Bateau Cheap Canoe


Bateau Cheap Canoe
by Joel "NoBucks" Fleischer

I built the cheap canoe with free plans from Boat Plans OnLine because I needed a canoe but I couldn't afford to buy one. All in all, it ended up costing me between $100 - $150.

I could have done it more cheaply, but I purposely departed from the plans in a few instances because I was experimenting with different building processes.

The plans call for the breasthooks to be made from plywood. I made them from some oak that I had lying around. The plans also called for a plywood seat in the middle, which I replaced with one thwart in the middle, my plan being to put seats fore and aft for paddling with my kids, while keeping our rear ends off the wet floor of the canoe.

Also, the plans specifically say to avoid sheathing the canoe in fiberglass, since it is not worth the expense in a little canoe like this. Because I am planning to build a sailboat, I wanted to make my mistakes on the cheap canoe so that, when I made mistakes building the sailboat, I'd know how to fix them.

After `glassing the seams and laying down the first coat of epoxy, I glassed the bottom and the sides on the outside to protect them from rocks.

After sanding and filling the fiberglass, my six-year-old son Alex and I painted the whole thing with hunter green exterior latex. When we finally launched the canoe, we found that the paint held up very well when we landed the canoe on the shore. We launched the canoe on Harlow Lake near Marquette, Michigan.

Upon launching the canoe, I was very impressed that it only drew a couple inches of water, even with an adult sitting in it. I was a little concerned that the canoe seemed a bit tender, even with a frightened child sitting stone still in the front to balance things out.

After dropping Alex off on the shore, I paddled out a ways and vigorously rocked the canoe back and forth. I found that it would only go over so far and then would stiffen up and come back. My kids grew a little braver after they saw me doing that.

The reaction to the canoe has been very interesting. In my opinion, it's not much to look at, but everyone that sees it says, "You built that? Cool!" I can't wait to get started on the sailboat!