BRINGING AN OLD CANOE BACK TO LIFE
Living so close to the Murray River, I had always wanted a canoe or kayak to take out fishing and find secluded, out of the way, fishing spots. But every time I got a few bucks saved, something else seemed to take priority, the car breaking down, my wife wanting to renovate the bathroom, then kids came along and the seemingly endless outgoings.
One of my mates came over from Melbourne who had just bought a 14-footer. We took it out down the river and spent a couple of days canoe fishing and I was hooked. I knew I had to get the money together to buy one.
By pure chance, the following week I was taking an old washing machine down to the local junkyard, and standing there, propped up against the wall was a 16-foot canoe. It needed plenty of love and care to bring it back to life, but everything was intact. The oars were there as well, by some bizarre twist of fate.
I couldn’t believe my luck. I couldn’t understand why someone had just thrown out a $2000 bit of gear. But I wasn’t complaining. I threw it on top of the four-by with the help of a couple of other blokes and whisked it home as quickly as I could.
I spent over two hours cleaning the bottom. It was caked in mould and clearly hadn’t been used in an age. After wiping the inside down to shift the settled layer of dust and a few spiders that had set up residence, it was ready to go.
I got online and bought a life jacket for my son and some wheels so I would be able to get it to the nearest ramp. Then I loaded her up the following weekend, threw the wheels in the back and set off for the water.
The launch went well and my boy was surprisingly adept at grasping the concept of paddling. There were some weight distribution issues, due to me being quite a bit heavier than him. Also, neither seat was positioned near the centre-line, so using it as a solo fishing vessel would be difficult. I needed to buy a removable seat.
I found a removable seat easily enough on the internet, which could be attached to any part of the canoe. The following voyages went much more smoothly with a completely balanced canoe.
I set about turning her into a vessel worthy of canoe fishing. I bought some rod holders, an anchor, under-seat containers for tackle, a double paddle and an esky to get her ready for fishing.
The maiden voyage saw me chasing fish and was a roaring success. The double paddle was a bit of a learning curve, and I’m sure I looked rather precarious setting off from the ramp with all my gear, trying to get the hang of the double paddle. It must have been quite a sight. But I managed to keep the canoe upright, and more or less head in the direction I intended to go.
Now, most weekends feature some time spent on the river, whether with my son exploring the area or by myself doing some sunrise fishing. I love peacefully sitting on the water and still can’t believe my find.
What do you think? Do you have any experience with restoring old canoes? Was this just a lucky find? Where to find them? Share your thoughts and advice through the comments section below.