum rudder that mounts to a bracket glassed into the stern. My first thought was to adapt the motor to that bracket, rig a lever of appropriate width to the motor, and steer it with the existing peddles. I am aware of the potential issues with the strength and security of the mount, but it does look and feel very sturdy, the motor weighs only 7 lbs, and I would be judicious with the throttle. If that isn’t feasible, I had an even stranger idea. Could I install a hatch with a down tube (rigid fiberglass or plastic of some kind, instead of the usual flexible material used), cut a round opening in the hull bottom, seal it all up (a second hatch “ring” on the bottom would probably be indicated), and create a motor well from the rear deck, through the bottom? I am capable with FRP work - I have made a few surfboards from scratch, and repaired any number of other boards and boats with glass. FWIW, I need to apply a new resin top coat to much of the boat, anyway, as it was stored oudoors for several years, and, while the laminating resin all looks intact, a lot of the “fill” or “top” coat has checkered off. What I hope to get from this forum is the “gotchas” for each option that have not yet occured to me - it seems to be a good place for that :slight_smile: If any of the more purist members want to imply (or even state outright) that I’m an idiot for entertaining these ideas, feel free, but try to incorporate some kind of constructive suggestions in the reply…

I kind of want to imply or outright state you’re an idiot because you welcome it but to be honest I’m loving the idea of a down hatch.

It would probably be best to have your tube well above the water line and brace the top very well since that’ll be where the motor is mounted and the tube will create a lot of leverage against the seal at the bottom of dont.

Also worth mentioning. It would probably be a good idea to do that in conjunction with recoating the bottom for a solid chemical bond

Both approaches sound like realistic options. It seems like the first option might be easier to try first…and seems like it might be easier to transport the boat and install the motor at your put-in. If the rudder bracket doesn’t turn out to be strong enough seems like you could repair it and move on to option 2. I bet that boat would scoot right along with a trolling motor. I think about electric motor canoes sometimes too.

I agree with TomL, try the most straight forward solution first. Having the motor installed and steerable with foot pedals would remove the need for the rudder, so the mount can function for rudder or motor, but you won’t need both at the same time. Make them interchangeable and save the weight and drag. I would surely try that first (reinforcing if necessary) before putting a couple of holes and a tube through a boat, even a not-perfectly-good one.

Trolling motors are pretty easy to take apart and mount just the motor to a rudder. Online search will find examples. On a canoe the motor being out on the tip of a rudder may not be ideal. Have seen pictures of a homebuilt wooden sailboat where the builder installed a motor well with a plug, thus the motor could be removed completely and the well filled.

That’s an intriguing option, I’ll need to look into it. The existing rudder is mounted to a hollow aluminum tube, which in turn fits into (and rotates inside) a clamp that is glassed into the stern of the boat. I was going to figure a way to adapt that clamp to the larger vertical trolling motor shaft. If I can disassemble the Watersnake, mount the motor to a new tube of the appropriate (smaller) diameter, and route the wires through that, I think everything else might fall into place. I think I would rather replace the tube, mount the motor head to it, and (if necessary) also mount a steering blade around the motor head, than butcher the existing rudder to accept the motor. That way I could (hopefully) restore all of the motor and boat parts to original condition, should this not work out. A bonus would be that this could apparently result in a very stealthy motor install. I am in NJ, and there is a requirement that any boat that uses any kind of motor be registered. That wouldn’t be all that awful, except that NJ will only issue a registration for a boat that has a valid title signed over to the new owner from the previous one. A Bill of Sale without the title is not acceptable. How many canoes and kayaks that have seen multiple owners still have the title documents accompanying them? In this area, very few. Fortunately, very small boats with trolling motors in the waters I want to cruise aren’t targeted for enforcement to any large degree (unless the operator is doing something very stupid). I figure that having a motor that is almost unnoticeable would only make the possibility even more remote.

Not an idiot, interested in seeing how it turns out. Please post pics when done.
Marine batteries can get awfully heavy… need to be tied down somehow so it won’t move. And balancing the boat could be a challenge.

Understood. I have two 12V deep discharge AGM batteries, 75 AH & 55 AH - that I plan to connect in parallel for 130 AH of power. Motor draws 9A at low setting and 20A on full power, so that should give me a good bit of cruising time without resorting to the paddle (I do plan to add a PWM controller, which should extend that even further, but I don’t want to factor that in yet). I had thought about mounting a PV panel to recharge the batteries, but that would seem to be overkill unless I begin making multiple day camping trips, which is not my current plan. Both batteries fit in an extra-long heavy-duty plastic milk crate with some room left over. The milk crate is almost exactly the height of the boat depth just in front of the cockpit, so that is a plus. Regarding weight capacity and distribution, this boat probably gives me as much flexibility as anything else there is, at 18’ 8" long, 37" wide, 15" deep, with a huge, single tandem cockpit that is 92" long. Boat weighs 58 lbs, and capacity is rated at 650 lbs. While the two seat brackets are fixed, it will be easy enough to drill out the rivets and relocate the “pilot” seat (I plan on solo use). Likewise the rudder pedal tracks can be moved. So I think that the battery weight and overall weight distribution will not be a huge problem. My biggest concerns are whether the rudder bracket is sufficiently robust to handle the motor torque over the long term, and tracking. The boat has a lightly rounded and rockered, but mostly flat, bottom, with nothing to serve as a direction-holding keel. It may be that the motor thrust, or motor thrust in combination with a vertical plane mounted on the motor head, will give me enough directional control even in a crosswind, but that remains to be seen.