Submitted: 01-22-2001 by Tim
My father introduced me to paddling at a young age. We paddled many different types of waterways from the Atlantic Ocean to the Suwannee River in my home state of Florida. As I got older, we raced together occasionally and I really developed a love for paddling. Now that I'm an adult I still love to paddle and race canoes. Because it is hard to find consistent partners I race mostly solo canoes or what is known as C1 boats in the marathon canoe racing world. I also love to fish and about 2 years ago I got the idea to fish from a canoe instead of the motorized aluminum john boat I had at the time.
Many of my fishing trips are to Cedar Key, a small fishing town along the Big Bend section of the Gulf Coast. This territory has a lot of good fishing near oyster bars surrounded by shallow areas that are tough to navigate with outboard motors. The idea of using a canoe to get around these shallows, in stealth mode, seemed like a good one. Because my solo racing canoe (a We-no-nah SSS-J202 at the time) would be much too unstable, I looked for a recreational type version that would still be efficient at cutting through the water. The We-no-nah Advantage fits these requirements perfectly.
At 16'-6" in length and 29.5" wide the We-no-nah Advantage is compact enough for one person to easily handle loading and unloading from the transport vehicle. Due to the narrow hulls and gunwales at the paddlers position in racing canoes, I'm accustomed to keeping the paddle shaft almost vertical and the blade in tight to the hull. Because of this, the 22.5" center gunwale width suits me well. I think most others would find this desirable since it can become quite tiresome when bringing the paddle out far to clear the gunwales. The tumblehome which creates the narrow gunwales also makes for a very attractive shape. This hull looks as good as it moves through the water!
The other feature of the Advantage which translates well from my racing boat is the seat. It is horizontally adjustable in order to trim the boat and is of, what many call, the "tractor" style. These formed seats do a much better job, I feel, of supporting the posterior than the flat bench style ones. I always line my seats with three layers of ½" thick foam used for camping pads for even more comfort. It can be applied with waterproof contact cement. I have been comfortable sitting in the boat on day-long fishing trips.
The Advantage is very stable for me. Because I wanted to use it for fishing, this was a major consideration. Part of the reason why this canoe may feel this way to me is my experience with racing boats which are capable of going over with the slightest error. I would urge other, less experienced paddlers, to compare this boat with other models such as the We-no-nah Prism or Solitude. I have never paddled one of these canoes personally but I'm certain they are even more tip-free due to their greater widths. The trade off, however, is efficiency and speed! The Advantage was originally designed for racing. Its heritage is evident. The We-no-nah J-200 I currently own is certainly faster but not by much. I can maintain about 90% of the J-200 speed in the Advantage. The reduced effort needed to paddle the boat around makes for a much more pleasant day of fishing. I believe that most people would soon acquire a good feeling in this canoe and in the end, fall in love with the ease in which it moves across the water.
My boat is of the Ultra-light Tuf-weave version and weighs about 43 lb. My original thinking for choosing this lay-up was for value. Tuf-weave is We-no-nah's 50/50 composite of polyester and fiberglass fabrics. It provides a good strong hull at a lower cost than graphite and Kevlar. While I'm happy with my decision, my goal is to some day purchase an Ultra-light Graphite model at 28 lb. The lighter weight will make it even easier to transport and even faster on the water, making a fine canoe even better.