Canoe shopping - tripping boat - kids

Hi! I’m new here so if this is in the wrong place, mods please help me out and set me straight.

I’m here because I need a new boat. Righty now I paddle an old Blue Hole Sunburst II, and I love that boat. Got it as a beginner it was a free boat from a neighbor. I love it’s maneuverability and I don’t get bored in it. Big boats without rocker make me uncomfortable because I can’t make them turn, and I find that pretty scary. I also only like to paddle solo.

Downside, it’s heavy. And on long trips it wears me out keeping it straight.

I do a lot of shorter weekend trips, and every year I paddle 120 miles on the James river. Some of those days are over 20 miles, in slower water, class I or II rapids, just chilling out.

This year I’m adding the kids in the mix. They are five and seven, and have been in kayaks since they were three. Michael has an axiom and ashby in the vaya. They’ve done a week on the San Juan river last summer rafting, but never an extended trip in their kayaks.

The sunburst is gonna work me on this trip. I need a river cruiser with some moderate rocker so It’s still fun to play around with, agile enough to chase down kiddos, but still tracks good enough for a twenty mile relatively flat water paddle. And stable enough to help the boys in their boats. I’ll be with lots of people, but I like to be able to move my own boat so weight is definitely a factor. I pack really light, cargo is important but I could get all I need in the sunburst easily so I’m not too worried about that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on suitable canoes for me - or any other gear recommendations really. Price isn’t terribly a factor, as I’ll likely keep this canoe for the next decade and I’ll hang on to the sunburst anyway cuz it’s just so much damn fun (and free).

Keep what you like
It’s hard to find one boat that does everything and choosing a boat is a ersonal choice based on need vd budget. That said, if you think the only issue with your Blue hole is the weight, then I would shop for something in roylex that has VERY similar spcecs ( width, length, chine profile, rocker,etc.)

Plan B ( nevr a bad one in my mind) is to compile your list of must haves and scour the classifieds, ebay, and CL within 100 mi and hunt up a deal on a used roylex boat that gets close to what you need. These can often be found for $400-$500. I know this because i’ve now got a yard full of them :slight_smile:

good luck.

In between sunburst and a Coleman boat :
I’d say that there are three problems with the blue hole. I’d like something that tracks better, weighs less and can handle me leaning way out of it to kid wrangle, without completely sacrificing playability. I’m miserable in multiple old town rec boats I been in - just too big and clunky (not that they probably don’t make one I’d love?) . or a boats spec’d for fishing. Just looking for somebody who has something they like who thinks like me - to share their experience. I guess I’m looking for a slightly more aggressive smaller canoe than your typical drunk redneck couple in a canoe boat. Am I asking too much?? Lol!

And yeah, there are about 50 $500 canoes for sale around here. Just not familiar enough with the brands to know which ones might be good for me. But thank you very much for taking the time to answer. :slight_smile:

Millbrook Souhegan
is a boat that fits nicely between the Sunburst and a boat that would be hard-tracking. I have both a Sunburst I and a Souhegan. I use the Souhegan when I do not need the extreme manueverabilty or the toughness of the Sunburst.

The Souhegan is a composite boat and is hard to find on the used market. Probably have to buy a new one. It is a 15’ boat with 3" of rocker and a lot of volume. It is both nimble and stable, but not very fast. It could be set up with three seats for solo and tandem use.


That looks like a really great boat, and I think I’d love it. I really like that’s it’s designed for poling, because I really enjoy that though it can be awful tricky in the sunburst, especially if there is any wind. But I’m a little nervous about a composite boat’s durability. Should I be?? Just haven’t ever been exposed to one and I’m comfortable with what I know… That doesn’t always make it right though. Thanks a lot for your reply.

Two boats that I know well

– Last Updated: May-08-14 2:47 PM EST –

I briefly looked for specs on the Sunburst and didn't get far. I found one reference suggesting that the rocker is only 1.5 inches, which made me question the amount of effort needed to make it go straight, but then I saw a photo of one that sure seems to have a lot more rocker than that.

If the photo I saw was a good indication of the Sunburst's rocker, one boat that's probably similar but easier tracking would be the Nova Craft Supernova. For the mild whitewater I've done so far, the Supernova has usually been overkill, but I find it to be pretty pleasant paddling on the flats (though not my first choice for flatwater by any means). It's quite round-bottomed, but not "tippy" or unpredictable for someone who's been paddling similar boats for a while. The side profile is a little round-bottomed too, as there's sort of a bulbous nature to the middle section of the boat, meaning that the rocker is pretty continuous, not concentrated near the ends as is the case for Mad River's most-similar model, the Guide or Freedom Solo, but speaking of which, that would most likely be a fine choice too. If you get a Supernova, take note of where the seat is mounted. All the ones I've seen came from the factory with the seat mounted quite far behind center, and the owners (including me) have moved the seat forward by "one seat-width" to put in in a more traditional solo-paddling position. In defense of Nova Craft, it seems that the reason the seat is mounted more rearward is to make it possible to trim the boat properly when carrying one large pack in front of you. I carry two packs when tripping (one substantially heavier than the other), and can therefore trim the boat the same with a load as without, so traditional seat placement works fine in that case. If price is not too limiting a factor, a composite Supernova is a REALLY sweet boat compared to Royalex (and the Royalex ones won't be available soon, or maybe that's already the case).

Another boat I'm quite familiar with that's harder-tracking than the Supernova but still nimble enough to be a good swiftwater river boat is the Mohawk Odyssey 14. One of these would be very hard to find nowadays, since the company stopped making them when Royalex recently became unavailable, and also because a lot of the people who own one wouldn't dream of selling it (especially now that they aren't made anymore).

Okay, and while I'm at it (and this is relevant to anyone who likes a boat like the Odyssey 14), here's a boat that's on my "maybe someday" wish list. It's the solo Prospector (14' long) made by Clipper. Clipper has some pretty durable composites, and a tough composite model is what I'd go for.

Bob ( on here) has a
Clipper Prospector for sale. I think he’s asking $600. Very nice condition as I recall.

I wish it wasn’t in MO. nm

Mohawk odyssey - supernova
I’vy actually paddled that odyssey 14 before, and it was a blast. It was a lighter, sleeker more agile version of what I’ve got, so you’re right there.Ii loved it.

But I’m thinking for kid wrangling, I need more of a work horse, and less play. It’s such a hard trade off, ya know? I’m itching to get a really fun, lightweight, twitchy sport canoe. If it was just me that’s what I’d get. I don’t even mind if I yard sale it. :slight_smile: It’s like choosing a sports car or a truck. One is way more fun than the other, but sometimes practicality pays off.

That NC supernova looks pretty great. I’ve actually been checking out some of the nova craft boats pretty hard. There is a prospector nearby for a reasonable price. I haven’t looked into the supernova much but maybe it deserves a closer inspection.

A buddy of mine has the MR guide and I’m gonna try it out. I’m guessing I’ll like it, looks like I would, not sure it’s any more practical than what I’ve got though.

I really just want two boats. Damn. Well, I could be talked into three. :slight_smile:

I’'m Sure I’m not the first person who has had this problem.

If you want to truck kids or a lot of
gear, the MR Guide Solo is just a bit small. Odyssey might be also.

I could truck small kids on the triple saddle in my MR Synergy, but at 15’ it is a bit small also. I soloed the San Juan Canyons and the Dolores’ Slickrock Canyon in the Synergy, a late 90s design similar to the Dagger Caption.

On your Sunburst being hard to keep tracking, it’s no harder than my Synergy. Do you need to move your seat forward for level trim, learn cab-forward paddling, and mostly ditch J-stroking? Much more efficient. The way to get a ww boat to track without correction is (in effect) to pull it forward by its nose.

On the Millbrooks, the Coho has more capacity than the Souhegan, and a bit of rocker. The AC/DC is worth a look.

EZ yes to all
I agree with you on all points. I think what I’m getting here are better versions of the sunburst. I

t’s not so much that it’s hard to track. It’s fine. It’s more that I feel I’m working harder than I need to go a long distance flat water paddle, which is primarily what I’ll be doing with the boys.

Get them up on either side of the bow,
each with a paddle, and you’ve got Cab Forward Power!

Or, leave them at the shopping center with food court money, and go tripping!

different viewpoint
I’m thinking little kids in little kayaks are going to be working really hard if you are expecting them to be doing 20 mile flatwater days

you might consider something like an wenonah SpiritII whcih can be soloed or tandemed, in case one of your kids needs a lift - you can get one in toughweve layup, and that is a pretty rugged construction - I have never paddled one

not sure if any boat is going to be super steady and quick and manouverable for catching your kids, or helping them turn back upright, or whatever it is you need to do - most tandems would be better for that than any solo

in a solo, the wenonah Rendesvous can also be ordered in composite layups, and that is a good river tripper and about as fast as you could find in a solo - I have the royalex version, and paddle with maybe a half dozen other people who have composite versions - we all do CII in them with tripping loads (wenonah has (may still have ?) a video of the royalex rendezvous on their website you might look at; - it shows it to be playful enough, though it is not a ww boat - I can catch small eddied behind rocks with no problems and have run CII with it on occasion

That being said, I’m sure I could paddle and trim my boat better. I’m by means expert in any area. :slight_smile: