Shopping for a used Wenonah canoe?
Electing to buy a used canoe, especially a Wenonah, is a great way to get a high-quality canoe for a lower price. These plastic canoes, made out of Royalex or T-Formex, are long-lasting. Wenonah’s composite canoes are easily repaired if they have any damage.
If you’re considering buying a used Wenonah, you’ll want to know where to look, what to look for, and of course, to try it out if you can.
Where to look
You can start looking for a used canoe right now from your computer or smartphone. On classified pages like Craigslist or eBay, Wenonah canoes may be listed. Sometimes they will provide more details, but they may also simply be listed as “Fiberglass Canoe.” Depending on how informed and thorough the seller is, you may have to deduce the model and materials from photos and check Wenonah’s website.
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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is practically in Wenonah’s backyard. Many outfitters in Northern Minnesota use Wenonah canoes in their rental fleet. Renting canoes gives you a chance to take a trial run, helping you understand how some of the differences in specifications and design that you read about affect how the canoe behaves on the water.
It’s common for outfitters to sell off their rental fleets at the end of each season. Consider renting during the season and following up in the autumn to pick up a used canoe that’s new to you.
The shoulder seasons, spring and autumn, are good times to start shopping for used canoes. People will be upgrading their boats or cleaning out garages and sheds.
What to look for
Inspect the entire canoe before you buy it. Knowing which type of material the canoe is made from is important, as they wear differently. Read the “Wenonah Canoe Buying Advice” below for an overview of their canoe materials.
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T-Formex or older Royalex canoes can withstand repeated impacts without much damage. You may see faint dings and bumps on the hull, but they are superficial. Any prominent creases might indicate that the canoe was wrapped or suffered a more significant impact. An advantage of these canoes is that more significant deformities will often pop back into shape, but they might be weak spots in the future.
Unless you plan to really bang the canoe around, this shouldn’t be an issue. Any scrapes or gouges penetrating the outer coloured layer and revealing the pale ABS plastic beneath should be refinished. This is an easy fix with repair kits available from Wenonah.
Most Wenonah canoes are made of aramid, fiberglass or other composite blends. Composite canoes can wear out faster than plastic ones. How a canoe has been stored is a good indicator of its overall condition. If it has been kept inside and upside down on a rack, there’s less chance of damage. Direct sunlight can damage and discolor the canoe.
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As well, leaving a canoe sitting upright on its hull deforms it. Over time, the canoe’s weight puts pressure on the unsupported hull. The gunwales are stronger; it’s better to rest the canoe’s weight on them.
Composite canoes are finished with a gelcoat or a clearcoat to protect the resin and cloth. Any time the canoe rubs along the ground—even just across the sand—it may show scrapes. These scratches are superficial and harmless, although they are unsightly. Inspect the hull for deeper cuts that might expose the cloth. Like plastic canoes, Wenonah sells composite repair kits for any touch-ups needed.
You can also source epoxy or gelcoat from marine suppliers, and there are many good articles explaining these fixes online. If you find a Wenonah canoe that needs some major repairs, they may be able to fix it for you. You’ll have to get the canoe to the factory, and it will take some time, but this is an option for those who are less handy.
Most composite canoes have float tanks; sealed compartments in the bow and stern of the canoe to give it buoyancy. When you pick the canoe up, give it a shake and listen for any water that might be sloshing around in the tanks, indicating a leak, most likely from the canoe into the tanks.