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Nova Craft Prospector 17' for family

-- Last Updated: Dec-23-13 1:20 PM EST --

16' Nova Craft PAL Kevlar/Specra in Green has been purchased.

THANKS everyone.

Looking to move from our 16' Osagian Lil' Missourian square stern, to a family paddling canoe.

Is the Nova Craft 17' Prospector, Royalex, a well suited option. We have to van top it for our camping trips and would like to keep it in the 60-65lb range. Coming from an 80lb aluminum, this should feel considerably lighter and easier for us.

Often it will be just me (Dad) and one kids or maybe a dog, or maybe 2 kids and a dog, out paddling. The odd time we like to load us all in and just head out to a point for lunch, but no packing gear or anything.

I also don't mind heading out solo and doing some fishing etc.

We were thinking Royalex, 17', comes in around 65lbs, long enough to add a sling seat or two, which we have and use in the Osagian.

16' Pal
15' Bob Special (lightest)
16' Prospector

are all other considerations, or anything from the Nova Craft line as we prefer to buy from MEC if we are buying new.


thanks and any help/suggestions are appreciated.



  • Probably a good choice
    If you want to sometimes load the boat up with a family of four and a dog I would consider a 15' boat too small. It sort of depends on the size of your kids, whether they can effectively paddle, the size of your dog, and how well-behaved the dog is.

    If you anticipate going out with 4 infrequently and the dog is small, you might get by with a 16' boat. The 16' NC Prospector is quite stable and seaworthy.

  • Fine Canoe
    A good friend has a NovaCraft Prospector in kevlar - one of the best designs you could want. I have a BlueWater Prospector, and while it's a decent boat, the NovaCraft is a tad ahead - tracks better, ribbed hull vs. foam patch bottom, better stability and general handling. Can't see how you'd go wrong with the NovaCraft.
  • Not a good way to compare/recommend
    -- Last Updated: Nov-16-13 4:22 PM EST --

    Even though I like the Nova Craft Prospector, I would say that comparing two *composite* Prospector models from different companies doesn't do anything to suggest something meaningful about the suitability/quality of one particular brand when the boat will be Royalex. Usually there's a lot of difference between Royalex and composite versions of the same boat made by the same company. Also, "better tracking" of one particular brand would not be considered an advantage or an indication of superior design by a lot of fans of the Prospector, since one of its most-loved attributes has always been it's fairly good maneuverability. That said, straight-line cruising in a Prospector isn't difficult for anyone with proper technique. It's possible that the same could be said about "better stability", since the original Prospector had a somewhat more-rounded bottom than most canoes, and at first impression, that would lead to a less-stable feel (but with its own advantages of course).

    A friend of mine (PJC) has the Nova Craft Prospector 16 in Royalex, and though it's a nice, versatile boat, the bottom of the hull is much flatter than that of the original Prospector design. I think that might be partly due to the extreme flexibility of Royalex when spanning such a wide bottom (the hull gets even flatter when the boat is loaded and in the water). To complicate matters, I see that this model is currently offered in two grades of Royalex, and the heavier grade certainly would be stiffer. I have a Nova Craft Supernova, which at the time of purchase (several years ago) was only available in one grade of Royalex, but based on the weight, I can see that that grade is what they NOW call "Royalex Plus". It's much stiffer than other Royalex boats I'm familiar with, and though the strongly rounded hull surely contributes to that, it's also pretty clear that the material itself is stiffer than normal. Unfortunately, the Prospector 17 in Royalex Plus would be a whopping 80 pounds.

  • Material, weight, loading
    -- Last Updated: Nov-16-13 4:35 PM EST --

    In my reply to one of the posts here, I mentioned the extra weight of the "Royalex Plus" version of the Nova Craft Prospector 17. If I were in the position of choosing such a boat, I'd try to check them out in-person to compare the stiffness of the two Royalex versions, though I realize that the original poster may not be fussy about such things. Still, there's a lot to be said for boats that have stiff hulls. On the other hand, there's a lot to be said against boats that are quite heavy. The OP may want to weigh those factors along with cost. For what it's worth, twice in recent years I've bumped into a couple "up north" with a composite Nova Craft Prospector, and being that they are definitely in the "canoe enthusiast" category, they really like the stiffness of the hull (and of course, being composite, the weight is only moderate, but you pay extra $$ for that).

    Now, if by some chance you end up choosing the 80-pound Royalex Plus version for the extra stiffness of the hull, loading it on a van need not be that difficult. Back in the days when our family carried fishing boats on top of full-size vans, we had lengthwise bars running between the ends of the regular cross bars on both sides of the car. The boat would be leaned up against one of those side rails and pushed onto the roof, and only once it was up there crosswise would it be pivoted to be lined-up on the cross bars. It's incredibly easy to load a heavy boat that way. It's the same procedure as some people use for sliding a boat on from the rear, but on a full-size van the rear cross bar is usually not close enough to the back of the car to make that possible, but if you can mount it that far back, do so and see how it works. It COULD be that with such a long span between front and rear bars, making the transition from the boat being tilted and being flat would require a lot of force to be applied to the boat from the rear (too little lever arm at the user end, too much lever arm where the boat tips up into the air, beyond the cross bar), in which case the side bars would definitely be worth considering. Actually, if I still had a full-size van, I'd have side bars on general principle.

  • Options
    15' vs 16-17
    thanks for the info guys.

    Unfortunately, they don't stock many boats at MEC or any other Canoe store where I am (Winnipeg).

    Our boys will be 6 & 9 come spring, so they are young and small at the moment, the older can paddle a bit but they are not going out on their own or offering any real help when it comes to getting around....the dog is about 70lbs.

    As I thought, the 15' boats are too small for anything but 1-2 people max and there is likely no way we are all getting in there or even 3 of us.

    The Royalex Light is likely the option we will go for, even though MEC calls it Royalex.

    I still have some time to decide and will keep looking around. used is also an option, but again, we don't see many locally and a drive to the US to get a demo after driving, hotel and any taxes at the border wipes out the savings.
  • For what its worth -
    -- Last Updated: Nov-17-13 6:52 AM EST --

    I paddled a Nova Craft 17 foot prospector (royalex) for a couple of weeks on a trip up north. It was a rental. I like that boat a lot for river tripping and I think it is a wonderful and versatile boat. The hull is similar to my idea of a prospector but the bottom is a bit flatter which actually improves it as an all around family type boat. I have to say though I would be surprised if the 17 foot version comes in at 60 Lbs. Felt heavier than that to me - maybe 75Lbs? Another boat that might be a good boat for the op is the Old Town Tripper - the tripper is a little bit bigger feeling for some reason, maybe the NC Prospector ia tad narrower? But they are very similar boats.

  • Oh by the way!
    You may not have a LOT of time to make up your mind. Last I heard, the company that makes Royalex is going to cease production very soon. Others here will know more details, but I seem to remember that beyond about March 2014 it may not be possible to get a new Royalex boat at all. Also, bear in mind that there may be a six- to eight-week wait for your boat if you can't buy it "off the shelf" at your store of choice.
  • April 2014
    Poly One has announced that they will cease Royalex production as of April 2014.
  • 16' NC Prospector . . .
    . . . is a deep canoe, 15", and hence voluminous for its length.

    It should easily suffice to carry one adult and two kids and a dog.

    It would be easier to solo and to carry than than the 17' Prospector, and may even be cheaper.

    As a lake boat, I'd get the Blue Steel version instead of Royalex if you can afford it. You'll appreciate the lighter weight when you are 10 and 60 years old.
  • It's a popular choice in the UK,
    because of its versatility. For solo paddling, they "heel" the boat to one side, fairly easy to do with the prospector design, so that they don't have to reach way over to get the paddle shaft vertical.
  • Plus -
    the prospector hull has that whole Bill Mason thing going on. :-)
  • All the Masons seem to be paddlers,
    artists, and writers. Though Bill's been kinda quiet.
  • He still speaks wisely
    -- Last Updated: Nov-17-13 7:26 PM EST --

    and softly from the grave. He knew what its all about.


    Hard to imagine that no one will pick up the manufacture of royalex.

  • Prospector 16
    We have a Nova Craft Prospector 16 in Royalex Light. Good all around family canoe. It's fairly easy to load on top of the van (can be done by one person if they know how). I'd buy the same canoe again. Our paddling is mostly smallish lakes and windy rivers, and it maneuvers fine. I can easily paddle it solo from the center.
  • Options
    Nova Craft Pal Kevlar/Ash
    -- Last Updated: Dec-19-13 9:17 AM EST --

    The Prospector never happened...The Osagian Classic never happened...now I have this as an option.

    So I was at MEC last night on an unrelated trip and noticed a Brand Spanking New (appeared to be) Nova Craft Pal (Green) in Kevlar (Aramid I guess) with Ash Trip for $1500 down from $3000 CDN. The nice thing with MEC is it will come with full Nova Craft Warrant as well as MEC Rock Solid Guarantee (basically lifetime if any issues arrise out that are not normal wear & tear)

    As I was paying for a pair of gloves, I asked the clerk to put it on HOLD for 48rs (their max) so I could research it.

    I have a feeling, I won't see another deal like this from MEC (rock solid return policy, even years after) and am debating breaking the news to my wife..."I want to buy another canoe).

    I would then sell the Osagian Lil Missourian Square back (my plan for a while) and upgrade to what would be a very nice canoe (at least my thinking). I just wonder if it is big enough at 16' to accomodate the odd trip (2-3 times a year) when all four of us (and dog) want to get out on the water and hit the lake. We use a sling seat and drop in now and even though we are crammed, we make it work and have no complaints from anyone in the boat.

    For the most part, it's me and one of the kids, while my wife stays on shore and relaxes. So we could probably cram us all in for the odd time we want to all get in. Or heck, one of us could use one of the 2 sit on top Kayaks we have and paddle beside.

    It was listed as KEVLAR, 54lbs, which to me looks like the ARAMID version with ASH trim.

    Boy, it sure was pretty...that's for sure.

    I don't want a very high maintance canoe, it will be stored outside (protected by raised sunroom on our bi-level house). I don't mind treating the wood every now and then, but hoping it's not something I have to worry about or may be damaged by our -30 winters up here in Winnipeg.


  • Well, It's a Good Hull
    I've only paddled a royalex Pal, and only for one day, but I liked it and feel like it would meet your needs. I have a friend with a composite Novacraft and it's held up very well. It won't hold the volume a Prospector will, but many folks buy too much boat for their average paddling venues. You and a couple kids or you and an adult and a kid should be fine. I have a good friend who owns a Pal and I'll send him this thread.

    Only question I have is the storage. Wood gunnels do better out of rain, snow, and wet weather. If it is covered from the weather, and treated a few times a year it should do o.k.
  • I would say buy it.
    But then, I can always come up with a reason to buy another canoe.

    The price is very good, especially north of the border and if kept in good condition, I don't think you would have any difficulty whatsoever selling it if it doesn't meet your needs. Conceivably, you might even be able to make a profit on it.

    Yes, the "Kevlar" denotes one of the aramid layups, and the weight indicates the heavier aramid layup. Kevlar is a DuPont trade name for a family of different types of a material generically known as aramids. Kevlar has largely become synonymous with aramid the way that Band Aid has with adhesive bandage, or Scotch Tape with transparent mending tape.

    The boat will definitely have less capacity than either a 16 or 17 foot Prospector, and probably less than your present square stern canoe. As to whether it will accommodate two adults, two children and a dog I would say "maybe". If you are planning only flat water trips on protected water in good weather you might be OK.

    But the Pal is 2 inches less deep than the corresponding sized Prospector so it won't have as much free board to keep water out if waves come up. But I wouldn't sweat that too much because there is no one boat that is going to meet all of your stated uses, from paddling solo to paddling with 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog. The Pal would be more suitable to paddle solo than a 17 foot Prospector, and you will find that you like the lighter weight more and more as time goes on.

    As for the wood trim, if you have to store the boat outdoors, protect the trim as much as you can from moisture. The rails on the boat probably come oiled. You might consider refinishing them with varnish or polyurethane which is more difficult to apply than oil but more durable.
  • Buy It!
    That price qualifies as a steal for a quality new Kevlar Tandem. Even if its not "ideal" for your big family outings, it is a great boat to get out on the water. You will be able to get your money out of this canoe 5-10 years down the road if its kept in good condition. With the coming demise of Royalex, composite canoes will only go up in price. The NovaCraft woodwork is really solid and also their hull layups. Not as light or sleek as Wenonah, but built for their home customer base.
  • Buy the Pal!
    It's small for your whole family. Maybe okay for lily-dipping on a small lake. But, as someone else mentioned, you can't beat the price and may even be able to resell it for the same or more. A suitable canoe for two adults, two kids, and a dog is going to be a real handful for one person on and off the water. OTOH, a pair of canoes such as this Pal would make a great tripping set for the family.

    If *I* was within a short driving distance of that deal - you would already be too late.
  • Options
    it would be covered when not in use and with a canoe like this, I would invest in a canoe storage tarp (or something) for long term storage (winters etc).

    thanks for the info
  • Options
    size & investement
    thanks. I was thinkig much of what you stated.

    at this price, even if it doesn't work out after a season or two, I could likely recoup most of the initial investement.

    It will not be our first boat, and my wife is used to me selling, trade, swapping. we are already on our 2nd canoe, this would be our third. we also have 2 kids sit on tops and 2 Juunto's Sit On tops for us.

  • Options
    BUY it
    -- Last Updated: Dec-19-13 1:31 PM EST --

    Thanks for the info. and I'm not too concerned with squeazing us all in there, but when the couple times we want to try, we'll make it work one way or antoher (or my wife or I will be beside in a kayak). For the most part, it's 1 adult and a kid or 2, which appears this boat will handle (they will be 7 & 9 in summer), so they take the seats and I'll be in the middle.

    I knew the guys and gals at Paddling.net would help reaffirm my stance on it and it gives me some ammo when I break it to my wife, that I'm driving to get it on my day off tomorrow (hopefully).

    As for scooping it on me, it's why I decided to put an official hold on it as I knew the next avid adventurer who saw it on the roof, would snap it up.

    Often these deals sound "too good to be true" and are, but it appears I may have stumbled on to a legit, end of season, no longer carrying this brand or similar type of score. I haven't asked if it's a demo or used yet, as we were in a rush but by the looks of it, it had not seen water or perhaps just an MEC demo day outting.

    If I end up purchasing (fingers crossed), I'll be sure to report back and give the full details and maybe a pic on top of the van, driving home in -40 weather.

    Who knows, MEC might even agree to store it for a couple months for me, as they will know the boat is paid for and will be out. One huge selling feature and one my wife will like, is the weight of this canoe will be almost 30lbs lighter then our Osagian at 80lbs. She is not a fan of roofing it and taking it off etc. Most times we just park it where we camp and leave it there, but a canoe at 55lbs, will be one I can do myself when need be and be able to venture out at surrounding lakes where we camp, which is a huge plus for me and the kids.

    Again, thanks to you and everone else for the quick responses.

  • FYI
    Asking this group if it is a good idea to buy a canoe is somewhat akin to asking a bartender if it is a good idea to have a drink.
  • Pal is very popular . . .
    . . . both as a tandem canoe and as a solo canoe for wilderness trippers, who paddle it "backwards" from the bow seat. You can do this in a Pal as it is a symmetrical waterline canoe.

    The Chestnut Pal was the canoe featured in most of Bill Mason's videos.

    The seller may very well agree to store the canoe over the winter if a sufficient portion of the purchase price is paid. It's worth a try.
  • You're too kind with the metaphor
    I'd analogize many of us, not to a bartender, but to end-stage drunks.

    . . . hic
  • For your boys
    As the young lads get a bit bigger, the Pal is going to be a good tandem for them till they both are teenagers. Your idea of them in the ends and you in the middle is good. I friend of mine did the same thing several years ago when his boys were the same age. He had a center seat mounted in an 18'Sundowner and the yoke made removable. The boys were seated where the canoe is narrow and they could reach the water. His weight was in the middle and the trim was good.
    The thing for you to add to the Pal in the spring is a sliding bow seat to get the bow paddler farther front to where the canoe is just wider than they are. Gives them an easy reach to the water and helps trim the canoe a bit.
    When they graduate to paddling tandem together, you and the wife can get another light tandem a bit bigger, a bit lighter and a bit faster. Most of us have multiple canoes, many of us have a dozen or so. You have much room to expand your collection.
  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Dec-20-13 12:49 PM EST --

    talked to MEC and he offered to extended the hold until I can swing by and take another serious look at it.

    After speaking to the MEC boat guy, he assured me it would be no issue on how I plan to store (covered from elements in summer and winter, when not in use)...so that was good.

    I found this while researching Aramid, and thought you may find it interesting, but I'm guessing most of you have seen it or something like it before:


    These hulls are infused with high impact vinylester resin, sandwiched with fiberglass cloth between an outer layer of Cap (Chemically Activated Polyester) cloth and an inner layer of Aramid.

  • nice video
    That was a good demonstration of the construction of an infused, composite hull. Thanks for sharing it.

    Twaron is a variety of aramid made in the Netherlands.

    A lot of manufacturers no longer make all aramid canoes. I have a couple of all Kevlar Mad River Canoes but most so-called aramid or Kevlar composite boats have exterior layers of fiberglass with or without additional fabrics. Polyester is very commonly used and is said to reduce the brittleness of a canoe primarily made of fiberglass.

    The external layers of polyester and fiberglass on the boat you are considering buying will reduce the tendency for the aramid to abrade and fuzz up and will make it easier to repair the external aspect of the hull should it ever sustain a crack.
  • Options
    Nice Boat
    Had a Pal in royalex and really liked the boat. I sold it when I found a different classic tandem canoe in expedition Kevlar and didn't need nor have room for two tandems.

    The Pal is a great all around boat. The woman I sold it to has been delighted with it and emailed several photos of the canoe in use on her fishing trips. I would think that the one you are buying is an even sweeter craft in almost every way. The deal sounds outstanding. But more outstanding will be your enjoyment of a fine canoe of timeless design and quality construction (NC's are built solidly). Wishing you lots of great time on the water with your family in a craft you'll all take pleasure and pride in.

    Go get that jewel!
  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Dec-23-13 1:25 PM EST --

    Well, it's been purchased. They can store it for a while, until the new canoes come in for the 2014 season.

    Dark Green, turns out it's even better then I thought too.

    It's actually the KEVLAR/SPECTRA composite, so stronger and lighter. Listed at 49-51 lbs and 900lb-1000 lbs capacity, depending on where you look. The Nova Craft site only lists it as SPECTRA for this model, so it's a bit confusing but am sure it will be a good fit for us.

    Now I have to research a bit about storage and upkeep/maintenance of the wood trim and kevlar, a we hope this will be a long term boat.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions.

    I guess it's similar to these specs:

    We combine Aramid and Spectra with a high impact-resistant vinylester resin in these infused hulls for expedition quality, lightweight canoes that resist tearing and punctures far better than an all Aramid canoe.

  • good decision
    It is a great boat and will serve you well, I'm sure.

    Spectra is a material only a few builders have used. It consists of polypropylene fibers which are very strong, stronger in tensile strength than aramid or fiberglass.

    The problem with Spectra, as with all polypropylene, is getting resin, or anything else, to bond to it. Apparently, Nova Craft has figured this out as they have been using it for some time. I have an old Mad River Twister canoe made of Spectra (interior) and S 'glass (exterior).
  • Congratulations!
    I think you'll be pleased with your new boat. Merry Christmas and may you make a bunch of new paddling memories in 2014 with the new boat!
  • Options
    New Paddles
    The canoe is almost ready to hit the water, still ice on parts of the rivers and lakes up here in Canada.

    In the meantime, I have upgrade my paddle to include 2 new ones.

    REDTAIL BENTSHAFT CANOE PADDLE - http://www.mec.ca/product/5007-763/redtail-bentshaft-canoe-paddle/?h=10+50004+50043&f=10+50004+50625

    GREY OWL NORTHERN LIGHT PADDLE - http://www.mec.ca/product/5036-397/grey-owl-northern-light-paddle/?h=10+50004+50043&f=10+50004+50625

    I got sized up by the regular canoe/paddle guy in store and think these will do a good job of getting me around the lakes and rivers this year. I was also looking for a bit of variety, so went with two different styles to try out this year.

    Looking forward to our best year and most paddling ever, this year.
  • Options
    Wood trim maintenance
    -- Last Updated: Aug-09-14 6:28 PM EST --

    I know this topic comes up a lot, but is Miniwax 209 a pretty commonly used product on gunwales, thwarts and wood areas of a canoe?

    The other options is Danish Tung Oil and am guessing either will be OK, but don't want to do any damage to this new canoe.

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