There are two plywood canoes in my range catering for quite different parts of the market. A quality first class boat and also a very cheap and easy to build boat.
Also there is the Electric Canoe built the same way as the Quick Canoe here.
One is the best plywood canoe I could come up with – the Eureka Canoe. It is probably best built of premium materials such as gaboon plywood to further reduce the weight. Building time is around the 70 hours mark, but most part time builders seem to take about three months of part time work. The premium materials recommended bring the cost out to $400 to $800, but you could build cheaper.
The other is the simplest and cheapest plywood canoe that would still look good and work well – the Quick Canoe. I will be developing the Quick Canoe into a series of boats over time. I have also made the plans of this boat really cheap to fit in with the low budget nature of the project. Boats have been built for budgets of $130 – $250 and building time has been as short as 4.5 or 5.5 hours from two experienced builders, though a nice job will take around 20 hours for a first time builder.
Generally the lower end of the prices is building in Canada or the USA where materials are a lot cheaper than the rest of the world.
(also introducing the Quick Canoe Electric – 34lb thrust trolling motor gives 5 to 7 mph – $30)
The things the two plans have in common are the detail in the plans – anyone can build either of these boats following the step by step instructions. There are several photoessays from home boatbuilders of different experience on my forum and the consensus is the plans are pretty good. I also update the plans using feedback from builders, so as time goes by the plans improve even more.
Ok … so how to choose between these two boats.
The Eureka is based on classic canoe touring shapes from a time when canoes were used for real transport. Everything from delivering the milk or mail, heading off for six months collecting beaver pelts – less common today, but the main idea is the boats had to work well whatever the conditions were like. They had to travel real distance and be efficient and track well despite wind and waves.
So the Eureka paddles very nicely. It will greatly outperform the average fibreglass boat (though there are some very good classic shapes available in North America in fiberglass – but none in most of the rest of the world). The wooden boat is also about half the weight of most glass canoes. A typical Eureka built with Gaboon comes in around 45 lbs (20kg) but making some effort and building of thinner ply you can get down to 33lbs (15kg). Great for portages and getting it on the car roof. It is built by the stitch and glue method.
The Quick Canoe is a much simpler shape, but I have kept the classic sheerline of a “proper canoe”. The unusual skeg/keel arrangement is to overcome the normally crappy directional stability of three panel canoes. The skeg/keel can be reduced if more manoeuvrability is required for various uses but it is about right for lake travelling as it is.
The Quick Canoe is made of only three panels and it is suitable for using duct or gaffer tape to hold it together while the filleting or glass taping happens on the inside of the boat. This is a not a method that will work with any boat shape (don’t try it with the Eureka!!!), but it has been trialled through several boats with the Quick Canoe and seems to work quite well. While I am a great believer in epoxy to reduce maintenance and reliable construction the Quick Canoe – as a cheap project – would be fine in good exterior plywood and with polyester resin and glass tape. It won’t last as long as an epoxy one … but at this price … who cares! It is way more ecologically sound than a full glass or plastic boat.
So the summary is … if you want a really nice paddling canoe, the Eureka is a great choice – inexpensive, lightweight, easy to build, very nice to paddle. If you want the simplest, cheapest and fastest to build then the Quick Canoe is a good choice.