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Thread: Recommendations for a family canoe/skiff

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    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Default Recommendations for a family canoe/skiff

    Growing up in Homer and PWS, I'm a salt water guy. However I'd like to get something to dink around on some of the lakes/calm rivers in the South Central with my family, but I don't know much about canoes or small skiffs. We would start putting around Eklutna or Beach Lake...

    I'm looking for something less than 16', very wide (stable), very light, square stern, and very high quality. I would likely put an "Electric Paddle" on the stern http://www.electricpaddle.com/ those little guys are much more efficient than any low geared trolling motor. I would likely transport it on a ladder rack in the back of my pick up or something similar.

    I would also like the ability to row from center oar locks, or paddle like a canoe.

    Thoughts?

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    Grumman Sport Boat, but they're a a little heavy. (I trailer mine.) Stable enough to have two oversized adults, 12 yr old kid, and 90 lb dog (who moves about like a nervous ninny), plus 4 hp motor and fuel tank.

    I can say the same thing for the Gheenoe, but you'll play heck getting one to AK.

    If you're not married to a square stern, I can't speak highly enough about the Old Town Guide series. Foam core composite construction (Polythylene or Polylink) and has chines along the sides for good secondary stability. I can sit my fat butt on the gunwales and it won't flip. stand move around, and it won't flip. Lighter than the metal or fiberglass canoes, it's a better option for car topping. If all you're going to use for power is an electric motor, toss a side mount on it and go; you won't notice it's not a square stern. Good resale value too. (I paid $650 for mine in 2004, and sold it for $500 in 2011.) REI stocks them so, if you're a member, you get 10% back plus free ship to store.

    As for rowing, West Marine sells a generic set of oar locks. Not sure how well they for various canoes. My sport boat came with two sets of oar locks, so I've never tried the West Marine ones. Check out a website called sailboats to go, they specialize in converting canoes into sailing rigs, a done of their products (several actually) convert canoes into rowing skulls. They sell basic rowing sets or you can install a sliding seat and everything. They're a tad pricy.

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    You could look at a Wenonah backwater, it is a 15', 41" wide squarestern. In Kevlar ultra light it weighs 52# or kevlar flexcore it weighs 64#. I am partial to the roylex model @ 79#. Rated for a 3hp

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirty Swede View Post
    You could look at a Wenonah backwater, it is a 15', 41" wide squarestern. In Kevlar ultra light it weighs 52# or kevlar flexcore it weighs 64#. I am partial to the roylex model @ 79#. Rated for a 3hp
    Yeah I let that one slip. The Backwater was my 2nd choice to the Grumman. They're pricy though. I don't think they make the Royalex version anymore as they stopped making the material. Dimensions on the Backwater are an inch or two smaller than the Sport boat.

    Check with pirates outfitters in Ely, MN. They're very near the Wenonnah factory, and they get factory seconds canoes from time to time and super duper discounts. They offered me a Royalex backcountry with a light spot in the finish for less than half price just last year. (I had just bought the Grumman the week prior.)

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    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Great info guys - thanks! Wow, as usual, I like aspect of all 3 of these. I'd pay about $5k for a Kevlar Gheenoe that's 15'4" long and 4' 4" wide, and about 3" more freeboard (taller gunwales) with classy lines, colors, polished brass hardware, teak gunwales, etc. And about 100lbs.

    Those Gheenoe's are ugly as all heck, but have the basic dimensions and stability I want, just not the look and weight. The Backwater has the weight, but is more canoe than skiff.

    I wonder if I could get an old Gheenoe from FL up here, and use it as a mold for a composite glass builder to build me a kevlar version with taller sides and custom interior layout...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanSD View Post
    Great info guys - thanks! Wow, as usual, I like aspect of all 3 of these. I'd pay about $5k for a Kevlar Gheenoe that's 15'4" long and 4' 4" wide, and about 3" more freeboard (taller gunwales) with classy lines, colors, polished brass hardware, teak gunwales, etc. And about 100lbs.

    Those Gheenoe's are ugly as all heck, but have the basic dimensions and stability I want, just not the look and weight. The Backwater has the weight, but is more canoe than skiff.

    I wonder if I could get an old Gheenoe from FL up here, and use it as a mold for a composite glass builder to build me a kevlar version with taller sides and custom interior layout...
    Don't let the Gheenoe looks fool you, it's a sleeper. I grew up in Florida and I've used them a lot. For a family boat, for safety and stability, they can't be beat. You don't need high gunwales on a Gheenoe to equal stability or safety. If you look at the way sides curve onward toward the center of the boat as they rise out of the water, that's where most of your safety is. The design lets you lean way outboard of the boat, but you keep your center of weight and gravity over the center line of the boat, which keeps you up right. I've seen guys fire shotguns from those Gheenoes while standing on the gunwales.

    Get the right one,and it'll run 30 mph. Folks in FL run them in shallow water off shore. The only (and I mean ONLY) reason I didn't bring one to AK was because I was afraid the fiberglass hull wouldn't stand up to running rivers up here with rocks hitting the hull all day long. If you're looking for a still water boat for a family activity, the Gheenoe is hard to beat.

    There are always a ton of used Gheenoes for sale around here. (Check the Tampa Craigslist.) I will probably be driving back to AK fromTampa again later this year. If so, and if you're serious about getting one, I'll go inspect whatever used one you find on Craigslist (or heck, a new one is only $850) you buy it, and I'll tow it back to AK for you. Heck, for that matter, my high school buddy has a 13' Gheenoe with a 5 hp 2 stroke motor that I know he will sell as he just bought a 16 footer with a bigger engine last year.

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    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Thanks! I just might take you up on that! Shoot, you could probably bring a couple up, and introduce them to the Alaskan market! Are there any other Gheenoe sites with better pics than the manufacturer's site?

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    Well, you asked people to spend your money!
    I can't begin to tell you how much enjoyment we have gotten out of our little 14' jon boat which we bought used, on a trailer for $500. You don't have to spend loads of cash to "dink around on some of the lakes/calm rivers".

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    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    You're right Mr. P, however I have a terrible tendency of wanting the best custom made solution out there, and usually pay for it. It's likely an evil pride issue.

    I like to look good where n one can see me.

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    When I asked grandpa why he rode the black horse in the parade instead of his trusty brown Mule,,????,
    he said,
    ," .. A man always feels better when he is riding a good looking horse "..

    Your statement brought back that memory,,,AlaskanSD

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    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanSD View Post
    You're right Mr. P, however I have a terrible tendency of wanting the best custom made solution out there, and usually pay for it. It's likely an evil pride issue.

    I like to look good where n one can see me.
    "Mr. P" .... Should I know you?
    Well as they were want to say in days of yore: "If you've got it, flaunt it!". So yeah, look good. As Filson says on their products (my indulgence): "Might as well have the best.".

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanSD View Post
    Thanks! I just might take you up on that! Shoot, you could probably bring a couple up, and introduce them to the Alaskan market! Are there any other Gheenoe sites with better pics than the manufacturer's site?

    Go to to you tube and search "Gheenoe" and I am sure there is all kinds of stuff. Yeah, I actually thought about trying to start a Gheenoe dealership in Anchorage, but figured it wouldn't be very profitable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    As Filson says on their products (my indulgence): "Might as well have the best.".
    Filson stuff is awesome.

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    Alaskan SD, one of the very best family canoes that you'll find, will be the old town discovery sports. don't short change yourself with the 15 footer, or you'll soon outgrow it. the 17 ft discovery sports show up occasionally on craigs, about three times a year or more. they're very tough boats. btw......that electric paddle looks absolutely horrible!

    in the evenings when our temps get very cold, that cold sinks into the batteries, and seriously degrades the length of time a battery will last.

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    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    "Mr. P" .... Should I know you?
    Well as they were want to say in days of yore: "If you've got it, flaunt it!". So yeah, look good. As Filson says on their products (my indulgence): "Might as well have the best.".
    I'm Charley from Homer - friends with your daughter's family!


    I really don't anticipate this becoming a huge, full time recreational hobby where we hunt, pack camping gear, etc. My family is fairly citified. That's why I actually like the "looks" (tongue in cheek) of the 13' Gheenoe. I'm pretty stuck on the square stern, and I've read that side mounts can be scary in sweepers.

    And I personally think the electric paddle is downright sexy. I've seen them in person, and tried them out, and was impressed. If I had to choose between an electric paddle and some custom made, glossy, basswood and cedar paddles, I'd choose both. So obviously whether or not my mule looks good is in the eye of the purist/beholder!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanSD View Post
    I'm Charley from Homer - friends with your daughter's family!

    Oh yeah, sorry Charley. I shoulda figured that out but your avatar is dinky on my lap top!
    Yeah, you know your way around boats.

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    In the biker world we say chrome won't get you home but it will pick up fender fluff.Ya my bikes were all rattle can painted by me.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    AlaskanSD, getting back to your original question, look into the Clipper line for some nice square sterns. You can also get them in a lightweight version. 15' @ 56lbs, 16'5" @ 62lbs, 18' @ 76lbs.... You can order their Essex Rowing Rig (on their square sterns) which places a center rowing seat with clamp on the gunnels rowing arms. www.clippercanoes.com MacKenzie Sport models are their square sterns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    AlaskanSD, getting back to your original question, look into the Clipper line for some nice square sterns. You can also get them in a lightweight version. 15' @ 56lbs, 16'5" @ 62lbs, 18' @ 76lbs.... You can order their Essex Rowing Rig (on their square sterns) which places a center rowing seat with clamp on the gunnels rowing arms. www.clippercanoes.com MacKenzie Sport models are their square sterns.
    You know those Clipper a canoes always turn up in these "what canoe should I buy" discussions, but, to my knowledge, no one in Alaska has ever owned one and no one in Alaska has ever sold them. Do they even exist up here?

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    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Thanks Piper! Those Sportspal are piquing my interest as well. Still digging...

    And while very unlikely, with all the items on my never ending todo list, here's a fun thread on building one: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ite-Sport-boat

    There's a couple sharp looking cedar strip skiffs in there.

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