Choosing a canoe, what to look at?
Choosing a canoe can be mystifying. Yet it’s important to understand the basics because the design of a canoe has a direct effect on how the boat behaves on the water. For example, a canoe built for speed will paddle easily and efficiently. A boat built for maneuverability on the other hand will turn quickly and easily.
But what determines these characteristics? Length, width and depth are obvious, but what does rocker mean and what is the effect of a rounded bottom? When choosing a canoe, there are a lot of things to consider.
Length: Has a decisive influence on the performance of the canoe. If all other factors remain unchanged, a longer canoe will be faster, will track straighter and will have a larger load capacity than a shorter one.
The compromise is reduced maneuverability. A long canoe will take tight turns less smoothly and will react less quickly to sweep strokes. That does not mean a long canoe is necessarily difficult to steer. It’s just not the best choice for whitewater for example.
In most situations, the extra effort when turning will be equaled out by the gains in tracking and speed.
Width: Measured at the widest point of the canoe. More significant is the width at the waterline at the widest point. That tells the most about the performance of the canoe because it gives you an indication of the water displacement. A narrow canoe is faster than a wider one but loses some stability.
Depth: Measured at the bow, center and stern. An increasing depth provides more loading capacity and freeboard. It makes it easier to paddle the canoe through the waves.