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Keeping Your Canoe In The Water

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by David Satter, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I have a few customers who insist on keeping their canoe (heavy square sterns) in the water for weeks at a time. Because they use them almost daily. Not in the rain. I don't really think it's a great idea. I'd love to hear some other opinions for or against this. So far not to many problems. their finished with traditional filler , primed and three coats marine enamel. Thanks, Dave
  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    It says right on the can of most marine enamels that they are not designed for continuous immersion. Many of them will peel if you leave a boat in the water more than just a few days. A weekend - you're usually safe. More than that though, you're taking your chances. I'd be kind of surprised if filler would be a whole lot different, as it's made from similar stuff.
  3. OP
    David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Todd, your right, I should now that I've been doing this long enough. you don't think of that I'm used to people taking the canoe in and out . I'm really painting with Topside paint like Epifanes and brightside . I have done a few with freshwater bottom paint. Maybe I should talk the customers into a true bottom paint if their thinking of leaving it in the water.
  4. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Years ago, one of my customer's canoes was left in the water for weeks. The lake was in upstate NY and was slightly acidic. All of the paint below the waterline was gone-no trace whatsoever. The white lead based filler was fine. This was a quality marine enamel.
  5. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    What an interesting way to find the exact waterline!
    After the paint is etches away you know exactly where to apply shellac.
    jva74 likes this.
  6. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    What an interesting way to find the exact waterline!
    After the paint is etches away you know exactly where to apply shellac

    Always pragmatic, you are. lol

    The two part polyurethanes are great - never used one yet on a traditionally filled boat. I know they recommend against it, but it has performed great in the past, most notably during collisions with my 16/30. And being left in the water of course.
  7. OP
    David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Anyone know of any articles , print , magazine, or anything written about why you should not keep a canvas covered canoe/boat in the water for extended periods of time. Was there any guidance or instructions ever from Old Town or any canoe builder ?
  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I am not aware of anything printed on this topic. It may be a new issue which has occurred after lead was removed from paints and fillers.

  9. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I get more than enough pond scum on my hulls when I'm just paddling them... not sure I'd want to know how much more would pile on when I wasn't paddling them.
    Bo Saxbe likes this.
  10. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    So... if Topside paints fail when the canoe is kept in the water for a while why don't we use Bottom paint? I just took a look at Bottom paints - sure looks like a limited color selection, but that can't be the reason they aren't used on canoes.

    Seems to me maybe the problem with keeping a canoe in the water isn't due to the paint at all. The problem is with the inside of the canoe. When we fill/mud the canvas we try to get a thin even layer of mud over the canvas. But all we can do is hope that the mud soaks in evenly on the other side of the canvas. I bet it doesn't - I bet there's a ton of unmudded little fibers sticking out. So if you leave the canoe in the water even one night moisture (like morning dew) would collect in the bottom of the canoe and onto this unpainted and inadequately mudded inner side of the canvas. Then there's water from rain, as well as water from splashing paddles. So the inside of the canvas just has to rot quicker than the outside because it's unpainted.

    So the moral has to be to always remove the canoe from water when not in use AND turn the canoe upside-down off the ground to allow the inner side of the canvas to dry.
    Bo Saxbe and Gary like this.
  11. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I'm with Howie on this subject. I've always felt that the untreated, absorbent surface of the canvas is the weak link in our boats. Especially if they are often in the upright position and water accumulates inside, and seeps through the plank seams where it is absorbed by the raw canvas. I've often thought it would be nice if we could somehow waterproof the hull side of the canvas before stretching-on.

    In addition to the canvas absorbing water, I would imagine that a regular scrubbing of the bottom to remove fouling would be necessary on a boat left in the water without antifouling paint.
  12. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    As had been pointed out several times before, treat the canvas (not just the filler) with mildewcide before filling and painting. Treatment with copper (greenish tint) or zinc naphthenate not only preserves the canvas longer, it tightens the stretched on canvas. Some apply this only along the gunwales, where water tends to linger when the canoe is upside down.
  13. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Jeez... it just occurred to me that a partial solution to having an unpainted inner canvas would be to varnish the inside of the canoe after the canvas was on and filled. Now I think of it, I asked a question about varnishing a few months ago, and Benson pointed out that a close look at the dates entered on Old Town's build sheets indicates that they varnished after the canvas was filled.
    Looking at the build sheet above...
    * They varnished the inside about 6 weeks after filling the canvas. Ditto painting the outside.
    * I assume 'Hull Varnished' refers to the outer side of the hull. I use linseed oil now - they didn't need to because their wood was new and still juicy!
    * What is the 2nd filling that took place after the 1st filling? Would that be a primer?
    Bo Saxbe likes this.
  14. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    My understanding was that the second filling was just another application of filler over the first. You could consider the original coat a primer but the filler was identical in both cases. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

    Bo Saxbe likes this.
  15. OP
    David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I do treat the inside of the canvas before putting it on the canoe. I think it helps because a lot of the problem, I feel is that the canvas rots sometimes from the inside. Though hard to prove. Even bottom paint , ablative or not is not waterproof paint. It's meant to retard marine growth. Though I'm sure it might help a little. Pettit Vivid has some nice bright colors. Other than that it's just a little maintenance on the part of the owner.
  16. OP
    David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Howie, I've always varnished the inside after the canvas is on and filled. Have to do something while the filler is drying.
    Bo Saxbe likes this.
  17. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I understand the comments about treating the inside of the canvas to retard fungi, but that does not stop water infiltration into the canvas, which I assume is responsible for an increase in boat weight over the course of a long paddling trip. I'll also speculate, that this is the reason for the dreaded paint blisters. Paddle all day. Inner canvas gets wet. Get to your campsite and turn canoe over, or put it upside down on your vehicle racks. Sun heats up bottom of canoe. Water in canvas turns to vapor and because canoe is upside down vapor cannot escape..........

    I'm not sure why varnishing after canvassing would eliminate water infiltration into canvas???
  18. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    "I'm not sure why varnishing after canvassing would eliminate water infiltration into canvas??? "

    It won't. Although it might slow the ability of that moisture to then escape.

    "I would imagine that a regular scrubbing of the bottom to remove fouling would be necessary on a boat left in the water without antifouling paint."

    In many locations (fresh water included) regular scrubbing is still required even if the boat has been bottom painted. You wouldn't believe the 1/2" long green "fur" that can grow on a boat bottom during a month or two of fresh water mooring. Then if you pull the boat and don't scrub that stuff off quickly, it dries and hardens like concrete. Bottom paint may reduce the amount of growth somewhat and may make it easier to get off, but it seldom will prevent it, especially if your lake water is fairly warm.

    There also isn't usually a lot of effort made to make bottom paint look gorgeous. A dull surface, fairly drab colors and a fair bit of surface texture are more common than not.

    Red bottom paint. The green is a mixture I made of dark green and black Brightside enamels.

    nordica 4.jpg
  19. Gary

    Gary Canoe Grampa

    Hi, I'm stating the obvious here but we all know that the problem doesn't lie in when water comes in contact with a surface, but becomes an issue when water is allowed to remain between two surfaces this is when rot occurs. Howie has very well described the unavoidable circumstance of having water, in the canoe, regardless of how it got there, and then be allowed to remain trapped between the outside of the canvas and the inside of the wood hull.
    Best practices are what most of us do and that is to treat the outside of the hull prior to canvasing, treat the canvas with a mildew/mold resistant product and then as best possible always allow the canoe to dry after use, upside down.
    I for one do always give the interior of the canoe one last varnish after filling and painting.
    I think we've all seen the dark areas on a wood hull after stripping the old canvas off suggesting that water over time was beginning to rot the planking. The only real solution which is ridiculous to even mention and is to never put the canoe in the water. These things are built to enjoy and that means paddling them regardless of the outcome.
    Just my two cents, thanks
    Bo Saxbe likes this.
  20. johnmetts

    johnmetts Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    We put hours of sweat equity into building a new canoe or restoring an old one. It seems odd to do that and then not spend the few minutes it takes to remove it from the water.

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