Best Old Town for Florida Paddling?

mstrmnd

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hello.
I've been away from paddling for several years but I'm presently planning my return. I gained most of my experience (which admittedly is still very limited) in my family's Old Town (specific model unknown) on rivers and lakes in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

I presently live in Tampa Florida and I'm trying to determine the best wood/canvas canoe for my needs (see below). I haven't been able to determine the fundamental design differences between the Old Town Trapper 15, Guide 16, and the Otca 16.

Expected usage environment: Florida rivers, swamps, coastline
Expected usage mode: day trips, weekend camping trips
Expected paddler quantity: 1 (solo): 70% of usage; 2 (dual): 30%

...anybody have any thoughts and/or recommendations?
Thanks,
MTW
 
No need to post messages in multiple forums...

Of the lot, the Otca will have a flatter floor, has higer ends, and is beamier. The Guide will have a shallow arch bottom, is slightly less wide, and has lower sheer. For myself, the Guide has a slight edge in paddling qualities. The Trapper is foot shorter, which has a weight savings (in the old days, this was the "50-pound" canoe). It will be similar in hull shape to the guide, but the length/beam ratio is greater due to its shorter length.

You should try to paddle all canoes you are considering to see which may suit you best. Given this list, and your heavy bias toward solo canoeing, I would suggest the Trapper, as weight will become the major motivating factor when it comes time to get the canoe to the water. The trapper is plenty of canoe for tandem daytripping and solo tripping.

Cheers,
Dan
 

Attachments

  • page-02.jpg
    page-02.jpg
    427.3 KB · Views: 488
Excellent! Thanks.

I fear that I won't have the opportunity to sample any of these designs given the absence of available canoes at local shops and dealers.

I was sort of turned-off by Old Town's use of the word "Economical" in its website description of the Trapper. I infer that this means that they cut some corners in materials and/or craftsmanship on this particular design to save some money.

I see myself spending most of my paddling time exploring swamps and small rivers though I might feel compelled to paddle out to barrier islands if I find myself on the coastline. There's also a chance that my wife will want to accompany me more often than I presently forecast.

I guess that I really don't know what I want with regard to bottom contour and length-to-beam ratio.

thanks again for your help.
MTW
 
Last edited:
Why limit your choice to Old Towns? Consider Gerry Stelmok's E. M. Whites(Island Falls Canoe Co.) and Rollin Thurlow's many different designs (North Woods Canoe Co.) Also, the current incarnation of the Chestnut Canoe Co. (Ken Solway) has some very agreeable Chestnut canoes for solo paddling (particularly the 16' Pal - sometimes called the Moonlight, w/ 34" beam). Check the WCHA website for Builder's Catalogs - all of these are found there.
 
mstrmnd said:
I was sort of turned-off by Old Town's use of the word "Economical" in its website description of the Trapper. I infer that this means that they cut some corners in materials and/or craftsmanship on this particular design to save some money.

I see myself spending most of my paddling time exploring swamps and small rivers though I might feel compelled to paddle out to barrier islands if I find myself on the coastline. There's also a chance that my wife will want to accompany me more often than I presently forecast.

My Otca has done everything I've asked. Mine is old enough to have tumblehome sides; The newer ones w/ vertical sides have to be drier! I always ship water when the bow hits white water any spray follows the tumblehome & lands in the center. Always a treat when there is a third person sitting in the middle...

Any of the canoes mentioned would, when paddled w/ care & common sense, suit your needs.

I think Old Town's use of economical means lighter weight not inferior product, material or workmanship. Otherwise I'd suggest a trailer for anything larger than the Trapper...That should be easy to do in fla...I'm going to adapt an old snowmobile trailer like Benson suggested!
 
There was a very nice Chestnut (Boone) on ebay recently that went unsold. If you like, I can give you the listing # and you can check it out. It is very similar to the pal. I have a pal and would recommend it for your needs.
 
Thanks everyone.

I understand the fundamentals of canoe design but I can't seem to find a description of each type's design features (e.g. entry (sharp/mod/blunt), bottom (flat/shallow arch/round), side shape (flare/tumblehome/straight), and rocker (none/mod/heavy) though Dan's message above gives some valuable info.

Does Old Town state anywhere the specific ways that the Trapper, Guide, and Otca differ in these regards?
 
Last edited:
Does Old Town state anywhere the specific ways that the Trapper, Guide, and Otca differ in these regards?

Not explicitly. But if you look at the older catalogs (available from the WCHA on CDROM for a measly 35 bucks...), you can tease out some of that information. For example, in 1920, the published some cross sections (which may or may not be accurate). They never did publish any lines. In 1908, when the Otca was first introduced, it was described thusly: "The bows are full as in our H.W. model, the floor is flat like our Charles River model, while increase of beam provides a maximum of steadiness without proportional loss of speed. It's a fast canoe." But in 1920, it is now described " The "Otca" model is the widest, deepest and roomiest. These features make it the steadiest, safest and most capacious canoe we build. The floor is flat and wide, and carried far into the ends. The sides are convex, thus providing a handsome tumblehome. It is equipped with 20" decks having low combing or deck end finish, and only with open gunwales. Not built for speed but for comfort, safety, and fine appearance."

You can tease out similar descriptions from the catalogs for the other models. Keep in mind that with rare exceptions (such as the 1957 change in the 16' Otca and the lowering of sheer lines), Old Towns models haven't changed in 100 years. Changes in descriptions, sometimes contradictory, do not reflect changes in the canoes, but rather are driven by marketing.


Now, if my paddling forecast were similar to yours, I would be looking for a 15' Peterborough Minetta or Chestnut Chum...

Cheers,
Dan
 

Attachments

  • PAGE-07.GIF
    PAGE-07.GIF
    13.4 KB · Views: 473
Tremendous!
Thank you. With this info I believe that I can start to move forward.

...the Minetta and the Chum, eh?...I'll check 'em out.
thanks again,
Mike
 
One thought that hasnt been expressed is why limit yourself to just one canoe



Only one thing better than one canoe Thats two or more.........
I do quite a bit of paddling in a Chestnut Pal- solo,tandem both day trips and overnighters.Very fine canoe for me and what I do
For poking about smaller creeks sloughs and lakes I have too much fun in a West Coast Canoes 10 foot Trapper That little canoe fits everywhere sneaking up narrow waters to hidden places you couldnt take a longer canoe.
Sure has opened up lots of new places to paddle
I havent ventured out to the salt chuck yet( its coming) but know people who do and they mostly recommend a boat over 16 feet although some do travel in a 16 footer
Its like a lot of things ask 10 people for an opinion and you will get 10 different answers.
 
Last edited:
I spent a few years in Tampa during the mid 80's when Carollwood was the end of town. I rediscovered canoeing there after my early family years gave me a bit of time. I came from Virginia where I love anoeing the coastal areas. The swamps were great, my wife and kids (very small then) loved the Hillsborough River and especially Hillsborough State Park. I had a 16ft Mohawk Fiberglass built locally I continue to use on the lakes and steams of Pennsylvania and Ohio. It tracked well and turned great, had low rise and profile. That meant it was great in the still waters there and went straight in the flat water without lots of steering adjustments. Being low it stayed out of the wind and stayed true. My thought is, keep low to the water out of the wind there and get something that tracks well. But, that won't due off the coast. The swamps are wonderful, my wife was always terrified. Alligators and snakes and bugs and vultures. I loved it. I've been wanting to do a trip down there just to canoe. To me as a sailor canoeing has always been my number two hobby. But I would go to Florida conoeing before I would sailing. Have fun. Oh, the comments about solo and tandem are too true. Think about what you'll do the majority of the time and buy that canoe. Rent a tandem if you need one once in a while.
 
Back
Top