can I build a half scale canoe for the kids?


I was thinking of building a 50% sized canoe for my two kids and wondering if I could just scale the offsets down 50% or if that would pose some sort of problem.

It seems like it should work as the relative proportions won't change.
It would seem like a logical idea but it really does not work!
Take for example a very large canoe, 20 ft long, 48" wide and 14" deep. If you cut that down to an exact half size boat , it will be 10 ft long which isn't bad for a child's boat, but it is now only 24" wide and 7" deep. That will be one tipsy boat with such little free-board it would take a extremely small and extremely skilled paddler to even think of sitting in it.
Of course if the full size boat is even smaller than this example the half scale canoe is even smaller!
I'm not sure what the ratio is but by scaling the boat down by half, you are loosing something like ten times its volume.
Thanks Rollin, I guess that would have become apparent to me when I began making the forms, you saved me from a few hours pointless work!

So, unless there is a child's version of a canoe I may have to fiddle an existing design and see if I can come up with what looks like reasonable dimensions.

(Back to the drawing board) I'll start with pencil and paper.:D
If you are looking for a small stable canoe, try Rollins "Whisper". you can get plans at Northwoods canoe. I just finished one for my father, and he loves it. It is a bit challenging to build, but finished with dacron, mine weighed 32 pounds.
kids' canoe

A fifteen foot canoe is not too much for a couple of kids to handle, and when they are through being nice kids and then teen-age monsters, it will be a boat they (and you) can use as adults.
The canoe I'm still in the process of buying from another WCHA member is a 13 foot "Baby Loon" built by Tom MacKenzie in the early '90s. I plan to take it to Minneapolis, where my two grandsons will learn to paddle on the city lakes.

It's a canoe my car can wear like a hat all summer, allowing for spur-of-the-moment fun.



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here's a small stable solo canoe that could be rigged up tandem for the kids and converted back to solo when they grow out of it.


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I suppose this might be a good time for disclosure. The kids are 3 and 6 1/2. I figure by the time I get the boat finished they'll be 4 and 7 1/2. They canoe already, in the middle, but the 3 y.o. doesn't really paddle. If I'm honest with myself they'll be 5 and 8 1/2, and then we can tow them.

Obviously, (or maybe not) this would only be used on slow, shallow water, but realistically, I might just build a 13-15 footer as a reasonable size that they'd actually be able to use. Although the tandem idea is good too.
Check out the video of Paddle-by 2007--- at about 5:13 is a sweet little child in a sweet little canoe that was tethered to the parental canoe.

(If it isn't exactly where I said it is, the connection I'm posting from right now is slow and I'm not able to watch videos very easily, so you may be stuck watching the entire thing...)

Wow Kathryn that looks like a lot of fun.

After considering what Rollin said, I fiddled with the lines of a redbird that I had plans for and came up with this. It looks a bit stumpy, but I may make a half hull or model. I'm thinking it needs to be a bit beamier.

Tim, I was just in Camden last summer camping at Camden Hills. What a gorgeous place, we had to skip the long trip this year, but next year we'll be back.


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Yes, Camden is gorgeous and we feel very lucky to live here.
Your design still looks a little tender. I would give her more beam(31"-33"), flaten the bottom and make her longer(12ft?)
If you make her too small, they won't be able to use it for long. I made the mistake of building a small kayak for my son. He outgrew it after one season and mow it decorates the rafters of or camp.
To add to what Rollin said,

back when I was trying to decide what to build, I had some discussion with John Winters, a well known designer of canoes and other craft.

His comments were that a given design could be stretched or shrunk up to about 10% without seriously effecting the performance of the design. And that the changes should be evenly distributed across the length of the canoe.

In my case, I increased all the cross section dimensions also, so that it is also a bit wider in addition to longer. For those who are lazy like me, all I did was have the plans copied with a 105% enlargement.