Many enjoy the time spent with nature and have a closer look at the natural habitat of many birds and animals. Canoeing is the perfect activity to bring families closer together. It can even provide a peaceful and meditative day. Canoes offer a fun and easy way to glide through calm waters. It is a lightweight narrow water vessel typically pointed at both ends and open on top. You can paddle from a seated position with legs out in front of you, and others require you to kneel upright.
For those who want to begin canoeing as a family activity, having a canoe is one of the best deals for the kids to set them up for a lifetime of exploration and enjoyment. It is having enjoyable outdoor experiences when they are still young.
Nevertheless, the clear advantage of owning a canoe for a family is the space and relative openness. It is easier to get in and out of a canoe, and small children have more freedom to stretch out. Canoeing with family can also provide some educational benefits for children. You can canoe anywhere to any authorized access point, including lakes, rivers, and the sea.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Canoe
In choosing a canoe, consider your family’s paddling plan and the number of people you want to paddle. Because your plan will determine the type of canoe you will have for your family.
Recreational canoes are easy to paddle with and are perfect in small lakes, ponds, and other tranquil bodies of water such as marshes or swamps. They are ideal for leisurely cruising, fishing, birding, and photography because they are stable, easy to control, and hard to flip over.
River canoes are the most appropriate for those who prefer the challenge of cruising running rivers and whitewater rapids. River canoes are abrasion- and impact-resistant and have high sides to prevent splashes from entering the boat.
Multi-purpose canoes offer better maneuverability and more capacity than recreational boats. They are versatile and built to handle calm waters to whitewater rapids. These canoes are athletic enough to twist down a beaver stream, fast enough to beat upwind, and fun to paddle.
Canoe size depends on the age of the children. A family of five using a 20-foot canoe can be comfortable. An 18-foot canoe can fit a family of four with two small children. There may be a third seat, but the kids can sit on the bottom of the hull with a comfortable cushion.
Canoes are not a one size fits all product. They come in different hull shapes, lengths, widths, and depths, and paddling purposes in mind. For instance, longer canoes are better for paddling over long distances, especially when you get them up to speed. For long touring trips, boats longer than 17 feet long offer better stability. Meanwhile, shorter canoes weigh less and are generally the easiest to maneuver and transport. These can take you to places where bigger boats will not fit.
The width is also something to consider in choosing a canoe for your family. A wider canoe will give its paddler more stability than a narrower canoe. However, a narrower canoe is an excellent choice for paddlers who wish to track straight and reach faster speeds while paddling. A smaller surface area of the narrow hull gives the ability to glide through the water more efficiently.
In addition, you might also want to check the depth of a canoe for your family’s preference. In canoes, depth is the distance between the bottom of the boat to the gunwales or side rails. Deep canoes will have taller sides to help prevent water from entering. The depth will also increase its carrying capacity, which is handy for numerous paddlers or family members with lots of additional gear.
Canoe Hull Shapes
The canoe hull shape is the curvature on the underside of the canoe. It determines how stable the canoe will be. Some canoes have flat bottoms, some are rounded, and others are in a V-style. A curved hull will help the boat stay upright in slightly rougher waters, and a flat hull will help the paddlers stay balanced on flat waters.
Canoe material affects the overall performance of the boat as well as its weight and cost. The best materials offer a balanced combination of weight, strength, and cost. For instance, lightweight canoes are easier to transport and maneuver. Heavy-weight canoes are not that easy, but they are more durable.
Choosing a canoe for your family, you also have to think about what is more important to you. If you are constantly carrying, weight should be a consideration. If you are parking next to the put-in, weight is not a factor.
Here are some of the most popular canoe materials. Each canoe material has its advantages and disadvantages. Traditional canoes are still handmade from wood and canvas.
- Aluminum still got its affordability and durability. If you have your canoeing to where the beaches are all rocks, then an aluminum canoe will stand up to that much better than others. However, a canoe made from aluminum is heavy and conducts heat or cold temperatures.
- Molded plastics are also cost-efficient, but they range in weight and durability depending on which type of plastic you choose. They are best for recreational, touring, or family fun canoes.
- Fiberglass canoes are lightweight because they are made from woven cloth or chopped fibers infused with resin. They also have the best paddling efficiency but are not as durable as other materials. They are low maintenance, inexpensive, and easy to repair.
- Graphite is the lightest of all canoe materials, and with that comes a high cost. It is ideal for paddlers desiring more stiffness in their composite canoe. Many experienced paddlers who value performance will opt for a graphite canoe.
- Inflatable canoe materials are made from a variety of durable materials. Some high-end inflatable canoes are great for river and small rapid-running adventures.
A canoe that is too unstable may be uncomfortable for family members and may have a lasting negative impact on their feelings toward canoeing. So, make sure you are buying a comfortable canoe by considering the canoe seats. If you have a small family, one regular canoe will be enough. But if you all plan to canoe together, you might consider a longer canoe. Or you can take your kids one by one for a more intimate parent-child time together.
In conclusion, a canoe is more than just a boat. It is an opportunity for the family to build memories together and let the kids explore nature. As a family, you can try more leisurely activities like stand-up paddle boarding, canoe fishing, canoe trails, and touring. From cruising gently down the river to watching the wildlife, there is something for everyone to enjoy.