Yeah, some of you probably saw it coming…

Now that I own a canoe, I can’t help but contemplate how to improve canoeing in general.

Back in my younger days I owned a bass boat, and so I never really spent much time in canoes. Every now and then I’d rent a canoe or use a canoe someone else owned in a small lake or pond.

When not able to launch my bass boat in smaller ponds, my fishing buddy at that time had a small fishing platform boat, which was sort of like a miniature version of a party barge. Here’s a modern version:

As you can see, it’s a wide bottomed boat with the weight of the boat supported by “keels” along each side. It’s designed to be able to sit high off the water or to cast while standing up. It’s a very stable fishing platform.

But it’s heavy, bulky and inefficient in the water. It’s very difficult to paddle and wears out a trolling motor quickly. You can put a small outboard motor on them, but they are clumsy to use.

Still, they are perfect for tooling around in small lakes or ponds and fishing for bass or panfish. And I caught a lot of fish out of the one we used.

The point is that I never really spent much time in a canoe, and when I did, I mostly was just messing around and paddling from place to place. I had never used a trolling motor in a canoe, nor had I ever gone out into deep water on a large lake.

Well, after having spent an afternoon on the lake, and cruising across a significant chunk of deep, choppy water in our canoe, I’ve noticed several things that I think could bear some thought and potential modification.

  1. Canoes are not good places to store stuff. Everything ends up on the bottom of the canoe, and settles along the center of the boat.
  2. Canoes are long and skinny, and because everything tends to settle into the middle of the boat, you have about a 50% chance of being able to reach an item you need when you need it. Most of the time it’s on the other side of the middle seat.
  3. Moving around in a canoe is, for all intents and purposes, impossible. It’s technically possible, but it’s pretty much never worth the trouble, even when the ice chest is on the other side of the middle seat, or the backpacks have gotten switched somehow.
  4. Canoes are great for slipping through the water and move along at a respectable clip even using a 45 lb thrust trolling motor… but they are wobbly as heck. They don’t handle swells well and even the slightest leaning causes the whole boat to tip. Just trying to turn around in your seat can cause the canoe to tip and yaw like a drunken teeter-totter.
  5. Canoes are not a good place to relax. Even if you get one of the “comfortable canoe seats” you’re still pretty much stuck sitting in one tiny little spot constantly maintaining your balance to ensure that you don’t sneeze or hiccup and tip the whole boat over.

So… what to do about all this?

The answer is simple, I think.

Outrigger storage.

Instead of trying to keep all your stuff in the bottom of the canoe, why not have a simple outrigger that attaches to the side(s) of the canoe to keep your stuff in? that keeps it all out of your way, plus it provides additional stability for the canoe. It seems a simple design could be made that combines a small ice chest with a small waterproof storage area, and you could lash your fishing rods and paddles to them as well.

It seems such an obvious solution that I started looking for one online.

They don’t exist.

Oh, outriggers do exist, but they are just that, outriggers. They are also crazy expensive. A simple outrigger that appears to be mostly a piece of closed-cell foam attached to a couple of aluminum tubes costs almost $200. They are not storage devices.

So of course now I’m thinking about making one. Or two.

The problem is how they would attach to the canoe. I have some ideas about that, but nothing firm yet. For the most part I am hoping they can just be clamped to the side of the canoe.

If the idea works it would solve just about every one of the items above. Except for making a canoe a comfortable place to recline. Of course having the canoe be more stable and getting all the junk out of the boat might help with that too.