There is nothing better than the
simplicity of a canoe - just 3 components - you, the canoe and a paddle. In it's
simplest form, canoeing or kayaking requires no complicated equipment and if the
canoe is small enough it can even be carried by you down to the water you are
going to explore without a trolley or trailer
But this simplest form of
canoeing is not for everyone and many will want to add a sailing rig or floats
or outboard motors etc. But this gear does not need to be complicated and here
are some examples of the sort of equipment some of our clients/builders have
added to their canoes :-
Many of our designs come with a
sailing rig but those that do not can also be fitted with a sail. One of the
most popular rigs we have is the simple gunter rig as used by the Fisher
Prospector - it is similar to a Bermudan sail which is triangular in shape but
has a yard along it's top edge which allows the mast to be short and means that
the mast, boom etc can be stowed easily within the length of the canoe. The
Prospector rig also has a jib (foresail) which adds efficiency to the rig but
the gunter main can be used by itself (see our Beaver design). we also have lug
rigs and lateens. The reason for using these rigs is once again, the short spars
but also the need to keep the centre of pressure of the sail, low.
If you want a rig for your canoe,
you will also need to fit a board of some sort to stop the canoe from going
sideways and some form of rudder. the rudder can be a paddle draped over the
side of the boat towards the aft end. This is simple but often leads to the loss
of the paddle when a shift in the wind causes you to drop it in order to tend
the sails. The board that helps prevent you from going sideways is often a
leeboard which is a board fitted over the side. It can also be a daggerboard or
centreboard - the daggerboard lifts vertically in a box fitted over a slot
though the hull bottom and the centreboard pivots in a similar but longer box.
the leeboard is more often used as it is removable and does not have any
permanent fixture in the canoe whereas the lee and centreboard need a permanent
Here are some examples :-
|This is a typical mast
step arrangement - the bottom of the mast is held in a simple wood step
on the bottom of the canoe and is held upright by a brass 'U' shaped
clip at deck level. On a canoe, this means that no standing rigging is
required (ie. forestay or shrouds) making rigging quick and easy. Often
a simple hole though a seat is used instead of the clip. Note the water
tight hatch in the forward bulkhead - these are simple and easy to fit
and relatively cheap and allow easy access into the compartment - RWO
are a good source in the UK.
|This is a typical canoe
rudder as detailed on our plans - the blade swings up for shallow water
and the stock is secured with simple brass strip gudgeons to the canoe
with a long pin as the pintle. Because the rudder is so far aft of the
steersman and the width of the canoe is narrow, a fixed tiller would be
useless so, in this case, a push/pull arrangement is used - the tiller
pivots to the side of the rudder stock on a yoke - pushing and pulling
the tiller causes the rudder stock to rotate. This example is by Ian
|This Fisher Prospector is
by Ghislain Baron and shows the use of a paddle as a rudder - he has
fitted a good downwind sail taken from another boat - sometimes this is
all that is required - rather than worrying too much about sailing
performance into the wind with lee/daggerboards etc, just relax and use
the sail when the wind is behind you.
|This is not a close
picture but the leeboard can be seen hanging over the side opposite the
mast - some just use one but 2 are more often used - one on either side,
which allows them to be asymmetric in section if you want to be ultra
efficient - the wood beam they are pivoted too can be removed.
I mentioned a gunter rig and this is an example - the gunter yard can
just be seen on the top forward edge of the sail taking the sail higher
than the top of the mast.
|This leeboard on one of
our Fisher Prospectors by Steve Cullis is fixed to one side only by a
simple single axis pivot through the hull - the planking in way of this
has been thickened with further plywood and the board can be rotated up
using the handle - note also the mast support beam which also has cleats
etc for the halyards.
|This is our Beaver design
which has a similar rudder and sail (the gunter yard is clearly visible)
but in this case she has a daggerboard which is centrally mounted in the
hull and works up and down in a box or case - this is often more
efficient than the leeboards but takes up room in the boat.
Our Manual of Ply/Epoxy Canoe
Construction comes with the Beaver sail, rudder and leeboard plan plus a chapter
on canoe rigs etc.
Over the years we have seen so
many different ways of fitting out our canoes. Seats are typical - we often show
simple ply seats on our plans or canvas. Some are permanently glued in place,
others are hung from open gunwales. it comes down to how much work you want to
put in and the style you wish to use. here is one example :-
|This is what l mean by an
open gunwale - it is not very difficult to do and often consists of wood
blocks spaced out and glued to the inside of the top plank with a strip
inwale glued over them - why do it/ - well it looks the part but it also
gives a stiffer gunwale and allows for easy passage of bilge water out
of the canoe when you tip it to one side.
The seat shown here is simple and effective with 2 supports and the seat
top consisting of wood strips fore and aft producing enough 'give' to
make it comfortable.
In the foreground is a
nicely shaped yoke to help carry the canoe.
|How's this for ultimate
comfort - the seat supports have been placed as shown on our plans (this
is our 14' Peterborough built by James Beale) and a comfy cushion placed
on top of a wood seat bottom and the backs added - for guys of my age
this is a dream!
|We show this type of seat
on several of our designs - 2 athwartship (side to side) supports
connected by a pair of wood rods and the whole covered by canvas stapled
or tied underneath - a very comfortable type of alternative from the
simple plywood seat.
|Here is a nicely carved
yoke to help carry the canoe on your shoulder - this one has simply been
bolted to the gunwales on one of our 14' Peterboroughs.
|Left - seats
made with a substantial frame with fabric tape woven over them - right
fitted along with stretchers adapted to take drink cups by Simon Hunt -
to see more photos of the construction and finish of Simon's beautiful
17' Prospector, go to the More Canoe
Building page in the Canoe
FLOATS & AMAS
Several of our canoe designs have
float or ama details - for small floats we have a system designed for the 16'
Ranger and another for the Waterman 12 - we can send you a package consisting of
both sets of details - contact us for the price.
Alternatively we have the flat details of the Seajay 20 and dragon 40 designs
which we can send out separately - they are simple plywood float designs on
solid beams. The Waka Ama 18 has more sophisticated floats or amas which would
also suit a variety of the larger canoes - contact us for details.
|This is our Waka Ama canoe
design showing the standard ama and attaching beams which come with
those plans - the ama is simply tied to the beams and the beams are tied
to the main hull giving some flexibility to the set up. We can supply
these details separately - contact us for details.
|The above is our Beaver
design by Marcello
Ferrero using one of our
lateen rigs and a pair of floats providing additional stability for use
by children on the sea.
BUILDING IN 2 HALVES
It is easy to build a canoe in 2
halves (details are in the Plywood Canoe Building Book) - a bulkhead is fitted
into each half and then bolts are used to join the 2 halves together.
|The above is our Waterman
16 design built in 2 halves by Nick Hart.
Tents can be made to
cover the whole canoe hull or, as below, to cover the canoe plus floats.
|The above is Steve Cullis'
Prospector with a tent that extends over the floats - and below with a
These are often best
attached to a beam to one side of the canoe.
|The above is again on Steve