Which type for first canoe?

I’ve canoed quite a bit before, but my husband has never sat in a canoe. He’s very nervous about it tipping, so we need something that is fairly stable.

We will primarily be using it in calm water.

We own a creek that is probably 12 feet deep in places, and there is a large lake nearby. I’d also like it to be versatile enough to take in a river without many rapids. We might even do some fishing out of it.

Any suggestions on what to get? I’d like new, but should we go with used? I was looking at an Expedition at Bass Pro Shop ( I think it was made by Pelican), and a Wenonah Spirit II.

The Expedition at Bass Pro Shop …

– Last Updated: Apr-26-08 7:07 PM EST –

........ is the Old Town Discovery 169 (Old Town calls it the Expedition for Bass Pro only as of this year) ........ it's a fine canoe for all recreational uses (it's not a specialized canoe for any extreme singular purpose) ....... I own one , it does everything I have ever put it through perfectly as far as I'm concerned , (it is very versatile and quite stable probably it's best features), tough as nails , will take you were you want to go from rocking down a mountain river (not gigantic W.W. stuff) , to flatwaters ........ great price from Bass Pro (ask about another 10% off with sign up for their credit card) ......... the Pelican and the Expedition are quite different in the way the hull materials are constucted , the Expedition (Discovery 169) is SuperLink (see Old Town web site) and the Pelican is a single layer unless something has changed there .

I’ve always liked the looks of the Mad
River Explorer for an all-around boat. But I’ve never paddled one.

All-round it is, but obsolescent.
Not that agile in rapids, not so fast on the lakes. Even Mad River has offered better all-around tandems, but the Explorer has a mystique, and will probably sell well for another 20 years.

I had a friend who could do amazing things in whitewater with an Exlorer, but I had another friend who could do even more in an Old Town Tripper. He sold me the Tripper, and I was mightily pleased.

Forget the Pelican
Pelican boats are bottom of the line trash.

The Spirit would be a better boat. There are few better all around canoes than the Spirit, but being that stability is one of your chief criterion, look into a canoe designed for fishing.

Some ideas:

Bell Angler

WeNoNah Fisherman

Nova Craft Angler

Mad River Angler 14

This sounds off-topic but it’s not.

– Last Updated: Apr-27-08 12:19 AM EST –

You say your husband is very nervous about the canoe tipping over. First of all, just about anyone here will tell you that being nervous about tipping is a feeling that goes away with time, usually pretty quickly, and many of us actually seek out boats which would "feel" tippy to a beginner simply because they have performance attributes which we appreciate.

My second point is more important. A fear of tipping which is based on a person's fear of water, or at least extreme discomfort about being in water, can really do-away with many opportunities to have a good time in a small boat of any kind. You will have to wait for the water to get warm, but I suggest you make him (yes, "make" him, but in an encouraging way) practice getting in the water while wearing a good PFD (life jacket). Using a good PFD is important because a good one fits in such a way that it will hold him up in the water without slipping up and rubbing on his face or interfering with his arm movements. I'm guessing that being in the water is a pretty scary thing for him if he's really that worried about tipping, so this is something to work into gradually. If he can eventually learn to trust the PFD, and realize that once in the water he can stay in control and even paddle around wihout being in any danger at all, the thought of falling out of a boat will be a lot less scary. Also, it's an actual fact that people who are scared of falling out of boats are much more likely to do so. You need to be relaxed and comfortable enough to be willing to let the boat move underneath you to take full advantage of whatever seaworthiness a boat has. Being stiff and holding tight for dear life raises the "effective height" of the center of gravity, and increases the rocking inertia of the boat (two things that are best avoided).

I think the Spirit II will be…

– Last Updated: Apr-27-08 1:17 AM EST –

...stable enough. The Spirit II is a pretty big boat, and it is not that easy to flip one. There's a large canoe-rental place near here that recently replaced all their ancient, beat-up aluminum canoes with new Spirit IIs. If the Spirit II were even the slightest bit difficult to keep upright, the drunken river dorks who rent the things would be demonstrating this on a pretty regular basis. In actual fact, the drunken river dorks are actually making it to the take-out downstream with about the same degree of regularity as they did with the old aluminum barges, as far as I can tell.

I,d suggest
some basic canoe instruction for your husband. Perhaps nothing more than an intro class. Unless they are a remarkable couple, a wife trying to teach her husband sounds like trouble from the get go. Some instruction from a local “pro” may make both feel more comfortable and safe. Who knows, a good instructor may inspire a real interest in canoeing.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom canoe paddles and cedar strip canoes

Bell Morningstar
We have a Bell Morningstar.

We canoe primarily canals and rivers.

We have done a little whitewater with this

canoe only because every now & then a river will have a rapid or two and we have handled this well.

The hubby isn’t a light weight - about 240, and I am around 140 and we take our dog.

It is very stable and tracks fairly decent for a wide canoe.

We are very happy with our choice.

It is 15’ 6" in length and we have the Royalex.


First Canoe
The Wenonah Kingfisher is 16’ with a stable 38" beam and will provide more room and better glide than the shorter Wenonah Fisherman.

Others to consider:

Mohawk Nova 16

Any 16’ Prospector configuration

Mad River Explorer 16

Old Town Stillwater 16 or Camper 16