Submitted: 06-28-2006 by Ian Malcolm
I purchased my royalex 18' Nova Craft Prospector in the spring of 2000 and have paddled it on lakes and whitewater rivers in Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan every year since then. The 1400 lb capacity and tracking of the Prospector shape make it an outstanding long-trip canoe, and the bonus is that, because it has no keel, it also handles with huge stability and surprising agility in white water. (In a following wind on big water, likeGeorgian Bay, the lack of a keel causes a certain slippage, but it's easy to compensate for.) I've fitted my canoe with skid plates and d-rings for centre & bow/stern flotation bags, so it works as a (big!) tandem playboat, and this year I purchased & installed a NorthWater spraydeck to make it a go-anywhere tripper. With the spraydeck, I've already run CIII - CIV rapids this year (for example, the Rollway Rapid on the Petawawa, run with a full load in medium high water without eddying) - result: minimum water taken in and phenomenal control throughout. The canoe's weight (84lb sans spraydeck) is an issue for a person accustomed to a lighter load, but I've carried mine nonstop for 2km with no need to set it down. The yoke (I chose the black cherry trim option) is exceptionally well-designed and supremely comfortable; much more so than the ash yoke in a friend's 17' Nova Craft Prospector. The only improvement I could imagine would be to own the same model in Nova Craft's Blue Steel option, for much less weight - though then I'd be worried about hull brittleness as opposed to the forgiving flexibility of royalex. Overall, an outstanding canoe.