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Thread: Why not so many Aluminum canoes in Alaska?

  1. #1
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    Default Why not so many Aluminum canoes in Alaska?

    Maybe I am too old fashioned? I have always liked aluminum canoes, and all I see in the stores are plastic canoes that cost as much as the Grumman aluminum ones. I remember canoeing around some of the small lakes near Plattsburgh, NY in a friend's aluminum canoe that had an Indian chief profile on the side (maybe a Sportspal or something like that). It was very lightweight and easy to carry to the water by myself. The canoe's floor and sides were lined with a very durable layer of foam, and it could float in just a couple (maybe three) inches of water.

    Grumman has such canoes, but I don't think there is a dealer in Alaska.

    I wonder why aluminum canoes are not as popular in Alaska? What are your views on aluminum versus plastic?

  2. #2

    Default ABS not Plastic!

    Plastic is a poor description for the modern ABS materials that make the many top quality canoes that are found around the state. Aluminum is a nice durable material but it makes a very noisy craft. The worst sound on a perfectly quiet lake is the sound of a paddle striking aluminum, THUNK!

    Besides when you are doing any white water the last material you want is Aluminum. It sticks to rocks where ABS slides off quickly and is almost bomb proof. Most of us who do backcountry river trips have switched to inflatable canoes because they are compact and tough! It works well when you are packing an air taxi.

    Happy floating!


    If you’re interested in doing float trips in the Western Brooks Range (Noatak and Kobuk Rivers) please look us up at www.northwestalaska.com We are your best source for rafts, canoes and equipment rentals.

    Walt

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    Default

    northwestalska: You made some very informative points I was not aware of. Thank you.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Additional considerations on canoes

    Northwest makes some good points. I agree that one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of inflatable canoes in Alaska is their ease of transport by highway vehicle and aircraft. They have an added advantage in that they pack small for storage too. If you're interested in reading a writeup on some of the popular brands of inflatable canoes (with pictures!) you can find such a report on my website.

    As to aluminum canoes, I would add that they are very cold boats to paddle. There are some workarounds, but generally you're going to be colder in an aluminum boat than with other styles / materials. My understanding is that Grumman went out of business a few years ago, but was resurrected under the name Marathon Boat Group. I believe they still use the Grumman name though. The closest dealer to Alaska (besides Canada) is in Bellevue, Washington (Canoe Northwest 1 206-817-2300). Here's a link to Marathon Boat Group.

    If you're still interested in a hardshell canoe, you might have a look at Souris Rivers Canoes. They make some excellent canoes in very light, strong materials that won't crack on you. Their Quetico 17 has been very popular. Their US distributor is Red Rock Wilderness Store out of Ely, Minnesota.

    Hope this helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Default Al boats also....

    wrap around trees and rocks in white water. I have pulled more than one Al boater out and put them for the remainder of the float in my "plastic" boat. Al once bent around a tree is useless unless you have a welder and a cutting device to cut and weld it back together. Canoes like mine wrap around a tree then you kick the boat and they usually return to a floatable form (may look like a mess, but get you home). I also have dreamed of owning an Al boat for the flat water and lakes...Al boats do have there place as well as wooden canoes and I would love to have one of each. Good luck floating.

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    Default

    Thanks for all the responses.

    Grumman makes a 44 lbs. canoe. But again, it's made of aluminum. The one I used a couple of times long ago, was very quiet, maybe because of the foam layer inside, and because of the flotation foam around the outside top edge of the canoe. But what I liked the most was that I could lift it over my head (upside down) and carry it to the water. It was a little difficult to move on cross winds, but in those instances I would kneel down near the front, and row with one paddle alternating from one side to the other.

    I will buy a canoe in the near future, but not to use it in fast moving water, just on small lakes, ponds, and slow moving rivers like the Chena near North Pole and Fairbanks. There are a few sloughs around North Pole where I plan to use it, too. Sometimes I just want to reach a small island or a place to snap a couple of pictures from, or just to go for a short trip with my wife. She enjoys this sort of thing, but is terrified of fast water.

    Thanks for the links, Mike.
    Last edited by RayfromAK; 05-21-2006 at 11:06.

  7. #7

    Default Al canoe

    Ray, I have been the happy owner of a Grumman 15' whitewater canoe with spray cover for 25+ years. Took it down the Gulkana from Paxton Lk to Sourdough just late last summer. It has bashed its way down Campbell Creek many times, survived a trip down Peter's Creek and the Kahiltna, 6 Mile Creek (above the canyon - I'm not a total idiot), Delta (Tangle River part), Quartz Creek, Kenai River, Portage Creek, Willow Creek, Chena River, and many family lake fishing trips. It has even been on the salt of PWS and Kachemak Bay. The advantage is portageability and durability. I have dragged, lined, and carried around many obstacles! I can still carry the canoe by myself, but it is getting tougher each year. The disadvantages described above (noisy, cold, not slippery, not repairable if wrapped, and not floatplanable) are all true to a degree. I suspect that aluminum is also more expensive. I rent a raft for remote floats, but a foldable canoe is an attractive alternative if you are buying something now.
    LBenz

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    Thanks, LBenz, for your reply relating to Grumman canoes.

    I plan to buy a canoe by next summer, and was thinking about its weight, just in case i have to take it to the water myself. But after asking questions in this forum, now I am thinking about more stuff as follows:

    1. Lightweight: this is good, specially if I have to take it to the water by myself. However, I don't plan to ever take it by myself for long distances, maybe 20' to 40', and on open ground. It means that I could always use one of the canoe carriers sold by Cabela's and others. This rig has two rubber wheels that mount at one end of the canoe, and is removed once you reach the water's edge.

    2. Maybe a flat end?: just in case that I decide to mount a trolling electric motor some day, and haul a moose back to the truck

    As you can see, I have a lot to think about. Right now I am more confused than ever, but I have a few moths to sort that out. The only thing I know so far is that it won't be a "solo" canoe, since my wife will be with me sometimes, that it will have to be lightweight enough, and not too expensive.

  9. #9
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Alum canoe

    I picked up a 16 foot Alum canoe a few weeks back just for the reasons you started this post. (The tradio Add had about 5 calls in the first hour on the canoe before I called, and I was lucky to have a friend that lived near the canoe owners and be the first guy with the cash)
    My canoe rental Livery has 32 canoes ( now 33 ) and 11 kayaks.
    All my other boats now are Fiberglass, Roylex, Polyethelene, Polylink or similar synthetic materials.
    This being said,, Why did I buy a used Aluminum Canoe?
    Because every year someone comes by and wants to paddle an Aluminum like they did 30 years ago.. they loved the Canoe and want to experience it again.. SO.. I have one sitting on the rack for that certain bunch that desires the Clank, Clank..
    I have no idea what the brand is of this boat, but it has an Indian chief decal still proudly pasted to the front upend...
    It polished up nicely and with a little Aluminum welding in a spot or two we had it sea worthy.
    Our job is to please the customer....
    I like Aluminum if you do...

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Osage!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskacanoe
    ....I have no idea what the brand is of this boat, but it has an Indian chief decal still proudly pasted to the front upend...
    Max,

    That is an Osage canoe you have there! They've been around a while, and it should work out well for you down there.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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  11. #11

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    I was about to say its an Osage or Osagian canoe. I have one in sq stern.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Osage Link

    Here's a link for Osage Canoes. It's a dealer site; unfortunately the Osage home page just isn't opening for me. Dunno what's up there.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Osage

    Thanks you Guys for the brand name on the Canoe..."Osage"
    I forgot to mention that I do in fact have 8 Aluminum canoes Stored at my place in Sterling.. They are the Boy Scout of America's canoes that I store for them.(they are not part of my rental fleet) They must be 30 or more years old, but every year they make several trips into the Kenai Wildlife refuge. Many Many years ago, a Scout Troop painted a different name on each Canoe.(BO,JO,LE,DE etc. All two letter names.. As a life long Scouter myself, I enjoy seeing the groups come through each season. Last year one of our Groups was from Australia teamed up with a group from Upstate New York. I donated 6 of my canoes for the 4 day trip into the canoe trails system, and of course they took the 8 Scout canoes also. I shuttled the groups out to the West entrance and they came out at Moose river bridge 4 days later. (because of the Refuge rules on group size, they divided into two groups, at least at the campsites) I decided to travel the first day with the groups. I was in a one person Kayak. It was a ball. Water fights, capsized canoes, floating double tough Garbage bags containing sleeping bags and clothes,,(scoutings version of dry bags), and then boys diving for fishing poles that they could see but had trouble diving deep enough. Concerned Scout Masters trying to Maintain their role as Stewards, but not boses. Scouting is about building leadership, and the Adults are taught to let the boys make many or most of the decissions, and council and protect when needed.
    they finally retrived the lost poles using a huge treble hook and weight.. they only made 2 lakes the first day. At camp the first night, I signed off several of the boys on the cooking merit badge, as they displayed burnt on one side, raw on the other offerings from the tinfoil dinners. I told the boys that if they were able to consume the entire contents of the tinfoil meal, I was bound to sign off on that portion of the badge.. (very brave and hungry boys indeed)... I paddled back to the West entrance alone that late evening about 11 pm... but from over a mile away, I could still hear the Clang Clang of paddles hitting the sides of those Aluminum Canoes... I just love it... I am indeed grateful for the Men that take interest in our youth and in Scouting. Our Father In Heaven must indeed be proud of Good Scouts and What they can and often do become.. The events I just described happen every year like they have for many generations of Scouts. It breaths life into my heart and soul as I visualize several of the youngest Scouts poking sticks into the nightly campfire with Marshmallow and Chocolate Smore goop smeared along with dirt on their freckled smiling faces....
    I am indeed the luckiest man on earth......

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    Thumbs up Americana

    I think its great how you continue to support the Boy Scouts of America. I wasn't fortunate enough to be a Boy Scout when I was young, but I imagined trips exactly like the one you described AKCanoe. Several of my friends were Scouts and told of many adventures and camps so I could live vicariously through them.
    Now I have daughters and try to provide these experiences for them whan I can.
    No better place for this than Alaska too.

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    Default

    That's a great story, Alaskacanoe. I loved reading it, specially because it relates to the Scouts.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    Here's a link for Osage Canoes. It's a dealer site; unfortunately the Osage home page just isn't opening for me. Dunno what's up there.

    -Mike
    It worked just fine. Mike.

    The square stern one has a payload of 700 pounds, and ready for a 5-HP motor.

  17. #17

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    I have the 17' version. My payload is 1000lbs and can handle an 8hp outboard. It can get up and go. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Gremlin
    I have the 17' version. My payload is 1000lbs and can handle an 8hp outboard. It can get up and go. :-)
    Wow! I could haul a whole moose (moose meat, of course) in one trip on that thing

  19. #19

    Default

    On one trip I had this canoe loaded with gear so high I could see the creek in front of me. It would still get on step and haul the load though, even with two people and all the gear. Its an amazing yet well built canoe.

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    Default grumman

    A couple years ago Ace Hardware in Fairbanks was selling Grumman canoes. I don't know if they still are or not. I bought a 19' freighter. I've used it on the Chena and the Tanana, as well as some local sloughs. I put an 8 horse Johnson on it when I want to go up river, and it does fine. I used to have a bait stand up the Chena, and I took that canoe with my barrel, bait, chainsaw, son, and partner up the river no problem. Last year we took it across the Tanana during moose season. All of the problems others have mentioned about aluminum canoes are true, but if you use them within their limits they are great boats.

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