Sports & Utility Boats Program (SUB)
Paddle Sports-Canoe

Canoe :

Solo or Tandem? In every category of canoes, you can find boats built for one or two. If you cherish solitude or total control, soloing may be the way to go, and a few lessons can ensure that you go the way you want to go. It is easier to travel and to steer with a paddler in each end, however, and tandem canoes are far more commonplace.

Types of Canoes:

General Recreation. This is the canoe you paddled at summer camp, and the one you rented last Saturday. Multi-purpose and usually tandem, they range from 15 to 18 feet in length and, in skilled hands, can turn and go straight reasonably well.

Tripping or Touring. Solo trippers can be from 13 to 17 feet long, while tandems top out at about 20. Tripping canoes have less rocker and are built for travel, usually on calm water, but some also handle moving rivers and big lakes if the canoeists are well practiced.

Other specialized canoes : Top Of This Page

 Whitewater Canoes, which are short, deep and highly rockered.

 Solo Sport Canoes, which are used for non-destination, quiet water "play".

 Racing Canoes, which come in various configurations.


Materials Used in Canoe Construction:

Plastic, including the brand name Royalex, is inexpensive and impact-resistant, but it’s heavy and less able to hold a fine design line.

Composite, or laminated, canoes are built from fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber or some combination layered with synthetic glues. They can be very lightweight, and your back will not mind the increased cost, especially after a long carry. These canoes are more fragile and thus less common on whitewater.

Aluminum is quite durable and resistant to ultraviolet rays. It’s heavy, though, and design features are limited by the nature of the material.

Wood is  less commonly used in modern canoes as is fabric skin stretched over a skeleton-like frame.

Canoe Terminology:Top Of This Page


Grip:                          The part of a canoe paddle above the shaft, where the upper hand grips the paddle. Grips can be shaped like a “T” or like a pear or a small football.

Gunwale:                  Usually made of wood, vinyl or aluminum, gunwales (pronounced “gunnels”) run along the top edge of a canoe hull, stiffening and helping the hull hold its shape.

Painter:                    A rope tied to either end of a canoe for rescue and anchoring to shore.

Portage:         To carry a canoe over land (or the trail you carry it over) to get from one  waterway  to another or avoid a rapid.


Thwart:                      Cross pieces in a canoe, thwarts go from gunwale to gunwale and help the boat hold its shape. Seats can function as thwarts and some thwarts are appropriately spaced and constructed for kneeling on the bottom of the canoe.


Vessel Examinations

Peter Urgola, Department Chief - Vessel Examinations
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Richard Myrick, Division Chief - Vessel Examinations
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Alexander Cascione, Branch Chief - Sports & Utility Boats Program
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Pages prepared by: Robert Daraio, DVC-VE 2006

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