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07/26/2020 09:12PM
Hello everyone,

I’m starting in the process of researching, planning, and building my first cedar strip canoe, and was wondering if anyone’s experience could guide me in which style of wooden canoes are the most versatile? Meaning, I’d like to take it out for anything from a day on a lake, fishing, to camping.

Additionally, I’d like one easy enough to paddle solo, but capable enough to take my wife or possibly young daughters with me. I may only get one shot to build such a canoe, so I wanna make sure I choose the design with the best chance of suiting my POSSIBLE needs.

I’ve seen plans that mention displacement in pounds. What is this?

Thanks in advance!
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distinguished member(628)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/27/2020 07:26AM
You are asking a lot of your canoe!

The spread of uses goes from solo to 2 adults and 2(?) children with camping gear.

You first need to add up your weight, both people and anticipated gear and look at canoes that can accommodate that. Then pick the smallest canoe that can safely deal with the family. The daughters are growing so figure in a little extra. That would be the canoe that you would solo. Its likely to be a pretty big boat and only suitable for solo in calm wind conditions.

One of the problems you will run into is space capacity. Even if you are all lightweight folks, having 4 people in the canoe begins to cramp gear space. So you need to tend toward a spacious boat.

Using just one plan provider, Bear Mountain Boat Shop, I would suggest at least a 17 footer.

Nomad 17 if you like traditional style, Freedom 17 if you like a more modern design. Actually, for a family to grow into the Freedom 17-9 would be my suggestion and deal with your solo desires with a second boat, maybe a used kevlar one if you are not able to build a second boat.
07/27/2020 12:09PM
Thanks for getting back with me. Again, I’m not sure of the conditions I may put a canoe through, but I’d like to build one that gives me plenty of options. I had been looking at the 17’ designs. How do I find the carrying capacity of the boats? Is that the displacement number the designs list?

Also, the trips with my family would most likely be without significant gear. Probably just a small cooler with drinks. Maybe fishing rods and tackle.
distinguished member(628)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/27/2020 01:35PM
You mentioned camping in the OP. A day tripping instead of a camping hull for the family narrows down the scope of use. It may allow you to select a shorter, more solo compatible hull.

Adding weight in a hull displaces an equal weight of water as the hull settles lower in the water. The displacement numbers associated with designs represent the weight to settle the hull to a certain waterline, usually 4 inch or sometimes they specify a waterline.

Lets take the Bear Mountain Boat Works Freedom 17.

Freedom 17 link

They say displacement is 420 lbs
Draft is 4.25 inches
Beam at the waterline is 31.75 inches.
So, with 420 lbs in the boat it will settle 4.25 inches into the lake and at that waterline the width of the hull is 31.78 inches. That is the load the boat was deigned to move most efficiently through the water.

Capacity is a bit different. You can certainly safely add weight beyond 420 lbs to that boat. It might be a tiny bit less efficient, but you would have to put 160 more lbs in there before you would notice it. The BMBW website has capacity numbers, but unfortunately they didn't fit to put them on the plans page. Go to this page for very useful capacity and stability info.

stability and capacity link

Read all of this, it is good information, but scroll down to the chart with stability factor and capacity. Note that the Freedom 17 has an optimum capacity of 150-510 lbs. This means that any less than 150 you would have a hard time making the boat go straight and up to 510 it is going to perform well and be safe.

So add up all your weights, through in 50 pounds for cooler and day gear and see what hull suit your needs. Stability factor should be considered, too. Four people in a canoe demands that.
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