Down a Lazy River
Canoes offer an excellent family-outing for families with older children. There is ample opportunity to play, converse, and work together to achieve a goal. This outdoor recreation which goes from creeks to riverbanks to rapids can be quite tame or very exciting.
Canoes are quiet. Wild animals wait longer to flee from a canoe giving you a chance to see these animals or, occasionally, even observe them closely.
Canoes also give you an opportunity to commune with nature, even camp along the riverbank for a night or a week. Almost any area of the US (world) can offer a near-by canoeing opportunity.
While it can be boring to canoe a low-water river, it can also be dangerous to canoe a flooded river. Experienced canoers can navigate a river that is swollen with rains and running rapidly. It is a good idea for the rest of us to wait for the water to subside somewhat, especially if children are involved.
Buying a Canoe
Before actually purchasing a canoe or kayak, it pays to consider what type would be best for you to own.
Once the only canoe available was made of wood and bark. Then the bark was replaced by canvas stretched over a frame of wooden ribs (usually cedar), and planks.
Wood/canvas canoes held the market until the end of World War II, when the aluminum canoe was born. This was the beginning of various materials used to construct canoes. Construction now varies from fiberglass and plastic to contemporary fibers.
Wooden canoes, while traditional, are time and labor intensive, making them quite expensive. In addition, they are also the most fragile and are certainly not suitable for white water. Traditionalists might consider purchasing a wood canoe kit for the fun of building it and to cut the cost of a traditional canoe.
Aluminum canoes are the most popular of all canoes. Inspired by aircraft technology, they are made from twin halves connected by a keel that has stem plates riveted over a longitudinal seam. Since aluminum is actually too soft for durability, aluminum alloys containing magnesium and silicone are used to add strength to this lightweight metal. Heat-tempered alloys are best. Aluminum canoes are:
- Cold in winter
- Hot in summer
The advent of fiberglass allowed canoe manufacturers to produce inexpensive, low maintenance canoes. These canoes are made from plastic resin reinforced with fibers of glass and/or other materials. The canoes that are resins used with woven cloth produce a higher quality product with greater tensile strength than mixing short strands of chopped fiber into a plastic resin, then molding. The number of layers and weight of cloth varies from canoe manufacturer to manufacturer as does the type of resin, the weight, amount of labor, and materials. When low price is high priority, fiberglass works. Always check the lay-up of the fiber and resin construction to make certain your canoe will be durable.
Kevlar canoes are made from a fiber developed by Dupont as a tire cord. Kevlar 49 adds strength both for abrasion and tearing, without weight. It can be punctured, however. Because this fiber is expensive, some companies have experimented with sandwiching layers of fiberglass between two layers of Kevlar to reinforce the hull and reduce the price. Prices vary depending upon the construction.
Royalex is the trade name for a styrene material (ABS) made by Uniroyal. Royalex is sandwiched between two layers of vinyl to protect the ABS from ultraviolet light. Canoe companies vacuum wrap the heated material around designs gunwaled with wood or vinyl-covered aluminum. The canoes resulting from this process are:
- Nearly indestructible.
- Heavy to ford and carry
The durability of Royalex canoes make them the most popular for whitewater canoeing.
Renting a Canoe
Unless you canoe often and/or own your own outfit, you will probably find it advantageous to contact a canoe outfitter to organize your trip and equipment.
Back to top