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Splitrock, Osprey, Mist, Prism? Which?

Hi Folks, I posted over on Canadian Canoe Routes a question about my next canoe purchase and I think I have exhausted everyone there -- I mean I have exhausted their knowledge -- so I am putting the question out here as well.

I currently own a PBW Spitfire and a Wenonah Solo Plus. Love the Spitfire for small lakes, estuaries, ponds, marshes, etc. Have paddled the Rapidfire and love it, but not feeling like a trip stateside to pick one up, etc.

I'm on Vancouver Island and have local distributors for Clipper, Wenonah, Bluewater, and Old Town. Also Swift and Souris River will ship me a canoe.

I want a light (under 35 lbs if possible), fast, flatwater solo to replace my Solo Plus (which is 45 lbs). I'm willing to trade off some speed for sea worthiness in big waves, but I find, for example, the Rapidfire to be plenty sea worthy.

I paddle primarily with an Aleut double and straight shaft single. I like to sit most of the time, but enjoy kneeling on occasion. I don't plan to use this boat for any river running, etc. I like foot pegs or a foot bar.

I must store it outside so minimal maintenance is preferred, i.e. as little wood as possible.

I do very little tripping, mostly day trips with the odd three day excursion.

So my list is as follows: Splitrock,Mist,Osprey, Prism, Solitude, Tranquility, Packer. In that order at the moment, which has changed from what I discovered on CCR.

I've only paddled the Solitude from this list, but also have paddled a Rendezvous, Voyageur, and a NW Ultimate 12 along with a few kayaks and some tandems.

So, for speed on flatwater first and wind and waves second, which boat should I buy?


  • Beware board crossover
    It would be nice if the CCR folks kept quiet,but that might not happen!
  • I love my Osprey but...
    If you want a FAST boat the Osprey is not it.
    The Osprey is the most efficient boat I've paddled at up to roughly 4.5 mph (7.25 kph) It takes very little effort to push it along up to there. But it hits the wall pretty hard if you try to go faster.
    With only my 180 lbs (82 kg) on board it's quite manuverable which is to say you will need to pay a bit more attention to keeping your course than you do presently.
    It does stiffen up a good deal when I add 70 or more lbs.(32 kg)
    I find the Osprey a very versatile boat capable and comfortable in anything from big lakes to class II+, carrying a weeks worth of gear or a light lunch. The Osprey loves waves!
    Oh yeah I always kneel. The few times I've tried sitting it felt a little squirelly.

    If you get the chance you ought to try one out.
    But IMO it is not the boat you are asking for.
  • agreed....
    I agree with Tommy about the Osprey in pretty much every way.

    Of your list I would recommend the Prism and maybe would add the Bell Magic to it.

    Magic is reasonably fast and is certainly good in wind and waves.

  • No Magic?
    The Bell Magic would seem to fit the bill almost perfectly. Available in light weight layups, fast, can handle wind/waves, and has just enough rocker let you turn without too much trouble but still tracks well.

    I have one and am very happy with it, it's a great boat. I mostly day trip with it but have also raced it and taken it on multi-day fishing/camping trips with the dog.

  • For what you want to do, I would not
    consider either Bluewater boat. The Mist is obsolete and the Splitrock is not suitable for very wavy open water.

    And I'm a Bluewater fan and owner.

    If you can't find a suitable boat from what Wenonah offers, I don't think we can help you.
  • Options
    So -- Osprey not fast but nibble

    Your comment really confirm what I have heard elsewhere. Sounds like everyone loves the Osprey for a versatile nimble boat when paddled kneeling, but NOT a boat for sitting in on big waves.

    Some have recommended the Shearwater as a better big water sitting boat.
  • Options
    No dealer near me
    Alas, I can only gaze longingly from afar at the Magic. No dealer within 1,000 miles of here. And, sad to say, the other dealers do not, as a rule, carry solo boats.

    So I must rely on the kindness of friends and strangers willing to let me try out their boats. I have been very fortunate this way and have been able to rule out a number of boats, but haven't been able to shout "this is the one!" yet.

    If anyone Magic owners out there are contemplating a trip to Vancouver island...
  • Options
    Noooooo don't say that!!!!
    Ok, maybe I have my hopes set a little high with the Splitrock. When you say "not suitable for very wavy open water" what exactly are you talking about here. I'm talking 3 foot waves and under most of the time.

    The Mist is really obsolete? I wondered about that. Mostly the lack of rocker, especially differential rocker, which seems to make a world of difference to how a boat paddles in my limited experience.

    So what DO you like about Bluewater?

    Also, I'm not sure I get your comment about Wenonah. The Prism is the only boat that really seems to fit the bill for me. The Wilderness is a tripper, the Argosy is a downwater boat, I have the Solo Plus, The Voyager I have paddled and is more boat than I need (so am assuming the Encounter would be too), and the others seem too far away from what I am looking at. I have not looked at the Vagabond for awhile...
  • Nibble on my Osprey?
    You'll be picking kevlar from between your teeth for weeks!

    I've only sat in my Osprey a few times and not for long. I simply prefer kneeling. I'll speculate that lowering the seat and adding a good foot brace would go a long way to making any canoe more sit friendly.
    From my knees the Osprey seems quite content in 3' waves.
  • Mist is relative to David Yosts
    Autumn Mist which was a classic tripping desing from the 1980's. Obsolete is in the eye of the beholder but its a "go straight" boat for sure.

    The Vagabond will turn better than the Prism. I just wish Vag wasnt so beamy. I got to try both on the same windy whitecappy day.
  • osprey
    in response to some of the followup comments on the Osprey...

    Yes, on your knees in big waves the boat is awesome. I have had mine out on days that were probably not really "for canoeing" days with high winds and big waves steepened by current opposing the wind. The boat does better than any other in these conditions if you are kneeling. Great secondary stability in big beam waves, and while the wind turn it a bit, the boat's maneuverability allows you to counteract the wind and turn / maintain the boat in any direction you want to go.

    I find it okay for sitting actually. I can paddle sitting pretty comfortably in calm water. I think that a foot bar makes a difference for this. I can get probalby 5 strokes on a side when sitting prior to switching.

    And I would agree that it is a super efficient boat. Paddling at normal touring speeds is pretty much effortless. Too much so for me actually because I just don't feel like I am getting a good enough workout! Adding gear for a trip changes this of course.

    The Osprey really is a pretty great boat. I think it is one of the best "kneeling" boats out there for general use. For me peronally it is the best for this application after having owned and tried lots and lots of solo canoes.

    Actually one boat that is not mentioned that is awesome for the application you want: a Sawyer Loon...if you can find one (used). It, along with the other Kruger boats, is one of the finest boats for speed and rough water ability. But...it's kind of a different breeed as a decked canoe.


  • I think the Prism might be a very good
    choice. I'm tall and fairly heavy, so the Voyageur might be OK.

    My comments about the Splitrock are based on its lines, which suggest a boat designed for speed on relatively flat water. Note the bulgy, low wingy things.

    Our Bluewater was made before the sale to Scott. The craftsmanship is very good. My personal favorite of the Bluewater line is the 17' Freedom. The Mist is OK for an old design, but I might rather have a Peterborough. It isn't all about speed.
  • Options
    Good clarrification
    Thanks for clarifying the sitting vs kneeling preference in calm vs winding condition. That makes sense.

    I also liked what you said about "normal touring speeds." this is a good point for me to muse on. Most of my paddling is leisurely with bursts of effort to cross windy bays, etc. Sounds like for the most part the Osprey would work in those situations taking advantage of the theory that a shorter boat with less wetted surface is easier to move along at times of lower effort.


    Can you switch from sitting to kneeling on the water? Or is such a maneuver reserved for warm weather? :)

    At what point does the Osprey top out on speed? I'm afraid I don't know speeds very well, not having a GPS to measure my own boats, but for example when I am paddling with a friend in his Rapidfire I will be able to keep up in my Spitfire just fine unless he decides to really pour on the juice. Even then I can sometimes keep up with him, as long as I work harder, but it seems that I'm pushing a bigger bow wake so I'm thinking that I'm actually wasting energy. Have you encountered this paddling the Osprey with other boats, and if so, which ones?

  • Options
    What about the Vagabond?
    I was just looking at the differences between the Prism and the Vagabond. Two feet shorter, lower profile, but the width at waterline is identical, so that would be a lot less wetted surface. Wider at the gunwales, but an inch more narrow than my Solo Plus. It also has a little bit of rocker.

  • Osprey Top End
    I've done a few timed runs as I do not have a GPS either.
    On quiet water with minimal wind I can sustain an average of 4 mph over 8 or more miles pretty effortlessly. I figure I must be up around 5 mph for some of that.
  • Options
    And how does that feel?
    Does it feel like you are working pretty hard or just a good steady rhythm?
  • Not personally familiar with it. Prism
    will be better for anyone hammering along open waters. Vagabond should be better for swamp cruising, twisty streams, easy ww. That's just going by the numbers.

    The Rendezvous has not been mentioned here. I tried it briefly, and found it decently fast and good-tracking on flatwater. It has enough rocker for most purposes, and is certainly a very good cruiser on class 1-2 (3) whitewater. I don't know how it would behave on a whitecapped lake.

    Eric Nyre is the local expert on the Rendezvous and on how to set it up so it does all it is capable of doing.
  • Options
    Paddled the Rendezvous and loved it but.
    it is built for down river conditions and hence is heavy. A friend contacted Eric about getting a ultralight version made. We thought it we both ordered one together... so that is an option on the back burner right now. Gunwale and waterline widths are very similiar between the Rendezvous and the Vagabond, but Vagabond is a foot and a bit shorter and also lower on the water. Of course the hull shape is different, but it is part of what makes me wonder if the Vagabond might not be better suited to what I am looking for...
  • Vagabond and Rondezvous
    Both are very different in their composite and Royalex versions, due to limitations in molding the Royalex. The composite versions have sharper entries, and narrower gunwale lines and paddle much better than the Royalex versions.
    Hopefully Eric Nyre will chime in about the Rondezvous versions. It has too much rocker for my type of paddling, and requires lacks the tracking to go fast.
    For your purposes I would go looking for a Wenonah C1W. Its fast and will handle big water. Its just very deep and hard to find. The Prism will do the duty, it is very versatile and forgiving. Not fast by Wenonah standards, but fast vs solos from anyone else.
  • Options
    Interesting, I wonder what a Rendezvous
    would weigh in an ultralight layup. Any idea?

    I’m thinking that the length of the Vagabond is about right and it has a lower profile than even the Rapidfire — so low windage, some rocker so a bit more maneuverable if perhaps a little slower than the Packer or Prism, less wetted surface than the Prism, and comes with that adjustable seat I like so much (same one I have in my Solo Plus). Seems like most people kind of dismiss the Vagabond -- why is that?
  • because its the all purpose sloth
    You will endure but not shine. I think its more for folk that dont worry about things like boat dimensions!

    To even mention RapidFire with Vagabond is odd.. Vag may be an all purpose boat but hardly exciting to anyone who has exposure to other solo boats.

    That said if you can get a bargain on it, why worry? You will find out soon enough if it "floats your boat"
  • pretty effortless (NM)
  • The Vagabond is not bad IMO
    -- Last Updated: Nov-08-10 7:38 AM EST --

    I've done a fair bit of paddling with a guy who owns one and usually paddles it with a double-bladed paddle.
    We have traded off boats some. It may not be exciting if you want to heel and spin the boat a lot, but it doesn't sound like that is your plan.

    "Wind and waves" is the kicker. When the wind comes up, you would like to have a boat with less sticking up out of the water to catch the wind. But with wind often comes waves, especially on big lakes, and then you want freeboard to keep the water out and for seaworthiness. I think to some extent, your choice will depend on your comfort level paddling in waves.

    A boat with a downriver racing heritage might make sense. These tend to have more depth to shed water going through wave trains, but still have good speed. The Wenonah Jensen designed C1W was mentioned. Another is the Wenonah Advantage, which Wenonah will still make special order.

    You might take a look at the Clipper Freedom. This is a fast boat, but it might not have enough depth for you to feel comfortable in waves. It has a sliding tractor seat that can be easily adjusted to one of three different levels. A tractor seat isn't the greatest for kneeling, but if you really wanted to do that, you could probably easily fit a webbed seat to the frame.

    I agree with Tommy about the Osprey. That boat is really a pleasure to paddle at a very nice cruising speed and is very seaworthy. The Prism is a fast boat, but fairly deep, and with perhaps more volume than you require. The Rendezvous is a pretty large volume boat with more rocker than desirable for the use you describe.

    You said you paddled the Wenonah Voyager. I assume you ruled it out. It certainly is a fast boat, but perhaps more boat than you would want for day trips. I have also experienced its tendency to lock onto a side wind, but I haven't paddled it enough to "figure it out".

  • Options
    The usual suspects
    Interesting that the Advantage keeps coming up. I looked at it and the Freedom both and was fairly keen, but then I paddled the Rendezvous and felt that wonderful "rockered" feel and how it seemed to shoot forward off the mark and of course I had paddled the Spitfire and Rapidfire, which also have rocker, so I said to myself, maybe these long sharp racers are too much for me and then I really experimented with the Voyager and it seemed to confirm that.

    The Summersong is another boat I really like the look of, but is a tad on the heavy side for me and getting it here presents a problem.

    The other thing about the Freedom and Advantage is that "leaning the wrong way," thing, as I call it, to make a turn. I guess that could be learned, but old habits die hard. I'm much more of a brace-in-a-turn kind of guy.
  • Options
    The Osprey sounds like a great design.
  • Vagabond
    You have a difficult compromise to make, between nice cruising ability and good seaworthiness. I used to have a Royalex Vagabond, and in spite of all the lackluster comments you see about that boat, it was surprisingly nice for flatwater cruising. A composite Vagabond would be a quicker due to sharper entry lines and all the other good stuff that goes with a composite boat (for example, oil-canning in the Royalex Vagabond is pretty severe), and will have better manuverability than the Royalex version too, (the Royalex version is half a foot shorter but that is cancelled-out by the fact that it has zero rocker. The rocker of the composite version should help a lot for turning ability). So, I feel that a composite Vagabond would make a good cruising boat. However, the way that it handles in waves complicates the issue. Like most (all?) Wenonah boats, the Vagabond's widest point occupies mere inches of the overall length at center, so there's a steady, straight-line taper occupying the entire forward and rearward halves. Also like most Wenonahs, the sides ov the Vagabond are vertical at the locations where most other canoes have flare. I found that my old Vagabond would slice right through waves, and therefore it would take on water for the slightest excuse (and I weigh less than 165# so the boat was carrying a light load). The boat I replaced it with, a Bell Merlin II, seems narrower overall, but is quite a bit wider within the center of the forward one-third and the center of the rear one-third (that became obvious when it wouldn't even come close to fitting on the same storage rack that previously held the Vagabond). Therefore, in spite of being narrower "overall", the extra width "where it counts", along with a bit of flare, makes the Merlin II ride waves considerably better (I haven't pushed the boat's limits in waves because I have another boat that truly shines in strong wind and big waves. If it weren't for that, I'd know more about how the Merlin II handles in waves). Based on my experience with the Vagabond, I'm pretty confident in suggesting that if you plan to paddle in choppy conditions and want a Wenonah with virtually no flare and a straight-line taper from mid-point to each end, I think you'll need one with a lot more volume than the Vagabond or you'll be submarine-ing through a lot of waves. If the waves you encounter aren't that big, I think a Vagabond would be a really nice choice.
  • Options
    rendezvous and prism
    Eric Nyre's inventory page --


    -- suggests that a Kevlar Rendezvous weighs 42 to 47 pounds. I have paddled one and enjoyed the nimbleness, but it's a very big boat relative to what I usually paddle. I wouldn't want one for anything but big trips on big rivers.

    I paddled a Prism for a few days and didn't like it. It is also very big, but it lacks the nice feel of the Rendezvous. Didn't seem particularly fast, wasn't pretty -- nothing to recommend it, except that it's a canoe (which might well be enough, in the right circumstances).

    If you like the RapidFire, why not get it? If you can afford the boat, you can afford the shipping. Mine (with a kneeling seat) is a lot of fun to paddle.

  • Options
    Hey flickr friend!
    I really appreciate your comments on the Vagabond. I guess I do need to decide "the worst" conditions I might find myself in. So far when I get waves larger than 2 feet or so, I move either to quieter bays, or off the lake as soon as possible. I have been in larger waves but not on purpose!

    I'm not sure exactly how to measure wave height, is it from trough to peak? In that case I have not been out in greater than 3 foot waves in a canoe, only in skiffs or power boats. I have probably been in 3 foot waves in a tandem kayak on the ocean. Most of my paddling will be on medium sized lakes so I think something that can handle 2 to 2 and a half foot waves is sufficient. hard to estimate wave heights from memory...

    Perhaps the Vagabond with a spray skirt would be all I need. I recognize it is not a glamorous hull, but on the other hand, I personally think it has nicer lines than the Prism.

    And cost and weight are a factor, despite what we might wish!
  • Options
    Interesting comments on the Prism
    I kind of wondered that about the Prism.

    re the Rapidfire. Well, it requires a trip to the states to pick up and adding the shipping cost to the premium price of the boat is causing me hesitation. Same shipping and premium price issues for the Opsrey. I can get either, but I have to know it is going to be a vastly superior boat.

    I have local dealers for Wenonah, Old Town, Clipper, and Bluewater, and Hellman -- well and Mad River too, but I don't think Hellman and Mad River have a boat I would like. If possible I would like to order from Wenonah, Bluewater, or Clipper, but I have to say that from what I have gathered so far in my research, what I really want is a boat from one of the other manufacturers.

    Of the ones on my original list, the Splitrock and Mist are still attractive, the Packer from Clipper, and from Wenonah I have dropped the Prism and added the Advantage, Argosy, Rendezvous, and Vagabond. I just don't hear that many good things about the Prism. I do know someone who might let me try out his.

    My Solo Plus is basically a fat Prism -- at least that is how I think of it!
  • Splitrock, Prism, Osprey re RapidFire
    -- Last Updated: Nov-09-10 2:14 PM EST --

    Casual purview of the numbers indicates the Prism and SplitRock are likely to be similar hulls. Both 16.5ft OAL and 26" at rails and waterline. Prism is 30" wide, no max beam given for SR and both have minimal rocker.
    Most figure Bell's Magic in Black/Gold is the best in class of this dimension range; ~ 16'X30" w/ scant rocker. All three respond best to seated paddlers with bent paddles. Those long, skinny bows do not draw to a Duffek

    Osprey is 15' X30" max with heroic, differential rocker. It will be much more controllable in moving water than any of the above; the closest hull to it might be Bell's Merlin II; 15'X29". Both respond well to sitting paddlers with bents and kneeling paddlers with straight blade sticks. Both are the best in class solo trippers, with advantages over Mist, etc.

    RapidFire is another beast entirely; 15'X 27.5" width with significant rocker. Most paddlers are quite happy sitting low with double blade sticks. Beware conversion to a kneeling boat, M Handy has a gyroscope inserted where the sun don't shine; an exceptional athlete!

    Other significantly sub 30" solo tripping hulls include Colden's Vagabond, 27.5" and Nomad 28.5", Hemlock's Kestrel 27.5" and Peregrine 28.5".

    In terms of build quality, the Osprey can be had with a similar infused hull with integral fiber over foam rails as the RapidFire, but first you need to decide what your stance in the boat will be.

  • Options
    Let's say sitting with a double + single
    -- Last Updated: Nov-09-10 4:21 PM EST --

    and let's leave out kneeling for now. If I am just going to be sitting and paddling with a double Aleut blade across the rough stuff, and using a single blade for cruising along the shoreline on the other side. I might occasionally encounter waves up to 3 feet but rarely, and I am mostly doing day trips.

    And lets say I have to choose between the Splitrock,the Advantage (I've added that back to my list after listening to John over on the CCR board)and the Osprey, say, with a possible glance at the Argosy and Clipper Packer.

    Just for argument sake, lets say the Rapidfire, Magic, Summersong, and the Colden boats are off the table.

    then what do I pick?

  • x the advantage
    I would eliminate the Advantage if you are going to be out in rough conditions.
  • Now
    You're playing games. I'm out.
  • I am tired!
    Pick one. If you dont like it..sell it! After a while your mind just plays tricks.
  • Options
    I meant no disrespect or offence
    -- Last Updated: Nov-10-10 2:14 AM EST --

    I apologize if it seems like I am playing games. In fact I would like very much to order a canoe from Placid Boat Works or Colden or Sawyer or Bell but it is difficult or impossible to arrange to have these boats sent to Vancouver Island.

    Swift and Souris River have said they are willing to and there are dealers on the Island for Wenonah, Bluewater, and Clipper.

    So since I am limited, is some respects, to these companies my task is to decide which of their boats will fit my need as originally expressed.

    I have appreciated everyone's input so far and am sorry if I am taxing your patience.

  • I don't think its you
    at all but maybe if you go with your gut and we all shut up that would be best. Remember boats are not forever and you have to work with what you can get! You can't sell your wife(husband) but you can sell a boat.

    (I was about to suggest a Grumman 129 as workable..)
  • Options
    If I could try them out, my gut would
    inform me instantly I'm sure. Looking at a few pictures and dimensions leaves my gut scratching it's...ok I guess I shouldn't mix metaphors.

    Anyway, I appreciate everyone's input and suggestions. If anyone else would like to comment I will be grateful but I understand long threads can get tedious.

    Peace and happy paddling to all...
  • Options
    Interesting, but not sure I need all
    that deck. Have you paddled it?
  • Options
    How rough can it handle?
    some chop and wind, or a little more than that?
  • Or a Clipper Sea-1? NM
  • Sea 1 way more than 35 lbs.
  • No, I haven't paddled it. I'd like to.
    Not much info on it out there in cyberspace, yet.
  • We can't know
    how comfortable or uncomfortable you would be paddling a boat like the Advantage in significant chop. You might not know either, until you tried it.

    Boats like the Advantage, Sawyer Summersong, and (I suspect) the Clipper Freedom are fast, go straight type of boats, boats that can be paddled up to a good speed relatively easily without a lot of thought involved. Turning them involves a bit of commitment, and sometimes some advanced planning. That is no disadvantage for open water.

    Something like the Wenonah Prism or Swift Osprey will still be quite efficient, but not feel quite as quick, but will offer a greater sense of seaworthiness.

    If you want people to pick a boat based on what they perceive to be your needs, my vote would be for the Swift Osprey.
  • check out used on pnet
    (OR) Wenonah Kruger design Advantage 1 solo kevlar canoe. sliding tractor seat. Wood gunwales. Great shape for an '89

    For the price of used, it might be worth it to buy one and try it. There is a good, active, used market on pnet. I've bought and sold a few boats over the years and always have enjoyed working with others in the sport. Others here have bought and sold so much it would make you head spin.
    Point is, you'll learn more and at used level, the prices are often manageable.

    The above ad is only a day or so old. Ask for pics and go from there.
  • Options
    Good idea, I need to check more often...
    I like the idea very much, the only problem is that often the closest ones to my area require a ferry trip off the island and then going across the border, but I certainly would be willing to do that for the right boat.
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