best all round legnth of a solo?

I am getting ready for my next build and started to have trepidations about hull legnth. 15 foot or 16 foot? I do 95% of my paddling on impounded waters here in North Carolina,however occasionally I will go down to the wilds of South Carolina on the Edisto river. As a low life no good pond scum hit and switch paddler I have always favored 16+ foot canoes, solo or tandem for my lake paddling. Windage is an issue

with the longer boats, depending on freeboard.

What is your preference on boat legnth for a solo?

You could always go 15 1/2’
If it is one or the other, I would probably go with the 15 footer, especially if you plan any river paddling. The advantages of the longer length, given similar cross section hull shape, width, and rocker would be faster theoretical top speed and harder tracking. But most paddlers don’t paddle up to theoretical top speed, or stay at that speed for very long, and tracking seems to become less important the longer a person has been paddling.

Long canoes also sometimes have a tendency to “lock onto” a side wind and be difficult to turn upwind or downwind, although truthfully I have only found this to be a problem with really long boats like the 17 1/2’ Wenonah Voyager.

Unless you plan to carry a big load or race, I think 15’ is a better compromise for combined river and lake use for most solo canoeists. I’m sure others will disagree.

Do you always want to hit and switch and go fast or slow down sometimes?

If I want to go slower, I’d go 15ft perhaps 14ft. For example, the Merlin 2 is 15ft and it makes an excellent boat for the blackwater rivers over here. Although, for some of the really tight little streams upper Lumber aka Drowning Creek, upper South and Black rivers, etc. I miss my 14ft Mohawk Odyssey.

Then again, if I’m out for a workout or simply want to get somewhere fast, I’ll take the almost 17ft Classic XL.


size matters

– Last Updated: Nov-04-11 12:27 AM EST –

but probably more so for men vs women. Women sometimes lack the horsepower to get a 17 footer to hull speed. Skin friction (on the boat) counts.

It seems lots of solos gravitate toward 15 foot plus or minus six inches anyhow.

I have the most fun in my 13 foot solo. I have the least fun in the 13 foot solo if I try and pack it for a week.

No matter what length you choose to build I think you will find a use for it.

I have not found windage to be much of a problem though on deeper unloaded boats you do float higher. I have not had the locking problem that Pete mentioned but I do tend to use boats with more stern rocker than Wenonahs typically have.

You can hit and switch a thirteen footer with 2.5 inches rear and bow rocker. It will perfect that forward stroke in a real hurry.(well it did me). The real question is will it have enough volume for you and your stuff if you are on a trip.

Best for me or you?
For me, I like a 15’ open canoe for mixed flat and moving water more so than a 16’ or 14’ length. However, I am a kneeler 90+% of the time.

If I were a dedicated hit-n-switch paddler primarily on lakes, I think I would prefer a 16’ boat.

12’ is my fav
I just have trouble turning longer boats and once, in Kansas, i had to paddle backwards for a half-mile to find a place to turn around.

12 foot is a nice compromise.Long enough for speed and gear for a weekend, short enough to get anywhere I want to paddle.

Plus it is easier to portage ansd load on my roof.

BP, as you know, my preferred length
for swamps is 14’. I suspect a 12’ or 13’ would be even better , but then hull width would be an issue at my weight.

If all you are going to do is stay on the river, a 17’ isn’t a big deal, but I’ve been in the swamp with a 16’ and that was a lot of work.

Funny, I was looking at solo strip-built plans this morning.The new Osprey is a beautiful boat, but aren’t they all?

other factors
What kind of width are you looking at and what kind of typical weight will you be hauling? I’d be thinking about both of those factors along with the typical usage when looking at plans.

Also, is there any reason you couldn’t have two boats, one for lakes and streams that don’t require a lot of maneuverability, and one for twistier streams?

that is the rub
I have a 16’8" kevlar wenonah kruger k 140 It is too tippy for my winter paddling on lake Norman and it is getting beat as the hull ages and gets UV damage. I like the legnth and RedCrossrandies 16 footer presented no problem on the Lumber river. On the other hand I like the Curtis SRT at 15 foot.I may just take up the suggestion and plan on building a 16 footer and a 15 footer.

A 15 AND a 16 footer?
We’ll be pushin’ it to have 'em both done in time for the Bogey and Bacall…

I will build the 16 footer first and build the 15 footer in 2012 or 2013. Still waiting for my cedar

for the Passage(XL) hope it gets here so I can work on it in my copious free time this year.

Whether for mostly flatwater, or for
cruising some whitewater, I would choose 15 feet. My Mad River Synergy, 15’, has been an excellent cruiser for trips on rivers with class 1-2(3) whitewater, and is just fast enough to be useful on flat and swiftwater.