What is it with humans and wanting a little bit more power? From strapping 50 cc engines to bicycles to bolting blowers onto V8s, mankind has always wanted another hit of faster. Our own Jason Torchinsky, connoisseur of slow and endearing cars, isn’t immune either. Through a combination of peer pressure from his son Otto and the human desire to go a bit quicker, he slapped an electric trolling motor on his crap canoe to go quicker on the water.
While a little battery-operated motor sounds entirely appropriate for a vessel of such, um, condition, there’s still plenty of headroom to dive straight into mad science. However, just because you can add a ton of power to something doesn’t mean you always should. Today’s Comment of the Day comes from StillNotATony recounting a brief misadventure in adding a considerable amount of extra shove to a canoe.
Many moons ago, my dad bought an aluminum canoe. He, too, was not satisfied with rowing speed, so he added a motor.
But instead of an electric trolling motor, he cut the back off, fiberglassed in a wood transom, and bolted on a 30 or so hp gas outboard.
Oh mama, now we’re cooking on four burners. An aluminum canoe with a 30-horse outboard sounds light, quick, and incredibly difficult to handle on anything other than still water.
There’s a reason canoes are not generally powered by gas outboards. And the reason is you shouldn’t take them out where all the people with ski boats are blasting around, making big wakes. Dad’s canoe flipped easily, and all his gear, including his glasses and car keys, went to the bottom.
Thus ended his adventure in high speed canoeing.
It’s a predictable outcome, but I can’t help but feel that for the 10 minutes or so when everything worked, that little sucker must’ve been an absolute flier. It’s the complete opposite of a narrowboat situation, in which one slowly yet relentlessly drifts helplessly into some weeds.
Commenter Jack Trade was quick to compare StillNotATony’s dad’s canoe to a Reliant Robin, to which StillNotATony replied, “Kinda! But probably less stable.” Considering the Robin at least had a rear anti-roll bar, it’s safe to assume that a 30-horsepower attack canoe is definitely less stable than England’s endearing fiberglass coffin.
We should all both fear and appreciate the Icarian 30-horsepower canoe. It’s the sort of vehicle we’ve all though of building after five or six wobbly pops, but few of us actually worked up the courage to throw together. If an obscenely sketchy, overpowered canoe isn’t Autopian, I don’t know what is. Hats off to StillNotATony’s dad for daring to build such a contraption, even if its lifespan was relatively short.
(Photo credits: Honda Marine/Algonquin Outfitters/ Dmitry Makeev – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Many years ago we had a Coleman Scanoe that had a flatter bottom and squared off back for mounting a motor. We had a 6hp motor on there and it worked great.
Here in Maine it’s pretty common to mount a motor plate off the side of the canoe in the back, but it’s usually done on 18+ foot guide canoes, and not usually rated for more than 10hp at MAX – usually see 3.3s or 5s on there. You usually see them used on smaller ponds and lakes with HP restrictions, or on bigger rivers to have a craft that can go both up and downstream handily.
Once went 12 (GPS) knots in my V-bottomed Achilles 320 with an old grey 5hp Mariner. Enough fun for me. 30 and an even more unstable floating device just sounds plain nuts.
I think you got the order wrong, isn’t it bolting V8s to (leaf) blowers?
Never dabble in home built or modified watercraft, or at least that seems to be a good rule of thumb.
Don’t own a boat. Be the hero who brings beer to the boat.
The best boats are owned by friends and relatives. I have a sister with a boat in Michigan and an uncle with a boat in NY, plus some friends with a boat closer to home. I reap the benefits, they take care of repair costs. I will gladly bring beer an booze to anybody who lets me on their boat.
You will all be glad to hear that dear old Dad is still kicking around at 78, despite the super canoe adventure.
And the Triumph Spitfire with the rotary swap that literally spit fire and nearly burned down the garage.
And the ’60 El Camino we painted in our garage that nearly blew the door off when the water heater pilot light kicked on.
And the peach wine that had to be buried in the woods. DEEP in the woods.
I had a fun childhood.
If he ran for office, would his slogan be “Tippecanoe and Triumph Too?”
I would assume Adrian and other continentals are quite baffled by this comment.
COTM in the COTD comments.
I’d like to have a beer or six with your dad and see what kind of danger we could get ourselves into.
Being on the water is fun. Going fast is fun.
Going fast on the water is brilliant. 🙂
The weird and wacky collection at the Lane motor museum has a 1944 old town wooden canoe outfitted with wicker seat, oriental rug, and a 3 hp Aerothrust engine with an unguarded rear facing airplane propeller. Said to go between 6-15 mph on the water. https://www.lanemotormuseum.org/collection/floating/item/old-town-yankee-canoe-16-with-aerothrust-engine/
One of the great moments of my life was when MY dad tried to use gas powered outboard with our canoe. It didn’t have a transom stern and so he’d bought a special bracket that allowed the motor/engine to be mounted on the left side of the canoe close to the very rear. We put the canoe in the water and I held the nose, up to my knees in water while my dad tried to start the outboard. It wasn’t big (maybe 5 or 10 horse max?) but it still took a pretty good tug on the starter rope. He pulled, it spun, it coughed, it died. Again. Again. Again. He stood up to get a better pull. Almost. Almost. Almost again. He opened the throttle a little and damn! So close! So he opened the throttle WIDE and pulled like Hell! You guessed it! The little motor started and it spun that canoe sideways like rolling a pencil between your palms! My dad went flying about 10 feet through the air and landed in the water like he’d been shot out of a gun and disappeared with a splash! I just sat down in the water laughing my ass off. We didn’t tell my mom, but every time I saw that canoe or someone mentioned it I couldn’t help it – I’d laugh until I cried… my dad though didn’t think it was so goddamn funny for some reason. I miss him.
It’s probably a good thing that my dad and your dad never met…
We had a Grumman square stern canoe with a 9.9 hp two stroke. It was great fun, even out on the lake. I’m pretty sure it was rated for up to 10hp, but we also had a 20 or 25 hp on there for a while, too.
The modern Grumman square sterns I see now have a much narrower stern than the one we had, and are rated for up to 5 hp.
What you need is a Thai long-tail boat.
Just make sure you know where the fuel cutoff switch is, or you’ll wind up paying some kid 50,000 baht to show you.
Just push the kid in the water…..
I didn’t see this at the time. We had a coleman canoe wash up on a beach once we claimed. it had a flat transom and we tried putting the 9.9 hp 2 stroke on it. Yeah, not a great idea. No flippy, but it was clear that this was not a good idea.
They used to make canoes with transom sterns for properly mounting motors instead of a hack job. Those were still only rated for 5hp from a British Seagull 2 stroke or an electric motor.
Bah, it just needed a pair of outriggers and an inboard low mounted engine to be ship shape.
Just go out and buy the second* cheapest canoe on Craigslist, and ratchet-strap them together with a pallet. Boom! Catamaran!
*I assume that anyone following this advice has already just bought themselves the cheapest canoe
Cmon put a siderigger aka hawaii canoe no tipping motorworks.
And now I have the theme to Hawaii Five-0 in my head.
As always, Florida has a crazy answer. Factory “canoe” rated for 40hp
I wonder if the concerned citizen who previously chastised Torch over his canoe purchase will pen another letter of concern over Otto’s welfare as Torch attempts to recreate the Suck My Wake scene from The Great Outdoors.