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  Wenonah Argosy vs Wilderness
  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-21-12 10:57 AM (EST)
   Category: Canoes 

Looking for real world comparisons on these two boats.

Looking at an RX Argosy and a tuffweave Wilderness. I know, not exactly apples to apples, but the different layups brings the weights under 45# which is where I set my limit for a solo boat.

Main use will be multi night river tripping, secondary use some ADK trips, and possibly a BWCAW trip.

I know the Argosy would be better for the river and the wilderness for the lakes, but which one will do what it wasn't designed for better?

The wilderness does have some rocker, and is deeper than the Argosy. And by simple math the Argosy has a higher length to width ratio. Probably would be offset by the better layup of the wilderness.

Thanks for any feedback.

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  The math is not so simple
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-21-12 11:22 AM (EST)
Wenonah does not specify waterline lengths. The Argosy is a sub 14 foot boat. Those stem layouts are extreme. They do not count for hull speed.

Its a small boat. It does OK on week long trips if you pack light.

Now for your rivers..if there much close navigating to be done the Wilderness will probably need to be heeled to free the ends. And Wenonahs typical hull shape requires care in that..the max width is low down, so there is loss of secondary when heeled fairly quickly. I don't think Wenonahs were designed to be heeled.
  More on heeling problems
  Posted by: guideboatguy on Oct-21-12 9:57 PM (EST)
I mentioned this on another thread recently. Many canoes don't need to be "heeled to the rail" to free the stems, because they stems lift "enough" with just moderate leaning of the boat. Unlike these OTHER boats, Wenonahs have their maximum width concentrated within a very small portion of the overall length, and heeling them only buries the midsection, and of course when that happens, the stems don't lift, or at least they don't lift enough. Don't expect either of these boats to do as most other canoes do, and become much more maneuverable when leaned a moderate amount. They won't.
  Posted by: c2g on Oct-22-12 6:15 PM (EST)
I've owned a Prism, a Voyager, and a Wilderness and all of them responded well to a moderate lean. They wouldn't spin on a dime, but they weren't supposed to. I found it very simple to edge the boats a bit to carve turn, and my experience has been that they can be heeled enough to make them noticeably more maneuverable, although it took a deliberate effort unlike some other boats that heel pretty effortlessly.

Ahh, I re-checked your post and you said don't expect them to become MUCH more maneuverable. Maybe we agree after all. I think perhaps I'm haggling over definitions.
  Not the Prism I owned...
  Posted by: Kanoo on Oct-24-12 12:30 AM (EST)
Even with the opposite gunwale on my shoulder, the Prism was just barely free.

I don't like Wenonahs. They don't work right for me.
  not necessarily free
  Posted by: c2g on Oct-24-12 8:02 PM (EST)
You don't have to free the stems to get a boat to turn faster, as I'm sure you know.

I paddle almost exclusively flatwater and rarely have to turn more than 90 degrees. Even with the harder tracking Wenonahs all I have to do is edge/heel the boat to the outside of the turn and take a couple of extra strokes on that same side and they come around more quickly than most folks think they will.

I can turn a Prism 180 degrees in three strokes, but the technique is not what most folks would probably use. It helps to go into the turn kneeling (yes, you can kneel with a bucket seat) with good momentum, then initiate the turn with an outside heel and a sweep, switch to an inside heel with a reverse sweeping low brace, then back to an outside heel with a good power stroke or two with maybe a little bit of sweep and carry the stroke a bit further back than normal and you'll be headed back in the opposite direction at crusing speed.

I'm not saying that Wenonahs are for everyone and I'm not saying they will spin like a good freestyle boat, but I've put plenty of miles on them over the years and I get irritated when folks say they won't turn. That is wrong.

The most important part of choosing a boat is to match the boat to your preferred paddling style and conditions. I've seen a lot of posts over the years by folks who bought a boat and were upset that it wouldn't do what they wanted it to when the real problem was that they bought the wrong boat.
  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-22-12 9:00 PM (EST)
Reading the reviews this guy thinks the Argosy is a good Freestyle boat and likes to be heeled? I guess everyone has their own opinion.

*** 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.***
  Written by a FreeStyler I have never met
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-22-12 9:36 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-22-12 9:39 PM EST --

at any of our four symposia a year. And I have been teaching at them for a long time. Granted I did not attend this years new Wisconsin event. However I can tell you I have never seen a student bring an Argosy in fifteen years.(perhaps I should be more accurate in that the Argosy has not been present that long. I think seven years is more accurate)

Lets break it down:

Flare in a hull has superb secondary stability. But it makes for a too wide paddling station. So shouldered tumblehome is what FS ers want in a boat that is heeled. Its a bit of a compromise as a vertical paddle plant is not as easy as with a boat with a narrower gunwale station (like most Wenonahs), but FS judges have decreed the boat be held at the rail and flare or shouldered tumblehome is best. Wenonah with its racing background addresses the vertical paddle plant more. Its easier to do that with the wide part of the hull low. Wenonahs were never intended to be heeled. You can if you are very cognizant and careful and balanced but that isn't their design intent.

" I quickly learned that it must be leaned to track with any degree of ease" tells me lots. This person has never learned to paddle the boat straight. Ergo this person has read a book but jumped a few chapters. And you do not "lean" a boat. You heel it.

"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" A Canadian Stroke does not have an inwater recovery. The Indian does. Bow rocker has NOTHING to do with tracking. That is a function of paddler skill and STERN rocker.

Now after dissecting my sushi with delight, the Argosy does go through abrupt transitions. Its wobbly when empty and you are sitting high. So fix the seat. Lower it. Heel it a little and it firms up. Not much now. Heel it more and you will see a quick reduction in stability long before you get to the rail.

And the reviewer has the Yellowstone Solo and the Argosy all mixed up." but unlike the YS, secondary stability is excellent"

Golly we have all sorts of new to FS paddlers heel their YS(Yellowstone solos are common) close to the rail without anyone having to fish them out.

Thanks for pointing out that review!

I remember my friend paddling his Argosy down 10 mile long 1 mile wide Lake Kondiaronk. Its wider than 30 feet. And my hubby leaving me and the dog with a Swift Raven (bigger than Argo and MUCH heavier) while he paddled back to the car to go to an Argosy ..with a mile open water across Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks.

  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-21-12 4:52 PM (EST)
You haven't mentioned what the boat will have to float; you, gear, dog? in lbs.

The Wilderness has no perceivable rocker, despite the catalog. It will frustrate on rivers.

Other hulls in the river/lake category include Colden's DragonFly Nomad and WildFire, Hemlock's SRT, Merrimack's Baboosic and Swift's Kee 15 and Osprey.

  Argosy experience
  Posted by: yatipope on Oct-21-12 8:16 PM (EST)
I just returned from a 4/day river paddle trip in my Argosy. Actually I made four daytrips and camped shuttled back to retrieve the boat and gear each day. I did numerous class II and a couple III rapids. I was lightly packed and when the Argosy is not loaded, it can handle class II and occasional III because the stems are barely in the water and therefore it maneuvers very good. I ran the Green, Tuck, and Little Tennessee in NC and the Tyger in SC. I know that with over 250lbs the boat is far less manueverable but tracks well with the stems well submerged. In other words I would NOT make a multi-day gear-loaded river voyage where class II+ or higher rapids are expected to be run. I do LOVE this canoe though for what it does for me. Great for daytrip river/rapid running OR multiday easy river or lake travel.
  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-21-12 8:48 PM (EST)
I weigh in at 162# and around another 40-45# for gear.

I am familiar with the SRT. No doubt that would be my first choice, as I have done many river miles and a few boundary waters miles in mine when I had one. But that boat is gone and I'm not in a position to spend $3k on a boat. Hoping to keep the cost under $1300. Even a used SRT would be more than that.

Also I am looking for something more durable as it seems as careful as I try to be I always seem to end up with minor damage that I cringe over. The Tuffweave sounds like a tougher option? But I've never owned one so that may be a market ploy like the listed rocker on the wilderness?

It sounds like the Argosy is a worthy tool for river travel, what would it be like in the Boundary waters?

Thanks, Mike
  Rocker is not a market ploy
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-21-12 10:36 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-21-12 10:37 PM EST --

as there is no standardized measurement of rocker. The best one can do is confine comparisons within a single brand to sort boats out as to degree of rocker.

The Argosy will work as a lake boat with 200 lbs of burden. The chief difficulty you will have to solve is finding or building a good detachable yoke that does not move.

Mine slid around so bad on an ADK trip I got mad and drilled holes in the gunwale and installed round head bolts so the yoke I use could not slide.

She is still a wet ride..Archimedes points out that volume of displaced water does matter and larger may be better in the boat is not sunk so deep. Also the low bubble encourages broadside waves to ride up the boat into your lap rather than be deflected downward as in a shouldered tumblehome boat.

Some of my friend use Argosys in Canada for two week long trips. But sort of minimalist.

If it were me I would buy the boat I would use the most often where I normally paddle. Its easy to rent a Wilderness for the BWCA trip.

  Weak opinion
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Oct-22-12 5:39 PM (EST)
Weak because I have only been in each boat for short period of time, never with a load.

I don't really care for either boat, but I dislike the Wilderness less. The Wilderness can hold more gear and I like bigger solo boats. The Wilderness probably tracks more firmly, but that's sort of irrelevant to me.

The Argosy, on these canoe boards, seems to be either loved or hated. My impression is that it was made to be more of a river boat, but I wouldn't trust its hull shape in real rapids -- pinched bow and low tumblehome -- and it might bog down with a heavier load more so than the Wilderness, and hence might not be all that much more maneuverable on a river.

On many slow or blackwater rivers you don't really need to maneuver that much by heeled turning. Real WW is a different story, but I wouldn't consider either hull for that.
  From a non-kneeler...
  Posted by: Al_A on Oct-22-12 10:22 PM (EST)
Original post didn't say what kind of rivers. In any river that's class 1 or which has only occasional class 2, I would always opt for the boat that tracks better. I can make a decent tracking canoe maneuver well a lot easier than making a highly maneuverable boat track well. On the Ozark streams I usually paddle, I'd opt for the Wilderness strongly over the Argosy, and it would seem to me to be the better boat for lake paddling, and hold more gear easier.

I know kneeling and leaning and heeling is cool and all that, but unless you're competition paddling or just want to play around with your boat, I don't see a lot of advantages in doing so, other than kneeling in heavier whitewater to put your center of gravity lower. Seems to me that you're not going to be doing a lot of stuff that requires leaning and heeling if you're on a multi-day river trip with a loaded boat.

I own a Vagabond, along with a couple of old Oscoda Codas. I can make any of those boats do anything I want it to in rivers up to Class 2...mostly without heeling and leaning.
  Tracking Verse Yaw
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-23-12 10:26 AM (EST)
Course keeping. tracking is often misunderstood. The best computed indication of course keeping in block co-efficient; the block composed of a hull's waterline length, it's waterline width and draft, all in the same units. The less of that block the hull fills, the better it will track. To simplify we can just the length to width ratio since draft is pretty similar; USCA racers have a L/W ratio of 7. Most solo canoes have numbers between 6 and 7 so can be expected to track pretty well.

The issue in solo course keeping is paddler induced yaw. To 1. Not paddle with a vertical shaft, 2. Stroke along the curved rail rather than parallel to the keel line, 3. Carry the blades to or behind the body, results in misdirection. Sweeping forces turn the hull offside, away from the paddleblade, by pulling the stern towards the blade.

To reduce that Yaw designers often minimize stern rocker, but it isn't to make the hull track better, it's to reduce the effects of poor paddle technique. Note the profusion of newer canoe designs with differential rocker.

Bow rocker is inconsequential; we need do something very different to pull or push the bow off course. Bow rocker enhances turning and increases forward speed.

Hence, the best step towards better tracking is likely to be a paddling lesson.

But, back to OP's boat search. Armed with burden data, I'd try to locate a good used composite Argosy, Nomad, Osprey or YellowStone Solo. Rubber performs too poorly to bother with, Baboosic, DragonFly and WildFire have too much stern rocker for this first step. Kee 16, Nomad and SRT are too rare to be available used and withing price constraints. Happy hunting!
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-23-12 11:21 AM (EST)
I have paddled an Argosy some. Not my favorite boat, but it would probably suit your purposes pretty well. I haven't paddled a Wilderness at all, but I'm pretty certain I would go with the Argosy if it came down to a choice between those two.

I do agree with those who feel that the review of the Argosy you posted is pretty much BS and should be disregarded.

Wenonah's proprietary Tuff-Weave layup is fiberglass and polyester cloth. It is quite tough but not as light as their aramid boats. Most people who have owned Wenonah Tuff-Weave boats have been quite satisfied with them.

I don't share Charlie's aversion to Royalex but I agree that for tripping in the BWCWA or ADKs a composite boat would be preferable for the weight savings. I don't think that the weight of a Royalex Yellowstone solo (or Wildfire) would be that onerous and I would certainly consider one if it came your way.

In addition to the boats mentioned, I would be on the lookout for a Bell Merlin II or Hemlock Peregrine if one appeared. I bought a very nice Merlin II in white gold layup for $900 a few years back.
  Interesting conversation, I love it
  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-23-12 12:42 PM (EST)
Intended river - West branch Susquehanna, from Cherry Tree to the Susquehanna.

Freestyle - I've attended 4 classes in Ohio and at Paul Smiths years ago. I have a cedar strip Red River Canoe "Élan" that I built purpose for freestyle. When I showed up one year with my SRT that got some looks. You may remember me?

I am a decent paddler but am surely no Harold Deal. But I do ok.

My wife has a Hemlock Kestrel that Is a pure delight to paddle, and I have used it on a few ADK trips and a few down river races empty, but wouldn't consider it the best option for river tripping.
  Kneeling in Argosy MUCH
  Posted by: yatipope on Oct-23-12 2:58 PM (EST)
Conversation came up about kneeling and if you have an aversion to doing so!? If you are thinking of an Argosy AND whitewater,...kneeling is a CERTAINTY! I just assumed it was known but regardless I don't mind doing so since I have the knee pads and flotation in my Argosy. Furthermore the pronounced tumblehome WILL put you in the drink if you take a wave of any significance broadside. The pleasure of paddling a Wenonah with the tumblehome does have its drawbacks! Interested in knowing who pBlanc was referring to about a BS review of the Argosy! HMMM
  Which review?
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-23-12 3:37 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-23-12 3:38 PM EST --

I was referring to the Argosy review, submitted by birren and quoted by windwalker earlier in this thread.

What in it do I consider to be BS?

1. The Argosy is unsuited to any purpose other than freestyle

2. The Argosy must be leaned to track with any degree of ease.

3. The Argosy is very unstable until leaned nearly to its limit.

4. The Argosy has better secondary stability than the Bell Yellowstone solo.

I neither love nor hate the Argosy. If it were the only boat I could own I would probably be very fond of it.

The things I don't like about it?

For a 14 1/2' OAL boat with a waterline beam of 27" it has relatively little carrying capacity because the rails are relatively close together in front of the front thwart.

The low, rounded tumblehome leads to an abrupt decrease in secondary stability when leaned beyond the wide part of the "bubble".

For what is marketed as a nimble river boat, the small amount of stern rocker (1") makes the stern rather sticky when executing eddy turns. I am not saying you can't heel and turn it, but there are similar sized boats in which you can do it much easier, and those boats do not give up any straight ahead hull efficiency to the Argosy.

  Totally agree
  Posted by: yatipope on Oct-23-12 5:34 PM (EST)
I totally agree with your critique of the review and I still feel if one were to have one solo canoe for all possible purposes,..(some whitewater, some lake, some cruising and some canoe-camping) the Argosy is hard to beat!
  SOLD your SRT! - Rivers - Tribalism
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Oct-23-12 3:07 PM (EST)
Windwalker, you sold your SRT? I don't think I've ever said this, but your review of SRT was a significant influence on my decision to investigate that superb hull. Every year I appreciate its sophistication and versatility more and more, and I now paddle almost nothing else on any kind of water.

Rivers are not rivers are not rivers. That section of the Susquehanna, at least from some pictures and descriptions, seems to me to be what I would call a big, slow river -- fairly wide and mostly smooth water or class 1. On such a river I would prefer, if forced, a high capacity lake canoe. Turning is not a high priority move on such rivers. Angled vectoring and accelerating are more important, as are slipping and back-watering.

High capacity, depth and longer length may in part be subjective preferences for me, but I also think they are practical solo hull attributes. You can carry more. You can carry it below the gunwale line. You will have more freeboard in waves.

On a twisty river with 90 degree turns like the NJ Pine Barrens, Adirondack meanders, or fractal Florida spring runs like Juniper or Rock Creak, I would prefer a more turnable hull than a lake boat. Going straight up fast spring run rivers I would prefer a fast and hard tracking lake hull or outrigger.

The magical SRT can of course handle all of these aqueous venues.

For what I understand of your intended use, I'd get a fast-ish lake canoe with sufficient capacity and depth to suit your preferences.

On other tangents, I was not aware that a paddler had to attend a so-called (and perhaps no-longer-called) Freestyle Symposium in order to know how to do basic canoe moves such as post and axle turns. I think Yuleeman did them elegantly 10,000 years ago. Nor was I aware that a WW paddler had to attend a WW Symposium in order to know how to do an eddy turn or ferry.

I think "lean" is a very common noun and verb to describe ... uh ... leaning a canoe. Many FW and WW authors use terms like "J-lean", "bell buoy lean" or "lower body lean". "Heel" is term derived from sailing, but some people (including me) like to use it to describe canoe leans also.

I certainly think the Canadian Stroke uses an in-water return, because it derives its corrective efficacy from the loaded forward slice on the recovery. The paddle need not remain in-water all the way to the bow, however. Once the corrective force is sufficient the paddler has option to finish the stroke as a form of Indian Stroke, Florida Stroke, or the multiply-ambiguous Northwoods stroke. (Disclaimer: I learned nothing in this paragraph from any symposium.)

Finally, I think the presence of bow rocker or not can affect waterline length, and waterline length can affect what is commonly called tracking or turnability. So do other things. The question is whether it matters in the particular hull you may like for other reasons.

  The Canadian Stroke does not have a
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-23-12 5:45 PM (EST)
full inwater recovery. Just a little corner grab with an upward slice.

Of course its not essential for anyone to attend any Canoeing Symposium to learn to do axles and box strokes and posts but to brag that they can do it to the rail in the Wenonah suggests that they have had very extensive balance drill and instruction.

I stand corrected. I did see an Argosy this year at Midwest Freestyle and it fit the paddlers aims perfectly . All they wanted to do was get from A to B efficiently and move the boat a little ..not heel to the rail. Everyone has their own goals and it is fine.

I would stick with rubber on some PA rivers. The Argosy can do the Susquehanna but its actually kind of fun on western PA rivers like Mahoning and Crooked Creek.

Incidentally Western PA seems to have a concentration of Curtis Dragon Fly boats.
  West Branch
  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-23-12 9:02 PM (EST)
In Ed Gertler's book, Keystone Canoeing he lists class II- rapids on the upper stretches. And At Cherry Tree the river is only a very narrow creek. I would most likely get on it at higher levels to help move things along. I am leaning (pun intended) towards a faster boat rather than a turny boat. Right now that is the Wilderness, but may have a lead on a more interesting boat...

I couldn't agree more about the SRT. But mine wasn't getting used enough to justify keeping it. Always need money to fund the next adventure. I moved on from tripping and got into WW (still am). But as life sometimes does, I came full circle. And another thing is I enjoy messing around with different boats.

Oh, I am a kneeler.

  Posted by: baldpaddler on Oct-23-12 8:49 PM (EST)
in the last of 4 Raystown rendesvous I attended I found that I spent most of my timein a borrowed SRT.
I am still waiting for that publish clearing house Check.

Charlie inNC
  It is very good to hear...
  Posted by: canoeswithduckheads on Oct-24-12 3:40 PM (EST)
...from you Michael. I shall always remember those incredibly beautiful wood paddles (especially the ones using the lacewood veneers) and canoe you had made and brought to the Raystown gathering in 2004:

Like Glenn, your excellent review of the SRT, per journey down the Susy-Q's full length, was what first turned my attention, and purchase desires towards Misters Curtis and Deal's fine canoe. If only my knees (and wallet) were of like mind. Hell, I'd even suffer the discomforts of the elderly penitent nun, but this damn dog sidekick that insists on me taking him along has me still holding back, in fear I'd drown the whole triumvirate of downriver fools and hull. This past Raystown I even witnessed a very agile young guy deftly snub his SRT down the extremely skeletal Juniata below Huntingdon (at least, "deftly" till that usual Duckheaded "carousing" thing began to snake-in its own natural element of imbalance.

Well, full-circles and whatnots always having their fill of twists, perhaps you'll find another used SRT at an affordable sales price (If Jeff keeps poling bony PA streams maybe you can get a bottom-repair number real cheap!).

I notice no one mentions the Wenonah Rendezvous. I've always found it a most peculiar hull, favoring the lighter Kevlar Flexcore one I have over my former Royalex model. It's a good boat for carrying more-than-ample supplies on wider rivers, as well as open lake stretches, though a tad (despite claims of 2 to 2-3/4" rocker stems) sticky, especially to bow, at executing quick eddy maneuvers, at least for someone hefty like myself. In the capable hands of a lighter and more skilled paddler like yourself, I'm sure you would adroitly maneuver all the rock gardens and ledges the West Branch Susy has to offer. Gel-coated, though perhaps a tad heavier and approaching Royalex tonnage (42-pounds, maybe? don't really recall), it makes the composite a tad more shock-absorbing and slippery for dealing with the usual Susy-Q rockrash, as opposed to a lighter skincoat which I'm not certain Wenonah ever laid it up in. And, it seems to turn up on canoe sale boards more often than many of those blue-blooded (but yes, magnificent) DY/Curtis hulls.

Another composite solo I remember having the fine fortune to test paddle, per Mike McCrea's generosity, was a Clipper Prospector 14. Felt a lot like a Baboosic, except it sat a little more flatly/stabler (shallower arch, I suppose) on the water surface. Quite nimble, relatively easy to push along with gear on windy expanses without having a j-stroke infarction. Reasonably priced, but darn hard to come by this side of the Mississippi.

Hope the Carter Racing team is still enjoying their crossings of the muddy trail, and good future paddles to you,

  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-24-12 8:20 PM (EST)
Wow this post is sure bringing back lots of memories, very cool! Thanks Guys.

I have owned an RX Rendezvous and can honestly say that boat was possessed and has been the only canoe I have ever owned that I truly hated. Maybe the composite boats are better???

How can I get a copy of that picture? Way cool.

  Tuff-Weave Rendezvous
  Posted by: yatipope on Oct-24-12 9:38 PM (EST)
I owned a tuff-weave Rendezvous and paddled a royalex version and they are significantly different paddling boats with different specs. I really enjoyed the composite version and have heard lots of complaints about the royalex version.
  Posted by: c2g on Oct-25-12 8:38 PM (EST)
I paddled both the Royalex and composite versions one right after the other. There is quite a bit of difference between the two, with the composite being a significantly better boat.
  Eric Nyre used to say that
  Posted by: ezwater on Oct-25-12 10:28 PM (EST)
the Rendezvous had to be carefully trimmed and set up to do its best, and that Royalex versions were more in need of tuning than composite versions.

I think it can be an excellent boat for a combination of lake duty and fairly open rivers with easy whitewater. But I tried one, and it does not spin well enough for the kind of eddy work I can do in my Mad River Synergy or Guide Solo.

Of course, that's the tipping point of compromise. My Synergy is an adequate cruiser on the flats with a load of gear, and pretty good up through class 3 whitewater. My Guide Solo is not as agile in whitewater, but is not that much better than the Synergy on flatwater. The Rendezvous is farther toward a flatwater boat, much faster than the MR Guide on flatwater, but much less agile on whitewater.
  Anecdotes and Fit
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-26-12 9:20 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-26-12 1:10 PM EST --

We seem to have devolved to anecdotal experience; fairly unhelpful without paddler height and weight, and experience filters. We all like our boats; we don't keep those that displease.

The width range of solo canoes is 27.5 to 31" excluding the SuperNova. The OP seems to kneel some and would likely want a hull where his knees fall easily into the chines.

Wilderness is one of the wider hulls as the Vagabond/Kestrel/RapidFire is one of the narrower.

The obvious solution is for the OP to try some boats for fit. The triangulation of knees and sitz-bones is the key to hull fit, understanding that knee pads/ blocks can narrow the effective chine spacing and seats can be raised and lowered. That said, the paddler needs to comfortably stack hands across the rail, i.e. outside the max beam, with the hull flat in the water. Standing heel skews hydrodynamics.

My anecdote: At ~5'9", 170 lbs There are hulls that are too wide for me; requiring I move a knee to cross heel the hull. Wilderness is too wide for a guy who can sit on a cigarette paper and swing his legs. Further, I wouldn't have a canoe without bow rocker and don't need the stern skegged to improve course keeping. Cross sectional shaping? I like shoulders high and tightly radiused as per Yost and Scarborough as opposed to low and soft, but then again my arms don't reach very far down the sidewalls.

  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-26-12 9:27 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-26-12 9:28 PM EST --

I came across a Bell Wildfire, wondering thoughts on this per the discussion.

It is RX with vinyl trim. I know when I was doing freestyle this and the flashfire were popular boats. Never though of it as a contender. Reading back I see Charlie did mention it. I can't find specs on it but I read that the Yellowstone solo is the same boat? In RX the Yellowstone solo weighs in at 47# would that be a real world weight for the older Wildfire too.

Thanks, Mike

  RX Wildfire = Yellowstone Solo
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-26-12 10:04 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-26-12 10:11 PM EST --

The boat that was originally called the Royalex Wildfire was renamed the Yellowstone Solo.

I think it is a very good boat, much more to my liking than the Wenonah Argosy. It is reasonably fast, can carry a decent load, and is quite stable when heeled which makes it pretty nimble as well. Very nice river boat that does pretty well on flat water as well.

It does not have as much depth as a whitewater boat, or an SRT which would limit its use in whitewater. You still might be able to run some technical Class II stuff if it does not involve big wave trains or significant drops.

  T clarify for Mike
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-27-12 8:01 AM (EST)
The composite WildFire and you played in (I think at MFS many years ago) is not quite the same as the RX WildFire(YS) especially in the Wilds symmetrical stern bow rocker changed to a skegged stern.

I agree with PBlanc in that YS is more predictable in waves.

  Wildfire vs. YS
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-27-12 11:10 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-27-12 11:11 AM EST --

Any composite boat is going to paddle a bit better than a Royalex version, even if the Royalex boat is a very close copy in hull shape. The increased stiffness of the composite is a big reason, but the blunter water entry at the stems of Royalex boats makes a difference as well.

The main difference in the composite Wildfire and the Royalex Yellowstone Solo (nee Royalex Wildfire) apart from the material is that the YS has differential rocker, with an inch less at the stern. The Wildfire has sharper lines at the stems and shoulders than the Roylex YS. I have heard that the shoulders also extend up a little closer to the sheer line on the composite Wildfire than they do in the YS, but I haven't had the two close enough together to notice.

It should also be noted that there are composite versions of the Bell Yellowstone solo that share the differential rocker of the Royalex YS.

The first time I paddled a Royalex YS I didn't expect to like it a whole lot because I rather expected the differential rocker to make the stern "sticky" as I had experienced with the Argosy. I also expected it to be much slower than it turned out to be. Despite the fact that the YS has an inch less rocker in the back, it still has a bit more rocker than the Argosy does both front and back, both to my eye and by the manufacturer's specs. The shouldered tumblehome and elliptical water foot print of the YS also allows it to be healed over in a very stable and predicable fashion, so the stern hardly feels "skegged" to me.

If you look at the L/W ratios for the two boats, they are very close: just over 6.3 for the YS and just under 6.5 for the Argosy. But I think that the YS puts more of its overall length in the water than the Argosy does, so I suspect that in reality the functional L/W ratios are nearly identical. I suspect that the swede form hull shape of the Argosy gives it a slight straight ahead speed advantage on flat water, but for me it isn't noticeable, but the friendlier handling when maneuvering in current or waves of the YS definitely is.

  I think the L/W
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-27-12 9:27 PM (EST)
ratio of the YS is more like 5.8 and the same for the Argosy.

Charlie would have waterline lengths for the former.I think the number 5.8 is one that he once referred to. There is a lot of overhang on the Argosy. If I were to measure mine in the water I think LWL would be 13'10.

Neither is theoretically a speedster though both accelerate quickly given their little skin surface.
  L/W according to CEW; Wildfire
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Oct-27-12 11:10 PM (EST)
According to my 2009 version of Charlie's chart, the Argosy, Wilderness and Yellowstone all have a L/W of 6.0.

I like my black-gold Wildfire a lot, but I don't think of it as multi-day tripping canoe. Of course you can trip in anything if you want or have to, but I prefer something with more volume and freeboard than a Wildfire/Yellowstone. Maybe it would work for Windwalker at his weight and a light load.
  Sounds about right
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-28-12 9:29 AM (EST)
None have changed design.

Speed on a trip is influenced by so many other things. Maybe you have to carry. Maybe you have to take two trips. Maybe the wind comes up.

In the course of a trip a factor of .1 probably does not matter.

I used to daytrip fourteen miles three times a week in a Keowee. I think the L/WL length was something like 3.8.. 9'2" boat with a 30 inch beam.
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-28-12 4:40 PM (EST)
On my way to Lake Placid I stopped by Adirondack Lakes and Trails and put a tape measure down the keel line of a composite Wenonah Wilderness. 177 inches, divided by 30 is L/W of 5.9.

They didn't have an Argosy in composite. I'll try Anne and Robbie at Raquette River next time I get over to Tupper Lake,

RX hulls are generally shorter due to shrinkage and the way the plugs are made.
  You can get the Argosy in
  Posted by: sohojacques on Oct-28-12 5:08 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-28-12 5:27 PM EST --

Tuf-weave as well, windwalker. You just have to ask.

Speaking of which, I can run a tape over my Tuf-weave Argosy Charlie. Just confirm exactly where you want me to measure to?

Cheers. Jacob.

  Kevlar Ultralight Argosy
  Posted by: BuckeyePaddler on Oct-28-12 5:18 PM (EST)
I have one, and I'd be willing to measure, too. Let me know where to measure if you'd like this info.

  estimating waterline length with a tape
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-28-12 6:16 PM (EST)
Just lay the tape down the keel line of an upside down hull, hold it tight and straight. For Argosy, have a friend hold the end of the tape at estimated 3.5 inches up st the stern due to minimal stern rocker, then estimate ~2.5" up from tape to the bow, compensating for bow rocker, and read the number.
  Tripping in Wildfire and Yellowstone Sol
  Posted by: cliffjacobson on Oct-31-12 12:30 PM (EST)
I've put thousands of miles on composite Bell Wildfires and Yellowstone solo's. I just love these boats. Anyone who says they're not up to long river trips with technical rapids (up to high Class II) either doesn't know how to pack or needs to learn how to paddle. These boats track well, turn instantly and run dry in waves up to two feet high. Add a spray cover and polished whitewater technique and they'll surprise you in bigger stuff. Both canoes are very similar; paddle one then the other and you'll forget which boat you're in. The YS does seem to run drier in chop and it carries a bit more weight more gracefully--but the differences are not significant. The Royalex version of the YS is a wonderful canoe also. It's quite fast for an RX solo; it turns instantly and it runs dry. You won't be disappointed to own one. It is, however, heavy--about 45 pounds if I recall; the 29-34 pounds of a composite WF or YS is a better plan where there are portages. Here's a short list of rivers I've paddled with the composite versions: Steel and Kopka(Ontario); Little Missouri (N.Dakota); Green(Utah); Rio Grande(TX); Buffalo (Arkansas); BWCA/Quetico. These were all minimum 7 day trips with full gear. No problems!
  Thanks for that info, Cliff.
  Posted by: Yanoer on Oct-31-12 5:40 PM (EST)
I'm picking up a black gold Yellowstone Solo with aluminum gunwales in a week or so and am actually hoping I'll like it better than the kevlar Deluxe Wildfire that I have.

My perception is that my royalex Yellowstone Solo is a bit more efficient than my composite Wildfire, but I have foot braces in the royalex Yellowstone Solo and don't in the kevlar Wildfire. Also, I didn't paddle them back to back in the same situation on the same day.
  The OP
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-31-12 8:08 PM (EST)
has a Yellowstone Solo. Yes I read that it is ticketed WildFire. My friends who have a fleet of them in Ohio have several of them. RX.

Not only is RX different from composites, when we get back to the composite WildFires, those who have paddled all three a lot attest that the Bell, Placid, and Coldens all are a wee bit different. The Coldens are the stiffest and most fun.
  Wildfire vs Yellowstone(aka Rx Wildfire)
  Posted by: TommyC1 on Nov-01-12 9:25 AM (EST)
Very different hulls. No comparison really.

The Yellowstone is a lousy freestyle boat. It is much better as a tripper. A moderately skilled whitewater canoester should have no trouble in either in class II.
  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-28-12 10:08 PM (EST)
I went and test paddled the wildfire on a lake yesterday afternoon. In a one word description - predictable. It did everything I asked, and didn't give me any grief. Felt fine flat or on a rail.

So I added a nice old Wildfire to my stable. The previous owner said he had purchased it from Karen Knight, but I couldn't find her autograph anywhere.

Was gonna hit up a Class II+ run with it today, but the wife wanted to paddle so we hit a nice scenic creek. The cool part was when we got to the put-in they were releasing water from the dam in prep for Sandy hitting hard tomorrow. I knew this before we went, by looking at the river gauge, but didn't tell the wife. ;-) Everything else was too low. It was pretty cool getting on a flooded creek before the rains even started. It was running fast and in the trees. No WW just fast current with some swirly eddy lines. The Wildfire yielded no surprises and we got along just fine.

So for know my search and desire for a solo river tripper is quenched. Pending further adventures with the Wildfire.

Thanks for all the informative discussion.


  For someone
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-28-12 11:37 PM (EST)
With the skill to control that loose stern, you probably got the best of the litter.
  Got to like a happy ending.
  Posted by: sohojacques on Oct-29-12 4:17 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-29-12 4:44 AM EST --

Just to wrap things up: the composite Argosy waterline length, for all intents and purposes, is 14' lightly loaded.

  One more
  Posted by: pgeorg on Oct-29-12 11:33 AM (EST)
endorsement. We recently brought an old Wildfire into our household for my wife to paddle. She had been practicing freestyle moves in an Argosy. The Wildfire is a big improvement. It turns easier and heels further and more predictably. And, it feels faster. Should have started with the Wildfire. We'll sell the Argosy in the spring.

  Wildfire. Not Wildfire. Confusion.
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Oct-29-12 1:25 PM (EST)
No one has any idea what canoe is being discussed when someone says Bell "Wildfire". That's because Bell immorally named two different canoes with the same name, causing massive customer confusion that still continues 10 years later, and that borders on fraud.

The real Wildfire is the symmetrically rockered hull originally produced by Bell, then Placid, and now Colden. The differentially rockered and changed shouldered hull that Bell first and immorally called a Wildfire was later changed to Yellowstone (as others have pointed out above), due probably for legal reasons when the real Wildfire production was moved to Placid.

This name confusion poisons all the "Wildfire" reviews on this site. It's hard to know which hull is under discussion.

I vote never to call a differentially rockered hull a Wildfire no matter what Bell originally called the Yellowtone. Call it a Yellowstone. Only the symmetrically rockered hull should be called Wildfire, and it has never been made in Royalex.

I think Windwalker got a Yellowstone because he said it was Royalex. Because of this confusion, I have no idea which hull Pete Georg's wife is paddling, though I have little doubt that in either case it's a better freestyle canoe than an Argosy.
  It is a Royalex Yellowstone Solo
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-29-12 6:06 PM (EST)
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-29-12 6:18 PM (EST)
It sure looks to me that the proud stems on that boat overhang the LWL by more than a combined 6". I would have guessed that the LWL of the Argosy was somewhat under 14' as Kim said.

To thoroughly beat a dead horse, if the true LWL of the Argosy is 14' the LWL/BWL ratio would be 6.2. Wenonah lists a BWL of 29.75 for the Wilderness for a LWL/BWL of 5.95, virtually identical to the Yellowstone Solo if the ratio listed on Bell's website is correct.

I do suspect that the Argosy can be driven a little faster than the YS by a really determined paddler but to me the YS feels subjectively a little quicker to accelerate.
  I think his Wildfire is Rx
  Posted by: Yanoer on Oct-29-12 1:10 PM (EST)
from what I read earlier in the discussion.
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-29-12 6:05 PM (EST)
Karen always liked a boat too big for her, but I never remember her paddling a Wild. Always a Flash. But that was too big for her too technically.

I think you will have some happy paddling with that boat.
  Karen Knight in a Viper 12
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-29-12 6:08 PM (EST)
There is some footage in the video "Drill Time" of Karen paddling a Viper 12 OC-1, which would be a very big boat for her indeed.
  RX verse composite hulls
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-29-12 5:48 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-29-12 7:01 PM EST --

It seem Royalex hulls are always differ from their composite versions. This goes back to the Mad River Explorer, which was shorter with blunter ends and less V in RX than in composite.

It is also true of Argosy, Cascade and Wilderness and the Mad River Guide/ Freedom as well as Bell's offerings. Of course those variations pale into insignificance when looking at Hemlock's composite Shaman and the Mohawk RX version.

The RX WildFire had do differ from the Composite because the abrupt shoulders wouldn't release from a vacuum forming mold, and of course the RX sandwich cannot bend to yield as tight an entry line. That we also halved the stern rocker doesn't seem to be a moral sin, hell, everything else was different, we were trying to improve performance for an entry level market. [RX was ~half the Kev price.]

The name change had to do with contractual arrangements. Bell de-emphasized the Wild in favor of the composite YS Solo because they owed fewer royalties for YSS.

It's probably not worth getting to exercised about which $0.50 decal got stuck on a canoe. There is more variation between other Comp[/VFRX hulls by several other manufacturers.

In the beginning there wss one WildFire mold; 14 'X30", symmetrical 2.5" rocker. There is also just one vacuum forming mold for a similar RX hull with differential rocker, length maintained but shoulders softened and a single mold for a differentially rocker composite variant with higher shoulders.

  Lotsa replies huh!
  Posted by: yatipope on Oct-30-12 12:58 AM (EST)
I bet windwalker didn't expect such numerous, thorough and experienced number of replies to this thread! Very informative and lot of experience here! For one, I certainly do appreciate the knowledge of most replies here! Thanks
  It's more than just mold differences
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Oct-30-12 1:52 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-30-12 1:36 PM EST --

Yes, it is common for a Royalex version of a hull design to end up with dimensional differences from the composite version, simply because of the differences in material and the molding/manufacturing differences that accompany those different materials.

But the Yellowstone is clearly a different design from the Wildfire. Compare the composite Yellowstone to the composite Wildfire, a case where we can factor out molding/manufacturing differences occasioned by Royalex. They are different boats, and not just in the rocker line.

The sin is not in reducing stern rocker. That may be an advantage to many paddlers. And I'm not claiming the Wildfire or the Yellowstone is the better boat. They are both very nice boats. But they are different boats.

Different boats should have different names. Otherwise, you could have 30 very different hulls called a Prospector. Oh, I forgot, we do.

Bell's original sin of trying to eat too frequently of the successful Wildfire apple continues to snake its confusing legacy throughout all of canoeing mankind, frequently here on this board, by rendering almost useless many of the "Wildfire" reviews as well as rendering ambiguous many classified Wildfire ads. Many people are simply unaware of what hull they own, or what hull they are buying or selling, unless they are aware of this tortured nomenclatural history.

When I was negotiating to buy a used composite Wildfire from a seller 500 miles away, the seller had no idea about this issue and no clue as to whether his stern rocker was the same as his bow rocker. Professor Wilson was a great help in identifying the year of manufacture for me, but couldn't recall at the time when the composite Yellowstone mold was made or whether Bell had called its early Yellowstone composites by the Wildfire name, as it had its Royalex version.

So he went the extra mile and contacted Dave Yost to reconstruct the timeline of this whole issue. As I recall, he and DY concluded via the mold history that no composite Yellowstones had ever been marketed by Bell as Wildfires. This gracious effort gave me confidence that I was getting the hull I wanted.

However, it really shouldn't require these kinds of divine interventions to figure out what the hull you are buying.

  Posted by: windwalker on Oct-30-12 5:13 AM (EST)
So what do I have? The HIN says it's from 2001, it's green RX and has a Bell Wildfire sticker.

Not that I really care as I like the way THIS boat handles, I'm just curious.

Great info for sure, albeit a bit confusing.
  Is it Royalex?
  Posted by: pblanc on Oct-30-12 9:12 AM (EST)
If it is a Royalex boat with a Wildfire label it is the hull with differential rocker that was later renamed the Yellowstone Solo.

If it is composite, it is the symmetrical hull that was always known as the Wildfire.
  Your royalex Wildfire = Yellowstone Solo
  Posted by: Yanoer on Oct-30-12 10:56 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Oct-30-12 10:58 AM EST --

I have one of those, also.

If you refer to it from now on as a royalex Yellowstoe Solo, most people will know exactly what you're talking about and you'll avoid confusion.

Another option is to refer to it as a royalex Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo.

  pblanc: my W/L length for the composite
  Posted by: sohojacques on Oct-30-12 5:00 PM (EST)
Argosy is a rough estimate at best. I tried to include an appropriate amount of stem depth as per Charlie's instructions. Put a bantam weight paddler in one with no gear and I'm sure it would be less. But load it up and the W/L length would be more like 14'2", maybe even topping out at 14'3". Charlie's the closest well get to a constant on this. So until he puts a tape over one...

Cheers. Jacob.
  Posted by: CEWilson on Oct-31-12 11:50 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Nov-01-12 12:20 PM EST --

To ascertain real waterline length we need the boat in question, a level, a tape measure and a rational burden.
I propose 5 ea40 lb sand or water treatment salt bags. [200 lbs is what the gov tells us is an average guy with a 40 lb pack. It's to much for a 120 lb woman, not enough for a 240 lb guy with gear, but.....]

Oh yeah, we need knee high neoprene boots too. Plop the hull in foot deep water, the five bags i the hull; fiddle placement until it looks right. The apply the level vertically to each stem in turn, measuring the distance from level to cut-water. Write these numbers down. After unloading and unfloating the boat, measure it's Overall Length with the tape, and subtract the sum of the two offsets. Barring an embarrassing math error, Waterline Length should be computed.

We don't do this much in the northern tier from November through April because that would require getting a chain saw wet to cut a slot through ice, and, if truth be told, we prefer Mid May through September.

  I was hoping...
  Posted by: sohojacques on Oct-31-12 10:23 PM (EST)
you wouldn't say that. :)

One day...
  If you really want to do it
  Posted by: pblanc on Nov-01-12 1:50 PM (EST)
and you have a sizable flat surface like a patio, deck, or driveway you can set the boat on that. It seems to make most sense measuring the LWL at the same waterline that the BWL is measured. I seem to recall from somewhere that the BWL for the Argosy given by Wenonah is at the 3" waterline, but it could be 4" or something in between.

If you want to measure the LWL at the 3" waterline, get a little rectangle of scrap wood 3" long on one side that has a true right angle, or make one. Set the canoe on the flat surface and butt the piece of wood up to the stem of the boat with the wood aligned with the keel line and mark the position on the flat surface. That will give you the position immediately below the 3" waterline.

Then use a plumb line or a level touching the very tip of the deck plate and mark that position on the surface. Measure between the marks and get the "deadwood" measurement for that end of the boat. Then repeat for the other end. Add the two and subtract the total from the LOA.

Might not work precisely for a very short, very asymmetrically rockered canoe, but it should be close enough for government work for the Argosy.
  pretty much how bottom scuff
  Posted by: kayamedic on Nov-01-12 1:53 PM (EST)
patches are marked off.

The trick of course is getting the hull level.
  Here in Indiana
  Posted by: pblanc on Nov-01-12 6:20 PM (EST)
finding a level surface is not much of a problem.
  Posted by: CEWilson on Nov-01-12 8:41 PM (EST)
But with differential rocker we do not want the keel line level, or averaged level....
  WildFire, YellowStone Solo, RX YSS Speed
  Posted by: CEWilson on Nov-01-12 12:37 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Nov-01-12 1:40 PM EST --

Comparing the relative speeds of the three Bell, etc hulls is kinda like debating how many angles, or demons, can dance on the head of a pin. That said, here's my two cents.

With a straight shaft and a perfect forward stroke, composite WildFire should be fastest as little or now yaw will be induced and the stern rocker reduces wetted surface, hence a little less skin friction.

If paddling with a bent paddle or carrying a straight blade aft of the knee or not stacking one's hands across the rail, YellowStone Solo in composite will be faster than the WildFire. That's why we reduced stern rocker, to counter misdirection from compromised forward strokes.

Of interest, bents move the +/- 15 dg blade angle window aft along the hull, hwich increases induced yaw oven if hands are nicely stacked across the rail.

The RX YSS should always be slowest due to greater skin friction, blunter ends and less precise shaping. If it's faster than a composite WildFire, the paddler isn't stacking hands across the rail or is carrying the blade behind the body, and needs a forward stroke clinic with Tom Foster.

Alternatively, the paddler might be comparing a brand new RX hull with a badly scratched composite hull. Winters discusses accumulated drag, best to read him, but a moderately scratched hull can have half again the skin friction of a new one. [One reason why comparison paddles are anecdotal and of minimal value; we seldom get to compare apples, ie multiple runs by multiple paddlers in new boats over a measured distance with a disinterested observer holding that stopwatch.]

  Posted by: kayamedic on Nov-01-12 12:57 PM (EST)
It justifies owning all the iterations of YSS and Wild.



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