unstable canoe

I’ve been canoing and kayaking since 1971. In '73 I got a Grumman 16 ft canoe. A great boat. But I gave away both my kayak and the my Grumman. I just got a 17 ft Grumman Eagle from a fiend who never used it. I have a question for anyone. The boat is un-useable because it is very unstable. In calm conditions on flat water, I’ve tried it with a variety of weight in it and with just me(190LBS), sitting perfectly still the boat wobbles near the tipping point. I am an experienced canoer and kayaker. I have been in class 3 rapids and have been dumped in lots of different conditions. I fished from my kayak and my canoe. I canoe all year round. I can’t figure out what is wrong. The sheet metal is extremely flimsy. Does nayone have any thoughts, suggestions comments? If not I may have to get another boat.


It’s not the design
Unless there is something wrong with your particular boat, I don’t find the Grumman Eagle unstable.

I’ve had one for a decade or so (bought used) and I’ve paddled it both solo and tandem for many miles, including a little bit of Class I whitewater. Never had a problem–only been over once, when a combination of two 250 lb. paddlers managed to upset it.

So, I guess I don’t know what the problem could be. I don’t paddle mine often anymore, because I usually paddle solo, but I’ve lent it to completely inexperience paddlers and they didn’t have any problem.

“,the boat wobbles near the tipping
point.” What do you mean, tipping point? We usually mean when the boat is leaned way, way over in a test of secondary stability.

Or do you mean the boat has too little primary stability? Some canoes, like the V-bottomed Mad River Explorer, are a bit twitchy when dead level but firm up quickly when leaned. With a full load on the bottom, such canoes no longer feel unstable.

I know nothing about the Grumman Eagle, but my first canoe trip was taking two cute young women out on the Schuylkill in a rental Grumman, and I know how very “firm” those old Grummans are. Is the Eagle similarly flat-bottomed, or did they shallow-arch it for better speed?

Unless something amazing is wrong with that particular canoe, I think you need to paddle kneeling for a little while until you and the Eagle get confident with one another.

I found some multiple views of the Eagle
hull, and it is just getting into shallow arch territory. Also, while a standard Grumman has dead-flatness carried well into the ends, in the Eagle the kinda-flat zone does not go quite as far. It is clear why the Eagle feels less firm when you just sit in it, but it also appears to me that there are many tandems on the market that would feel just as unstable to you, or moreso.

Even though you’ve done some whitewater, you probably did not do it in a shallow arch boat. Blue Hole OCAs, Dagger Legends, even the Old Town Tripper— all are rather flat bottomed. You may be experiencing a shallow arch canoe for the first time.

We have an old ‘73 Moore Voyageur, an 18.5’ cruiser with a not-so-shallow arched bottom. It feels kind of easy or willing to tip at first, then firms up. We took our little kids on many lake and easy whitewater trips in the boat. I don’t know if you could learn to like the old Moore.

If you want to give the Eagle another chance, set it up for kneeling, take your tandem partner, and just paddle it. Soon you can go back to sitting. Probably soon it will feel better. Or not.

paddling since 71’…

– Last Updated: Jul-20-10 1:01 AM EST –

and you dished out $$$ for a Grumman???

ditto big S

Hey! Grummans are canoes too
and pretty popular ones at that.

Wouldn’t mind having one myself.

The arched hull will feel a little twitchy for a while. Give it some time.

I have a guess

– Last Updated: Jul-20-10 9:34 AM EST –

The only way I can imagine a 17-foot canoe feeling tippy with one person on board, is if you are paddling solo from the stern seat. Is that what you do? That shortens the waterline length (possibly to less than half of what it's supposed to be) and perches you directly over a very skinny part of the boat.

If it really is a shallow arch design as g2d believes, than it should "get firmer" as it leans to one side (unless you are sitting in the stern seat when solo. Don't do that).

I don't know about that flimsy sheet metal either. Grumman used to have an option for very thin metal for saving weight, but their standard boats are very sturdy. Maybe Plaidpaddler will see this post. He will almost surely know the answer about such options.

A thwart behind bow seat
of a 17 foot eagle that is pictured in the following ad


would make it impossible to paddle solo sitting reverse in the bow. I would suggest try kneeling in the bildge behind the centre thwart. Put foam pad down to kneel on and maybe a spare lifejacket or something under your bum for comfort. Being lower in the canoe will also make it more stable. You will want to be close to one side with the side you are paddling on tipped down towards the water. If this works out consider removing the thwart behind the front seat to make the front seat available for solo paddling.

Good point about the thwart. But it’s a
tandem boat. Even people as tall and heavy as I am will find this boat a handful to solo. Tipping it Canadian style will put the keel in a less favorable position to do its job.

A better way to solo a big boat?
Sure it will be affected by wind, but sitting low and using the secondary stability should work for testing. At 39" wide, Canadian style would be less awkward than sit and switch style IMO.

Get used to it or get another boat
What else is there really to say.

If you decide to get a different canoe, just make sure you first test paddle it for stability, comfort and whatever other factors are important to you.

can not understand why …

– Last Updated: Jul-20-10 12:45 PM EST –

....... your 17' Grumman Eagle is unstable to any point let alone one of un-usable ??

If the canoe had been deformed is some serious way , maybe that would alter the designs stability negetively . But you said this Grumman hasn't been used , so it's not a deformation issue is it ??

I've seen light Grumman's pancaked out so bad on bottom that the chines look like they were bent on a metal break with no noticable roundness left on chins .

This link shows a nice older 17' Grumman Eagle , does this look like yours ??


most canoes are unstable
if you are kneeling or worse sitting at one end. If you have to sit try sitting backwards on the bow seat. I have not met a Grumman yet that is unfriendly to Canadian Style solo…albeit on calm waters. They sometimes get in trouble in heavy waves. With enough of a load though even that kind of goes away.

So far its not clear to me if its a paddler or a boat issue, did someone do something really weird to it?

from a fiend who never used it?
Seems like the problem is obvious.

A fiendish canoe will always dunk you.

Hit and switch? Not feasible as a solo
approach for the Eagle. I just think the Eagle and most other 17 footers are too long and large for solo use. They are better with a full load of gear.

Grumman Eagle
I agree with Guideboatguy that the only way this big hunking canoe will feel “unstable” paddled solo will be if the paddler is sitting in the stern seat and he is heavy. At around 200# paddler weight the bow will lift clear of the water and the narrow stern will sink considerably.

The Eagle was Grummans design to compete with the Coleman and Discovery 174 for the K-Mart trade. It has continuous flare and a very rigid hull. They were shipped with 6 hulls nested and the “trim” in cartons inside the top hull. You bought it as a kit boat and added the thwarts and seats when you got it home. It was only made in one thickness and with one style keel.

It is a great paddling boat for an aluminum hull. It is very dry in waves and has a sharper entry than traditional shaped aluminum hulls. It was never confirmed to me, but i do suspect it was designed by the Grumman Aerospace guys. The transitions in the hull are too smooth to be shaped by trial and error.

The Eagle is a hard boat for me to solo. The gunwale width is very wide at center, more due to the flare necessary for stacking hulls for shipment than to the waterline width. It will paddle leaned, Kayamedic would love it, she could make it spin like a much shorter canoe. Once on its side the keel would be airborne and not influence its movement.

Long ago Cliff Jacobson did a Canadian tour article for Canoe magazine. He had a bunch of teenagers on a wilderness trip in canoes donated for the trip. One was a Grumman Eagle and he praised how dry it was in rapids and waves. It stuck in my mind, cause it was praise for an Aluminum canoe in the wilderness.

For the original poster: Are you sitting in the stern seat in an empty canoe? If so, move front to behind the center thwart. Buy a removable seat if necessary. You are tall enough to reach the water from there. At 5’9" its a stretch for me, but i have paddled one solo for over a mile empty from there.


Unstable canoe
MarkJ again with my unstable canoe. Great responses, and it looks like I’m the problem, which is good news. I am going to try kneeling and canoeing in calm waters until I get used to handling my new boat and what it takes to enjoy using it. Thanks for all the help.