Peter Witt - Manufacture, Wooden Canoes & Paddles

183 Sunny Corner Road
(PO Box 66)
Portland NSW 2847
Ph 02 6355 5144,
Mobile 0408 427 534
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Tips for Canadian Canoe Owners

Hand Crafted Laminate Canoes.

A laminate canoe is better suited to flat-water touring. Laminate canoes have been used on white water since their inception and although the construction is very resilient and tough the inexperienced paddler is likely to damage a laminate canoe if they choose to paddle it on white water. If you wish to paddle white water, a plastic canoe is a better choice for the inexperienced paddler or opts for Kevlar or Kevlar carbon/fibre construction.

With a little care and attention your laminate canoe will last a lifetime.

A laminate canoe is relatively UV stable but will maintain its looks better if stored under cover.

The laminate hull is very strong and rigid and if you happen to damage the hull it is easily repairable.

All components that go into the canoes construction are bolted or riveted and hence easily replaceable.

It is recommended that intending paddlers and canoe/kayak owners read one or more of the variety of books/articles available over the net or from a variety of retailers dealing with paddling/ safety etc on the type of on-the-water activity they wish to undertake. Paddling is an immensely enjoyable satisfying lifetime interest, but it is not without its dangers. It is the responsibility of any paddler to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to participate in the sport with safety.

Paddlers should always wear an approved PFD when on the water.

Your laminate canoe is very buoyant as it has two very large basically watertight compartments built into the canoe.

Each compartment has a very small pin sized breather hole drilled into it to equalise air pressure. Air pressure changes cause problems if your canoe is left in the sun or on cold days or when transporting you canoe to different altitudes.

This breather hole is located under the deck cap. In the event of your canoe capsizing a few drops of water may seep through the breather hole.

The buoyancy tanks are also fitted with 150mm inspection ports allowing you to use the tanks as waterproof storage areas. The inspection ports have "o ring" seals. Be careful not to get sand & grit onto the seals and they will benefit from an occasional application of "o ring" grease (waterproof Vaseline… try swimming pool shops) Vaseline, even olive oil, lanolin etc.

Be sure that when paddling and transporting your canoe that you securely fasten the inspection hatches, as they could otherwise leak or be lost from your canoe when transported upside down.

As additional flotation security, each tank is supplied with a min 4lt empty wine bladder that can be inflated inside the buoyancy tank.

Timber Trim.
Timber is a wonderful aesthetic medium to use with a laminate canoe providing it with an ambience and appeal that cannot be matched by plastic & metal.

A variety of timbers may have been use in the trim of your canoe. Some basic maintenance will see the timber trim last the life of your canoe.

The timber trim is exceptionally resilient and durable if maintained - a little maintenance goes a long way. A canoe is meant to be paddled & used so expect dings, paddle scratches etc over years your trim may develop a distressed look, which will add to its character. All the timber trim needs is the occasional light sanding and to be re coated with a quality external polyurethane varnish. I exclusively use Frominex Polyurethane Varnish. I find the Forminex product to be the best I have used. If you wish to use Forminex it should be available from ship chandlers or if you have trouble finding a supplier I can provide supplies. Less than 500ml is needed to re varnish your canoe.

Fit and Finish of your Laminate Canoe
A great deal of care is taken during the various stages of the construction of your canoe to eliminate any sharp edges or potential sources of splinters. Exposed laminate edges should always be held/lifted etc with care. If you happen to find a rough edge or source of splinters they are easily fixed by being lightly sanded with an abrasive paper or metal file. I will generally use a leather glove when sanding laminates & timber etc.

Fitting Out
The decks of your canoe have saddles attached. You may choose to attach a hand toggle through the saddle (an open canoe has a lot of hand hold places so you may not find a hand toggle necessary.)
A painter attached to at least the bow saddle, if not bow and stern, usually proves invaluable for tying your canoe up to the banks, jetties or dragging your canoe through the water etc.

A small car will generally be able to transport an open laminate canoe with ease. Simply check that the vehicle is certified to carry up to 40kgs on the roof and that your proposed roof racks are certified for a load of 40kgs. If the roof bars are relatively close together, additional security can be had by tying ropes from the bow & stern saddles to the tow hooks on the front & rear of your car.

Although your laminate canoe has an exceptionally rigid hull open canoes are better carried upside down. I exclusively use webbing cam buckles to tie canoes to my trailer or roof racks. Cam buckles are exceptionally strong and very easy and quick to attach. A 3.5mt to 4.5mt cam buckle is generally adequate.

I still find the best padding for the gunwales when transporting an open canoe is a folded square of wool-based carpet. (easy to find and cheap)

I will express a value judgement. If you are considering the purchase of a timber trimmed laminate canoe, aesthetics, joy of ownership, paddling ease and efficiency are part if your decision making. Using a $40 plastic paddle sort of detracts from those pleasures.

Happy Paddling
Peter Witt
15 May 2003

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