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Sailing Canoe Hull Options

Discussion in 'Canoe Sailing' started by droski, May 26, 2020.

  1. droski

    droski New Member

    Hi WCHA community,

    As Covid continues, and we remain indoors, I'm looking to take on a new project to build a stripper canoe that is able to sail. This will be the first time I've ever built a canoe, but I'm an avid sailor. I've read through "Canoe Rig" and "Canoecraft" so I'm starting to build an idea of how I'd like to set it up. However I'm having trouble deciding on a hull design as it's hard for me to translate the suggestions in the book to the designs available.

    Current requirements for canoe:
    - Large enough for two paddlers when not sailing
    - Small enough to single-hand when sailing
    - Single masted with a lanteen or spirit sail
    - Points high when close-hauled (less concerned with speed)

    I'd really like to use a hull kit/design from Bear Mountain Boats as it seems like one of the more accessible outfits out there. Of the canoe plans available, here are the two I'm considering:
    • Freedom 15 - think I saw someone else on this forum add a sail to the Freedom 15 with good success. Has a decent stability factor of 105 and would be fairly light and nimble. Might stretch it to 16 feet to provide a bit of additional space.
    • Coppermine Square Stern 17 - seems to be a decent option, good stability factor (115), the square stern provides a lot of options for attaching a rudder.
    Of the two options above, would one be better suited to canoe sailing? Is there a design that I've overlooked that might perform even better?

    Really appreciate any tips or advice the community may have to offer.

  2. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    15 isnt going to sail nearly so well as 17 and above. not to mention far less volume for paddling tandem compared to longer boats. traditional designs will always paddle better than they sail, so i would be inclined to focus more on sailing abilities than paddling since those will already be present. good luck!
  3. OP

    droski New Member

    Thanks Andre - very helpful. Will focus on 17' and up hull designs. Do you have any experience with the Freedom designs (e.g. Freedom 17)?
  4. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    unfortunately no, i havent built any of Teds designs
  5. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I certainly have not tried every canoe design out there, either paddling or sailing, but for me at least, this one would be a no-brainer. My choice would be David Hazen's 17' x 34" Micmac canoe, from his book "The Stripper's Guide to Canoe Building". To start with, it is one of the fastest general purpose touring canoes that I have ever paddled, and I was a dealer at some point for most of the major brands of high quality modern canoes. Despite their speed, the Micmacs have some rocker and turn surprisingly well. Stability is good and the hull is fairly deep-sided in the area around the paddlers, so they tend to be a drier ride than most in big waves or when heeled over. They are truly superb tripping and day-paddling boats and those same characteristics - speed, maneuverability for tacking, shallow-arch bottomed good stability and a drier than normal ride will make them good sailing hulls as well.

    Steve Stanfill built this lovely 17' Micmac stripper a few years ago and showed it off on the WoodenBoat Forum. Gorgeous workmanship. The white one is one of the few fiberglass Micmacs ever built. It was originally owned by Norman Sims and I now own it. You can see the extra depth in the bow seat area. It's really nice to run through a good sized wave and not see it come over the gunwale into the bow paddler's lap.

    Hazen's "Stripper's Guide" is out of print, though copies are still floating around out there used. It originally shipped with three separate sheets of plans, and you need to find one which still has at least some of them with it. There are two different double kayak plans, which are out of date compared to what is available elsewhere these days. There is a big 20' freighter plan with a square stern and also a narrow canoe plan called the "Abenaki". It is also out of date and better boats exist these days. Then there are plans for the 34" beam (for the 17 footer) and 36" beam for the 18 foot Micmac models. They are both really great canoes. If I planned on sailing one a lot, I might even stick a plumb stern stem on it (or a plumb spot on the existing stem profile) for ease of rudder mounting.

    Stanfill Micmac.JPG


    Pointing high in a sailing canoe is usually more a goal than a reality. You don't have the aspect ratio or luff length that it tends to call for due to limited stability. Really tall rigs often just are too much heeling lever for a canoe hull. You will most likely find that bearing off a bit, sailing farther but faster at a lower angle works better and actually gets you there sooner.
  6. OP

    droski New Member

    Todd, thank you for the extremely helpful reply. I will definitely look for a copy of "Strippers Guide" with Micmac plans. I also really like the idea of a plumb stern stem for ease of attaching a rudder.

    Curious to hear your thoughts on the Freedom 17? Given it was designed by Steve Killing, can't help but wonder if it would have good sailing canoe characteristics.
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I completely agree with Andre's comments about length and Todd's comments about most sailing canoes not being great at pointing upwind. You can make progress but it will take some time and patience. The list of plans at may provide some other options to consider. It is said that strip canoes are like potato chips, you can never have just one. Good luck,

  8. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I don't believe I've ever seen a Freedom 17 in the flesh, let alone paddled or been in one, so I can't say anything much about its suitability for sailing. There are so many different canoe designs out there and variations in sail rig components due to being owner-built that it's going to be tough to find folks who can compare very many of them side by side. The good news is that most of the good touring canoe designs, at least those that don't look like modified marathon racers, can be made to sail pretty decently. The next step up from that for sailing starts to involve sailing-specific modifications like daggerboards or weighted centerboards, hiking boards, higher aspect rigs or twin-sail rigs, watertight chambers, etc.
  9. OP

    droski New Member

    So I was able to find a copy of “strippers guide” with a copy of the MicMac plans. One question, which stems are typically used for the boat? These plans have three options. My guess is it’s the kootenay stem for the bow and a classic or torpedo stem for the stern, but wanted to check.

    For the stern, I’m still planning on having a plumb area for ease of rudder attachment. But was curious on what is typical.


    Attached Files:

  10. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Usually the Kootenay stems would be used both bow and stern. However, the late editions of the book have a mistake on the plan. They show the stem profile for the stern stem, but left out the bow stem. The difference is a small bit which hangs down a little more on the stern stem's bottom corner. Hazen calls this a "rudder stern" and its function is to increase tracking back there a bit, kind of like a small skeg would do on a sea kayak. It is worth having. There is also a small flared area, down low on the last stern cross-form to assist in getting the hull shape right in that area with the rudder stern.
    The proper bow stem would not have the rudder part or the slightly flared spot on the closest cross-form. This is shown on plan for the cross-form, but somebody left out the correct line on the stem profile. I have drawn the proper curve for the bow stem form in with red ink on this copy, which you should do on your plan.

    My 18' Micmac in Quetico about 1975 or so.

    pro best.jpg

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