Wood canoe builders-I need advice

I’m getting tired of using 16’ Blue Hole when solo (seated backards on the bow seat). Rides high and the wind pushes it all around unless I load the crap outta it. Then it gets slugish as heck. So decided to buy a new solo. But what fun is that…?

Been wanting to build a canoe for years so now is the perfect time.

Option #1 - The Six Hour Canoe, Pros - duh,see the title of the canoe. Cons - Unknown, How does it track? How is it in the wind? (after all it’s still 16’ long)

Option #2 - 13.5’ stitch and glue canoe (see www.//bateau.com/free/cheapcanoe.htm ). Would probably try to shorten it to just under 13’ long since thats the cut off length for boat registration here in Iowa.

Option #3 - a shrunk down version of a double chine stitch and glue canoe (see www.//jemwatercraft.com/proddetail.php?prod=dktour ) This is an 18 footer and will take a lot of enginering to get it to 13’ or 14’. Is there an advantage to a double chine other than looks?

I will use this canoe on flat water and slow rivers. I want to end up with a canoe that doesn’t catch lots of wind when empty but I want a canoe that I can load some camping gear in for a weekend trip. But wind and ability to handle some choppy water are my primary concerns (after all I still can take other canoes for the camping trips). If I add 1/2" to 1" of rocker to each end of these designs what would be the pros and cons? (I want to add it to help turning when loaded, after all I hate sluggish boats)

Any opinions on my options and does anyone have any others?

Thanks, Chris

Bad site addresses
try these instead:



S&G JEM canoe
Matt has a new design in the works. It is a 15’ x 34" solo or tandem. He could shrink it to 14x30 pretty easily to make it a true solo. I have built the prototype (decked for sailing) and it handles really well. The deck can be left off for an open canoe. Primary stability is excellent and secondary like a rock. Turns well and tracks also.

It has 5 chines per side and so is not a simple canoe to build (unlike the 6 hr boat which is more a pirogue). But that translates into a boat with better paddling characteristics.

You can view a few oics of the finished canoe:


Remember the deck can be left off if you like.

Write Matt and ask about Hoz new canoe.

s and g osprey

Consider this boat. Has good rocker already designed into it- no need to modify plans. This is bit more complicated than the 6 hour canoe, but well worth it. I have paddled the strip version of this, but not the S and G. Liked it a lot and is on my short list for future building projects.

agree on the Osprey
I’d also recommend the Osprey. It will be the best of the S&G designs. I’d also recommend not trying to shrink it and just learning to live with having to register your boat.

each boat you’ve selected has very different characteristics.

The flat bottoms will turn easier with less comparable rocker so carfeul about comparing.

One neat feature about flat bottoms with a lot of rocker: If they don’t track hard enough, you can add runner strips on the bottom to help very easy. Those strips also helps take the brunt of gravely shore landings.

I got one on the drawing board similar to the Osprey but as far as currently available plans ready to purchase today, I’ll admit the Osprey II is the best of what you listed.

The Osprey II has always made me wonder why the bottom chine is at such a vertical angle. Maybe it just looks that way in the picture.

One more maybe worth looking at: http://www.jemwatercraft.com/proddetail.php?prod=SG

interesting design
The Swamp Girl is an interesting looking design. Can you light a fire under String and get him to finish his so that the rest of us can test paddle it? Maybe you could threaten to take away his ration of frogmore stew until he gets it done :slight_smile:

Ever Notice…

how questions to answers lead to more questions? haha.

Looked a the Osprey II but a couple problems…

#1) This will be my first attempt at boat building and I want to keep it very simple and cheap.

#2) Time is factor, heck it’s already May and between work and coaching the girls softball teams… well you get the picture. Feel with the time allowed I would be able to a better and more complete job on a simple design.

I’m leaning towards the 2 flat bottom designs. But still have a list of questions.

1)How is the 6 hour canoe in the wind.

2)What would be the load capacity of the 13’ cheap canoe.


4)How do they handle? Tracking? Turning?

5)How much rocker do the 2 designs already have?

6)etc., etc., etc.

The swamp girl design looked simple enough but would a 12’ boat be worth the work of building a double chine boat and how would it compair with the 13’ Cheap Canoe. If I build a swamp girl would I better served building the 14’ version to haul my 5’10" 185 lbs carcass around. Staying under 13’ would be nice because of portability and lack of a need for registration but not a requirement. If I am going to spend time, even on a simple boat, it had better be big enough! HAHA.



hee hee
String is plugging away. Me thinks he’s a bit of a perfectionist but from our e-mail exchanges, he’s enjoying himself.

A flat-bottomed pirogue will be like any other boat in the wind: It depends on how much of the bow sticks up in air and how the sheer is shaped.

Because it’s a flat bottom, it’ll spin easier than something with a keel.

Pirogues are simple and straight forward. Excellent first boats for their simplicity. Their abilities are limited but it’s all a trade off.

If you can’t find what you like and want in a pirogue, but just want one tweaked to meet you needs, shoot me an e-mail. I’ll try and help you out.

6 hr canoe
I bought the book and decided not to waste time or money on that thing. It won’t do for anyhting but the most simple paddling in shallows. Definitely not a safe boat for the middle of the lake or moving water.

homebuild canoes
The osprey is a fine canoe. I paddled the original prototype and loved it. As a stripper, it will take a while to build (months). Have not seen the s&g version.

The six hour canoe is a large volume craft (takes about 3 long days to build, not 6 hours and more time for finish). It will carry camping gear easily. With just a light weight paddler inside, it behaves like a pinwheel in the wind, spinning on flat bottom (lots of rocker leaves the ends out of water). With a large, heavier paddler and gear it is ok in wind because the ends are now in the water. Designer is a big guy and designed it for coastal Maine shoreline, so it is a good rough water boat (within reason). Weight of 40-60 lbs.

Another choice is the Sweet Dream by Mark Pettigill. It is a “tortured plywood” stitch and glue design. Will take longer to build than the six hour canoe, but faster to build than stripper Osprey. Can be built in three lengths and construction is explained in great detail in Mark’s book “Building Sweet Dream” I built two lengths and like this canoe. Light weight at 25-35 lbs.

Mystic Seaport sells plans for a simple flatbottom canoe for kids and small adults called The Mystic River Jellyfish. Building time is like the six hour canoe. It is smaller in length, volume and has reduced rocker, but looks the same as a six hour canoe from a distance. Great canoe for parent/child boatbuilding project. I built 15 with teams at school I was at.

The Osprey has a solo seat hung from the gunnels like most think of with solo canoes and is paddled with a single blade. The six hour is paddled with a double blade paddle sitting on the bottom on a pad, as is the Mystic River Jellyfish. The Sweet Dream can be paddled sitting on a pedestal (plans in book) using a single blade or from the bottom with a double blade.

Solo Stripper
My brother just finished a solo stripper called .38 special. He is very happy with it.

C2G , I have as big a fire as anyone
can light. JEM is correct, I am a bit of a perfectionist who for some reason, only produces average stuff. Maybe because I only make one and then move on.

I also liked the looks of and reports on the Osprey. I had the order form completed for a stripper kit but decided my first boat shouldn’t require that much capital.I have learned a lot with Swamp Girl (the boat) and will continue to make mistakes and learn. I think it will be a great boat for my grandsons to learn to paddle without me sweating bullets over the fate of the Malecite.

Cheap Canoe
I am finishing up my cheap canoe as we speak. Yesterday I floated it in the pool to get an idea how it would be before painting it. I had both myself (260 lbs) and my 12 yr old son in it (130 lbs. I can tell you this thing floats really high in the water. I had extended the sides an extra 3 inches because I was worried about the freeboard I saw in the pics with one paddler. This is the only modifaction I have done and don’t think It needs it. This is my first time in a canoe and this feels slightly tippy but I have nothing to compare it too. it appears to track well in a straight line (in the pool lol) but due to so much of the sides being out of the water I can imagine the wind having fun it. I will post pics of us in the pool and out on the water when I get them developed and scanned.

solo paddling in a tandem
"I’m getting tired of using 16’ Blue Hole when solo (seated backards on the bow seat). Rides high and the wind pushes it all around unless I load the crap outta it. Then it gets slugish as heck. So decided to buy a new solo. But what fun is that…?"

Solo paddling a tandem canoe while sitting on one of the seats is a sure sign of a greenhorn.

Your Blue Hole has so much rocker that any fore-and-aft misbalance is going to drive the performance way out of the envelope.

The only way to solo paddle a tandem canoe (this is written in stone, grasshopper…) is to kneel in the chine somewhere within a foot or so of the middle of the canoe. It’s uncomfortable for a little while, then painful, then all feeling goes away, then you get out and fall down.

Get your weight over to the on-side, force the gunwale down toward the water, keep upright – with your shoulders inside the gunwales. Take longer strokes, use in-water returns, slow down your strokes to one for every breath you take, pay attention to the canoe.

By heeling the canoe over while kneeling in the middle you will discover the “other” canoe hidden inside your canoe. It’s smaller, it’s better balanced, it is not so effected by the wind, it might go straighter because you can perform better strokes, and it might turn better because you have less length in the water.

It’s certainly a lot more fun than looking like a goof while trying to paddle from one of the seats!

make it however long you want
and pay the registration it’s $4/year.

Read about where your IA registration dollars are going, especially beginning this year.




how 'bout a pirogue?
if you google pirogue plans you will find a nice collection of models that may fit your needs

6 Hour Canoe
I built one and wish I had never spent the money or time on it. Way to much rocker (at least how I did it), and way to tippy. I gave the darn thing away in the end!

If I had to do it all over again I’d have looked for another design. Good luck.


6-Hour and Glen-L Rob Roy
Having built both of these I can suggest eiher one as good beginning builder’s projects. Some of the responses here about the 6 hour canoe sound pretty negative but they also sound like they have no experience with them and/or built them badly.

Simple pirogue designs are beautiful to work with because you can introduce or remove as much sheer, freeboard and rocker as you wish. Adding 2 inches to the sides then lofting a curve on the bottom (yes the bottom) of the side panels can reduce rocker right down to minimal if so desired. There are whole treatises out there on building rocker into a boat. The internet is incredible. The 6-hour canoe paddles upstream like a dream. With a double paddle it’s a bit faster than my wifes Loon 138. The sheer and flare makes this a dry boat, easily handling the wake and small waves of lake traffic. Low intial stability, you want a low seat or kneeling, but the secondary stablility is typical of flared sides; Rock solid right up until she dumps you. Once you get used to this hull type you have total confidence in it. JEM mentioned runners too and that also creates mini-skegs and gives you bottom protection.

The Glen-L Rob Roy is a fun narrow boat but you would have to modify it (lengthen it) to increase the capacity like you are thinking about. Lengthening it is a snap if you purchase the plans and review the construction. This is a narrow boat so you would want a floor level seat or kneeling saddle (whatever) or close to floor slat type seats home-made look sweet too. The Rob Roy paddles like a kayak and favors a good j-stroke or a double paddle. Mine is 1 foot longer and 4 inches wider and I used it on camping trips on the Aux-Sable. It worked out great. Too great in fact as my little sister borrowed it and won’t give it back! (grin).

Tons of plans out there as you are finding out.

Good luck and have fun!

Thanks Guys!
Thanks to everyone with their comments!!

Have decided to go with the “cheap canoe” but both the ospey 2 and the swamp girl look promising for a future projects. Anyone building either of these 2 boats, keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

This one is for “WHALEN”!

I bow to your vast amounts of experience. I humbled to say the least. If paddling in a kneeling position from the bow seat instead of getting cramped up kneeling in the middle means I’m a greenhorn, so be it, at least I can go for a hike when I stop to camp. Kinda makes you wonder why I started this post about building a solo boat huh? Here is another one that will make your gray matter burst… It is very hard to put my double bladed yak paddle to good use in a heeled over canoe. HMMMMM…

Started this post about boat building, not for you to express your expertise on canoeing and unconstuctive comments like “greenhorn”.

Thanks Again Everyone!!