Serial Number Help!!?


I have just purchased this canoe and I am trying to identify the year it was built. Do canoe serial numbers have a format that they follow that is an industry standard?

I know in the car business you can identify all sorts of information about the vehicle such as year, colour, model etc. etc. from the VIN number. Is it the same for W/C canoes? Also, this was built by a canoe builder in Maine within the past 5 years and is not a Chestnut, Peterborough or Old Town type commercially built canoe. So would an individual builder still follow certain criteria regarding the serial number?


Does this identify the year in any capicity? My best guess would be 2004, but i am not certain. Any help?



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The Coast Guard's Manufacturers Identification Code (MIC) Database at indicates that you have a canoe made by Shamel Boat & Canoe Works in 2001. You can call 207-796-8199 with any questions.

The formats have changed over the years but the first three letters are the MIC and the last two are usually a two digit year. Good luck with the rest of your research.


Wow, thanks alot for the info. Are all canoes/boats registered in that Coast Guard Database? I know Bill is a retired "coastie" so maybe that's the reasoning behind using the MIC?

Anyway, I will contact bill to identify the true year, but I figured 2001 was the most plausable year. Thanks again for the info!

GrandLakerMitch said:
Are all canoes/boats registered in that Coast Guard Database?

The U. S. requirement is that all commercial watercraft manufacturers be registered in the Coast Guard Database and that they put unique hull identification numbers (HIN) on their boats in the specified format but I am not aware of any master government database that contains all of these individual watercraft. See for more information about the formats of these HINs over the years.

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No watercraft are registered with the US Coast Guard. The manufacturer of the watercraft is registered and gets a manufacturer's code. This started in November 1972. Watercraft built prior to that date were not required to have any type of VIN or ID or serial number.

build year

Hey guys, thanks for all the info. I spoke with Bill (the gentleman who built my canoe) and he said that my canoe was constructed between June and December 2002. So obviously there is no correlation between my serial # (VSFGL004F201) and the build year.

This is what this code should indicate, per US Coast Guard rules:


VSF = Manufacturer's code
GL004 = internal code by company that built the vessels (their serial number)
F = month of production (June) A = January, B = February, etc... and this applies to vessels made AFTER 1984 when the original code system was changed
2 = last digit of year of manufacture (2002)
01 = model year (2001)

In my mind, a boat built in June 2002 would be a 2002 model, not 2001. But maybe this builder chose not to make any changes in the 2002 model compared to 2001 models.


Thanks for the info. That is a great key to have and know. I knew there had to be some rhyme and reason to the serial number. But I agree, I dont know why the builder would consider it a 2001. The mould that my canoe was built on has been in Grand Lake Stream since the 1920's. There certainly hasn't been any modifications that would constitue different "model years". Anyway thanks a million!