Choosing canoe

I am trying to decide on a Kevlar canoe, leaning toward Mad River, but wondering about Wenonah - or other suggestions?.. My husband and I had a great 17’6" Kevlar, but after losing him, I sold it mainly because my car now is only 15’, but I still want to take passengers in addition to my dog, so I’m looking at 15’. At 52#, I had no problem carrying our old one, which is why the Kevlar choice of materials now. Most of those I’ve been researching are 16’ which wouldn’t be bad, as long as I can manage on my own, but 15’ would be better. I’m afraid 14’ would be too crowded for camp gear, dog and passenger, and besides, I don’t think it would track as well. I do want it to track very well and be fast and smooth on the lakes, particularly since I will be steering in the back now, and will no doubt have inexperienced passengers along. Anyone have suggestions for length/speed/efficiency/brands? I would so appreciate any advice. Thanks, so much.

Most would want 16’ or +

– Last Updated: Apr-05-14 1:14 AM EST –

I can't say I understand the need for the canoe to be no longer than your car. A canoe is best not positioned off-center relative to the roof rack just to keep it entirely over the car in the first place (when too much boat is forward of the rack it can grab crosswinds and traffic turbulence pretty badly when at highway speed). Centered over the roof rack or even having more boat length behind the roof rack than in front of it is far better, so having lots of boat sticking out from the back of the car is pretty normal. If you tend to forget it's there, hang a flag from the back of the boat so you don't accidentally back it into a building or something.

That aside, 15-foot tandem canoes have their place, but that place does not include speedy, efficient long-distance cruising, especially for normal- or larger-sized paddlers. Two smaller-than-average paddlers can do fine in a 15-footer, but they won't be as fast as they could be, and two ordinary-sized people will feel a bit cramped, especially with the dog and a load of camping gear.

Many years ago, before I knew diddly about canoeing, I went on several canoe trips where the paddlers had their choice between 15- and 17-foot canoes. Those who paid much attention to details quickly learned to hate the 15-footers because they were so sluggish in comparison to the 17s. A 16-footer may not seem much bigger than a 15 as you picture such boats in your mind, but you'll really notice the difference when you actually use them. Based on the info available so far, there's no way to know whether a 16 or 17 (maybe even longer) would be ideal for you, but I think it's a very safe bet that a 15-footer will not meet your demands as well as any boat of similar type that's longer.

As to the brand, that's usually not too important in terms of the kind of use you describe. The actual model/design will matter a lot more, and if you are buying used, what you can get your hands on might matter most of all. Chances are that any of the big-name makers will have one or even a few models that are very well suited to your intended type of use. That would be a good discussion too.

Such good advice. thanks.

I guess I hadn’t really thought about the length on top too well. As I remember, yes, the 17’6" only came to the front of the hood, with extra out back with flags. (John was always so savvy about all those considerations in his quiet way, I tended to other details.) So, maybe I can go 16’ with the new one, or maybe a bit more. I think you’re saying that a 16’ will track well and be a good deal speedier than the 15’. Many times in the past we would be fighting a stiff wind toward the end of the day, and our old one would race along so smooth and fast, I am hoping to duplicate that.

Thanks, again.

That’s where model choice comes in
Some 16- and 17-footers are actually quite maneuverable and more difficult handle in strong wind, while some track well. I’m not going to write a lot at this moment, and some others here are more knowledgeable than I about this stuff, but factors you’ll be considering are depth of hull (deeper hulls are good in big waves but catch more wind) and the amount of rocker (more rocker makes the boat easier to turn, less rocker makes it harder to turn but require less effort from the paddlers to make it go straight). Two other factors are the profile-shape of the hull (how rounded the bottom looks when viewed from one end) and width, but hull shape often won’t vary a huge amount between otherwise similar boats. Width will vary some. Again, there are others here who know which boat models have which characteristics a lot better than me, but that’s the direction you probably want to make the discussion go. Bottom line, for any length of boat you consider, there will be models that fit your needs really well, as well as some that you might find quite frustrating to use (because they’re made to do a different thing well).

Flat water? Day paddling or trips?
What kind of paddling do you generally do? Flat water? Day trips or longer?


– Last Updated: Apr-05-14 11:16 AM EST –

Since you are considering a Wenonah, two that you might want to take a look at are the Adirondack and the Escapade.

Souris River also has one that I've enjoyed paddling - the Quetico 16.

That’s already been said, …
… though if she added more details it probably wouldn’t hurt.

We already know she wants a canoe that is fast and hard-tracking for lake travel (answers your flatwater question), and we already know she wants enough room for camping gear (answers your daytrip or longer question).

If you have access to a Swift dealer …
you might take a look at Swift’s Keewaydin 16. Plenty of room for tandem paddling (you can get it with a sliding bow seat for easier adjustment of trim). Also, if you paddle kneeling, you can have a kneeling thwart installed and paddle it solo from just behind the center thwart or yoke. On Swift’s website the first image in the gallery for the Keewaydin 16 shows a kneeling thwart installed, although the paddler is sitting facing the stern behind the bow seat and paddling the boat backwards. The lowered thwart in front of the portage yoke (towards the stern seat) is actually a kneeling thwart for paddling solo. Weights range from about 34 lbs. ($$$$) to 58 lbs. ($$). IMO, this is one nice do everything well canoe.

17’6" seems pretty average for tandem

– Last Updated: Apr-05-14 2:33 PM EST –

usage, even when your passengers aren't experienced, BUT then lighterweight people can be safe in many well designed 16' boats...however am not sure just where you're paddling...length of OP's paddles/trips, amount of wind...etc.
Any reason(s), paddling-wise, for selling the 17'6" boat? When/if you try something smaller...try it out with a passenger, and trim the boat before trying it out! So many people just hop in "Let's Go..". If the OP will be carrying heavier need to trim with more weight towards you...sometimes people choose a smaller boat but then as weight accumulates...that smaller boat that one loves to solo...will become a heavy, somewhat tippy(with stock seat sitters) boat...with some wind. Don't let yourself fall in love with a boat while paddling it solo....
..But have fun in shopping!

Reading between the lines, yours is not

– Last Updated: Apr-05-14 9:07 PM EST –

a one canoe problem. You need a good cruising tandem, medium size, and a solo canoe around 14' 6" for you, for you and a kid, or for you and a dog.

Here's a link to my specific suggestion to a genuinely brilliant 17 foot tandem.

It will cruise fast, and track very decently. The designer purposely left the stern a little bit looser than the average Wenonah, because he knew that an excessively skegged stern just makes steering harder for the stern paddler.

Think fast. That's the last one. Scott/Bluewater is out of business. If my wife could be fooled, I would order it myself.

You may be worrying too much about tracking and steering at the stern seat. All of our tandems, including a pudgy Old Town Tripper, have tracked more than well enough to do whatever was required on a lake. Those who buy zero rocker, hard tracking canoes often find that such canoes aren't bad handlers, they're just NON handlers.

It’s narrow enough to paddle solo?
Kneeling thwarts still presume paddling a boat heeled to one side, unless it is narrow. I might try a 33" beam because I’m very tall, but I’d use a foam pedestal rather than a kneeling thwart.

The boat width issue is one of the most significant factors making it hard to optimize a design for both solo and tandem. For me, 30" is quite comfortable. We have a 34.5" Bluewater that I find a bit too wide.

Yes …
gunwale and waterline width is 32", max is 35", so it probably needs to be healed for most people.

No. Though you are welcome to
your opinion. One doesn’t choose a Winters design and paddle it heeled, and 35 is too much for a woman to paddle solo.

Check out my link below to the last new Bluewater Freedom 17 in existence. 33 inches, and still not a great boat for solo. But she really needs two boats.

Does she really need two boats?

– Last Updated: Apr-06-14 12:46 AM EST –

I can't see any definite statement from the original poster about solo paddling. The wording about passenger and dog could be saying that, but might just as easily not be.

Consider width issue
So what you need now is a canoe that you can enjoy paddling as a solo, while also adding a dog and an occasional person, both of whom would be non-paddling weight in the boat. And it sounds like up to now your paddling has been one of two people in a tandem.

Have you spent time paddling your tandem canoe solo to know whether you have a comfortable reach to the water to control it? Or do you also need to think about getting a boat that is narrower so that you can control it by yourself?

I suggest you start by figuring out what you can paddle well solo with the dog, and could get to shore if a wind came up, then figure out what to add to accommodate a second person. (I like g2d’s idea.)

I second g2d’s suggestion
My Freedom tripper is one of the most versatile tandems and will meet the needs. Cruises fast due to the relatively narrow beam and great design. I also have a kneeling thwart in mine and it solos pretty well with good skills, though efficient cross strokes are still a little difficult. I use my Bell WF for most of my solo paddling, but the Freedom Tripper is my favorite tandem.

She repeatedly talked about carrying
and loading on her own, and the passenger loads she described are sometimes clearly not paddlers.

And yes, if you want to go wilderness canoe camping with full loads and people, and at other times you want to daytrip with a dog or a kid, you need two boats. (2)

I have never, never seen a one boat solution for what she wants to do (similar to what I do) that can approach the pleasure and practicality of a two boat solution.

It’s a DY design NM

I would not consider that a
recommendation, against a Winters or Killing design.

I’m not …
just correcting the mis-information. It’s not a boat for those who want to sit and paddle solo, but if your style is to kneel and heal the boat over it is a good design compromise for a tandem/solo for those who can only have one boat. Many folks have difficulty kneeling for any length of time however, so it’s certainly not for everyone. I just happen to like it for its versatility, features, weight and craftmanship - based on a couple of brief demo day paddles.