weight/ballast question

-- Last Updated: Sep-07-15 8:16 PM EST --

My understanding is that Clipper canoes offers custom layups for their boats. The "Packer" has a fiberglass mass of 42 lbs, and the ultralight has a mass of 34 lbs. The ultralight does not come standard with gel coat. If gel coat is added, approximately another 4 lbs (or slightly less) will be added to the mass.

Let's say that I have the ultralight with gel coat (38 lbs) layed with additional material to bring it up to 42 lbs. However, instead of laying the material all over the canoe, it's deposited in the bilge. This would lower my center of gravity to some degree relative to the 42 lb fiberglass boat. My question is, would this lowering of the center of gravity be perceivable by the user? What if I had additional material layed in the bilge to bring it up to 45 lbs? What if I started with the more evenly-weight distributed 42 lb canoe, and had that brought up to 45 lbs through laying additional layers in the bottom?

In any case, adding the additional mass would give that canoe more inertia. I'd think that this would not let the canoe ride over waves as easily, but would give more stability. I doubt that I would be sacrificing anything noticeable in terms of riding over waves. I'm not looking for something especially agile, but rather stable.


troll troll troll

– Last Updated: Sep-07-15 9:12 PM EST –

everyone has one...

yeah but the design came in at X pounds from an experienced designer. Adding weight unless the weight functions...? questionable.

add weight at stern facilitating bow rise over oncoming waves.

weight in middle stabilized hull in cross current and/or cross winds channel/lake/bay crossings.

weight on front increases steerage some say.

I use MSR dromedary bags with Velcro fastening to bottom hull. works to trim, wroks as a keel, rolls really well.

standard with a touring sea kayak for ballast around the corner BUT THE WATER IS DRINKABLE
the bags movable.


my weight is 170 at 6'4" in a Solstice Titan. I cast out the seat cushion 1/2"max for more stability. do I notice that...fersure.

or for example on my '78 Raleigh bicycle used a woman's mixte front fork with 1/8th" more trail to stabilize handling over transistional skim surfaces of sand no sand sand no sand some kinda slopped off to the berm some slopped off to the road....tiring. 1/8th" stabilized the handling.

MORAL: the designer was working with experience and skill waiting for you to come along and muck it up.

Very, very minor
If you are extremely perceptive, you might notice the difference. The average person would not. I’m not sure that I would. I sort of doubt it.

I think you’ll find that all the stability you need comes partly from the hull design, as well as from you and your paddle. When it comes to the difference between a scary near-tip (or worse) and being comfortable, you and your paddle will be the biggest factors making the difference.

You are only talking about a difference of a few pounds on the keel line. I usually carry one liter of water in a bag on the floor. If I’m out most of the day in summer, the water bag is virtually empty by the time the trip comes to an end. That’s a bigger weight change than what you are talking about, and I honestly don’t notice any difference. Of course, that’s not my whole load. Other stuff I carry means that the percent change from drinking all my water is less than it could be.

Though I’m hard pressed to notice the difference in boat handling from just a few pounds of gear, carrying two different boats, with the weight difference being ten pounds or so, is VERY noticeable. I greatly prefer to carry the lighter one!

You are over thinking this. nm

A thick coat of gel coat
Will crack.


– Last Updated: Sep-07-15 10:48 PM EST –

It seems like analysis paralysis is about to set in. Why not try the scheme you suggest and let us know what happens? It should be easy to set up the experiment with rocks or various lengths of chain laid in the keel.


– Last Updated: Sep-08-15 1:38 PM EST –

I concur.......
Mountain out of a mole hill.


Could try…
A lighter weight hat and heavier sandals… :wink:

yeah, I am overthinking this. That’s what happens when I spend too much time at the computer, and not enough on the water.

get the heavier layup
if you tend to beat on boats as I do.

Stability is more of a function of hull shape, not weight. Some dugouts are heavy and very round bottom and over you go… got birling?

The next question I’d like to hear from you is something that puzzles you from a paddle; not the Internet!

Now go forth and have fun!

Stability again…
Yeah - hull shape. I think Clipper has it down. You will gain stability beyond that by getting in the boat and on the water…and pushing your limits.

Get the lightest layup you are willing to risk. Your back will thank you someday.