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What Is a Motorized Canoe?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A motorized canoe is a lightweight boat powered by a motor. While canoes are traditionally paddled, some models can accommodate a motor or be retrofitted for one. The operator can choose between engine power and paddling for various tasks. Firms that build and sell canoes often sell motorized versions along with accessories boaters may find useful for safety and comfort while canoeing.

The canoe traditionally has a double-ended design, although some are blunt at the stern. The boat is designed primarily for inland waterways like rivers and lakes and can vary in length. Often a single person can control the canoe, and they are popular for solo trips. In the case of a motorized canoe, the energy to move the boat comes from an engine fitted to the rear or side, instead of from paddlers.

Fishermen may find motorized canoes convenient for motoring quickly to locations. They can switch to paddles when they get close to avoid disturbing the fish. The motor makes it possible to cover more ground and can be especially convenient for getting under cover rapidly in bad weather. Motorized canoes are also popular for some long trips and expeditions where people might get tired of paddling and fall behind or be unable to complete the trip.

Care must be taken while setting up a motorized canoe. The motor can throw the balance of the boat off, especially if it is not explicitly designed for use with a motor. The boater also needs to consider the weight of the batteries or fuel for the motor. The weight should be carefully balanced in the canoe to keep it stable and reduce the risk of capsizing.

Boaters may also want to think about what they will be doing in the motorized canoe. The activity can determine the distribution of weight. Fishing, where the boater may throw her weight around in the process of reeling in and netting a fish, is different from recreational canoeing, where the boater stays relatively stable.

A number of motor sizes are available to power motorized canoes. Engines that are too powerful can potentially be dangerous and may also weigh down the canoe unnecessarily. If a buyer is not sure about the best engine for his applications, he may want to ask a staff member at a boating shop for advice and assistance. High power doesn't always mean faster, and faster is not always desirable in the first place for a motorized canoe.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Dec 18, 2011

It costs a bit more to rent a canoe with a motor, but it can be so worth it, especially if you are out of shape. My best friend and I wanted to go canoeing down a gentle river, but we knew that neither of us had the stamina to paddle for the whole two-hour trip, so we got the motorized canoe.

For exercise, we did use the paddles part of the time. We didn't want to get too sore, though, so we employed the motor the majority of the trip.

In some areas, the current was strong enough that we used neither. We simply coasted downstream until the canoe slowed down enough to need a push.

By Perdido — On Dec 17, 2011

@cloudel – I don't know if I would feel safe with a motor powerful enough to let me escape a gator. That could potentially be too much for your canoe, and wouldn't you hate to tip over while trying to get away?

I have a trolling motor for my canoe. It does have several different forward speeds and even a few reverse speeds, but I prefer to go really slow. I feel safer that way.

My brother likes to put out a fishing line and wait to hook something as we slowly boat along. He told me that this is what a trolling motor is actually intended for, but I just love to be able to buzz around the water without paddling.

By cloudel — On Dec 17, 2011

Whenever I rent a canoe, I make sure that it has a motor on it. Even if I plan to use the paddles for most of the trip, I want to know that I can escape a gator, snake, or thunderstorm if necessary.

Years ago, I got caught out in the middle of a big lake during a thunderstorm. I had no indication that there was any bad weather nearby when I set out, but before I reached the shore, lightning was striking all around me.

Now, I never go out without a motor. I live in a hot climate with the potential for alligators and snakes to be present, and I won't get caught with only a paddle to help me get away.

By seag47 — On Dec 16, 2011

My uncle has been a fisherman and a boater all his life, so I trusted his motorized canoe when I rode in it. I knew that he had the expertise to set it up properly.

My extended family was having a get-together at a big lake, but the beach we were going to could only be accessed by boat. So, my uncle carted us over in batches in his motorized canoe. It took awhile for the whole family to be transported.

He served as the ferry all day long for us. Anytime anyone would get ready to leave, he would take them back to their car in the canoe.

I liked the fact that we were on our own private beach. We wouldn't be disturbed by outsiders, unless they also had a motorized canoe!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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