13' Bell Yellowstone Solo?

Would anyone else be interested in a scaled down Yellowstone Solo that’s 13’ long, 29" max beam and 40 lbs or less in royalex? Basically a scaled down version of the Yellowstone Solo in the same way that a Bell or Placid Flashfire is the smaller paddler’s version of the Bell or Placid Wildfire.

I’m 5’6", 155 lbs and own and paddle a royalex Bell Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo with vinyl gunwales and it works OK for me, but at 49 lbs (modified with heavier Bell contoured web seat for comfort and Wenonah sliding footbrace installed for better control), it’s heavier than I like and bigger than I need. I’m unemployed and have crummy health insurance right now, so light weight is good to reduce the likelihood of injury from picking up and carrying the canoe, since I can’t afford physical therapy.

When I suggested this idea to Bell last week, they said that it’s not in their plans, that they already have the Bucktail and Rob Roy 12 for smaller paddlers.

As far as I know, the Mohawk Solo 13 http://www.mohawkcanoes.com/solo.htm is the only sub 40 lb royalex (36 lb in roaylex lite) solo canoe that’s still in production and it’s actually wider max beam and wider gunwale width than the Yellowstone Solo http://www.bellcanoe.com/products/default.asp?page=product&id=596&catid=194 and therefore less well suited for smaller paddlers than the Yellowstone Solo.

So, would anyone else be interested in a smaller and lighter royalex version of the Yellowstone Solo?

Sure, I’d love to have a Black Gold Bell Flashfire with aluminum trim or a Placid Flashfire with cobra sox trim, but they’re way out of my price range at this time.

New administration will introduce a bill
saying that paddlers can only own as many boats as they can jump over with a 50 yard running start.

ot pack
Well, there’s also the Old Town Pack (33 lbs). It’s not exactly a high performance paddler but it’s got its good points.

I don’t know why there aren’t more sub-40 pound, sub-$1000 royalex boats out there. Bell may be right that the rob roy and bucktail cover the small paddler segment, but they don’t cover that price point. Right now they’re letting all those people buy kayaks when some them might be happier in canoes.

OT Pack is way too wide.
My Phoenix Poke Boat is the same width and fills that niche, since most OT Pack paddlers seem to use a double blade, anyway.

I was going to mention poke boats too in my post, but I looked up the price before posting and they’re way more expensive than they used to be - the basic 12-footer is $2000 now. Nothing is under $1000 but the 8-footer in fiberglass. And they have them now in kevlar and carbon going up to almost $5000!

Admittedly, it’s been 10+ years since I looked at them, but I thought they were pretty close in price to my OT Pack when I bought it. I suppose part of what’s happened is they upgraded their materials - I was always skeptical of how much wear and tear the old boats could take.

Anyhow, I was talking about any type of canoe under $1000, which the Pack clearly is and the Pokeboat apparently isn’t. As for something that might be fun to paddle, are you familiar with the Hornbeck boats? It’s not under $1000 and it’s not royalex, but it might let you make a move now instead of waiting for Bell to see the light.

Hornbeck has 3 boats from 9 feet to 12 feet - the middle one might suit you:

10’ 5" - A slightly larger version of Rushton’s ‘Wee Lassie’. Beam 29", depth 11", weight 17 lbs.

Always our best seller.

Capacity 300 lbs. $1345


I want durable for shallow, rocky rivers

– Last Updated: Feb-27-09 8:17 PM EST –

and I want the choice to sit or to kneel, depending on conditions & mood.

I single blade my canoes most of the time. I don't like the paddle drips from double blades in open boats. I can't use a single blade in the Poke boat and I use a spray skirt when I use a double blade in it, because of the paddle drips. My Poke boat had seen a lot of abuse before I bought it. It was used by fishermen on shallow, rocky streams.

Thanks for your suggestions.

I'm not very hopeful that any manufacturers will come up with a smaller & lighter version of the Yellowstone Solo, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

Well what do we have to do to
make Royalex FlashFire happen?

And a name: yellowstone is big…smaller would be sunstone?


The Mohawk Solo 13 is huge for a smaller paddler. Its a good boat but nothing akin to Flash.

and none of the other suggestions fit either.

I like the idea…how do we apply pressure on Bell to make a 13 foot touring boat?

recycled option
Have you looked at placid boats recycled option. They are half the price and still lightweight for the spitfire and rapidfire…

Phone calls and emails to pressure Bell.
If they’re aware of an adequate market, they may at least do a cost analysis for the designer and mold.

Maybe the “Yellow Snow Solo” for the name. Actually, “Yellowstone Solo S” would work for me.

Everybody that’s interested start calling and emailing Bell ASAP.

They don’t recycle the Wild or Flash,
only the Rapid and Spit. They’re actually about 2/3 the standard price and weigh about 25% more than the standard constructions.

I’m looking mainly for a river boat that would be used on shallow, rocky rivers and would be subjected to bumps and grinds on rocks and trees. I’d like to be able to sit or kneel. The Placid Flasfire would work for me, if I could afford one. I’d love to find a used black gold or white gold Bell Flashfire with aluminum trim (aluminum gunwales for low maintenance). I would also use it to play around on lakes.

easier solution
If the Yellowstone is too heavy for you, just do some weight lifting on a regular basis. Nothing too strenuous is needed. A general upper body workout would be good, and be sure to include some military presses - I don’t know what they are called when you use dumbbells, but the dumbbell presses work fine. Also do some general work on the deltoids to strengthen the muscles around the shoulders. Three days per week with a day off in between should work just fine. Take it pretty easy for the first month to give the various bits and pieces a chance to get used to the exercises, then add sets or weight as you see fit. It won’t take much to help you feel a lot more comfortable lifting and moving the boat, and it is a lot cheaper than a new canoe.

I just added some 15 lb dumbells
to my exercise program and plan to ad more weight lifting as able. I need to be very careful with my shoulder because I spent lots of money on physical therapy for my right shoulder, elbow and wrist last fall and can’t afford to do that again. Also, I want to paddle now and the weight lifting won’t have me comfortable with awkward situations with a 50 lb boat on stream banks for several months.

A light weight royalex canoe would be cheaper than more physical therapy.

Also, weight lifting won’t make the royalex Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo any narrower.

Weight lifting is a great suggestion and I plan to continue my strengthening regimen.

Wish I could convince you that
composite canoes can stand up very well to the kind of use you describe. I beat the tar out of a FG Mad River Compatriot for years, and the only patching I had to do was caused by running the bow straight into an occasional very obvious rock with my 200+ pounds behind it. The gelcoat wore off the V-bottom ridge, but that’s easy to patch.

For speed, the 38# Millbrook Swamp Hen; but it won’t play like you want. For fun, the 11’ Inferno, 25 pounds, S-glass over Kevlar, vacuum bagged, deep, and will track fine with your weight. Both under $1500. Workmanship is not pretty like Placid Boat Works, but it’s totally effective.

I’d buy composite if I could afford it
and it was appropriately built. I recently passed on a Curtis Lady Bug that Dave assured me was tough enough for my use on shallow rocky rivers because of the S glass outer cloth, but I didn’t buy it because he and Charlie both told me that it wouldn’t fit any better than the royalex Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo or composite Wildfire and that a Flashfire would fit me better at 5’6" and 155 lbs. It was only 30 lbs.

Aluminum or vinyl gunwales would be better for me because of the reduced maintenance (I sometimes leave my boats on my car for weeks at a time), but I’d take a deal on a wood trimmed boat if the size, price and construction were right.

I don’t want a boat with more than 2.5" of rocker and I’m quite reluctant to buy a boat mail order without test paddling that model first, unless the price is too good to pass up and I could resale it and recoup the costs of both the boat and shipping.

The boats that you suggested aren’t available around here in central IL for test paddling. Not many small solo canoes of any kind are available around here for test paddling.

One question regarding UV degredation on those boats when the gel has been scraped or chipped off down to the cloth and the repair can’t be made very soon: How long can the cloth be left exposed while the boat lives on the car rack? Good gel repair conditions aren’t always available when gel gets knocked off. Charlie is very adament about rapid repairs of exposed cloth. Do you just put duct tape on it? I’ve found that duct tape traps water for weeks and it gets under the gel coat and makes the repair into a larger project than it started out.

Thanks for your suggestions.

How about the Millbrook Flashback?
It’d be convenient if they’d list the rocker specs for their boats.

All of their boats are relatively deep compared to the non-whitewater solos that I’m familiar with.

lob lobbied

I emailed rjones@orcind asking for a 12-13 foot royalex boat.

Can’t you just paint over those scraped spots while you’re waiting to repair them?

You mentioned the Pack was too wide – would it have a place in your fleet if it was 29 inches wide? I know a lot of people consider it a dog handling-wise.

Just ordered a Yellowstone Solo
I thought it was light as it is…but then again, we have an NDK Explorer in our fleet, so just about anything is light compared to that. Them British kayaks be heavy!

CobraSox Flash

– Last Updated: Feb-28-09 8:25 PM EST –

Infused, CobraSox Flashes are just at 26 lbs with Ed's contoured cherry seat in a bombproof laminate.

Joe may have a wood trimmed one with a vac-leak issue at substantial discount.


– Last Updated: Feb-28-09 4:11 PM EST –

I don't suppose a Wenonah Sandpiper comes anywhere near the specs you are looking for? I don't think that they are made anymore, but I think I know where there might be one available....

I just noticed that the end of my post got cut off somehow. I meant to say that if the Pack’s width was the main problem, you may be interested to know that I once removed the seat and thwart (for other reasons) and found that there’s enough flex in the hull to narrow it by at least 2, probably 3 inches. Kneeling in it after doing this, I thought it was noticeably more responsive that way. Normally the pack has that big flat area on bottom and zero rocker. If you picture in your mind what happens to that big flat bottom as the gunwales are forced closer together, it seems likely that some amount of rocker is introduced, I don’t know how much. Net net, you’ve now got a 12-footer with 29” gunwales and an inch or two of rocker.