Big Water Touring boat?

Since moving to the Champlain Valley from Western Mass last November I have begun to think I may need another boat. I have a WildFIRE that I have used as my funboat and a NorthStar that I use for solo tripping and tandem. Since all rivers lead into Champlalin, I am thinking that a larger solo might fit the bill. I am about 170 lbs and would be looking for something quick and seaworthy that would behave without a load. My preference is single-blade kneeling. I love my Bells, but they are Pre-sale boats and I am a bit leary of the quality of Bells being produced today, any observations on that? another source for Yost designed boats? Peregrine maybe? what else should I be considering?



big solo
Consider an Encounter or Voyager.

Whats the problem
with the Wildfire?

I use a MerlinII (kneeling) off the Maine cost and it rides big swells…

Do you need something deeper? The SRT is one deep boat (Hemlock) The Baboosuc (Merrimack) is a big solo, the Shearwater (Swift) and the Raven (Swift) are others. I have paddled the Gulf of Mexico in a Raven.

How bout going to Paddlefest in Old Forge NY next weekend and trying out boats? And talking to DY?

Not a bac Idea…the WildFire is
an amazing little boat,bobs like a cork when things get rough. I guess my question really is: how much would a larger solo add to my speed and seaworthiness? I routinely make about 3 mph in the wildfire.



My Picks
I have a Swift Osprey that does pretty well in those conditions. Hemlock’s Peregrine would give you a bit more speed.

I’d like to try Wenonah’s Voyager. It’s reputation for being difficult in the wind would concern me but I have some ideas.


Big Water
is made easier with a boat with flare and some rocker. Swift or Hemlock are boats that come to mind.

Big water
A Sea Wind or such boat may be good for big water

single blade paddling . They cost a lot and are not

easy to find , but seem fun . The Bell Rob Roy is

less expensive and not as sea worthy , yet is worth

a try . I am not sure if you can kneel in a Rob Roy

or a Sea Wind .If you’re interested in a Sea Wind ,

let me know . JOhn

While the Voyageur
is fast, I wouldn’t think it would be good for kneeling unless you want to do some modifications - it comes with a factory installed tractor seat .

Voyager Kneeling
The one time I was in a Voyager I found the narrow frame under the tractor seat made kneeling quite comfortable, like a whitewater pedastal with a tractor seat.

The frame in my J200 is much wider and kneeling is not an option with that setup.

I don’t know if the narrow frame is standard in the all Voyagers or not.


Magic, Peregrine
The Magic is an excellent big water boat. I wish I hadn’t had to sell mine. There are still a few pre-sale boats hanging around. I haven’t tried the MerlinII in rough conditions, but it’s a pretty sweet boat.

I spent a little bit of time in moderate wind and waves in a Peregrine and was quite impressed. Conk could tell you more about it - he has logged quite a few miles in one.

The Swift Osprey is good in wind and waves. I don’t think it’s as fast as the Bells, but it eats up the miles pretty easily. Wesd has both a Shearwater and a Bell Magic and would probably be willing to share his opinion on how they compare.

The above boats would be my short list of hulls to consider for the type of conditions you are looking at.

I think the Voyager and Encounter would be a bit big for you, although they are both good boats. If you were looking at loaded touring with a substantial load I’d be more inclined to include them.

Glenn, I have to agree with the opinions here. I have a Wildfire and a Magic and both do fine in big water, but because the Magic has lots of glide and Wildfire has very little, I’d choose the Magic for your intended lake usage even though the Wildfire is deeper and has more freeboard. On the other hand, you have enough years in the Wildfire to make it work in almost anything.

I bought my pre-sale Magic last summer and the dealer still had plenty of pre-sale models hanging around.


Thanks to All for your Opinions…
I will see what the market brings me…

Vince- you are probably right- after we survived that microburst in the barrens, almost anything seems mild.


Voyager + 170 lbs + wind = a lot of work
I’m 150 lbs and bought a Voyager last weekend and will probably sell it soon because wind and waves from the side make the boat almost completely uncontrollable for me in the empty boat with a bent shaft single blade but was survivable with the 240cm double blade kayak paddle. My lack of skills and familiarity with the boat were assuredly major factors, but the Voyager likes a load. I may look for an Advantage, which is more my size.

The only other canoe I’ve had out in wind and waves is my Sawyer Summersong and it handles those conditions much better with me as the driver. It’s a much better size for me at 5’6" and 150 lbs.