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Canoes are great for family outings in water and they are relatively easy to use even for children as young as 6yrs, (if accompanied by an adult). Paddling is quite simple and although it may feel tippy, canoes are really quite stable in the water. Make sure the adult is in the stern of the boat so he can steer and see what the other passengers are doing.
I would recommend painting it with a type of paint that would adhere to the material the canoe is made of whether that is aluminum, fiberglass, etc. My guess is that you have been leaving only half of the canoe in the sun, so when you store the canoe, either keep it in a shaded area or cover it with a tarp to keep the sun off.
When you are sitting in the boat and the blade is totally immersed, the top grip should be about shoulder high for general and touring use. For white water and more specialized paddling, a longer paddle, especially for the stern paddler, provides more reach and leverage for maneuvering the boat.
Here's a list of some of the other gear we would suggest: - A sturdy roof rack on your car (it will greatly reduce problems and add to your enjoyment). - Bow and stern tie-down lines - these are critical to the safe transport of your canoe when you are on the road. - A set of wheels to make getting your canoe to the water easier. - A bailer and sponge. - Padded canoe seats for longer journeys. - Dry bags to keep extra clothes and snacks protected from water coming in off your paddle, as well as from bow spray or rain.
Well-made aluminum canoes are rugged and most dents can be punched out. They are the ultimate no-maintenance canoe. Even when left outdoors all year, neither rain nor snow affects them and they will not take on weight with age. They are rigged with flotation air tanks or foam compartments to render them unsinkable. On the downside, aluminum canoes are noisy, tend to cling to (rather than glide over) rocks, and conduct heat and cold. Most aluminum canoes carry their beam well forward and aft so that they push rather than cut through the water. This hull design, however, makes them initially more stable and increases their carrying capacity.