Proof of ownership


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Just wondering-

For those of us that don't need either a decal or registration....what if anything do you guys carry as proof of ownership on you while paddling?

Have you ever been questioned about ownership by law enforcement?

bob goeckel

Wooden Canoe Maniac
smith and wesson of course!:D
seriously why do i have to prove ownership? i have alot of stuff that i don't have proof that i own. some of that isn't even mine:eek:

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
So, it was bob who took my paddle?

good question. I always write a note under the canvas./ A greeting to the next one to work on it. My name and date etc.
but this has me thinking. I should write under a thwart or deck my d/l # or ss #. Or a portion thereof. Or my initials. anyone can do that and only you would know it's there. Until the question of ownership is raised.
Now-- about all my stuff at bob's house.


Curious about Wooden Canoes
The reason I ask is someone stopped in front of my house the other day because they saw me moving my canoe and had a similar one stolen. I actually have a bill of sale with matching serial numbers, but I don't carry it with me.

The guy wasn't accusatory, but it got me thinking....

Dave Wermuth said:
I should write under a thwart or deck my d/l # or ss #. Or a portion thereof. Or my initials. anyone can do that and only you would know it's there.

Exactly this.

bob goeckel

Wooden Canoe Maniac
i'm with dave though. i do sign my canoes and leave messages under the canvas. i still think it would be up to the other person to prove you didn't own your canoe.

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
If your canoes are insured, serial numbers and other descriptive stuff is submitted to the agnecy. You may not have that "proof" with you on a river, when some jealous individual points you out to an officer of the law and says, "hey, that's my canoe!", but no one would take your canoe away from you under those circumstances anyway. I can't imagine the circumstances under which anyone could take away your canoe... unless you were shown to be the one who stole it!

So-- sounds like a great idea to me, to take that idelible marker and put your name under the seat. It would be nice to find names of former owners under our canoe seats... and names and dates of work-done, under the canvas.

I've thought about the canoe posted about in serial number search not long ago, which had been stolen decades ago according to a notation at Old Town. While it probably depends on the legal jurisdiction, I think something "becomes yours", even if somewhere in the past it was stolen, and it's only a matter of conscience insofar as returning it to the original owner... unless, perhaps, there are lawsuits for return of a general grouping of stolen items, such as things stolen by the Nazis.

Maybe it's important to make our canoes appear so distinctive that nobody says, "that looks like the canoe I had that was stolen." Or maybe that's what canoe-thieves do to disguise their loot: give it a new paint job... and write their name under the seat!

But, if your canoe is a Morris... you can send its serial number and/or description to me, and I will vouch for the fact that the canoe has been in the WCHA BN Morris Research Database of the WCHA since.....


Greg Nolan

Having your name on your canoe is not much proof of ownership if someone is accusing you of having stolen their canoe -- you could have written your name in right after stealing the canoe.

On the other hand, if someone steals your canoe, having your name in it would certainly help to establish that the canoe is yours, and not the thief's.

It would probably be prudent to have a list of your things with serial numbers -- cameras, binoculars, guns, canoes, etc. -- that you might travel with and to keep a copy of that list in the glove box of your car (does anyone keep gloves in the glovebox? -- mine is filled with fast food ketchup packs, Kleenex, and lots of little pieces of junk of indeterminate origin). I'm not that prudent, but maybe some people are.


Unrepentant Canoeist
Sort of a sideline to the story here...

Not too many years ago, somebody here in Northern Illinois had his boat disappear during the car shuttle. His was the only boat left at the launch site, it wasn't an official canoe launch, but it wasn't there when he returned. After a flurry of postings on various forums, he got his boat back -- but it wasn't due to any of his efforts. The person who picked it up guessed that the boat had been washed downriver in the recent flood, and contacted the Illinois DNR with the boat's registration number... and thus got the boat back to its rightful owner.

So there are some honest people out there... and in one case, anyway, the DNR registration was well worth the $6!

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
that's on pupose

My wide uneven gaps are a metaphor for my wide uneven lapses in memory-- and judgement.
One could write their name in after stealing the canoe true. We in michigan had the registration law briefly. Canoeists protested and had it overturned as another tax that did not benefit the canoeist. registration would be a benefit in the event of theft. But those numbers can be messed with too.

too bad there are people who steal stuff from others.

David McDaniel

Canoe Dude

Please don't even mention that registration thing.
Granholm may be watching, don't give her any ideas!!!!!
see ya saturday at QW Dave

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?

So correct. Do not want to give them any ideas. What with term limits the politicians have all been replaced and none of the present ones were there back when we had that. My Bad. I'll see you there. Are you bringing any canoes?

mark wismer

WCHA Member
My Pappy used to build wooden rowboats of a simple design. To add oarlocks, he added a 'chunk' of 2x4 about 6" long that he carved w/ a draw knife to a pleasing shape and added to the outside of the gunwale.

Under the left one he always placed a penny from the year he made the boat.

Considering that he felt he would always recognize a boat he built & the paint over both items would make it clear that he put the penny there.

I know a unique aspect of my restoration work that is hidden and obviously would only be known to me...

Bill Mackey

LOVES Wooden Canoes
What proof of ownership ???

While canoeing I have been stopped by every kind of law inforcement you can think of and never did they ask me to prove that the canoe was mine.That includes the Coast Guard, state police, Nat Park Rangers, harbor patrol, local sheriffs (several) and even the secret service. The only common question was about required Pdf's and safety equipment. Most of the time they are worried about where I was canoeing? Many wanted to enforce laws that did not exist, I would just ask for proof that such a law existed and they would eventually just go away. It got to the point that I would just like tweeking their noses.


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

I've been stopped by IL EPA to ask for registration - that particular state requires registration for personal watercraft on public waters (but not if you owned land that contained a lake/pond and paddled only on that waterway). IL supplies stickers w/ registration, and as the previous post mentioned, keeps serial #s as part of their paperwork. If there ever was a dilemma, it could easily be sorted out. I've heard, anecdotally, that one woman at DNR actually handles ALL of the boat registration for the entire state! How cool is that....

NOW - would you EVER put the IL registration sticker on a wooden canoe????

Just as a note, my current state (CT) doesn't require registration, so it's a little less clear what you would do here. BUT - here's the kicker - I just re-registered the boat back in IL (haven't lived there in years) for an upcoming canoe trip in the state - it wasn't at all clear what one should do if you live out of state but use a personal watercraft in IL. Furthermore, I'll be canoeing right by an IL EPA station so I didn't want any ambiguity! I didn't think that IL would process the paperwork for someone who lives out of state, but I just submitted it, paid the small fee, and now I have registration stickers on the boat through 2011.


So the moral of the story (and I don't know if this is true for everyone, or even legal, but I can't find any reason why it wouldn't be) - if you REALLY, REALLY wanted some type of legal documentation that you "owned" or at least previously registered a boat, you could register your boat in IL w/ a cover letter saying it's for an upcoming trip, they ask for serial numbers dates of purchase, but don't require paperwork to that effect. Then a few months later, you get back a formal registration card, w/ your name and the boat's serial number on it. That should just about take care of ANY controversy if someone claims that your boat is theirs in the future... And even if you never update the registration, just hold onto the paperwork. And all and all, I think it cost less than $10-15...

Dan Lindberg

Ex Wood Hoarder
MN is a state that requires craft used on state waters to be registered also, either in MN or any state.

They are also more then happy to take your money and provide you with a nice sticker to put on your boat, whether you live in the state of not.

Actually lots do this, as it's relatively cheep and MN for paddle only craft only requires the sticker, and it's needed for folks in the BWCA.



Unrepentant Canoeist
Yes, here in Silly-noise, the DNR requires canoe & kayak registration. It's $13 for the first three years, and $6 for subsequent three-year cycles. Honestly, it costs them more to cash the checks than the checks are worth, but, I've been told (by their legal dep't) that this is the law, and they are required to enforce it. And they'll also take out-of-stater's money, no problem.

I'll note, though, that it can take 5 months to get your reg stickers. Probably a better idea is to fill out the form as if you were going to send it in, photocopy it, and keep the photocopy with you when you paddle in this state. The photocopy is your "Temporary Permit" until the stickers arrive, to show the Conservation Officer, if needed. And if you forgot to send in the original, you just fill out a new one with a new date as needed, photocopy it, and...

Wisconsin doesn't require canoe registration, but you can do it there. I have no idea what it costs, but they might be quicker than Silly-noise. Anybody from WI know?


dual hull ID#'s

Here in Indiana we are not required to register canoes, unless they have a motor of any kind. When we had our Coastguad inspection the gentleman conducting it had informed us that it is a requirement as a registered builder to put the hull ID in a hidden place on the boat. When we ship our boats we give a certificate of ownership and tell the customer where the "hidden ID" is located just incase there is any question. Even if the exterior number is altered they know where the other is and can prove ownership. Also in the ownership papers we pick a characteristic or two and photograph and send it with the boat with the specific plank and measurements where located as a so to speak "fingerprint" because there are never 2 boats the same.

Howard Caplan

Wooden Canoe Maniac
While building the Prospector I nicked myself several times and I am a very good bleeder. Dan commented that I don't have to worry about a serial # or makers mark as DNA can be taken from any section of the boat to ID the builder and owner - me.

Years ago we had a terrific dog, Dancer. She was a pound dog part husky and part shepherd and snow white except for her black nose. Dancer was the queen of the neighborhood and would leap the fence late at night when neighbor Bev got home late from her evening shift at the hospital. Dancer would greet her at the car door and walk her to her door and wait until she got in and then come home, leap the fence and sleep in the yard.
One afternoon I was walking with Dancer on the street when a car stopped and the guy started asking about Dancer. He claimed he lost a dog just like her recently and was sure Dancer was his. I opened his car door and told him to call for the dog to get in. When called by a name I don't remember, Dancer sat on the sidewalk and looked at the guy seeming to say, "you talking to me?" He became convinced and drove off.

I like to think my canoes are the same. They would never get on a rooftop without my permission.