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Owning a canoe while living in a city, apartment, condo or high-rise

Glenn MacGrady

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Alwin, our (osmotically) Paddling Dutchman, described how he hoists his canoe onto his third story balcony using poles and pulleys. This got me thinking about how one can store and work on a canoe when living in a city, or in an apartment, condo or high-rise building, where you have little personal space.

I had friend who had several canoes who moved to a condo on the Connecticut River. He convinced the condo association to build a canoe rack on the common grounds—and maybe he paid for most of it, I forget—a rack on which he ended up being the only user. Another condo dweller I know rents a commercial storage locker to store pack canoes and kayaks.

When I used to visit and stay in my daughter's condo in Florida for extended periods, I just used to keep my canoes on my van the entire time.

Do you have any personal experiences or stories and solutions re this type of canoe storage space issue?
 
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In some cities there are canoe clubs (or clubs for other watercraft...sailboats etc.) where storage is available.

Regular storage units in major cities (and probably smaller ones) are far too expensive for this sort of thing
 
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I visited the Sebago canoe club in Brooklyn NY on a kayak trip with the AMC years ago. They had water front property into I think Jamaica Bay. Club house with a wood burning stove and a few huge cargo trailers locked up with dozens of boats. The property was also gated. I think NYC had rebuilt their boat dock as part of the NYC parks. Forgot the member cost. Very nice folks walked us around. If I lived near there I’d join them to store my boats.
 

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A friend in the early 1970’s bought a new 17’ Grumman and kept it outside year around on top of his compact car, his only available storage spot. This went on for at least several years. And in an urban area between Milwaukee and Chicago.
 
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Perish the thought, and condolences to those who live in such circumstances!
 
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“Do you have any personal experiences or stories and solutions re this type of canoe storage space issue?”

I have been trying to winnow down on our seldom used boats, letting go of stuff that just doesn’t get wet often enough, so we have storage slots beyond our own boats; plenty of room at the inn. So much room that friend’s boats have, from time to time, lived here on long-term storage. Think years.

In some cities there are canoe clubs (or clubs for other watercraft...sailboats etc.) where storage is available

For what I suspect will be the weight of Pegaso storing it some near paddle-able waters, or least within portage cart hauling distance would be an advantage.

Alwin, are there any water bodies in driving convenience with facilities to leave a canoe secured near the water? Or maybe a friend’s backyard?

A waterfront canoe club facility would be even better. The best $15 bucks a year I ever spent on paddling was a Canoe Club membership. Two $15 dollar memberships actually; there were once 5 canoe clubs within an hour’s drive of my home, each with a slightly different nature and focus. I didn’t really fit into the mold of any of them, but I learned a lot, and poached some members as great paddling friends.

Are there any local Canoe Clubs near Groningen, even if they are more slalom or race-based?

Even if racer-types those folks will know paddling, local waters and boats. I bought, sold and traded at least a dozen canoes through canoe club members.
 
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I'm in Toronto, and facing the same problem. there are a number of clubs or canoe shops that have canoe storage, but all are full. Anybody know of canoe storage available in Toronto?

One thing I'm considering is renting a storage unit, building a canoe rack in it and finding other people who want to store their canoe to split the cost. A 10 x 20 storage unit could store about 10 canoes I figure.
 
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I'm in Toronto, and facing the same problem. there are a number of clubs or canoe shops that have canoe storage, but all are full. Anybody know of canoe storage available in Toronto?

One thing I'm considering is renting a storage unit, building a canoe rack in it and finding other people who want to store their canoe to split the cost. A 10 x 20 storage unit could store about 10 canoes I figure.
Interesting idea, will the storage facility allow that? Things could go sideways quickly with your subletters having access to all boats. It could become a more lucrative option for the storage facility to set up a unit for that purpose, but they would control access rather than you having to be a gate keeper or allow everyone access to all the boats.
 
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Interesting idea, will the storage facility allow that? Things could go sideways quickly with your subletters having access to all boats. It could become a more lucrative option for the storage facility to set up a unit for that purpose, but they would control access rather than you having to be a gate keeper or allow everyone access to all the boats.
I don't see why the storage facility would mind, as long as the rack(s) were free standing, but I would have to ask. Your point about subletters is a good one, I'd have to think that through. Also presenting the canoe storage idea to storage facilities is interesting, I might try that, thanks!
 
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I don't see why the storage facility would mind, as long as the rack(s) were free standing, but I would have to ask. Your point about subletters is a good one, I'd have to think that through. Also presenting the canoe storage idea to storage facilities is interesting, I might try that, thanks!
Good luck, I hope you find a workable solution!
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I'm in Toronto, and facing the same problem.

PaulN, let me take this opportunity to welcome you to site membership! Please feel free to continue asking any other questions or to post messages, photos and videos in our many canoe-related forums. We look forward to your contributions to our community.
 
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I'm in Toronto, and facing the same problem. there are a number of clubs or canoe shops that have canoe storage, but all are full. Anybody know of canoe storage available in Toronto?

One thing I'm considering is renting a storage unit, building a canoe rack in it and finding other people who want to store their canoe to split the cost. A 10 x 20 storage unit could store about 10 canoes I figure.

It's really tough to find space here in T.O., a self-storage (Public Storage or similar) will run a LOT of money, a 10 x 20 is probably 5 - 6,000/year

I just had a quick look on Kijiji, not a lot of private garages but there are some. Nice deal on a large garage in St Catherines! You might have better luck somewhere outside the city, any garages for rent in town will be very expensive. Downside of a private rental is that you can get the boot at any time.

FYI - My garage has 7 boats in it, no more room.......sorry!
 
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For a number of years (before getting married and buying a house) I lived in an apartment in the suburbs with no place to store my Sawyer Autumn Mist. At the time, I had to keep the canoe at my parents' house, more than an hour away (in the wrong direction). I had no problem with all my gear; I rented a storage room near my apartment (with 24/7 access) and would just get what I needed on the way out of town. Storing the canoe there was not an option, so I decided to try to find a place in the ADKs (where I did 95% of my trips). A lot of the trips were in the central and northwest ADKS and I often would stop in Long Lake and have breakfast in the diner there before heading into the backcountry. One time, in a conversation with a waitress, I raised the problem I was facing. She suggested I speak with the people who owned the Long Lake Marina about storing it there and gave me their names. I went to the marina and spoke with them about it and they suggested storing the canoe in their barn instead of the marina, because it was more convenient (right on the way into town). The arrangement was that I would call them a couple of days before my planned trip to let them know I was coming. When I arrived at their place, I would walk around the back of their house and the canoe would be on sawhorses ready for me to take. After the trip, I would return it there and they would put it back into the barn. In the off-season, it would be stored in their barn. The charge for all this was $100/year. They were so great and charged me so little, that I would always pickup some pastries for them from the Italian pastry shop near me and leave it on their porch. They were also instrumental in getting the cover for the canoe - I ordered the kit from CCS and they found someone who fit and installed it for me. After I moved into the house, I ended up taking the canoe there. However, I continued to drop off those pastries on my way through Long Lake. One time, on my first trip of the season, I arrived there and noticed that the house looked abandoned. Unfortuantely, I never did find out what happened. I will never forget how easy they made it for me to take the many trips I did in the Adirondacks and will always be grateful for their kindness and generosity.
 
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I had a year long job just outside of Sacramento and we lived in a two bedroom Condo, We bought an Old town Disco and kept it in the second bed room. The only way we could get it in and out was through the window.
That was in our previous life when we were both strong. Now weI would need some assistance from a friendly crane operator!
Jack L
 
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Trailblazer, that is wonderful. $100 a year and pastries is a bargain, and the stuff of which memories are made.

An unused or unfilled private barn or garage or marina storage would be ideal, especially if near/en route to paddling destinations. Even lacking fortune-of-fate waitress recommendations, or asking at a waterside marina, a “Want to rent barn or outbuilding space to store a canoe” ad in a local paper might produce the desired results.

Seriously, just here at home, within sight, one ancient lady neighbor has an empty block-wall storage building, probably 15’ x 20’. My other neighbor topside of the hill raised beef cattle. He hasn’t had cows in a few years, and probably won’t again, but he has unused barns and sheds aplenty.

I don't see why the storage facility would mind, as long as the rack(s) were free standing, but I would have to ask. Your point about subletters is a good one, I'd have to think that through. Also presenting the canoe storage idea to storage facilities is interesting, I might try that, thanks!”

Maybe helpful along that line of thinking. The rental storage units I’ve used in the long-ago past were locked with a lessee’s padlock.

I have a lot of pad locks, all on the same key, a trick I learned from a wise friend. He had numerous outbuildings, in several States, all locked up with the same padlock key. He ordered them a dozen at a time, all keyed alike, from Master Lock. I got tired of having multiple “Not this one. . . .nope, not this one either. . . .” pad locks and keys, bought two at a time, and followed his example, eventually buying 24 of them, provided with 2X that identical keys.

Many of my paddling friends use that same padlock, or at least have the key, and that help-a-brother-out came in handy a time or two.

A storage unit of some kind, and a cherry-picked and trusted circle of friends storing their boat(s), each locked to a rack, each with the same lock/key chastity-belt padlocked entry door benefits, might work better than allowing someone else to control access.

Hell, on a down-river trip with friends only one shuttle driver would need to visit the storage locker and load two boats. “I’ll meet you at the take out to drop off your car. Bring donuts”

A storage locker, a freestanding canoe rack or two, a dozen keyed-alike padlocks and the right circle of access sharers might be just the urban dweller solution. Maybe some version of these, possibly with three sets of triple towered crossbars to take advantage of ceiling height, made wide enough for a three-by-three 9-canoe storage.

8’ foot tall sawhorse legs and crossbars would accommodate a three high by three wide stack. That’s a lotta boat storage rental cost to split.

PB211373 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I used this storage facility (not quite the same back then) 30 years ago to Tetris-pack furniture and home goods between houses; all units were ground level and drive up easy access.

https://www.selfstorageone.com/timonium-md

Damn, that place got a lot more Free coffee, free workroom, free fax and Wi-Fi enabled massage chair with surprise ending, 24-hour guarded and security gated frou-frou in the last 30 years. Much more expensive now too, like buying a gussied up $50,000 Ford pickup; I guess it is what the upscale market will bear.

Ground-level drive up access would matter for canoe storage ease on and off roof racking. And the depth of storage unit would matter for canoes. I think I rented the second smallest unit, 5’ wide x 10’ deep, with a very tall ceiling, hence the towering Tetris-packing that required a step ladder; everything was getting stuffed into every available inch of space once, and coming out once. The U-haul was packed in the same Tetris-style.

For shared multi-canoe storage something at least 16’ or 18’ deep would be beneficial. With the right urban paddler cohort I can see a communal storage locker having value. But probably not at 5K a year rent, even if that was 4K US.
 
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A couple of years ago, While passing through the area, I stopped in at Rutabaga Paddlesports in Madison Wisconsin. They are situated on a canal which leads to a good sized lake, perfect for test paddles. Right next door to them is a high rise apartment building. I got a kick out of seeing a number of the lower level units (nothing above the third floor) with smaller kayaks on pulley systems off their balconies so that they could lower them down to the ground.

A little closer to home (Dayton, Ohio), We have 3 rivers and a smaller creek that come together in our downtown. During the cities peak, we had 5 "Fortune 500" world headquarters downtown. In the 10 years leading up to the "Great Recession", they all left Dayton......In an effort to survive and re-invent itself, the city and parks district tried to put more emphasis on the rivers for living and recreation. Apartments downtown now have a 98% occupancy rate with more on the way. Homes and condos don't last more than 24 hours on the local listings. With the popularity of paddlesports, particularly SUP's and kayaks in my area, I am shocked that none of the downtown apt.s....particularly the riverfront ones, have no storage available for boats.....The Metropark has talked about putting in rental lockers at a couple of the downtown parks, particularly near the whitewater play areas, but that hasn't happened yet. One park downtown, "Riverscape" , they recently installed some canoe/kayak racks at the street, to allow for someone to temporarily store their boat while they drop off/retrieve their car....you then pull to the curb, put your flashers on, unload/load your boat, and go. Another park further upstream, used to have seasonal lockers you could rent, but they were probably about 20 years ahead before the kayak/SUP craze and were removed to lack of use....Our "Dayton Canoe Club" has about 120 or so lockers for rent to members, they are all full with a waiting list.....many filled with kayaks.....

Mike
 
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Sorry, I don't have much useful to add, only a quip from guidebook author Roger Corbett that I found amusing. When I knew him, Corbett lived in a suburban townhouse with no place to store his Mohawk Intrepid, so it lived permanently on his van. I once asked him if he was concerned about UV degradation with the boat out in the sun all the time. He looked at me wryly and said, "no, I wear the bottom out before that's a problem." He did paddle a lot.
 
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I'm in Toronto, and facing the same problem. there are a number of clubs or canoe shops that have canoe storage, but all are full. Anybody know of canoe storage available in Toronto?

One thing I'm considering is renting a storage unit, building a canoe rack in it and finding other people who want to store their canoe to split the cost. A 10 x 20 storage unit could store about 10 canoes I figure.
Hey Paul,

I’m in Toronto and am facing the same issue. If you’re still interested in this, perhaps we can get in touch offline and try and find a solution?


Cheers
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I’m in Toronto and am facing the same issue.

Welcome to site membership, Jfpaddler!

Feel free to ask any questions on this site, in addition to the issue posed in this thread, and to post any messages, photos and videos in our many canoe-related forums. We look forward to your participation in our community.
 
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