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We launched from the beach and set a leisurely course out into a slight breeze. After a couple of hours I finally got a positive response out of her when she finally turned around for a photo op with a smile, she had me worried for a while, thought I was going to be a solo paddler. Sunday morning gave us another opportunity to paddle, so we made a quick trip to Morro Bay and spent the next six hours making a giant loop inside the bay.
We were both amazed at the super positive experience we were having in this light weight, straight tracking canoe. We can't wait to get back on the water and become a bit more accomplished with our paddling technique. The great thing about this is that it will keep us off the couch and give us a whole new perspective from the water rather than the shore.
We both give this canoe our highest recommendation. We like her so much we just gave her a name, she will be forever known as the "Molly Dellis", she is named after the Native American actress and dancer who was born on the Penobscot reservation in Maine.
Thank you Old Town.
I've owned the royalex layup for more than 11 years, and I grow to love this canoe more and more every year. It's incredibly durable, yet lightweight enough to not be a back breaker on portages. The fit and finish is nice, even the molded grab handles are comfortable. Its primary stability is a little touchier than some other boats, but it makes up for it in performance.
It tracks well on flat water, so it's a good choice if you are looking for a versatile canoe. It's built for tandem, but a child or a dog can ride along in the middle, too. I store my Penobscot in a storage shed to keep it out of direct sunlight. No other maintenance seems to be needed. It's ready to go when I am.
This canoe holds up to the Old Town reputation. I gave it a 10, because it it does what it is designed to do.
It is faster than most 16' boats, and handles very well with a full load when properly trimmed. I have the royalex version, which is very light and tough, making portages relatively easy while standing up well to rocks and other abuse.
Obviously, there are specialty boats that are better for specific pursuits and conditions, but for an all around, general purpose boat that you can safely and comfortably use for camping, cruising, river running, and fishing under a wide range of conditions, the Penobscot 16 is worth serious consideration.
Cons: noisy metal gunwales & some ugly crimping out of shape along gunwales. Some oilpanning, more than other RX canoes like Bell Nwind. At portage it feels heavier that it is, not balanced well?
Pros: loud metal gunwales good for alerting downstream grizzly bears? symmetrical design means it can be maneuvered, used in back ferry, flipped around for solo paddling. Real good freeboard & carry capacity. A stable boat.
Main pro is the low weight. At 60 lbs, I can easily put it over my head and load it onto my van or carry it for a long distance. The ride is so smooth in the water. If a rock is hit, often you can feel the Royalex bend over the rock and slide right off with little worries.
I will say it is a bit tippy, but keeping gear and butts centered will keep it from tipping over. All tip overs have resulted from unseen monster logs underwater with too much water suction for any canoe to avoid. I've replaced seats, added skid plates, but after hundreds of trips - I'd have assumed more wear and tear.
I ran this solo on the Colorado in May (Ruby/Horsethief section). Fast flowing water and high volume (volume nearly doubled in one day!). Can't imagine a better boat to do this in! Expedition capable all the way. Had it loaded with gear and it was super stable, very responsive (after a couple of gear position/weight tweaks).
Handled Class II extremely well!
I also put this canoe on the lake, both tandem and solo. Again, stable and responsive! If you're doing any advanced level of canoeing - especially multi-day River, this IS the canoe.
Thanks Old Town!
Like I said, a versatile boat, maybe not the best at any one thing, but capable. If I only owned one canoe (heaven forbid), this would be the one.
My initial impression of the boat is a good one. We plan to river run it in a couple of weeks & I hope to find it equally impressive in a river.
In order to help us with weight distribution due to a significant size disparity between myself and my wife, I've also modified the seats, moving one and lowering both. I had written to Old Town about our size difference and they suggested paddling one of their symmetrical canoes (which the Penobscot is) backwards. In other words, have the heaviest person (me in this case) sit in the bow seat facing the wrong way, and the lightest person sit in the stern seat facing the wrong way. This brings me and all my weight closer to the center of the boat. It does leave the lighter person with very little leg room. For which they suggested moving that stern seat in towards the middle of the boat to allow enough leg room. This required the purchase of a new seat, which had to be cut down to fit, as well as drilling a set of holes in the gunwales. By moving the seat back one seat length, I was able to use one existing set of gunwale holes and still create adequate leg room for my wife. While I was moving the seat, I also purchased 4" hangers to replace my stock ones. The Penobscot seats were pretty low to begin with, so this only brought them down about another inch. But it was still noticeable. The lower I can get my center of gravity, the steadier the canoe feels. I'd kneel like the pros do it, but at my size, my knees just can't take it for very long. I'm not especially handy, but this turned out to be a really simple operation.
Picking the right boat for your intended use is important. This is the boat we take when looking to go far, or fast, or on choppy water. For a nice multi-purpose recreational canoe, the Penobscot 16 rx has been a great choice for us.
Pros: Fast, Straight tracking, Maneuverable, Easy to modify
Cons: slightly "tippy"
It occurred to me that this style of paddling is much closer to double-bladed kayak paddling than my normal canoe paddling approach, which got me to thinking about the possible advantage of using a double-blade paddle when canoeing solo. I don't think I would try it in rapids, but for flat-water cruising, the double blade might make a lot of sense. Aesthetically, I will have a hard time putting aside my classic Old Town wood paddle for a plastic and aluminum job, but the advantages might be worth it. The next time I go on a solo trip, I will probably rent a double-bladed paddle (maybe two in different lengths) and give it a test.
By the way, I was impressed with the Penobscot as a solo boat. (We have mostly used it as a tandem in the past.) I was carrying lots of gear and sat in the bow seat facing the stern so as to be closer to the center of the boat. In this position I was able to arrange my gear to achieve good front-to-back trim. The Penobscot is perfectly symmetrical, so the bow angle is the same facing forwards or back. With a sharp bow entry and a somewhat narrow beam, the Penobscot is a swift canoe, and the narrower profile helped with my reach across the gunnels when paddling. At 58 pounds in Roylex, the Penobscot is a tough boat but easy for one person to handle on land. With the Penobscot configured this way, and paddling on both sides, I was running about as fast as the tandem canoes I encountered on the river, and I was able to maintain good progress even when paddling into stiff upriver winds.
I wanted a nice "work horse" canoe that offered good handling, decent performance and would work well under a broad variety of uses…our use is flat water family fun about 50% (2 adults, with or without 2 kids); and 50% mild whitewater (C1-C2) day trips and 1-2 day overnighters – typically WW is solo or tandem.
I wanted the Royalex hull for sturdiness and weight – I think this hull is 25 years old and it's still kicking! Also, getting older, no canoe ever gets lighter with advancing age. I would strongly recommend that you consider this... weight is a key factor to consider if you don't have a home on the water and your own dock. Think about this when you look at similar models in other hull materials that weigh in at 85+ #. We also have a nice Kevlar canoe... but needed something for rocks and dragging... the Royalex delivers here. I need to add Kevlar strips to bow and stern – or beat my kids more so they will lift/not drag to shore.
The Penobscot offers a blend of hull features that does a lot of "canoe work" well. It is not perhaps the best canoe for any one thing, but a hull that gives you access to the entire range of beginner/intermediate canoeing. I did want some keel/v shape for tracking and also for leaning a bit... this put the OT Discovery model out of the running. Not throwing stones, but the initial stability of a pure flat hull can be quickly "out grown" and the option to put a bit of a lean into your style gives you more paddling options than a wide flat hull.
Our other canoe is a light weight Kevlar solo/tandem 14'... and is of course limited in load carrying. For families, overnight trips, or having more that two on a canoe…go at least 16'. I have found that solo this hull is "light" if empty... a water bag filled with some river water or some gear used for ballast/balance makes the "big P" a good solid handling solo hull (person & gear say 250-300# minimum).
I can't say this is a perfect model for everyone... but it is the best "station wagon" IMP. Best guide is to consider your honest loading requirements and range of use when considering any canoe.
I kept hearing good things about the Penobscot's. Seeing a good deal at a sporting warehouse. I snatched up a red one with aluminum gunnels. I have since had it back on the Clarion River and have also paddled a calm part of the Youghighaney several times. I love paddling it solo, kneeling just in front of the kneeling thwart. When you heel it over it more or less gives it the foot print of about a 12 foot boat and turns very easily.
I love it and look forward to enjoying for years. Maybe I will get to tow an 8 year old behind me.
When alone I can heel it over almost on it's outwale with great predictability. I find it quite stable. I can stand while paddling without difficulty. I find it a little challenge on open water to keep it tracking straight but the trade off for all else that the canoe is, is worth it. In royalex it's lighter than my friends Mad River Explorer in royalex, and doesn't oil can like his does.
For the price you'll be hard pressed to find a better all-round boat.
It worked pretty well for my son and me on the Moose River-Attean Lake "bow trip" and on the West Branch of the Penobscot River/Chesuncook Lake trip (calm water, fortunately) several years ago. This summer ('07) my wife and I paddled it on Moosehead Lake, a huge body of water, and I was a little unnerved by the small length (16') and the big waves. For such conditions, a larger tandem is better.
A retired desk worker in my late 60's, I wanted a craft under 60 lbs.. Lifting it up by myself to portage it is not as easy as it once was (damn it); my next canoe will be Kevlar. I had also wanted to learn to handle rapids, and thus a Royalex canoe; but running rapids at my age and experience is more and more distant. My wife likes kayaks; I don't. So my next canoe will be a fast and light solo. I rated it 7 based only on my own situation and experience.
In brief, a good tandem but not a particularly good solo, but a big improvement over my previous canoe, a 17' Grumman.
The boat is as fast as a Mad River Malecite; it oil cans less than a Wenonah Adirondack; it works GREAT with a kid when paddled backwards from the bow seat; paddled solo, it outruns an Old Town Pathfinder with two paddlers... all of these are experimental results. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.
My other boat is a 'glass Sawyer Cruiser, and it is in a different class speed-wise, but when we go somewhere we haven't been before, or for any kind of questionable condition, the Penobscot gets the nod. It sounds cliché, but if you can have only one boat to do everything...
I give it high marks for the following: (i) ruggedness, (ii) versatility (tandem or solo), (iii) weight (58 lb is light for a royalex boat this size), (iv) load capacity (easily handles multi-night trips), (v) good bang for buck (reasonably priced). Only two minor complaints: (i) the hull scratches easily, and (ii) the boat is difficult to handle when paddling it solo in windy conditions (this should not be an issue when paddling tandem, and might be less of an issue when paddling solo if the boat is heavily loaded). As a shorter 16 ft tandem, I think this boat would be ideal for one adult paddling with a child on day trips or over-niters of a few nites or even a week.
This boat has pretty good speed and I can keep up with most royalex boats of the same size even while I am soloing and they are tandem-paddled. However, this boat will not paddle as fast as the stream-lined kevlar boats of 16-17 foot length. At a boat weight of 58 lbs, I am able to load and unload it on my car by myself.
The boat is stable, light, keeps up with everybody in the flats, tracks well, turns much better than we expected, and hauls a lot. I was very pleased with the responsiveness.(kept saying "I love this boat!") A light touch and a little lean gets you a good result. We had less than a canoe length between rocks and little water to work with and the boat handled easily and kept us dry. The biggest standing wave train was 18"-20"(not very big), so we'll heed the cautions about big waves.
We noticed that wind affects tracking, but after shifting the load a bit we had no problems. Some of the rivers we paddle get strong,sustained crosswinds(25-30mph)so all of the boats were affected.(Except for our friends' Smokercraft which is solid as a waterbuffalo and just as heavy)
I am pleasantly surprised by the versatility and feel of the boat. Royalex is lovely stuff. We haven't been careful, but you can't tell by looking. A really nice canoe!
At one time I sailed chestnut prospector type canoes. One of my future projects is to rig the penobscot for sailing. I have the feeling because of it's dryness that it will make an excellent sailing canoe as well. Value wise this is the ultimate all around family, cottage, or short wilderness tripping canoe! If you have special usage such as whitewater or high volume you should look at a different design. Anything else and the penobscot is THE canoe (unless you are rich). This canoe has a good design and is the most resilient and lightest weight canoe in it's price rage.
It is NOT a heavy whitewater boat, and does not handle large standing waves particularly well, since it has little rocker.
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