1986 Old Town Discovery 158 - My Canoe

This is our family's boat. We've owned it for approximately 6 weeks. Until that time, we either rented or borrowed a friend's. While planning our most recent trip to the BWCA, my friend Diggity suggested that we search craigslist for a boat to buy versus renting for the trip. We needed two boats for five people & we planned on doing more  paddling in the future. 

Two days later, we were in the car racing over to Stillwater to pickup the Old Town Discovery 158. We'd found what we were looking for.  When you're searching Craigslist for a canoe, be ready to go look at it/pay immediately. All of the good boats vanish quickly. We were lucky enough to find ours for $400 with some Old Town Scout paddles. They are a little too long for us but that's something to fix another time. 

Here it is: 

Old-town-discovery-158-side-view-golden-valley-minnesota

The most important thing about this boat was that it is red, according to my wife at least. She is correct in many ways. There is something about a red canoe. They even write children's books on it. 

This boat is 15 feet 8 inches long. The perfect length between lake and river use. It has a width of 35.5" and a total carrying capicity of 1,100lbs. More than enough room for a big base-camping trip with a family of 3 if you pack the boat correctly. Plus it turns pretty quickly. 

The previous owners had wrapped the handle with nylon cord. We're not sure why but it makes the hand hold a little easier. We need to make a leash for tying up when going a shore. 

The previous owners had wrapped the handle with nylon cord. We're not sure why but it makes the hand hold a little easier. We need to make a leash for tying up when going a shore. 

This boat is from 1986. Bucket seats were all the rage I'm told. This boat currently has them but it's on the list of things to replace. Webbed seats will make the seat cooler, faster drying, more comfortable, easier to attach a Crazy Creek/Granite Gear under seat bag, and will lower the seated position at the same time. That will make the stability of the boat and paddle position better. At $40-50/seat plus hardware, it's not too expensive for all those benefits. That's what other owners of these boats have advocated for a better feel.

This boat is from 1986. Bucket seats were all the rage I'm told. This boat currently has them but it's on the list of things to replace. Webbed seats will make the seat cooler, faster drying, more comfortable, easier to attach a Crazy Creek/Granite Gear under seat bag, and will lower the seated position at the same time. That will make the stability of the boat and paddle position better. At $40-50/seat plus hardware, it's not too expensive for all those benefits. That's what other owners of these boats have advocated for a better feel.

The boat did not come with portage pads to begin with so I made a trip to visit Midwest Mountaineering to check out their selection. The sheer weight of my boat (~87lbs), because of this, I wanted something big and padded. That's how I ended up with Superior Portage Pads product. They had the right amount of density for my liking. Not too mushy with a little firmness for control. They also seamed like they would stay a little drier with the cover material they chose. Not bad for $35. I also enjoyed that they were bolt around the yoke versus having to drill. That gives me extra piece of mind that I didn't mess up drilling the yoke on the canoe compromising its strength. I am thinking I will saw down the bolts a little bit to make their profile on the underside of the yoke to be narrower. There was a few times on our most recent paddling trip where I was slipping the day pack up to my son and it got caught on the extra length of the bolts. I will definitely follow up if I decide to modify them. 

The boat did not come with portage pads to begin with so I made a trip to visit Midwest Mountaineering to check out their selection. The sheer weight of my boat (~87lbs), because of this, I wanted something big and padded. That's how I ended up with Superior Portage Pads product. They had the right amount of density for my liking. Not too mushy with a little firmness for control. They also seamed like they would stay a little drier with the cover material they chose. Not bad for $35. I also enjoyed that they were bolt around the yoke versus having to drill. That gives me extra piece of mind that I didn't mess up drilling the yoke on the canoe compromising its strength. I am thinking I will saw down the bolts a little bit to make their profile on the underside of the yoke to be narrower. There was a few times on our most recent paddling trip where I was slipping the day pack up to my son and it got caught on the extra length of the bolts. I will definitely follow up if I decide to modify them. 

One of the main reasons we were drawn to this boat (besides being red) was the material it is made out of. It is Old Town's Three Layer Polyethylene. For the most part, this boat is indestructible. We wanted to be able to do both Rivers & Lake paddling. This material gives us the leeway to do that. It's also a little easier to repair if /when we need to. As you can see from the image, this boat has been well used over the past 30 years and is still in very usable condition. There is also a little fade in the hull caused by the sun. I plan on applying some 303 UV protective spray to bring back some shine and prevent further fading. An annual treatment is said to be good for the life of the hull. 

One of the main reasons we were drawn to this boat (besides being red) was the material it is made out of. It is Old Town's Three Layer Polyethylene. For the most part, this boat is indestructible. We wanted to be able to do both Rivers & Lake paddling. This material gives us the leeway to do that. It's also a little easier to repair if /when we need to. As you can see from the image, this boat has been well used over the past 30 years and is still in very usable condition. There is also a little fade in the hull caused by the sun. I plan on applying some 303 UV protective spray to bring back some shine and prevent further fading. An annual treatment is said to be good for the life of the hull. 

Paddling with my son in the BWCA. We definitely tried to have all the packs closer to him to balance out the boat. He also enjoyed getting to sit in an actual seat versus duffying it in the middle of the canoe.  

Paddling with my son in the BWCA. We definitely tried to have all the packs closer to him to balance out the boat. He also enjoyed getting to sit in an actual seat versus duffying it in the middle of the canoe.  

portaging-canoe-gaskin-winchell-portage-bwca-old-town-discovery-minnesota.jpg

Balancing on a log is surprisingly easier with a canoe on your head.

As mentioned above, my canoe weights around 87lb. Making it quite heavy. Luckily I am still relatively young and strong. So portaging this boat is fine for the time being. On this particular trip I was the only one strong enough to portage both canoes (the other was an Old Town Discovery 164 @~76lbs) so I was sometimes doing 600rods a day. As we move towards more campsite moving trip, the allure of a Kevlar is enticing. 

That's my boat for the time being. I will keep updating this post as we make adjustments to the ship throughout the years. This will not be my last canoe but I think we'll own this boat for a long time for river fun.