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  Want advice on solo canoe
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-13 12:26 AM (EST)
   Category: Canoes 

I am looking for advice on a solo canoe.
For day trips lakes or slow rivers.
I like speed, but need stability -- I want to feel safe in wind/waves. Maneuverability is not a key factor.

I'm 6/7" and 235 lb, and generally canoe with no more than 30 additional pounds of weight in my solo. I've done casual canoeing for 40 years and am moderately skilled.

I've had a Wenonah Voyager for ~ 5 yrs (along with tandems). Although it goes like the proverbial bat-out-of-hell, after a couple of dumps and some real struggles with wind, I'm scared if conditions aren't really good.

I'm considering a Wenonah Prism (Kevlar flexcore). As advertised, the Wenonah CanAk also looks interesting. But I know there is a big world of experience out there. Any advice?

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Messages in this Topic


  Prism a good choice
  Posted by: duckhunter on Apr-21-13 6:49 AM (EST)
My fleet of solos contains a Prism in flex core lay up. It should be fine for your size and load. It is very stable and I can't imagine upsetting it. I wildlife watch, hunt, and fish from mine.

Sometimes wind can be a problem but wind can be a problem in any solo. I try to paddle in the early morning before the wind picks up.

The ultra light layup in the Prism would save you 10 pounds in weight but cost a little more. As one ages and looses strength lighter weight items have more appeal.

I don't think you would go wrong with either Prism.
  Consider an alternative?
  Posted by: rpg51 on Apr-21-13 8:13 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-21-13 8:14 AM EST --

I am a life long avid canoe paddler with decent skills and a fair amount of paddling experience in all sorts of conditions. Recently, at age 60ish, I decided to try paddling a sea kayak in the kind of conditions you describe. It has been a learning experience and a lot of fun. I still consider myself #1 a canoe paddler. But, if you are paddling in windy and rough conditions a sea kayak is a joy compared to an open canoe. Something to consider.

  Maybe a sea kayak
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-13 9:10 PM (EST)
Thanks for the advice on the sea kayak. I expect that it would handle bad conditions much better. Unfortunately, its the canoe experience that I enjoy. I like the paddling position. I like being able to paddle with less room required. Maybe in the future...
  You are too tall for the Voyager
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-21-13 8:40 AM (EST)
Please stop looking at weights and consider height.

There is too much of you above the gunwale in the boat you are paddling. You only have 21.5 inches between the rails. The cardinal rule of solo paddling is to keep your head between the rails. If it gets bouncy and rolly out, I would expect you would capsize. Your particular head is on a long lever!

The Voyager was meant to be paddled with a tripping load. Your are basically paddling it empty. The weight you do have (you) is not distributed on the bottom as cargo is. Your weight distribution is columnar with your center of gravity off the floor.

You need a wider boat. Solo boats are best fit by knee spread..Taller people usually have more. Weight really does not factor in at all in a negative sense until you start losing adequate freeboard. In fact weight on the bottom will increase stability.
  Might also have to do with hull
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-21-13 2:53 PM (EST)
cross section. I'm quite stable in a slalom c-1 that (excluding the ears to cheat the rules) is only 26" wide max, and allows less knee spread than his Voyageur. My hip to shoulder height is near to that of 6' 7" paddlers. There are at least two factors making for stability in my c-1, rocker and outward hull flare just above the water line. The Voyageur and similar hulls have zilch rocker, and as they tilt, their sides are sloping in above the waterline. I own an old kayak that slopes in like that, and it has little initial stability in spite of its flattish bottom.

Maybe he should give up some speed and look at the Swifts.
  that too I agree NM
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-21-13 2:54 PM (EST)
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-13 8:43 PM (EST)
Why the Swift? As it happens, I paddled a 15' Swift Keeywaydin at the Saratoga Paddlefest. It seemed like a nice little boat, but a bit shorter (presumably slower) and not as straight-tracking as I'm used to. Bill Swift, who I note is fairly tall (?6'4") suggested that the 16'4" Shearwater might suit me better. He had none there, but offered to bring one to the Old Forge Paddlefest. The Swift was certainly a beautiful boat.

Any thoughts on the Shearwater? Or a comparison to Prism?
  How much speed loss?
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-13 9:15 PM (EST)
Regarding "give up speed"... Does anyone know how much speed loss I should expect from my Voyager to a Prism to a Swift?
I typically paddle a bit over 4 mph (says the Garmin Etrex GPS that I keep between my feet). About 4.5 mph is what I can sustain over, say 6-7 miles. I can sustain about 5 mph for a reasonable distance (say, a mile), and can get to 5.5 for short distances. Thats with the Voyager.
Anyone have a sense for how much I'll lose with other boats?
  Sure. theoretical hull speed for a Pack
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-21-13 9:31 PM (EST)
is 1.55x the square root of 12. 5.4 mph but you will be very tired. The Pack like other bathtubs is a great workout machine.

The theoretical hull speed of your Voyager? 1.55x square root of 17.5.

6.5 mph. While most paddlers can't approach hull speed of their boat you see you will lose 1.1 mph in comparison.

Plus the Pack is really wide and the seat oddly placed.. Its hard to get a vertical stroke. You can try any manner of more lengthy boats from Swift Canoe..the Osprey or the Keewaydin 15, or the Magic from Bell or the Prism.. just to name a few.

Seems your soul would be broken with a bathtub.
  There is no definite answer to that
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Apr-21-13 9:35 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-21-13 9:49 PM EST --

The maximum speed of any general-purpose canoe can be determined quite accurately with the standard hull-speed calculation, which is influenced by waterline length and nothing else. However, it's worth noting that you have to be a tremendous paddler to achieve that speed, especially with a single-blade paddle. All other aspects of hull design on speed will affect the relative paddling effort at particular speeds, and there's just no way to quantify that except if a machine is doing the paddling. Rest assured that a big guy like you paddling a wider, "slower" boat, will not be slowed down as much by that choice as a smaller paddler who fits the "faster", narrower boat better than you do. Being bigger, presumably a bit stronger, and having an easier time reaching out to maintain a vertical paddle position (something a smaller person in a wider boat finds awkward), is your advantage over the smaller person. That's why only a machine can quantify the little bit of extra paddling effort that will be required. Maintaining a particular cruising speed in a wider boat won't seem like as much extra effort to you as it would to a smaller person so the degree to which that boat is slower will be much less in your case.

  Look for a boat
  Posted by: stevet on Apr-21-13 9:57 AM (EST)
with something near a 30" width between gunnels, and close to that at the waterline. They are out there. You will give up a bit in speed, but should gain the stability you are looking for. (Kim is right that knee spread and that fit is more important than weight in your situation).

You could look at small tandems and then outfit for solo, but above that 30" width it becomes difficult to keep the paddle shaft vertical during a stroke without heeling to one side. Assuming you have fairly long arms that size should suit you well.

  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-13 7:44 PM (EST)
Have you looked at an Old Town Pack? They're the ass kickers of the solo world. Way better than those gay yaks and one of the only canoes that can please the gods. Try one out and you'll take it home. Just be sure to keep a cooler full of beer in it...for all those hot college chicks that are gonna abandon their kayaks and wanna ride in your Pack!! GIGITTY!!
  Old TOwn Pack?
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-13 8:48 PM (EST)
I've not tried an Old Town Pack. Looking at specs, it seems that 12' length with 31.75" waterline would not have the physics to go either fast or straight.

But that's a statement from my understanding of theory rather than actual paddling. Is reality different?

I plan to use a single bladed paddle. I'm not a fan of the kayak paddles.
  Wenonah solo plus?
  Posted by: LeeG on Apr-21-13 8:46 PM (EST)
  High capacity Solo canoe for fishing
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-22-13 10:22 AM (EST)
I initially bought an OT Pack for fishing small lakes and it's lightweight. 33lbs makes it easy to throw up on top of my truck camper and go.
Then I really got into river paddling and now I paddle more than I fish. After 2 years I started noticing that the Pack really doesn't paddle very well. Too short and wide. So I bought a Wenonah Argosy. 2 1/2ft. longer and 4" narrower. Makes for nicer paddling but I don't know how well I'd like it for fishing. I fly fish so there are more gymnastics involved than casting a spin rod. I'm a little under 6ft and a little over 215 lbs.
:>) There is one guy in the area who's pretty big. I'd guesstimate about 6ft. tall and around 350 lbs. He paddles a short tandem, sorry don't know which one, and
doesn't use the factory seat. he stripped them out and
put in some 2x4 sleepers that hold a short aluminum lawn chair. The seat is less than 6" off the bottom.
So he sits lower down than a seat and uses a
kayak paddle so the width doesn't matter as much as if
he used a single blade paddle. He gets around pretty good so it doesn't seem to hinder him very much if at all.
  The Argosy isn't a good choice for
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-22-13 11:16 AM (EST)
tall paddlers, especially with a long torso.

Without a load, it's fairly unstable unless you sit down low. The instability comes from its cross sectional hull shape which has its widest point down low for efficient sit and switch paddling. In waves it gets pretty squirrely and the OP asked for stable.

This is a case of me, an Argosy owner, relating things about it that might not fit other paddlers needs well.
  4 boats
  Posted by: jefallon on Apr-22-13 11:51 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-22-13 11:54 AM EST --

Here are 4 boats that should fit the bill. All good general paddling hulls for a big guy, stable with good knee spread and capacity. All slower than the Voyageur but not total slugs.

Swift Shearwater
Hemlock Eaglet I
Wenonah Wilderness- composite
Bell Rockstar- composite

  Thanks -- Rocker impact on stability?
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-22-13 10:00 PM (EST)
Thanks for the suggestions. I was already interested in the Shearwater and Wilderness. Rockstar and Eaglet are new on my screen.

I notice each of these canoes has rocker. I do most of my paddling (Voyager, Wenonah Minnesota II) on canoes with 0 rocker. (Although my Wenonah Champlain does have some rocker).

I know that rocker affects tracking/maneuverability. Does it have an impact on stability?
  No. Cross section hull shape is a
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-23-13 8:37 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-23-13 8:59 AM EST --

factor determining stability and never have I seen it presented for each boat at bow stern and midpoint stations.

If a boat has a flared bow and shouldered tumblehome you can pretty much put it on its side and it will remain upright. You might go in if your head gets out of bounds, but your boat will be stable!

The Eaglet, Rockstar and Shearwater all are very stable.. more so than my Argosy. Cant speak for the Wilderness.

  Rocker can improve stability, but only
  Posted by: ezwater on Jun-02-13 10:17 AM (EST)
as part of an overall package. What improves stability is a hull where tipping puts more supportive surface in the water. I have ww hulls 30" wide or less where you would swear they would feel tippy, because of their elliptical bottoms. But actually they feel firm and secure.

You've stated clearly that you prefer a no rocker hull that tracks well at good speed. But your Voyageur doesn't seem stable enough. First, perhaps someone has pointed out already that the Voyageur is designed for a paddler and a full load, and the load would increase stability. Second, you're after highly opposite goals. Changes improving stability in heavy seas are going to cost you some in speed and tracking.

So the best we can do is suggest boats that give more stability than they take away in speed and tracking.
  Posted by: yetiman on Apr-25-13 9:20 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 9:23 AM EST --

Have you looked at an Advantage ?? I think it would be better suited to your use than the Prism, and wouldn't give up much speed to the Voyager.

I have owned all three, and kept the Voyager and the Advantage. I use the Advantage at least twice as often as the Voyager.

I bought one of the first Voyagers made, before it was officially released. I loved it for tripping but not so much as a day paddler. I was paddling a Sawyer Shockwave before that (very similar to an Advantage).

I then bought an Advantage which I used for day paddling.

If you haven't tried your Voyager with a cover on it, I would HIGHLY recommend it. I used to put a five gallon jug of water in the stern when paddling it empty, and that helped a lot. I then made my own cover, and the canoe was transformed in the wind.
After a while I bought a Cooke cover for it and I wish I had done it the day I bought the Voyager. It really transforms the canoe in the wind, and makes it a much better day paddler (and a better tripper too).

Another canoe I would look at would be the Grasse River Classic XL.

DO NOT buy a pack canoe. Or at least try one first. It is a bobber compared to the Voyager/Prism/Advantage. You will feel like your going backwards.

  Excuse me?? Pack canoes are bobbers?
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-25-13 10:27 AM (EST)
I suspect you have not met RapidFire and Shadow..both of Placid Boatworks. Joe and co decidedly do not build bobbers.. they place well in the 90 miler in the Adirondacks.
  All Pack canoes are bobbers
  Posted by: clarion on Apr-25-13 12:30 PM (EST)
... but not all pack canoes are bobbers.

Think about it ... wait for the "aha"
  I'd rather be a bobber
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-25-13 12:34 PM (EST)
than a sinker..!
  I've tried both
  Posted by: clarion on Apr-25-13 1:40 PM (EST)
And I agree!
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-25-13 9:39 PM (EST)
Thanks for the advice. As it happens, I agonized over the Voyager vs Advantage decision before purchasing the Voyager. I ended up concerned that the Advantage was too shallow in the ends to handle a wave (that without any real information). Add to that a chance to test paddle a Voyager and Magic (but not Advantage) and I fell in love with Voyager. Wish I'd had your advice then.

Also appreciate that words on the cover. After getting the Voyager and having a situation where I was actually twice blown in a full circle when trying to cross a windy point, I toyed with the idea of a cover. I did not have any solid info on the impact of a cover and never pulled the trigger. Now I'm pretty sold on a wider and less aggressive canoe, although the cover idea may make the Voyager an interesting 2nd canoe idea. (Well... second solo to go with the tandem fleet).

I'm not interested in the double bladed paddle experience, and don't care for the sit-on-the-floor position, so a pack canoe is out. Although looking at the Rapidfire and Shadow, I can see why they're fast. Not much in common with an Old Town Pack.
  pack canoe
  Posted by: yetiman on Apr-28-13 9:54 AM (EST)
I am sorry I wasn't more specific, I was referring to an Old Town Pack Canoe (the one CALLED a pack canoe).
  ...Although I have yet to paddle either.
  Posted by: bigspencer on Apr-28-13 6:34 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-28-13 6:55 PM EST --

I think some rocker will help...a few others = Colden's Wildfire, Bell's Rockstar(royalex/composite), Hemlock's SRT + a few by NovaCraft, granted a little heavier, but good hull design. Prism should work, but I think the rocker in these others will be more maneuverable in moving water.


  OT Pack
  Posted by: pamskee on Apr-28-13 10:50 PM (EST)
I don't think you would be happy with the OT Pack. It paddles like an elongated wash tub, which would be nasty for a tall person. And, yes, I have paddled/polled an actual wash tub. :^)
  Rocker and Tracking
  Posted by: CEWilson on Apr-28-13 11:23 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-29-13 8:54 AM EST --

Rocker doesn't much effect tracking. The best measurement for tracking is block co-efficient; waterline length by waterline length by draft. The less of that block the hull fills the better it will track.

Because it's kinda difficult to compute the exact hull volume, and because most solo canoes ride about 3" deep with just the paddler aboard, we can pretty easily ignore draft and compute length to width ration.

The OT pack's L/W is 4.55, the Voyageur's 7.3 Most solo canoes L/W ratios fall between those two with higher numbers tracking better.

Stern rocker effects tracking only because we mostly paddle poorly. Not stacking one's hands over the rail and /or carrying the blade aft of the body creats sweeping components on our forward stroke. Many manufacturers skeg the sterns, ie design in differential rocker with the stern having little or no rocker to resist our misdirected torquing forces. If everyone would take a paddling lesson we could increase maneuverability and forward speed by increasing stern rocker. ??

Lack of bow rocker in recreational hulls pretty much indicates that the manufacturer does not have a clue. Marathon hulls continue to be flat keeled for handling reasons. ICF hulls, generally have 3" bow rocker and 2" stern carried mostly to center over 16.67 feet, and they are significantly faster than any other canoe.

  Good points, I understand, but
  Posted by: ezwater on Jun-02-13 4:50 PM (EST)
while a canoe can have a good bit of rocker and track well, in the hands of a klutz, a very rockered canoe gets out of that "magic" zone and veers, and skids.

The thing people don't understand about highly rockered ww canoes is that they don't need correction on every stroke, unless wind, wave, or paddler klutziness knocks the boat off it's path. Then ruddering or a J-stroke is needed to correct.

I personally haven't paddled many hard tracking hulls, and I can find them annoying. My old Moore Voyageur and my Bluewater both have enough lift at the ends that they can be steered without veering. I have tried a Wenonah Solo Plus and a WN Rendezvous, and my reaction was, I don't *need* all this stubborn tracking, not even on a lake. And I'm to lazy to cruise near hull speed, anyway.
  I owned a Voyager, but ....
  Posted by: davbart on Apr-29-13 6:25 AM (EST)
replaced it with a GRB Classic XL. In my experience, the Classic XL has the same speed, similar stability (slightly better secondary), and is much better in the wind. I definitely don't regret the change.

I weigh 230, but am only 6'2".
  Made the buy!
  Posted by: old_user on Jun-02-13 7:12 AM (EST)
After all this advice, I went to Adirondack Paddlefest. Swift brought in a Shearwater for me to try. I truly expected to buy that boat, but upon paddling it I felt "ok, but blah". I tried a Wenonah Wilderness and really DISliked that boat. I tried a Wenonah Prism, and it put a big smile on my face.

I ended up buying the Wenonah Prism (ultra-lite because the show discount made that nearly same price as the kevlar flex-core). Based on a couple of paddles, it seems to be a good combination of reasonable speed (although about 10% slower than my Voyager) and stability (seems to be much steadier than my Voyager and less impacted by wind).

If it doesn't make you feel happy, whats the point?
  The purchase (continued)
  Posted by: old_user on Jun-02-13 7:14 AM (EST)
Anyway, thanks to all who gave advice. I found the info helpful.

[By the way, also just got a Bending Branches Espresso paddle that I really like. Its a work of art, and still pretty darned light, at a pretty reasonable price.]
  The purchase (continued)
  Posted by: old_user on Jun-02-13 7:14 AM (EST)
Anyway, thanks to all who gave advice. I found the info helpful.

[By the way, also just got a Bending Branches Espresso paddle that I really like. Its a work of art, and still pretty darned light, at a pretty reasonable price.]
  Big grins
  Posted by: yetiman on Jun-02-13 10:59 AM (EST)
Big grins are what it's all about !

The Prism is a fun canoe that is a great mix of day paddler and tripper.



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