Submitted: 10-13-2010 by birren
As a dedicated solo canoeist - I have a Wenonah Prism, a Bell Wildfire, a Bell Yellowstone Solo, and a Mad River Independence - I was curious about the Argosy. I recently test-paddled one and to my surprise found a very lively boat - actually, a little too much so for my liking. Initial stability is moderate to low, much like the Yellowstone Solo; but unlike the YS, secondary stability is excellent, even with the Prism-type tumblehome. And its responsiveness to paddler input is extremely high. I paddled the Tuf-Weave layup and it seemed plenty rigid, with none of the oil-canning another reviewer mentioned.
I quickly learned that it must be leaned to track with any degree of ease, and like my other solo boats, the more it's leaned the easier it is to track. Using both Canadian strokes (in-water recovery) and a combination of C-, J- and pitch strokes, I managed to overcome the excessive bow rocker (2-1/4").
After finally getting it to go straight, I did some freestyle moves like box strokes, gimbles, posts, axles, and sideslips, as well as paddling backwards. Aside from being overly responsive to weight shifts, it seemed very agile, almost "squirrely." I also found that its fairly tall ends make it quite sensitive to wind.
What bothered me about the Argosy is its stability. It goes from extremely tippy to extremely stable with a very noticeable lack of transition between the two. It was easy to find the limit of secondary stability because the boat fairly bounces back, but there is no "sweet spot" as in the Wildfire and Independence. Those two boats will hold a lean angle precisely as asked; the Argosy is very unstable until leaned to nearly its limit. This makes for an unpredictable boat that is ill-suited to being paddled flat and is rather uncooperative with only a moderate angle of heel.
Wenonah's write-up is accurate, except I can't recommend the Argosy for rivers wider than about 30 feet or where wind is likely to be an issue. It reminded me most of a Bell Wildfire but with less initial stability. In my view, Wenonah should market the Argosy as a freestyle solo because it's unsuited to any other purpose.