Kevin Martin Wooden Boats & Canoes
Care of Your Boat or Canoe
You may have questions on the care of your small craft that I will try to answer here. These boats will last for generations if cared for and properly stored.
This does not mean that you cannot get out on the water as much as you want. I encourage all to use these boats as much as possible, that is how you will get the most enjoyment for your $ and make all the effort that went into building the boat worthwhile.
Feel free to leave the boat out if needed for a few days or a few weeks if at camp. Just be sure to turn it over and keep the water out. If you can keep it up off the ground that is a plus. Proper storage when not in use is important. Many old canvas canoes are torn under the gunwales or at the stems from frost or extreme heat from the sun. Canvas is always shrinking and swelling and any rain that freezes under the gunwales will cause the canvas to tear after a season or two of outside storage. So for the long term, storage in a building or under a roof is the best. You need to keep it stored upside down on some sawhorses or hung from the rafters. If you do not have a shed or covered storage area then some type of A-frame made with 2 by 4’s and a tarp will work. Just try to keep the tarp off the canoe so air can flow under it. Be sure to keep the snow off it.
Many people fear that they will be spending much time sanding, painting, cleaning and maintaining wood boats. While that may be true on larger motor or sailboats (wood or fiberglass). That is not an issue on these smaller boats. The outside paint will need the most care and should be painted when you notice more than a few scratches on the bottom, say after 2 to 4 seasons of use. Canoes with fancy paint jobs can be painted just on the bottom if you match the paint. I can sand and put a coat of paint on in about 1 hour, so most owners should be able to inside 2 hours or less. Gunwales get some wear from sliding on your car or truck and should be dealt with by sanding and varnishing when it is needed. This will take about an hour or two also.
Luckily the interior will not require revarnishing for 5 to 10 years, as I will say that it is time consuming to sand between the ribs and apply the varnish. Still, it can be done in about 4 hours, including the seats decks etc. A floor rack will help there by protecting the ribs from wear.
As described here you can see that the care of these boats is not as bad as many imagine. A little work on them by the owners only enhances the enjoyment that is felt when out paddling; so do not let the care question keep you from these wonderful small crafts.