How to Make Outriggers For Your Canoe

by Eric Cedric
If you need extra stability, add outriggers to the canoe.

If you need extra stability, add outriggers to the canoe.

If you go out onto big waves or paddle with excess gear, you understand the canoe loses some of its primary and secondary stability. To alleviate this problem, consider adding inflatable outrigger-style sponsons. Adding these sponson-style outriggers to the canoe greatly increases primary (when the boat is at rest) and secondary (while moving) stability. By using the inflatable sponsons, the outriggers go onto the canoe quickly and come down as quickly, giving you flexibility during your canoe adventure.

Inflate both sponsons. The inflatable sponsons have long tubes with one-way valves, allowing you to inflate them using your breath. Blow them up to capacity by squeezing the sides. When there is little give on the squeeze, they are full and ready for use.

Slide a paddle blade into the dedicated blade sleeve on each of the sponsons. Place the paddle shaft under the center thwart -- the tube running between the canoe sides -- so the float-covered blade extends out over the water perpendicular to the canoe.

Slide another paddle blade into the other sponson and place the shaft in the opposite direction of the other paddle. The canoe now has two outrigger sponsons extending out to the sides of the boat, giving it more stability.

Items you will need

  • Two Sponson bladders -- available at kayak and canoe retailers
  • Extra paddles (optional)
  • Nylon rigging straps

Tip

  • Use the nylon straps to attach the sponsons directly to the side of the canoe if you do not want to have outriggers extending out as far as with the paddles.

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Photo Credits

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