considering a wood/canvas canoe


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hello All,
I have an opportunity to purchase what I believe may be a Chestnut Deer in excellent condition at a good price. This is probably the closest I'll come to owning a Chestnut Pal.
The practical side of me wants a better handling solo boat than my fiberglass Navarro loon 17. The romantic in me wants this boat for the aesthetics and pride of ownership. I hesitate because I have no experience with wood and canvas canoes.
The information I find online tells me that wood/canvas canoes are more durable than most people think. With no experience, I really don't know what that means. Since this would be a flat water boat, my biggest concern I suppose, would be abrasion resistence. Is one piece of granite sticking out of the mud going to ruin my canoe?
I would very much appreciate it if you guy's would share your expertise on what it's really like to take one of these boats out to the average lake and go for a paddle.

Thanks in Advance
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Hi Rob-- The simple answer to your question involves pointing out that there are wood/canvas and all-wood canoes that are over 100 years old and still in use.

Should a wood/canvas meet under-water granite or woody snag and sustain a huge hole, it can be repaired... it can be brought back to original indefinitely. Lesser damage might involve a simple touch-up.

If there's a WCHA chapter nearby, you might want to contact them and join them for a paddle... try out a wood/canvas and your uncertainty may disappear in an afternoon!


FWIW, and I'm sure other folks have stories, but we use wood canvas canoes exclusively on our multi-day canoe trips to remote areas and they are very durable. Rarely or nearly never, is the canvas ripped, even after breaking ribs and planking from a mistake in rapids. Punctures are more common. It is easy to puncture with a railroad spike in a dam or a nub of a branch on a submerged log for example, but the same thing would likely happen with royalex or even kevlar. We take a duct tape emergency repair kit with us and patch it when we get home.

You will get scratches in the paint like any canoe bottom, but I suspect you will have no issues at all with the kind of paddling you describe. Your biggest problem will be that you get a severe case of Wooden Canoe Bug and feel the need to immediately find a buyer for your plastic boat.:cool:
I have a 14 ft Chestnut that is lots of fun. I just bought a used 15" Jack Special by Carrying Place Canoes that is lots of fun. I have fiberglass and Royal X canoes as well. I prefer the wood and canvas. There is something about the way they move through the water. I will paddle 2x's a day when I can, early am and late pm just before dark. Yesterday I slid right over a big Bass. It was great fun just sitting there and watching it swim around. Then later I chased a canvasback duck trying to get a good broadside close up photo. I do not believe that you will regret having a w/c canoe. You need to be very aware that it can become addictive.

If you try it and decide you don't like it, I'm sure someone here will be glad to take it off your hands.

If you go to: you can compare the Deer and the Pal. The Deer has narrower ribs spaced more closely, but in all other dimensions is very close to the Pal. I don't know about hull shape, but I suspect you'll find this to be a very sweet paddling canoe.

Go for it!
Thanks for all your encouragement and information. I am going to try to see the canoe tomorrow. The man helping the owner sell the boat has been told by others that it is probably a Chestnut Pal. Based only on poor quality photos, I think it may be a 1966 Chestnut Deer. Of course it may very well not be a Chestnut at all. I will hopefully find out tomorrow. It will be a long drive, after work, through heavy traffic. Asking price is $1,000.

Thought I'd post the photos for your thoughts.

P.S. The seller can't remember exactly, but seems to think the length is slightly over 16 feet.


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The slat seats and the decks sure look Chestnut. At $1K it looks like a pretty good buy to me. I'm wondering about the fact that there is no middle thwart. I'd be curious to see if there is evidence that it was removed. Lack of a middle thwart makes carrying difficult. It would be a simple matter to add one and possibly remove the front thwart. The Pal had only two thwarts, one in the middle and one toward the stern seat. There was no front thwart so you could easily paddle backward solo from the bow seat. Keep us posted.
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