I bought a lightly used LL bean version of this boat a few years back in order to have a "do all" boat for fishing lakes, ponds and rivers that donít have ramp access. I just returned from a 5 day trip into ME with the boat where we did just that and figured Iíd finally share my thoughts.
Iíll echo the others and say that the width and weight of this boat makes it unfriendly for solo use and itís even a handful for two paddlers. Itís a lot of boat. It will move decent under paddle but your going to have a sore back if your covering even a mile or so of water. We use the paddles for positioning only and even then have gone to a electric trolling motor (hung off a home built side motor mount since there is only room for one motor on the transom). A 40# electric motor will scoot this rig along faster than you could paddle or row it anyway. As for an outboard: when loaded down with 650-700# of people, gear, motor etc, the boat will do an honest 12.5 MPH with a 5hp 2 stroke. Lose some weight and trim the boat correctly and that will go up into the upper teens easily . That said, I find anything over 10 mph "uncomfortable" in this "canoe". 1/2 throttle on the 5 will give me 8 mph and run 12-15 Mi on only a 1/2 gal of gas.
@ 114#, and 17'+, it is a handful but is car toppable and can still be carried/dragged over land and over some pretty steep banks with two guys. The trick to truck topping is to only lift one end at a time and slide it on /off the racks from the rear.
Iíve spent up to 6.5 hrs straight in this boat and never felt like it was unstable or overly cramped. (Even with the above mentioned load filling the boat.) Webbed seats are spacious and forgiving but a set of "sitbackers" helps for longer trips. One of the nice things about this boat is that the front and rear seats are spread far apart which gives you allot of room for swinging fishing rods, etc.
Polylink 3 does scratch but is pretty tough stuff. I have no issues about dragging it over stones, stairs gravel etc. Ah, the joys of plastic boat!
Summary:Okay...first off. NO. This is NOT a solo canoe. Did it claim to be a solo canoe anywhere? The THREE seats do give a nod to at least a tandem. So...as far as people saying it's not a solo canoe...well, okay...masters of the obvious... However, I wish I could give this boat a 20 as a rating, as it is the most amazing boat I have ever witnessed. I have motored it in big water (Lake Powell) using a 3.5 Nissan. Performs flawlessly...perfectly. So quiet. Floats loaded in about 3" of water. Goes places other boats fear. That we knew.
I think this makes a VG general purpose flatwater fishing platform for two people where portability /access is an issue. The boat is big enough for good comfort and plenty of room yet is reasonably portable and easily propelled by a 40-55# electric or 3-5hp outboard. All that said, if I planned on paddling this boat, even occasionally, I would look elsewhere.
What most don't realize is that this boat handles Class III water with the best of them. The ride is high, dry, and confident. No, it doesn't turn on a dime...more like a buck and a quarter..., and the square stern washes out sometimes on swift turns..., but if you pay attention and set up for the rapids like you would a drift boat or raft, it runs with Appalachians and Rogues...and comes out drier on the backend. No, we did not play in the hydrolics, but it was fully loaded with gear and performed well above it's purpose.
AND......as to it's durability. We high-sided at the end of three full sets of Class III+ rapids. Totally the paddlers' fault...hubris caught us as we prematurely celebrated our (almost) successful descent. The boat bent in half over the boulder...both bow and stern filled with water. The center seat broke and splintered... irretrevably pinned 5 miles into a 70 mile river trip. Z-drag...nothing. Found a leverage point upriver...got it out. Popped right back into shape. One gouge...no holes...went the remaining 65 miles without incident. There is no other canoe as far as I'm concerned. IF this one ever meets it's demise, I will buy another one the same day.