what makes a canoe stable? and...

i know a wide canoe is more stable that a narrow one, and flat bottoms are stable than round, but to what degree? is there more to it?

what does more or less rocker do?

also, what makes one boat material better than another? royalex? 3 layer sumthin or other, is the higher cost a more durable material, lighter, both? thanks for any info.

Good source of info is Wenonah catalog
I’d call them and ask them to send you one. It makes a pretty good primer, regardless of who’s canoe you buy.

no hard, fast rules

– Last Updated: Nov-20-08 4:50 PM EST –

wider doesn't necessarily mean more stable, especially when you throw waves into the equation.

and wider boats tend to perform less well under waves and wind than hulls with a narrow, arch shape.

square chined boats "fall off" the wave, where as arched hulls slide down them and keep the paddler in the center line with the boat, not outside it, where instability lives.

rocker is the amount of curve in a hull from stem to stern. more rocker typically means more manuverability.

materials? royalex is great for abuse, cold conditions, whitewater, etc. it's heavier than kevlar, carbon, fiberglass and wood and flexes rather easily when compared to those lay-ups.

there are lots of variables. the wenonah catalog will help, though.

Good placee to start right here

– Last Updated: Nov-20-08 5:06 PM EST –

In the P-net articles...


And another...


It depends
Stability isn’t stability ALWAYS. Huh? There’s basically two kinds of stability you need to concern yourself with. First, there’s what you probably mean, which is a resistance to tipping. That’s primary stability, also called initial stability. Wide, flat bottoms generally speaking provide a lot of initial stability. They’re tough to get them to start to tip. Problem is, once they start to tip they pretty much go right on over.

Other features, like rounded chines (instead of hard corners where the sides start to come up) and rounder rather than flatter bottoms, plus a zillion other things, allow a canoeist to keep control of the boat even when it’s leaning well over to the side. The tendency of a canoe to let you keep this kind of control is called “secondary stability” or sometimes “final stability”. You’ve got to learn how to use it, but golly when you’ve got it and need it, it’s sure nice to have.

Now, you mentioned elsewhere wanting to fish in the relatively calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For that, I’d think you would want a canoe with high initial stability. Most recreational kayaks fit that bill. You can also cheat (it’s not really cheating unless you’re a purist) and add outriggers to any canoe. I’m not a fan of outriggers for where I paddle because there are a lot of things for them to catch on. But on the waters of the Chesapeake they wouldn’t hang up on anything. Decide if you’re willing to thumb your nose at purists and accept jokes about using training wheels.

Rocker lets you turn better and keep your heading well when in rough water. I’m not really sure how it affects initial or secondary stability (though I’m sure it must somehow). It’s nifty to have if you’re river running and go over a drop. A little rocker lets you turn a relatively long boat quickly, but it does reduce tracking (generally speaking). Frankly, I think tracking is generally over-rated. So long as the canoe tracks well enough, that’ll do. Not sure how much rocker would be appropriate to the Chesapeake Bay in-shore waters, but I’d think you could get by with little to none. It can get right rough out by the Bridge-Tunnel (or so I hear). If you’re going out away from shore like that, you’ll need advice from someone other than me.

  • Big D

great replies, really helps. yeah, im not a purist, just a person looking for a canoe that will get me there and back, last for a while while taking alot of hard use. when i say this, im not trying to start trouble or soud like a jerk, but im not interested in the ride, just getting there, so outriggers are will certainly be considered. a trolling motor may even be in the plan, so i am far from pure, just looking for a car topable boat that is safe for somewhat less than ideal condition. may be used in some seas, though nothing more that 1’.

so after these answers, what charecteristics should i look for, for stability in 1’ seas, 15 mph wind, WITH outriggers (if necessary)?

Some questions that need answering

– Last Updated: Nov-20-08 6:30 PM EST –

What is your budget?

What is your height and weight?

Will you paddle tandem or solo, if both, what percentages and what size is the other person (Don't say both if it's really not going to be. That limits your choices a lot)

Will you store it inside or outside?

Do you consider yourself of average strength and durability (for picking up, loading and carrying)

What will you do in the boat? (fish, just paddle, explore?)

Will you paddle small rocky streams? lakes? big rivers?

Why do you say if has to be "tough"? What uses are you referring to?

How much canoe experience do you already have? What kind of experience is it?

I'm sure there are a couple questions I missed and someone will fill them in.

Not trying to be funny.

We used one and couldn’t tip over even if we tried.

I didn’t know one of those

… big ole things could become unstable but I’m a kayaker so what do I know.

Happy paddlin’


more info
uses: mainly duck hunting

water: semi open marsh, windy, but no chance for big seas to make. 1’ max

paddling: trolling motor and or one paddler

what will i be carrying: loaded with cut ceder branches, decoys, guns, no dog, one person, maybe 400 lbs

budget for canoe only: about 800$

im 6’4" 215 lbs

strenght: i can car top a old t dicso 174

water: sand, mud, no rocks

tandem or solo: one paddler, but i need the room of a tandem.

thanks. please suggest any models you would choose for these conditions.

They’re fine if the need is for
bulletproof stability while not moving around much, as when hunting or fishing. They are kind of a drag when you need to paddle a whole bunch of river or lake miles.

Decided against a SOT kayak?
Just to check if some of this may have been covered - is the canoe idea in lieu of a SOT kayak that you were thinking of for this purpose? And have you gotten any input from the fishing site that was suggested in your thread about the Malibu?

What I’d recommend…
Clarion asks good questions, and they really should be answered. Nevertheless, I am not one to let facts get in the way of expressing an opinion.

Given that you’re completely new to canoe-ing, I’d recommend that you rent a time or two to see whether you can stand it. I know there are outfitters in Va Beach, Chincoteague, probably Crisfield and other places in your broader area. Take out a boat or two and see what you like. Maybe do an eco-tour with someone.

My guess is that what you want is a fairly long and wide canoe, bit of rocker but not too much, and made out of strong material like Royalex or Polylink 3. Maybe add a rowing station.

I’ve been fishing from a Coleman Scanoe to which I added a center seat for rowing. I love it. It’s not a pretty boat, and it’s not a responsive boat. But it’s a sturdy and realiable boat that carries a ton of stuff and stays upright. I took it down a few class 2 miles of the New River this past summer rowing it solo, and then the next day paddling it tandem. It’d do what you want to do, but it has no class. It’s just a work-horse canoe. Mine’s busted up (rear-ended on the trailer) so I’m ready to replace. Big boat like that you want a trailer, though I’ve loaded it to the rack on my Ranger. Oof. 110#. I just lifted the front end on, and then slid it on shoving from underneath so I could use my legs and back for strength.

I’m planning to buy an Esquif Cargo for fishing, take a look at that (Googleable). It’s 17’, but they make two shorter canoes as well. Heron and something else. I want big, though. I want to stand when I fish, and I have wiggly kids who love the river. I’m planning to put a 40 ft/lb thrust trolling motor and possibly a 3hp gas engine on it (alternately, not both at the same time). I fish the upper Potomac (that portion upstream of Great Falls where it’s the border between VA and MD).

There are tons of other canoes that could do just fine. If you want pedigree, I’d be willing to bet an AWFUL lot of people got their canoe fishing start in an Old Town Discovery 169 or 174, and they are eminently car-toppable. You should be able to pick up one of those used at a reasonable rate. If you don’t like it, then sell it. You won’t lose much.

Good luck. There’s not much in world more fun and relaxing at the same time than paddling a canoe to fish.

One thing to avoid is an aluminum canoe. While I’ve paddled many pleasant miles in aluminum canoes, they are loud and they get very hot. Nevertheless, there’s a 13’ Michicraft aluminum canoe on my rack. It’d do everything you need, but it wouldn’t be my first choice by a long shot. Still, that crunch of gravel when launching an aluminum canoe with the first glints of dawn’s light shimmering off the waves… sweet memories that bring a smile to my face every time…

I’d really like to see you out there some day, maybe hand me an early morning can of brew to celebrate the first fish of the day…

  • Big D

I think the boat’s you’ve considered…
… will be fine, as far as stability goes. I really like some of those 14-foot canoes that have come up in other discussions about choosing your boat (in terms of meeting your apparent needs, not mine). Those boats CAN be tipped over, but that’s extremely unlikely to happen if you follow one very simple rule:

When getting in or out of the boat, keep your feet away from the edges (preferably close to the centerline of the boat), and keep your head over your feet! Look down at your feet to make sure your head is over your feet. It’s that simple. If you do follow this rule, you won’t ever feel tempted to grab one rail of the boat and lean your weight onto it. Don’t treat the boat like an immovable object and all will be well. Obviously, there’s that transition between having your weight in the boat versus on the shore, but you’ve done this before in your Old Town Discovery so transitioning to a shorter and slightly less-stable boat won’t be a problem, I’m sure.

Once seated in any of the canoes that have been mentioned in the other discussion, you’ll be fine. It sounds like your waters won’t be rough enough to require anything fancy in the way of boat design.

No problem
If weight doesn’t matter, any of the big, heavy, Royalex trippers will be more than stable enough, once you learn to use them.

If you don’t want to learn to canoe (I’m not talking about becoming expert, just spending a few days playing in warmer water and maybe taking a course), a John Boat will be more stable. I have been in waves in a canoe, though, that I am pretty sure would have swamped or flipped a 12’ John boat.

I like the Old Town Tripper, or better yet the Tripper XL. Loaded down heavy, I could stand on the gunwale of the Tripper XL. They are a bit rare, but have been around a long time.

big d
thanks for the reply. i did answer clairons questions, so if that changes any of the info you gave me, id like ta know. thanks again to everyone.

yes, it is either a kayak or the canoe. the fishing sight i posted on had very positive feed back about paddling the mal 2 both tandem and solo, but i am think the higher sides of the canoe would be much safer and conveient,. guideboatguy, thanks for ALWAYS answering my somewhat repetitive posts, i can count on you. thanks again everybody, mike.

ya’ll ain’t from 'round here, are ya’ll
we only give detailed explanations at p.net.

is it more than you need? sure

more than you want? absolutely

that’s just who we are.

The head rules
Put your head over the boat first prior to entry.

Getting in on your knees even if you do not plan ever to stay on them lowers your center of gravity and aids stability.

Place your paddle over the thwart in front of your paddling station with the blade towards the side you’re getting in from. Grab the thwart and paddle on each side of the boat…this pulls your head in… the tail and legs follow.

Getting out reverse the process…legs first head last.

The cardinal rule of any paddle sport is to watch the head and keep it in the boundaries of the boat. When folks get into trouble its because the head is out of place.

The wider the boat is the more room your head has to mess around.

Do you own the Disco 174? You mention car topping it.

Have you paddled it much?

It’s roomy,stable, and tough. It’s heavy and catches a lot of wind if not loaded with gear, in my opinion.

What do you not like about it? What do you like about it?

A bit of info on your likes and dislikes of a known boat may help folks point you to one you may like better.

I hope this makes sense.

I have a bit of experience with canoes, but none with duck hunting, and none with the bay area.