Canoe mods


New Member
I've owned my current canoe for about 3 years and have been looking into making some modifications to make it a little more user friendly and versatile.
It is a River Ridge Custom that was built in Minnesota. I'll attach pictures later.
I'd like to put something on the bottom (water-line) and below to protect it a little better than the factory gel-coat and paint job (I've finally quit crying myself to sleep when I scratch the bottom on a rock).
I'd also like to add a new thwart and some oarlocks so I can float some rivers and get from A to B quicker when I want to conserve battery power on the lake (paddling yourself sucks).
I'll also be adding some floor-boards to sit on top of the slatted ones (not fly line friendly, and flip-flops like to get caught when standing up).
It is a fairly short (14'9") ,wide canoe that is double ended at the water-line but has a square transom above the water line for the electric trolling motor.
Any suggestions for vendors (oar-locks, oars, materials etc.) would be appreciated.
Also, how far forward of the rear seat should I put the new thwart with the oar-locks, I did find some 3 position teflon jobs on Hydes web-site.
Any suggestions on oar length?


Some of your questions will be easier to answer when you've got pictures posted. But a question for you first -- do you usually use the canoe alone, or do you often have a passenger with you? Your answer will influence where you want to place the new thwart. (I'm assuming you are thinking of a wide thwart that would serve as a seating position when you're using the oars?)



New Member
I'll get pix of mine posted this weekend.
You can follow this link to check out the web-site to where I purchased it from, It was in an article (Outdoor Life or Field and Stream) a few years ago.
I used to own a Coleman (now Pelican) that was indestructable that I thought was hard to handle, but compared to this tub it was a dream.




Active Member
Otto -

1. Forget about trying to protect the hull.

2. The more stuff you put in that boat, the more wetted surface are, the more drag, the harder it will be to move.

3. It sounds like you need a different tool for the job. No amount of rigging will cure a less than stellar hull design.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Those wide "sportsman style" canoes suck for solo paddling. They are slow to gain speed and clunky handling. They were really designed as a compromise so that you can put an electric or small gas OB motor on them. My 13' square stern Sportspal was (is...rotting in the yard with electrolysis-induced hull cancer) 38" wide at the oarlocks, and I had those clamp-on oar locks for my paddles, which are 5' long. I seldom used the paddles set up as oars, but mainly relied on my electric trolling motor for trolling and covering distance, and just paddled the beast with one paddle when I needed to.

The few times I had another person in the boat and we both paddled, it was fine.

I put both batteries (a spare is nice, and the extra weight in the bow is just right for balance when you are going solo) in the bow, running about 10' of 6 gage battery cable (less resistance in thicker wire) from the rear seat to the bow.

What I really miss about that boat is its stability and the ease of fishing with an electric motor. My current Ultimate 12 (12' hybrid canoe) is smaller, lighter, faster, much more responsive and maneuverable and easy to paddle with a double bladed paddle. Its also much lighter and easier to car-top and carry. I can paddle it faster (in short sprints, like when going upstream thru a slower chute or riffle section) than I could go in the ol' heavy& beamy Sportspal with the electric.

The Sportspal could carry a lot more gear, including a large cooler capable of holding a few salmon. (We trolled for Kings from this in the lower rivers).

Only big downside of paddling is that its pretty hard to cast when you have a paddle in your hands. I have to either drift, anchor up, or park my Ultimate more of that relatively easy holding position against the current with electric power, while making a good cast. Miss more strikes when trolling, too. The bow-mounted anchor drop I had made for the Sportspal was faster, quieter, and easier than my current system of hand-dropping a small home-made anchor and trollying it either forward or to the stern.

I had also made custom clamp-on seat brackets and added folding driftboat seats with swivel mounts. Very comfortable, compared to bare canoe seats. I originally made just one for the bow seat, as I often stood up when motoring with a passenger, so that I could see deadheads and rocks in our path. Then I made a similar bracket for the rear seat so I could kick back in comfort when going solo.

I still have all these home-made attachments that will fit a 13' Sportspal, except that I moved the swivel seats to my jon boat.
It was a lot of fun customizing that Sportspal to my needs, though, and it served me well.
The neighbors cats have been seen playing in it recently...R.I.P.
Here's something that will help the bottom-- strike a waterline, sand to prep and then paint it with an epoxy-graphite coating. The graphite will help it slide over gravel or rocks a lot easier. Go to and do a search.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
jim whos R.I.P. the boat or the cats? :D
Those cats are my little buddies...not only are they relentless rodent exterminators, but they like to tandem surf on my picnic table benches...they get on one and actually rock it back and forth. Wish they wouldn't do it in the middle of the night though. Wakes me up sometimes. Thump...thump....thump...:confused: I think they discovered furniture surfing by jumping up on the backs of my neighbor's dining room chairs and rocking those.