Do prospector designs suck in lakes?

-- Last Updated: Jun-27-07 11:30 PM EST --

I'm buying a canoe mainly for use in lakes, but with the odd river run (possibly more common than that, as there's a good deep and moderately fast river running through my city). Primarily I want reasonably high payload capacity, and solo/tandem versatility. Reading reviews makes a prospector design (Wenonah 15' or 16', or Nova Craft 15' or 16') seem ideal for this (solo/tandem versatility, and all around usefulness), but I'm concerned because a salesman impressed upon me the fact that prospectors are designed "for river use".

I've noticed they're classified as such by the manufacturers as well.

Many reviewers have said they handle well in all conditions though, and in most cases I'd be slowly mucking around along the shorelines, not cruising at high speed to get anywhere. The other possibilites I'm considering are Nova Craft's Bob Special 15' or PAL 16' (similar to the prospector but a bit less deep, a bit less rocker).

Any ideas?

More importantly, are these minor design differences really that significant, or can I just muscle my way through anything if I get a reasonably versatile boat? I'm not looking to do super long trips right now, mostly just day trips, but I want the option of taking multi day camping trips. I do need the payload capacity because I'm about 270 lbs, 6'2, and with my wife and gear (especially my large format photography backpack, and possibly camping gear on the odd outing) I expect to be weighed down to 600 lbs+ reasonably often. I have another friend about my size so two of me + gear... you get the idea.

But, I'd like to also solo with minimal gear for the odd day excursion ;)

For reference, I'm not an extremely experienced paddler, but I can handle myself in almost any self-powered boat I've ever used (row boats, drift boats, kayaks, and canoes) and make them go where I want reasonably efficiently.

The shorter version of the question…

– Last Updated: Jun-27-07 11:33 PM EST –

I guess what I'm really getting at is:

If I sit my solo butt down in a Nova prospector 16' and get out in the lake will I be able to move in a straight line (assuming I have my technique down and have outfitted the canoe properly - trimmed for weight, etc) in a moderate breeze and at a moderate speed, or will I just hopelessly flail about?

Same question, tandem.

I'm not expecting speed performance here (I'd get a scull or something if that was what I really wanted), just not so sluggish as to be annoying or pointless.

Prospector would be fine.
Given your weight requirements, a 15’ prospector would likely not handle well at all. Likewise with the Pal. A 17 footer would really be best if you are pushing 600lbs, but they don’t solo as well.

A 16 foot Prospector will be a great solo boat if you learn how to paddle it heeled over, or if you sit in the bow facing the stern and have a load for ballast.

Personally, if you aren’t in a hurry, a 17’ Prospector in Royalex Lite is a fine boat for everything. Soloing it throuh rapids or in wind is frustrating, though.

Consider how much time you want to spend on each. If it is 90% solo, get a Pal or an Esquif Champlain and rent a tandem when needed. If it is more tandem, get a Prospector 17 and grin and bear it when it is windy.

Good luck making the “right” choice (I have had many boats, and there is no silver bullet - all comprimise - or more canoes)

I love my 16’ prospector
I have a 16’ prospector and for me it works great on lakes or rivers. I had to work to figure out how to make it go straight on lakes but now the biggest concern is if there is much wind it really makes it dificult. I just went on my first canoe camping trip and had 800 lbs or so with wife and I and stuff and it was a wonderfull trip. That being said if I didn’t ever want to do rivers and ww I’d probably go with something more stable and easier tracking as you waste energy with correction strokes even if you’re good at it. I have a wenonah flex core and really love the boat.

I agree

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 6:28 AM EST –

My 16' roylite Novacraft Prospector is a great boat and a bargin.I actually prefer paddeling it to my solos if there is no wind and I don't have to carry it far.It seems made to paddle healed over and is easy to paddle so and relitivle fast.
Tandem it is definatly a class above the Grumman type canoes in speed and will carry a ton and is extremly seaworthy.With a little practice I think you won't have any trouble staying straight if your bow paddler does his job right.It's easier to learn to paddle a turnable boat straight than to try to get a straight tracking boat to turn.If I could own only one canoe this would be it.

solo prospector
I paddle my 16’ Wenonah kevlar prospector from the bow seat backwards. I also use a kayak paddle while kneeling. It works as good as my kayak for speed, tarcking. I fly fish from my canoe and I can carry lots of fishing stuff. It only weighs 49lbs.

Wenonah Prospector 16
I own a wenonah Prospector 16 and a Nova Craft Bob Special. As a tandem, I think the wenonah Prospector 16 is a great lake boat. Actually it is great on both lakes and rivers. Mine gets used in the BWCAW a couple times a year. I think it paddles great as a tandem and has good glide. It has a great load capacity. Unless you’re hauling scrap iron, I don’t think you can over load the boat.

However, those characterisitics are also detrimental as a solo. For me at least, the wenonah Prospector 16 is too much to handle solo, and if there’s wind … forget about it.

The Bob Special is also a good boat. It has a flatter bottom than the Prospector. I think it is fun to paddle tandem. It doesn’t carry nearly as much as the Prospector, but if you pack light it carries enough. I’ll take it as a second tandem on trips with the Prospector carrying more of the gear.

The Bob Special does solo pretty well. However, it does not paddle like a solo. It paddles like what it is - a tandem that paddles solo pretty well. I think the Old Town Penobscot 16 is a better dual-use canoe, and so is the Mad River Malecite, but the Bob Special is pretty good.

“Prospector” designs (there are many variations) tend to have full quarters, a generous amount of rocker and high stems (ends). These are features that help these designs work well for river work. They are highly maneuverable, ride up over waves (rather than slicing into waves) and with their high stems tend to stay dry. These design features are why your dealer correctly advised you that a Prospector is a river canoe. Lake canoes tend to be straighter keeled (less rocker) slimmer in the quarters and lower at the stems. These characteristics help a lake canoe track straight with ease, travel efficiently with less muscle and resist the effects of wind.

The same features that make a river canoe excel at river travel are something of a hindrance while on the lake.

I agree with KenE (yet again) – the Old Town Penobscot 16 would serve you well. I consider it one of the most versatile of canoe designs – and relatively inexpensive as well.

I have no personal experience with the Mad River Malecite – and don’t even know if it’s made anymore. It had a solid reputation. The corporation that own the Mad River brand-name have changed many of the older model names, eliminated others and came up with some goofy new hybrid “designs” for the box store market… It’s hard to say what’s going on with that brand these days so I personally wouldn’t even consider it (except an older used MR canoe). - Randall

Thanks for the suggestions.

– Last Updated: Jun-29-07 8:56 PM EST –

I decided on the 16' prospector, but nobody in town had one in stock and the only distributor said it would either be a several month wait for them to put in a new order of a bunch of canoes, or else I'd have to special order it and be dinged $300 for shipping. No thanks.

I thought a bit about a different brand prospector (evergreen, carried by mountain equipment co-op) but they only had fiberglass boats in stock and I don't want fiberglass. I ended up getting a totally different design: an evergreen prowler. It's got a flatter bottom than the prospector but still has a bit of rocker and should be good for the odd river trip. It's in Royalex.

I saved $450 off the regular price because this one has some minor defect - a bit of a ripple in the royalex at the stern and a couple of small dents / scratches on one side. It's pretty minor and I doubt it'll affect performance much. I'm assured my warranty is still valid, so I'm happy to save the money for what seems basically cosmetic.

Lord have mercy
How the hell are you going to fit 600- 800 lbs or stuff into that little car?

Load 'er up
Park it in the bed of an F350, maybe?