Canoe Selection

I am sure that this topic has been posted before. I am married with two young kids. I would like to purchase a canoe to take on local slough, lake and rivers. There are some larger waves in the bay where I live in S. Oregon. 50% of the time I will be going solo.

I want to buy only one canoe for the rest of my life. I would like to use it for solo and tandem trips, fishing and maybe even crabbing. I have read that it is difficult to paddle a tandem.

A local dealer sells Wenonahs. Any suggestions on what kind to buy?

One canoe for the rest of your life?
I hope not, sounds like a curse :wink:

I have a Wenonah Spirit II which is a great family boat. I did paddle it solo for a season when I was getting back into canoeing. It was OK as long as you stayed out of the wind. I don’t know that I would say that paddling a tandem is difficult, but many people who paddle solo gravitate toward solo boats eventually. Many, but not all.

Learned something new today – slough - a swampy area or tidal inlet?? Thank god for wikipedia

Paddling a tandem canoe solo isn’t hard on flat water(see video clips), but it becomes a big sail when the wind picks up.

Any canoe that’s easy to solo with no gear will be tight for you, your wife and two children.

If I had to choose one right now…I’d take a Bell Northstar.

Bluewater’s Tripper 17.


I noticed you said solo or "tandem"
Tandem would be you and another, not the whole family.

You probably meant “the whole family” but it’s not clear.

But if it really is just going to be two of you or you alone, and you are of a pretty good stature, my “one lifetime canoe” pick would be a Mad River Malecite. The Malecite would also handle you and the two girls (sitting in the ends) until they get well into the years where they can paddle their own boats.

Wenonah choices
I think you would be better off choosing two seperate canoes. The problem trying to find a compromise of one do it all canoe is that it won’t do any one specific thing well. Large capacity tandem canoe would be hard to paddle solo and a “seaworthy” tandem would tend to have more height to catch the wind.

I would look at the Champlain for a tandem and possibly the Wilderness (I have one on order) for a solo. I think those two boats would be all you would “need”.

We have a Spirit II and it is a really great canoe but it sounds like you would need a bit more capacity so I would look at the Champlain. I ran my choices for a solo by the people at Wenonah and they were pretty helpful in my decision making so you can give them a shot too.


Hard to imagine…
…one boat that will do all you have in mind very well.

Here’s a suggestion to get yourself started…

Another one you might find interesting…
…although, Im not sure if it’s “family friendly”.

That’s a tough one!

– Last Updated: Feb-16-09 2:44 PM EST –

I also have a Wenonah Spirit II, and I think it is a great canoe. I put a seat in the center, and it's good for three, but as your children grow up, it would be too small for all of you. In addition, I think a Spirit II would be hard to solo. I'd be tempted to go with a Champlain which is almost an identical canoe except a foot longer, and look into buying a rowing rig from Spring Creek to use when you go solo.

Or... do like I did... get a Grumman 19-foot square stern. I put three kids and two adults in it with room to spare. In fact, I've had four adults in it, all paddling! You can put a motor on it when you go solo (I used a 6hp Evinrude, and it planed, but it's only rated for a 5 hp). One thing... if you put a motor on it while solo, you'd have to put some weight in the front of it so you don't flip backward in a stiff wind.

You can stand up and fish out of this beast... I say beast, because it weighs over a hundred pounds. It will, however, last a lifetime! Make no doubt about it!

been there done that!
OK problems. you need room for 2 kids assuming they arent very big (less than 100lbs each ) and your wife.That will only last for a few years until A: they are bored or B: they want their own.You will know what to do if they want one for themselves which now leaves you and your wife with a large tandem which isnt what you should have if you will solo 50% of the time. Because its too large for lifting up on a car for yourself and maneuvering while fishing carbbing etc.So what would I reccommend: Probably a 16 fter with a beam about 35" no more .depth 13"no less or more than 14". A Mad River Explorer is pretty close and I sure theres some others that are following those dimensions. Make sure the rocker isnt more than 2" .You could get a grumman 17 ft cheap just as an introduction for a few years and see how it goes.If your like me and you bite the bug really hard woull own nothing other than a wood canvas of which I have 3.Nothing paddles as nice-period.