Advice on old 17 Wenonah 17

Hi, I’m thinking about buying a used canoe. It’s a 1979 17 Wenonah 17", (here’s the model: in fiberglass (not Tuf weave). Seems to be in good shape. Anybody every paddled one of these? Lots of info out there about Wenonah canoes, but not much about this model in particular.

Would love to hear what folks think if they have experience with one!

If in good shape buy it
It probably handles just like all hard tracking Wenonah tandems with no rocker do. Goes pretty good on calm water, gets pushed around in the wind and it is tough to turn somewhat. If the price is under $500 and there are no soft spots in the fiberglass make the purchase.

Under $500 is pretty optimistic, but …

– Last Updated: Apr-14-15 6:13 PM EST –

... everything else in that description sounds about right (however, I'd add that I still haven't paddled a tandem canoe that doesn't get pushed around in strong wind, so that issue is "relative"). If it's over $500, and it probably is if nothing serious is wrong with it, it still could be a good deal.

I disagree
"It probably handles just like all hard tracking Wenonah tandems with no rocker do."

I disagree!

If I had to pick only one tandem, I would pick a Wenonah Jensen design tandem.

To me they are a do all canoe

Pick it up and if it is not to heavy, and in good shape and you can’t afford a newer lighter weight model, I would go for it.

Jack L

Good point
Just to clarify my response, I wasn’t trying to say anything negative about the boat when saying the handling would likely be recognizable. Lots of people love those boats.

Price inflation
That boat is pretty dang old so unless it was in pristine condition I would not want to spend more then $500. I missed a 2000’s something tuffweave Spirit II for $700 just couldn’t get there fast enough. I don’t fit well in the slim Jensen bow station so that makes me bias against them.

My reply was for the the one above .
yours, not yours

Jack L

I know that, but since my reply to that same post said “everything else in that description sounds about right”, I thought it made sense to clarify that I did not intend to say that it was a bad design. I could have edited my original post, but it made more sense to me to give credit to you for your comment in the process.

Wenonah 17
I paddled one of these back in the 80s attempting to surf some 12-18" waves on a river. So throw a little time factor into my observations. With about 290# team I was pleasantly surprised. Decent stability and speed, dry for a cruiser/tripper and turns better than the Jensens that came later. It is definitely more of a lake canoe than river but it is versatile. Not real big. Teams over 320# might want more volume.

17’ Wenonah
Are you sure its an original design 17’ Wenonah or its replacement the 17’Spirit of Wenonah or more commonly the Spirit. Not the later Spirit II with straight stems. The Spirit replaced the original 17’ Wenonah in the late 70’s. Neither had model decals on the hulls like todays designs. Only the HIN number had initals to denote the model.

The 17’Spirit was an Ev Crozier redesign. It is deeper in the center and has a sharper entry. It was the last Wenonah hull to have recurred stems till they went back and reissued the 17’ Wenonah. I consider it a better hull than the present Spirit II; which was a second Crozier redesign to make it possible to mold the hull in a one piece mold instead of the two piece mold required by hulls with recurved stems. All the things the catalog says about the Spirit II apply to the original Spirit. The Spirit is a tick faster and has slightly more depth in the center and stern.

I have a 1983 hull with maybe 8,000-9,000 miles on it. Its in a cross-rib Kevlar layup and has taken a terrific pounding in all sorts of water from Quebec to Carolina. It is the hull I trust to take on unknown water and to take out new paddlers. Its been a freighter on BSA treks, a fishing boat, and a winning C-2 race canoe many times. Its gone down NJ Pine Barrens streams and across Adirondack lakes loaded with gear.

Whether you are looking at a 17’Wenonah or a 17’Spirit, either one will take you anywhere but class III WW with no problem and keep up with non-racing tandems from any manufacturer.


Old wenonah
Try to figure out how the boat has been stored. Look for cloudy gel coat, etc. A boat that old may be okay if it has been stored its whole life indoors. Otherwise it may not be dependable. I had a 1978 Sawyer Charger come apart on me in rough water. It was just too dang old.

Old Sawyers
Sawyers did not have very consistent build quality; something that lead to their eventual demise. There are surviving examples that are solid as the day they were built; and hundreds that hit the scrap heap from lamination problems.

Racing hulls from the early days of Kevlar Hulls were not built to last decades. They were built to be light and fast. A three year old hull was probably going to be obsolete, so long term durability did not matter.