Canoes are fun, exciting, and a great way to stay fit. Aluminum canoes are durable, stable, and have a sink-resistant design. However, since aluminum is heavier than wood or fiberglass, many people worry that it is more likely to sink.
Aluminum canoes do not sink under normal circumstances. However, a canoe’s buoyancy depends on how much it’s loaded, the type of canoe, the condition of the hull, and how long it has been submerged. If an aluminum canoe is overloaded or damaged, it will sink.
This article will look at why aluminum canoes don’t usually sink and what may cause them to sink. It will also give you tips on preventing an aluminum canoe from sinking, even once it has capsized. So, let’s get started!
Do Aluminum Canoes Sink? (Not Typically, Here’s Why)
Despite being heavier than wood or fiberglass canoes, aluminum canoes can carry significant weight without sinking. However, since aluminum itself has no buoyancy, what makes these canoes stay afloat?
Aluminum canoes don’t sink due to their buoyant design and internal floatation pads. Aluminum canoes have floatation pads made of styrofoam or other buoyant material, which keeps them afloat. Some aluminum canoes have a wooden core, foam bottoms, or sealed air tanks which adds to their buoyancy.
Aluminum material is heavier than water and will sink if it doesn’t have any buoyant material attached to it. However, it may sink when the floatation material is affected, or the canoe exceeds its weight limit.
What Will Cause an Aluminum Canoe To Sink?
Aluminum canoes are highly durable and easy to repair. They hardly sink completely, even when capsized. Large canoes can carry several people in addition to heavy gear without sinking. However, this is not true for all aluminum canoes.
Aluminum canoes will sink if you exceed the load capacity, if the hull or floatation material is damaged, or if it’s submerged for too long. Aluminum canoes won’t sink entirely as long as flotation material is attached.
The following factors can contribute to your aluminum canoe’s susceptibility to sinking:
- Exceeding the load capacity
- Type of canoe
- Age and condition of hull and floatation blocks
- Remaining capsized for too long
I will discuss all of these factors in detail below.
Exceeding the Load Capacity Will Cause an Aluminum Canoe to Sink
All canoes have a maximum holding capacity; exceeding this limit will cause the canoe to sink. In most cases, the canoe will sink gradually as the weight is added. It’s always best to stop adding weight at 80% of the maximum loading capacity.
The average aluminum canoe weighs around 60-70 pounds (27-32 kilograms) and is lighter than a wooden canoe. Aluminum canoes can also carry a lot of weight. The average 14-foot (4.27 meters) canoe can carry around 700 pounds (318 kilograms), while a 16-foot (4.88 meters) canoe can carry over 950 pounds (431 kilograms). However, it’s always best to stay below the weight limit to avoid sinking the canoe.
In most cases, you’ll only exceed the weight limit if your gear is too heavy, since most aluminum canoes are made for at least two people. Heavier canoes are also harder to maneuver, so it’s best to keep the canoe as light as possible.
Type of Aluminum Canoe Can Determine its Sinkability
The canoe’s design will also impact the likeness of it capsizing or sinking. Canoes with higher hulls are less likely to sink since they’ve got more surface area for water displacement. On the other hand, lower-sided sit-inside canoes are more likely to fill with water, and may sink faster.
Many aluminum canoes have a self-bailing design, which prevents them from sinking completely when upright. The holes in the canoe prevent water from fully submerging the canoe and allow for a more even weight distribution.
However, since most canoes have a sink-proof design, it’s unlikely that the canoe will sink completely, even when damaged. Still, even self-bailing canoes will sink if they’re overloaded.
Canoe Age and Condition of the Hull and Floatation Blocks Affect Ability to Float
Your canoe may start to sink if the hull gets damaged. Canoeing can be dangerous in some areas, especially in rocky or shallow water. Fortunately, aluminum canoes are durable and easy to repair. However, if the hull gets damaged while you’re canoeing, it may sink.
Similarly, the canoe will sink if the floatation blocks get damaged or their material loses buoyancy over time. Some aluminum boats have sealed tanks with air pockets instead of flotation material. If these tanks get punctured and become filled with water due to leaking, the canoe will lose its buoyancy and sink.
Canoe Remaining Capsized for Too Long Can Cause it To Sink
Many types of aluminum canoes will remain partially afloat even when they capsize. However, capsized canoes will eventually sink as the water seeps through minor holes in the floatation tanks. So, while there’s no harm in capsizing an aluminum canoe in the short term, leaving it in the water for too long will damage it.
How Can You Prevent an Aluminum Canoe From Sinking?
You can prevent a canoe from sinking by following the loading instructions, repairing leaks, cracks, and holes regularly, and replacing the floatation material with time. You can enhance the buoyancy by attaching supplemental floating pads or airbags and coating the canoe with a layer of fiberglass.
Aluminum canoes are durable and can last for several years without losing their buoyancy. However, you can improve the canoe’s lifespan with proper maintenance and by changing the floatation material regularly if accessible.
Are Aluminum Canoes Safe?
Aluminum canoes are safe, especially compared to many plastic, wooden, or fiberglass canoes. This is because they are extremely resistant to damage. They’re also steadier and can handle heavier loads. It’s also easier to repair aluminum canoes.
However, aluminum canoes can be heavy, slow, and difficult to maneuver. They are used more often for recreational canoeing in still or slow-flowing waters. They also make great camping canoes and are great for recreational fishing.
Aluminum canoes are made for durability and can carry heavier loads than other smaller canoes. These canoes have floating tanks, wood, and other buoyant material in the design, making them almost unsinkable.
However, overloading your aluminum canoe can cause it to sink. Similarly, damage to the canoe’s hull or floatation material will also cause it to sink. To prevent your canoe from sinking, repair minor cracks and dents, or add supplement floating pads.
So, if you’re looking for a steady and reliable canoe that you can repair easily, aluminum canoes are ideal.