What canoe did you start in?

Frequently the question comes up on p.net, usually from a newbie, as to what canoe they should pick for their first time. Sometimes they ask about a Disco or a TT or a Pelican/Coleman because of price. Several of us, myself included, encourage newbies to bypass the gut busters and start paddling with a nice canoe and a nice paddle so they’ll enjoy it more and stay with it.

Having said all that, I wonder what most of us started with, and how long it took before we traded up. I remember my very first canoe was a skin on frame canoe kit from a company in Kansas. It went okay for a month or two, then I found a used aluminum 15 footer that I kept for the rest of that season. I disliked it but it took me where I wanted to go. The next spring I lucked in to a MR Explorer Royalex demo, one of the first Royalex canoes made, and boy was I thrilled. It was light (I was 25 years old then:), fun to carry, had plenty of speed and was quiet and slid off rocks. Several years later I wanted more speed so I bought a Old Town Canadianne, then a 10 foot ADK style pond hopper, and so on. Okay, the question is, what canoe did you start with and how long did it take you to trade up and what would you recommend now for a newbie first canoe, say for flatwater day trips?



Aluminum Gruman 15’
I really didn’t know they made anything else at the time.

No, I wouldn’t recommend it, but even now it beats the heck out of nothing…

24 yeear old
Perception made canoes many moons ago. I started in one of theres that was really skinny and had a very flat bottom. We got in sat down and turned it over all with in about 50 seconds. we got back in kneeled the whole 5 hour trip and had a great time

A "Two Dans"
Built by a small two person operation (both were friends) that built a Prospector like hull for a couple of years in N.H. during the 70’s. They layed it up in either glass or Kevlar with nice ash woodwork and cane seats. Over the years I started with a glass one first then a Kevlar one second. They had a lot of rocker, but could really handle rough water and it was a great platform for fly fishing from in class II+ water either anchored in eddies or floating through it. I traded one of my drawings for the first one and kept the second one long enough to eventually do several fishing trips with my boys in it as well. Many fond memories.

Grumman Standard and
after the first year went into the Grumman Whitewater because that was the type of water i was interested in. Maybe a couple of years later and then the MR Explorer and then it all went beserk with MR Courier, MR ME; Perception Gyromax, Dagger Cascade, Dagger Atom and then yaks and no more canoes. Oh well. Now i got 2 ww yaks instead and want more again. If i could i would have the MR Explorer and Atom back.

Grumman at
summer camp on the Housatonic river. Oh yeah, the clanging of wooden paddles on an aluminum hull reverberating up and down the valley…

Started wit or owned…

– Last Updated: Nov-08-06 8:52 AM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrims;

If yer question mean't started canooin' wit - then it waar a 18' Grumman in de Boy Scouts. If ye mean't owned - then it waar a leaky 1928 Old Town 16' wood/canvas Guide dat ah' bought fer 10 bucks. After it waar stolen (probably by some Mingos)a few years later, ah' boughts a Old Town Tripper back in '78 - which ah' still use. Fro' thaar me'gots de "sickness" an' now me'gots 8 canoos an' a token 'yak...

Fat Elmo

Grumman 16 footer
in 1973. Had two aluminums in the 70’s and one wood/canvas (which I glassed). Sold them all as work and family demands took away paddle time. 2004 I got back into paddling and bought a Nova Craft Bob Special. 1st canoe since the 70’s and 1st new boat. Since then I have bought 3 Old Towns, a Wenonah, and a Bell and have sold 2 Old Towns and the Nova Craft. My current fleet consists of a Wenonah Vagabond (royalex), and Old Town Penobscot 16 (royalex) and a Bell Magic (kev-lite.) On my wish list is a Souris river Tranquility or a Hemlock Peregrine.

I was a basket case…
…on my very first voyage! I’d forgotten the paddle, and somehow fell asleep. (Not that I would ever do that again in a canoe!).

The vessel, suprisingly stable with its flat-bottom and flared sides, was some Rushlessthanaton number. Not much rocker, too. Least, not till that cute little Egyptian gal with the catty-eyes (bit heavy with the mascara, though) took ahold of the craft and showed me how she’s handled. Next thing I knew, there was all sorts of gigglin’ gals gathered-bout in their gauzy garb gawkin’ at me and my ride. Then, I was adopted into an early life of luxury, snakes, and the School of Architectural Pointalism. Wasn’t till many years later that my next canoe ride was in a 17-foot Grummman flasn-n-fry on Broad Creek with my patrol buddy.

Here’s a picture of my first, bulls rush in where pharoahs fear to row vessel:


Funny. As a kid growin’ up on the Nile, I thought I was the earliest pioneer in the canoeing arts. Then one day, this ole timer goes paddlin’ by on some overturned and hollowed-out 17-foot croc skin. That guy had to be older than Moses himself! Think he went by the title of his Grandness Tutankelmo.


Disco 174
My buddy had one and I started doing tandem with him in it.

First canoe I bought was a Wenonah Spirit II and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good canoe to start out.

1st canoe
1st canoe I owned was a Cadorette although I too had paddled alot of Grumans previously. The Cadorette was a Canadian boat & was part of the rental fleet @ nearby state park, bought cheap when they up-graded. It was of that accursed fiberglass choppergun layup - heavy, but brittle & oil-canned badly. After acquiring better hulls, it was lent to a neighbor & was later destroyed when his garage burnt. Other than the air pollution it’s incineration caused, I was glad to see it go !

Would recommend an OT Penobscot 16 to newbie as it could also handle moving water, or one of Wenonahs great, lite hulls if money wasn’t issue

Grumman 17 ft Lake keel
with the Boy Scouts. The comment about the “banging of wood paddles on aluminum gunwales” brings back memories…


First canoe was a 16’ Chestnut. That was nearly 30 years ago now. Last time i was talking to my Dad back East he told me he is putting another sdet of gunnels on it this winter. It’s third set I believe.

Lots of fond memories from that canoe.


Grummans and unknown fiberglass things at Sabattas Boy Scout camp.

My dad bought a 17 foot Grumman whitewater model when I was 16 or so. Never saw whitewater, used only on lakes and ponds as a fishing platform. My sister still has this boat in here garage, although I don’t know if it ever gets used.

Dophin Chief
17 foot long 38"? wide heavy fiberglass with gorgeous huge recurving bow and stern…oh yeah and a 1" aluminum keel running the length. She was red metal flake over whiite with a proud “Chief” graphic on the bow. The boat belonged to one of my fellow scouts mother. She was gracious in lending us her boat, but she insisted there wuld be dire consequences if any misfortune befell her 100lb beauty.

These boats are actually quite pleasurable to paddle and they can haul monstrous loads, but it takes 40 acres to turn them around. Running the twisty Eastern Iowa streams, the boat taught the value of pro-active river reading.

Mohawk Sportsman 14’
I was damn proud of that boat until I realized what a tub it was. Not much of a hunter or fisherman (this boat would excel in those pursuits), but I was short on $$ so I kept that sled for over 15 years, forcing it to do marathon races and Class III whitewater despite its protests and tendency to submarine and threats to wrap around obstacles. After it did its time I sold it to a fisherman after only minor and involuntary modifications to its lines, and bought a Mad River Explorer. I’ve been much happier, but now that happiness is tempered by the realization that I need (NEED, I tell you) a nice solo boat.

I generally do not think there is a “right boat” for a beginner…depends on what they want to use it for. I generally tell them to go used and/or cheap, in case they turn out not to like canoeing.


1st canoe
I started as a kid in scouts and YMCA camps in aluminum canoes, probably Alumicrafts. The first one we owned was a $200 used Coleman Ram-X 17’, which we still have. Plus another was given to us a few years ago. We still use these for banging down rocky rivers, or for bringing rookies along on a trip. They are indestructible! But they will tip over (ask my son about dumping me in the drink by standing up). Since then, a 16’ RX Penobscot and a kevlar Bell Northstar have been added to the fleet. Now my bride has discovered she likes kayaking, so I suppose we’ll need a second one of them pretty soon, too!

When does it ever end?

cYa, Jim

first canoe
barrowed a cheap coleman and hated it,so i researched other canoes. thought about what kind of canoeing i was going to do.taking in to account that i’m not getting any younger, so i bought a new wenonah spirt II ultralite kevlar.I love it so much that i bought another so any family or friends can canoe with the wife and i. then bought a17 ft. grumman for grandkids to learnin and beat.love canoeing the bwca.

first love…
I belive it’s the experience I fell in love with. I’ve rented lots of Grumman products in the mid to late 70’s (still have one), used cheap Coleman fiberglass boats(lost on rocks on the Saco), bought low end 1970’s plastic (still around)…kayak, canoe, barge, tube, does it matter?

Yes it does, once your hooked. You learn your preferance. Where you’ll be and what you’ll need.

But as a newbie, does it matter? I’m not so sure that it does. Getting outdoors with friends, seeing wildlife, getting wet, laughing at the missteps…that’s what it’s all about.

The vehicle does not define the enjoyment of the trip, I think.


Lund 17
Aluminum 17 by Lund. Very similar to grumman. Family canoe, I was 11. Paddled Grumman 15s and ancient wood/canvas at camp.

First I owned was a Chestnut Pal 16 foot.