Why so unstable?

Penobscot would be much more stable.
I believe that my American Fiberlite canoe was the same as you are describing (the measurements were the same as you list above) and I did ok in it solo, but I’m 5’6" and 155 lbs. I could stand and paddle it. I never had any trouble getting in and out of my boat, but I always had the entire boat in the water before stepping into it.

That same boat is a bit scary with two people, especially if the bow paddler keeps turning around to talk to the stern padder and leaning the boat so that waves can come over the side. I speak from experience on this topic.

simple explanation
Yeah, there’s a simple explanation. You rode a couple tricycles and did okay, then you came across a unicycle and you jumped on it like it was a tricycle and fell over. Twice.

Go back to your rental locations and lay out your sears canoe next to the canoes you rented. Probably 3-5 feet shorter and 4-7 inches narrower. Short canoes are usually skittish, especially when they’re narrow. Now, 31” isn’t really all that narrow, but it’s not wide either, and when combined with the short length and the probably-not-stellar other design features of a budget-priced canoe, it’s not surprising the thing falls over easily. And, yeah, your size has a bit to do with it, too.

You just need a longer, wider canoe. Go back to the rental place and get the measurements of those canoes, and stick to something of comparable size.

Or… learn how to ride a unicycle. Some things you can do the first time, other things take a little while to learn. Often the second category is more fun in the long run.

ot pack
I could stand in my old town pack (12’ long by 32" wide, flat bottom) for short periods of time, long enough to look over obstacles or cast a fishing line. That was at 5-9 and 190 lbs. The trick was you had to be ready to drop back down instantly if it started to go over, because there was no stopping it once it started to go. But that only came after years of practice.

A friend of mine had a Discovery 169. With his wife in the stern seat and him in the water, he could reboard the canoe at the stern and walk past his wife up to the bow seat and sit down. Or, alone, he could just get up and start walking around, turning to face whatever way. That boat is a barge, true, but still I thought it was pretty impressive. I never saw him capsize that boat, I don’t think he ever did. But then he borrowed my pack one day and capsized it just getting in.

You would need a seat closer to that
31" widest point. A short boat is going to taper quickly from the widest point to the end, so sitting on the back of the bow seat doesn’t get you close enough to the center of the boat where the stability is. If you persist with this boat, you may have to send to Piragis.com or a similar supplier for a seat, and then install it so your butt will be a little behind (ahem!) the center of the canoe.

first mistake buying a Sears Canoe
Before buying anything you need to do a little reading about canoe designs and how to work a canoe.Personally- no one should be seated paddling and in my canoes no will.Its a kneeling craft and you have to learn how to get comfortable with it as well as conditioned. If your looking for a solo sized canoe a 15ft with a width 33-34" would be perfect with a shallow arched bottom and 1-2" rocker .You have it right sitting in the fron seat facing back. Have akneeling pad for your knees and rest your butt against the seats edge.Do not give up however . try it again with the right stuff and make sure you are wearing your PFD no matter what!

"no one should be seated paddling"
You might want to pass that info on to the folks at Wenonah.

I sit in my canoes over 75% of the time. Some are outfitted for sitting only, no kneeling at all.

Kneeling is too uncomfortable for me for very long.

Some canoes are designed for kneeling only, some for sitting only and some for either.

Even experienced canoists…
go swimming!


Andy :wink:

(sorry Tom)

just because its more stable to get
into a canoe does NOT mean that you have to stay kneeling.

50 doesnt have much to do with it. Whether or not you kneel and practice it in everyday life does.

You Have More Perseverance Than I
I have a similar story. Approximately 1981 or ‘82 I bought the 12’ Sears canoe also for about $200. Cheapest boat I could find at the time (Cheaper than the Colemans even). I wanted to by my own boat after paddling the aluminum livery boats for a couple years. It had the “Birch bark” look on the outside and brown, rough (chopper-gun fiberglass) finish on the inside.

A couple days after picking it up after ordering it from the catalog, my youngest brother and I drove to Two Rivers on the Current and paid them to shuttle my vehicle to Owl’s Bend. I held the canoe and my brother got seated and I tried to climb in as I had a dozen times before. But THIS time the canoe shimmied and shook and was upside-down before my backside hit the seat. My brother was terrified (his 1st and last time in a canoe) because the water was swift, but I retrieved him, the canoe, and some of my fishing gear. As I recall, I lost one rod-and-reel. I never got in that canoe again, and returned it to Sears. To their credit, they took it back and refunded my money.

It was a couple more years before I was brave enough to purchase another canoe (a 17’ Lowe), and it was one that was stable enough to stand up in. That doggone Sears canoe made me squeamish about canoes for several years.

There are several good ideas here like ditching the padded seat, kneeling, etc., but having owned what is probably the same canoe, if I were you I’d get rid of it. IMHO it’s too small to ever paddle in the stern seat, and only suitable for a small, kneeling paddler from the center.

There are so many suitable canoes that you would be more comfortable in. Try a few canoes, look for paddlers in your area to test paddle their boats, heck come to our Ozark Rendezvous and you can test SEVERAL boats. But I believe a new paddler looking for a tandem should look for something in the 35-36" width and 15-16’ length. Good Luck! WW

P-Net does it again.
Anyone who spends an entire spring and summer at canoe demo after canoe demo will know exactly why you dumped over. we have here a number of replies, which go into technique, sitting vs. kneeling, and suggestions to get a new boat.

Seriously? Anyone here heard of Ockham’s razor?

From your description, I can guess why you dumped over. The bow/stern is on the beach, perpendicular to the shoreline. You put yourself in the boat, which is partly floating, partly being held up on the shore by the narrowest and least stable part of the boat. minor shift in weight = major change in balance.

Try getting in with the boat parallel to the shoreline, over the side, with the whole boat in the water. You’re far less likely to tip over that way.

Not to discredit people and start a flame war, either - it is also likely that the boat is the wrong length/width for your size, that the seat is set too high, et cetera, et cetera.

That’s how I enter / exit.
The entire boat in the water, parallel to the shore.

No Flame War Needed
Two days ago, eckilson and mr_canoehead already said what you did about what happens when one end of the boat is on shore. That’s the only reason I didn’t address this, and it’s probably the same reason many others didn’t address it as well.

Completely forgot that. Its second nature for me to float my boat first.

So I forgot about that little descriptor. When you do something automatically you have to go over all the little steps and some thing invariably gets overlooked.

For fun try to write out instructions for walking. Its hard!

I like that!

– Last Updated: Feb-09-09 4:05 PM EST –

When reading the "instructions" here I percieved a definite "implication" that the whole boat should be floating, even if it wasn't said in so many words. Yep, it all depends on what you are used to.

I Stand By What I Said
Shoot, deleted original instead of edited. Having bought what was most certainly the same boat, I would suggest he RUN, not walk away from that boat! Maybe Sears would do the same for him as they did for me over 25 years ago. WW

I never float my boat

– Last Updated: Feb-09-09 8:40 PM EST –

The OC-1 either gets seal launched in the winter or is partially on the bank/tree root/log/whatever while I get locked in, then I shift my weight away from the bank to plop into the river. When poling I generally keep an end on the bank so I can get in dry footed, then once again shift weight and push off with the pole/paddle.'Tain't rocket science, find what works for you and do it.Or you can be anal like 90% of this board and bring a freakin' tape measure, make sure your canoe is parallel to the shore within 1/2 a degree and in 6" of water, plus/minus 1/2 an inch, then fall in, a well educated victim of the self proclaimed experts on this lame site.

Having a bad day Matt?
You’ve seen newbies balance their boat between the the stern in the water and the pointy end of the bow on shore, right? But you aren’t doing the tightrope thing when you climb into your boat as it’s partly on shore, you have the bottom of the boat firmly on shore, not just the pointy end in contact halfway up the bank. No one is trying to make this more complicated than it is, but it’s a legitimate thing to tell any newbie. Go to any boat-rental place where a large group is launching or landing and you’ll watch a bunch of folks flip because the overall width of their boat is reduced to about 6 inches when the pointy end of the bow is all that supports one end.


– Last Updated: Feb-09-09 10:41 PM EST –

on the second attempt anyway. I'm sure it was floating on the first try - I had pushed off & it was moving out into the water.

Oops, supposed to be a response to BKUHN.

You know, I’m thinking this is not just a similar boat but the very same one. Maybe Sears resold it to the guy I bought it from…

Maybe I’ll put a “Craftsman” logo on it & run it by the nearest Sears store.

Didn’t Realize You Bought It Used
LOL, don’t think that would work, Gurnard. If it was built in the late '70’s or early '80’s though, it could be the same boat! WW