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  Off Beat Solo Canoes
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-01-13 4:29 PM (EST)
   Category: Canoes 

-- Last Updated: Mar-01-13 4:31 PM EST --

I would like to try out some "off-beat" solo canoes, like the Swift Shearwater & Hemlock SRT. Anyone in the Chicagoland area have one of these boats that would be willing to let me test paddle it? Looking for more of a river solo, and not a lake canoe (i.e. I need some rocker). Interested in a versatile boat, can carry a load, lighter weight (less than50#). Not interested in any boat that oil-cans or is poorly made. Thanks.

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Messages in this Topic


  Add Curtis DragonFly
  Posted by: kayamedic on Mar-01-13 4:32 PM (EST)
to your list. 85 made..not sure how many still exist. I know of about eight.

Colden DragonFly. I have one. There is one other..maybe two.

Swift Shearwater is a big boat..not specifically a river runner, though like its smaller cousin the Osprey it will run rivers but has a skegged stern.

The DragonFly has a couple inches rocker bow and stern.

I know someone will bring up Millbrook boats; I am not familiar with them.
  Even for a lake canoe, I would prefer
  Posted by: ezwater on Mar-01-13 5:56 PM (EST)
some rocker. When Bell was still an option, their tandems had a sensible amount of rocker. I can't make a case for a zero rocker fast lake cruiser, suspended in a trough between waves.
  What's your size?
  Posted by: Yanoer on Mar-01-13 9:32 PM (EST)
I've got a Curtis Vagabond, Curtis Lady Bug, Bell Flashfire, Bell Wildfire, black gold Bell Yellowstone Solo, Blackhawk Zephyr, Phoenix Vagabond set up for solo and a Mad River Monarch.

All are river worthy craft, depending on your size and load.

I'd be glad to entertain you down here in central IL to try out a boat or two.

You might even be able to talk me in to selling one.

  You are selling your Monarch????
  Posted by: kayamedic on Mar-01-13 9:35 PM (EST)
I have a collection of offbeat solos too but as Im some thousand miles east of IL, not much use.

The Swift Heron is my most offbeat.
  More likely the Vagabond and Wildfire.
  Posted by: Yanoer on Mar-01-13 10:46 PM (EST)
The Vagabond for sure. It's a bit tougher decision for the Monarch, but selling it would fit right in to my debt reduction plan.

If I had more space & money, I'd keep all that I have and add a few.
  You got my attention!
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-03-13 1:46 PM (EST)
Are things thawed down by you? I would certainly love to come and test paddle your boats.

I'm a big gal, and take doxies with me often. If I find the right boat, might even take tripping.

Kneeling 100% of the time is becoming a problem for me.... I need to sit sometimes to rest the legs. I'm no spring chicken anymore.... 8 hours on the knees is no longer an option.
  Maybe next Sunday - 40's forecast.
  Posted by: Yanoer on Mar-03-13 7:11 PM (EST)
Some of the local small lakes should be thawed out.

Also, Wenonah sliding foot braces or other foot brace options can be installed in any solo canoe to make sitting more comfortable and in more control than without foot braces.
  Next Sunday
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-03-13 7:48 PM (EST)
Yanoer - heading up to Canoecopia next weekend. Maybe the weekend after that? We are to get more snow here this week too. Ugh.
  Forgot about Canoecopia.
  Posted by: Yanoer on Mar-03-13 8:04 PM (EST)
Sometime after that if you don't buy a boat there.

I picked up used solo canoes the last two years at Canoecopia.
  North Central Indiana.
  Posted by: sloopsailor on Mar-03-13 9:10 AM (EST)
I have a NovaCraft Supernova. Great big load solo boat. NOT for a small person. You would be welcome to take her for a spin. She is fairly beat up, but solid and paddles very nicely.
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-03-13 2:00 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-03-13 2:09 PM EST --

I didn't like the Supernova..... a bit wide for my liking for solo. Though the one I paddled had seat altered (placed center instead of aft of center, and I believe the seat is place aft of center usually).

I have a bell wildfire, and love the boat to death. I just am not comfortable kneeling 100% of the time (I need to sit at times to get blood to the feet), and find her a bit tippy when I sit in her... not to mention the issues of switching from the sitting to kneeling position has always been a problem for me in this boat. Did I mention I'm a big gal? LOL

I need rocker....I'm a river runner at heart, and want my maneuverability over speed.

I eyeballed the Bell Rockstar a lot, but those are few and far between. Bought the Wenonah Rendezvous... hated that boat; it belongs to someone else now.

My goal is to find some people willing to let me test drive solo canoes. I can find on the internet all the solo boats out there, but the problem is I can't find retail stores that carry them so I can test paddle them. I can't keep buying boats over and over and over to 'find the right one'.

It frustrates me that canoe companies are not marketing their boats. It is like they are operating on a wing and a prayer. I don't get it.

  Partial Reply
  Posted by: guideboatguy on Mar-03-13 3:21 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-03-13 3:31 PM EST --

I have a Supernova and have always been a bit perplexed by the seat placement. The boat has a fair bit of rocker and so trim affects tracking and turning characteristics quite a bit. With the seat in the factory position, you NEED to put something heavy in front of you to level-out the boat. I think the boat is heavily marketed as a solo tripper which means they expect a person to be traveling with a load. If you have only one big pack with you, putting the seat a bit toward the rear makes sense (I always carry two packs to make it possible to level-out a boat even when the seat placement provides proper trim with no load). They might also be considering the fact that many people don't have enough reach to comfortably paddle from closer to center (as you found out). Anyway, a pretty standard thing to do with that boat is to move the seat forward from its factory position by one seat-width, as that puts it about the same distance rearward of center as what's standard for solo canoes. However, I do remember seeing in one of the reviews on this site that someone wasn't happy with the boat handling until they'd moved the seat BACK one seat-width. I can't imagine someone liking the way the boat would handle in that situation. Odds are, they weren't good at paddling, and "sticking" the stern that way helped tracking for them.

As far as the way canoes are marketed and the lack of models being available for test paddling, I think it's because canoes are not selling like hotcakes anywhere these days. Profit margins are very slim, and producing more boats than what's been ordered probably would kill whatever profit is there. Three companies I've dealt with only manufacture a specific boat once it has been ordered, so if there are any extra ones out there, it's only because a dealer ordered them and expects to sell them soon, not because someone wants to make them available for test-paddling. It's unfortunate, but I don't think there's much potential for increasing sales simply by making more boats available. The fact is, the number of people who are out shopping for canoes probably can't easily be increased right now.

  I see your point
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-03-13 4:21 PM (EST)
I see your point on what you stated above, but I don't understand why ALL the canoe companies don't get together and sell the public on canoes? By not having any boats out there to gaze at, touch, and say "ahhhh... I need one of these", they aren't going to sell any boats to people other than staunch canoers. I am no business guru, but I know as soon as I saw my first Bell canoe, I knew I was going to buy one. If I never see a canoe, then there will be no 'tickle' to get my wallet out. Are they in the business to SELL canoes, or just to make them?
  guideboatguy, we had a battle about the
  Posted by: ezwater on Mar-03-13 5:36 PM (EST)
Supernova seating position on myccr. I'm a proponent of kneeling right smack up, thighs under the center thwart. In that position, I'm reaching forward to take the catch over a narrower portion of the boat. I can skip j-stroke correction on most strokes, and the boat runs straight cheerfully.

If someone sits back where Novacraft puts the Supernova seat, they have to take the catch over a significantly wider part of the hull, and physics shows that the boat will need more correction.

I simply don't understand why any solo paddler would want to sit or kneel back toward the stern, rather than in the center where much of one's stroke takes place in a narrower zone of boat width.
  I agree
  Posted by: sloopsailor on Mar-08-13 2:17 PM (EST)
I moved my seat forward one seat width. Paddles much better empty that way.
  Install foot braces in your Wildfire.
  Posted by: Yanoer on Mar-03-13 7:08 PM (EST)
Then you can sit in it and still have pretty good control while stretching your legs.

They'll add a an entire new dimension to the Wildfire.
  Solo Canoe Events
  Posted by: TommyC1 on Mar-03-13 3:38 PM (EST)
Yeah it's nice to put be able to paddle a boat before you buy it.

There is a thread on the Getting Together and Paddling forum about the Western PA Solo Canoe gathering in early June.
The Raystown Lake gathering in October is another to look for. Neither are close but sill might be worth your while.
  PA Rendezvous
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-03-13 4:14 PM (EST)
I am planning on going to the PA solo canoe Rendezvous in early June. Would like to have a boat b/4 then, but if I have to, I will.
  If you have a solo by then bring it
  Posted by: kayamedic on Mar-03-13 6:48 PM (EST)
Lots of us are going to bring lots of other choices to expand your solo wardrobe and potentially deflate your pocketbook.

W Pa Solo Canoe Rendezvous is NOT a commercial event. We paddlers do ourselves in.

Because paddlers are predominantly from the eastern Midwest and western East, there are not many Wenonahs brought.

One year a fella that works at Rutabaga was kind enough to bring a bunch out.
  Bell Wildfire vs. Hemlock SRT
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Mar-04-13 3:02 AM (EST)
I have both canoes. If you think the Wildfire is too tippy to when in the seated position, I guarantee the SRT will feel even more tippy. It's narrower at the wateline than the Wildfire and the bottom shape is more rounded. Hence faster but tippier.

I drop my SRT seats about 1.5" below where Harold Deal and Dave Curtis put them. This gives me more seated confidence but still allows me to get my feet out from under the seat with low volume booties. I can sit higher in the Wildfire and feel less tippy.

The SRT is my favorite solo canoe but it wouldn't be if I had to sit more than 10% of the time, or if I had to sit in anything more than minor wind and waves. It's a kneeling canoe.
  Same for the DragonFly
  Posted by: kayamedic on Mar-04-13 7:46 AM (EST)
The WildFire in comparison is much wider at the waterline.

You might even want to consider going to a small tandem like a StarFire. Its currently made by Colden. One probably will show at WPASCR.

But you mentioned the SN is too wide.. Perhaps its time to focus on the paddler and development of balance, particularly in those awkward transitions between sitting and kneeling.. And I hear you on those. Footwear does count and can make that miserable, impossible or not too hard.
  Hemlock Peregrinne, Bells....
  Posted by: bigspencer on Mar-04-13 11:17 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-06-13 6:35 PM EST --

Haven't seen DC's Peregrine or Nomad(past) mentioned. Very nice canoes, along with the smaller Kestrel. Their SRT adds a little more volume, cutting efficiency a little..on flatwater..but still reads ok. Would like to demo an Osprey sometime. Coldens look pretty nice...along with Hemlocks, Placids, and others(US and CAN). My limited experience has been that one often has to check up on the unpaddled's specs and compare with dimensional performance of your own experiences, as CE does when he chimes in from time to time. I haven't read of anything in the canoebuilding industry such as the SIA shows.. Not many being made pre-order these days...y/n? (Charlie..?)

  Posted by: rblturtle on Mar-04-13 1:49 PM (EST)
the swift osprey comes to mind when i read this discussion.a lot of teander-shy people have felt ok in mine-sitting or kneeling. getting feet in an out from under the seat is an issue all by itself.
  Posted by: pblanc on Mar-04-13 1:57 PM (EST)
I thought the same and agree the Osprey paddles well both sitting and kneeling. But with differential rocker perhaps a bit less nimble than the Wildfire.
  Shearwater definitely
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Mar-04-13 2:33 PM (EST)
You can sit or kneel comfortably and safely.
  locking in
  Posted by: nycmhandy on Mar-07-13 8:38 PM (EST)
Locking yourself in to the WildFire may help you feel steadier. Add a footbrace (a canoe-style bar or kayak-style pedals), and/or add some padding inside or under the rails, so you can brace your knees there.

Also, psychologically speaking, if you have the boat outfitted with float bags, and if you have practiced self-rescue, and if you are carrying equipment to help you self-rescue (like a cheap kayak paddle and a paddlefloat), you might feel less nervous in the boat.

I paddled a WildFire for 11 years, and I can attest it will handle some moderately rough conditions without problems. I weighed maybe 220 pounds at the time. You just need some equipment, skills, and confidence.

Can't help you with test paddling, unless you want to come to New York City!

  Larger and Off Beat?
  Posted by: CEWilson on Mar-08-13 8:56 AM (EST)
There are just a few hulls that have rocker and are more stable than WildFire. Merrimac's Baboosic, has the same length and significant symmetrical rocker, but is an inch wider at waterline. It's also kinda heavy, 40 lbs, compared to Colden's ~30 lb Wild.

Other hulls with wider waterlines are longer, another source of stability, and they all have differential rocker. Swift's Osprey is 15 by 30 max beam, 27 waterline, can be had under 30 lbs. Bell's RockStar was/is 15 by 31/28, so more stable yet. Swift's ShearWater 16.2 ft by 31/28 shares Osprey's rocker but the length compromises maneuverability.

So there's the array, one no longer made, two from smaller, off-beat? builders and two more from a major manufacturer. Email me at for a comprehensive list of solo canoe dimensions so you can make your own comparisons.
  Does Clipper Canoe represent itself...
  Posted by: canoeswithduckheads on Mar-08-13 11:12 AM (EST) Chicagoland?

Because, if I recall correctly (I know I do fondly), the 14-foot Prospector they make represented to me (on the only two occasions I was able to paddle the boat, thanks to its loan to Mike McCrea for a Paddler Magazine review), an about 210-lb. and 6-foot tall fellow, a nice marriage of the semi-nimble, semi-lithe, semi-light (at least the 42-lb. or thereabouts Kevlar model was to this fellow used to heft'n about semi-weight 16-to-17-footer glass or Royalex dog-container ships) and reasonably stable 14-footer. A little more ellipticated (Ok, that's my word) than rounded to bottom (such as the Merri Baboo), it allowed me a slight bit more freedom to remain seated whilst twisting torso for a sternward drybag retrieval, or bobblin' my potato-n-rock hopper topper madly to port whilst in a muckled-up giggle-fest, something that both the SuperNova and Baboosic had disparaged in dampness on occasions prior. Seated or kneeling, the boat's symmetrical rocker, though listed at a somewhat timid 1-1/2 inches, afforded quick and easy spins with only a slight amount of lean, making twisty stream rock-dodging an enjoyable exercise. Out on some expansive windy flats of the Susquehanna, she still tracked for me without too many corrective flounder-flails accompanied by weather-names-spun-vain.

Anyway, I enjoyed the boat, wish I could have afforded it then (or now), and I believe, at its listed 14-ft. length, 29" gunnel/29" waterline beams, might be a candidate worthy of your consideration, should one be coming to a neighborhood near you.

  Interesting thought
  Posted by: pblanc on Mar-08-13 2:48 PM (EST)
I haven't paddled that boat, but I did see a Clipper 14 Prospector when I toured their facility a couple of years ago. To my knowledge, Clipper has no US dealers. They do have several in Ontario.

If I remember correctly, I believe that Marlin Bayes told me he has a small network of drivers that make deliveries of Clipper boats across the border at intervals, at least to cities in the northern US.

Clippers are well made. For the most part, they are hand laminated, although the foam cores are vacuum bagged, so they are perhaps not the lightest. The Clipper Prospector 14 in the Duraflex layup lists at 44 lbs and I can testify that the Duraflex layup is very tough.

Seems as if the odds of finding one in the Chicago area are low, but if anyone is interested give Marlin a call and he can probably tell you if one was sold to someone there.
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-11-13 11:32 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-11-13 11:42 PM EST --

I will add it to my list to paddle. Anyone have one to test paddle?

Just looked up the specs.... I like the numbers!

Tx for suggesting!!!

  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-11-13 11:43 PM (EST)
BTW.... Chicagoland = suburb of Chicago.
  off beat solo canoes?
  Posted by: rblturtle on Mar-09-13 10:53 AM (EST)
i think this term depends on your location and paddling company. i often paddle in a colden flashfire with a couple of hemlock srts,a moore reverie,more coldens,some placids,a savage river, ect. we rarly have a wenonah along.a relitive term.
  Offbeat Response
  Posted by: msyfoopoo99 on Mar-11-13 11:45 PM (EST)
I see your point. But it seems now-a-days, all canoes are "off beat" (let along solo canoes) cause you can't find any anywhere to test paddle..... kayaks as far as the eye can see.
  test paddling
  Posted by: rblturtle on Mar-12-13 7:18 AM (EST)
the best way to pick a boat is to get connected to a good active canoe canoe paddling group that does your kind of paddling-whitewater,flatwater,tripping ect. in my group we often have newbees along and supply a boat if they don't have one or a boat they are interested in an want to try. in my experience solo canoers are eager to help interested partys. we also have converted many kayakers this ia also a great way to find local paddling spots.


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