building a tiny small wood/canvas canoe


German canoeist

I am considering to build a very tiny small wood/canvas canoe. I will have to give reasons for this: My workshop has a small window which doesn't allow the boat to be wider than about 80 cm and - I have begun poling an this boat seems to suit this purpose just fine:

I found it at Northwoods Canoe-Company where I would like to purchase the plans and

Well, after all this seems to be a manageable project for me and my skills. What is your opinion? Is it wasted time and effort to build such a small boat? Does anybody have any experience with this model "whisper". Has anybody ever bought plans with Northwood-canoes - are they sufficient?

As I understand (by looking at my bookshelf) Rollin Thurlow is one of the wood/canvas-gurus of our time. Well, at least he should sell good plans for good boats.

Whether or not it is a good boat has little to do with the question about it being worth you building. The real question is whether or not it is a boat you will use and continue to use. Get some real on water experience with it first, if you can. There are other narrow canoe designs, too. For example, my most popular canoe is 30"/76cm, but it is much longer than the Whisper and is a very different canoe.

Its a lot of work to build, no matter how small the canoe is. Commiting to a canoe design and building the form is akin to getting married. You want to make a choice that you will enjoy living with!

Either way, you can trust Rollin.
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much more research needed! call and talk to rollin. it's not going to be any easier to build small. i think iwould opt for a longer model. although i have not poled i would think you would want something that tracts better(length).
here's a thought

the frequency of use of a canoe is directly related inversely to its weight. Lighter canoes get used more.

I cannot speak to the usefulness of Rollin's "Whisper" as I haven't had experience with it. I am in the process of building a small one person canoe but have opted for a lapstrake (clinker) design from another designer. I think Rollin gives a bit of a hint in his photos as to the most appropriate use for some of his designs. If "Puddle-jumping" and poling around small lakes are the thing that you love to do then go for it. If you have other paddling interests as well then you might need to compare with other designs. I would not know, only you would know so the choice is entirely yours. But for myself, I'd not limit my choice based on the size of the exit window only. There are plenty of designs that will fit that 80cm. An afternoon on the web with a pot of hot tea will net you a wealth of choices. Start with Mr. Ingram's site, his designs are very attractive.

As to the plans from Northwoods, I've purchased the 17' B.N. Morris plans from them and will be first in line should he deside to add to his list of available plans. The quality is first rate, well drawn and clear. I think you would be hard pressed to find better quality work in this area. I can without hesitation recommend them for sure.

Anyways, that is my two cents worth of free advice. And remember, free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it...nothing.

Good luck and happy building.
Hello Scott,

For longer trips I own already two boats - a solo and a 18-footer. Both of which were bought last year leading to me promissing not to buy any more boat within the next ten years. Well, I will keep my promise but than I will have to build the next boat for other purposes. And this might be poling and "fooling around" on the pond. Yes and even for the kids such a short and wide boat might be the right thing to have.
I wopuld also like to build a boat in lapstrake-construction (a method I have already experimented with) but i can't open Douglas Ingram's Bear Mountain Boat Shop-webpage anymore. How that?

Rollin Thurlow sent a mail warning me that this specific design demands a larger bend in the rails and planking than longer canoes. I admit, I wasn't aware of this. But it makes this project even more alluring.


For general fooling around and for the kids, this might be just the canoe to build.

For the record, my website is not Bear Mountain. That's Ted Moores. Mine is available by clicking on my name and checking the public profile. Its a new site that's been up since last summer, the old one was discontinued.
Hello again Axel,

I think I just realized where you live. Tuebingen is on the Neckar River south-west of Stuttgard, is it not? If I'm correct, I visited there in the mid 1980's when my wife and I went on a nine month bicycle trip through Europe. We landed in Frankfurt went down to Heidelburg and followed the Neckar on up until we were close to Switzerland and then crossed over the border (I'm not sure where anymore...getting old). I remember the canal and the flat bottom wooden boats (kind of canoe or dory shaped) that some of the locals used to mess around on the river. Very beautiful place.

No wonder you are interested in that little canoe design of Rollins. That would be great fun to use around there. The Neckar is a great river. What a wondersul trip that would be....I probably wouldn't get very far in a day. I'd have to stop at every town and try the local beer :D

Keep us posted on your progress I'm excited to see the outcome.
River Neckar - Strocherkaehne

Hi Scot

you're right. I live in Tübingen with the Neckar, "Stocherkaehne" and beer.
Here are two pictures of our last year "Stocherkahnrennen" they are quite
similar though in the first one you see how a pole is bent under the bridge
and on the second one you can see how it broke and the upper end falls
down. Well, no wonder I started poling on this river. Though I am still the
only one doing this in a canoe...


I think that building a small one person (or one child) canoe is not much different than a larger one, and is a great winter project. I prefer the lines in Adney and Chapelle's book (for 9ft and 12ft Tetes a Boules canoes) to the one shown but thats just personal preference. They paddle well, though without the directional glide that a longer waterline has.
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