Does this Canoe Exhist?

Since I started paddling in the ‘70’s I’ve been looking for that “Perfect” boat for me. I have paddled and/or owned many hulls and THINK I know about what I want. I often paddle tandems because I like to fish and take pictures. Plus, I’m big and tall and I prefer boats where I can pay attention to my pursuit and not staying upright. I’m thinking something like a smaller or shallower “Prospector?” Here’s the specs I THINK would be to my liking:

Length: 15’ give or take 6"

Width: 31-33"

Depth: 13" midships, 18-20" stems

Hull: Shallow arch, symetrical

Rocker: 2-2.5" rocker each end

Material: Royalex 1st choice, but a composite like Wenonah’s Tuffweave will work

Of the boats I’ve looked at, the Colden (formerly Bell and Placid) Starfire looks closest. But in my decades long attempt to support the medical community in Southeast MO, I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford a 3K dollar boat. Plus, if I did, I’d be squeamish about using it on shallow, rocky Ozark streams. NOT squeamish about composites, but 3K composites…

Here’s a short list of some boats I’ve owned or paddled, both tandem or solo, here’s a list of my complaints with them:

Mad River Courier: Too deep, shallow-V. Closest to perfect I’ve owned, though Incredible secondary stability. Was recently paddling with a tailwind racing a storm when I hit an underwater rock stopping me dead! Hit the twhart with my left arm and almost went over the gunnels but somehow stayed upright.

Esquif Mistral: Too deep, too wide, too much rocker

Mohawk Solo 14: Too shallow, not enough rocker

Wenonah Vagabond: not enough rocker, a bit shallow

Wenonah Rendezvous: a bit deep, asymetrical, almost liked it

Mad River Guide/Freedom: a bit deep, want shallow arch instead of V

Bell Morningstar: close, but a bit wide

I know, looking for the “Perfect” boat is like looking for the “Holy Grail!” But, I would love to hear any thoughts that might steer me in the right direction. Thanks!

bell merlin II
Ryan L.

Deep thoughts…

– Last Updated: Sep-01-11 1:51 PM EST –

Yes, the perfect canoe does exist little guy.........

It's out there somewhere. Trust me. Just keep looking; don't get distracted by the naysayers.
Don't give up your holy quest.
Quitters will never find the grail.

You must commit yourself to wasting large sums of money, large blocks of time, and trying your wife's patience repeatedly. You can't take the money with you when you go; time flies when you're having fun(looking for the perfect canoe), and aggravating wife's is a hoot! Don't believe me? Just ask my wife.

I'll make you a heck of a deal on a Starfire that I just picked up from an old, retired, librarian in Illinois. She only used it 4 times to lily dip, on a man made city lake, on sundays.
Some off course Canadian geese that established temporary residence at the city lake left a lot of mess (half digested corn) around the put in point.
The last time the old lady went lily dipping; she slipped in the goose mess, hit her head on a concrete picnic table, and the EMTs pronounced here DRT! Her son sold it to me cheap; what does he know; he's a kayaker.

You tried one of those aluminum kayaks yet?
Possible end of grail quest?
Nah! Keep searching. The quest would be more fun than paddling an aluminum kayak.
And there is always my Starfire.

I jest.


Millbrook Souhegan.
A stable poling boat, not deep, not wide. Light, strong.

Have you paddled Rob’s Swift Raven

– Last Updated: Sep-01-11 4:41 PM EST –

It is asymmetrical and a little deeper than what you are looking for, but less so than the Rendezvous. The length, width and rocker are close to what you are seeking.

The Nova Craft Supernova has the right rocker, length, and beam and is symmetrical, but is somewhat deeper still. Guess you could take the gunwales off and cut it down a little if you wanted it bad enough.

You have probably considered the Mohawk Odyssey 15, but it is a bit narrower and less rockered than you are looking for.

The Merlin II is quite a bit narrower than what Terry is seeking. It is also quite asymmetrical and paddles that way.

Well then
Am I to understand that those canoes you sold to Ramblin’ Jack and me were imperfect, Bob?

"You must commit yourself to wasting large sums of money, large blocks of time, and trying your wife’s patience repeatedly." Bob, you’ve been talking to Margaret, haven’t you (LOL)? She’ll tell you that’s what I’ve done the last 27 years of our marriage (LOL)!

Pete, tried the Raven. It’s O.k., but seems a bit deep and is HEAVY.

g2d, got a question about Millbrook’s boats. Do they have floatation built in, or do they need airbags? Wish I could test one of their boats, I’ve heard good things about them. I’ll take a hard look at that boat!

Thanks! WW

Both of you…

– Last Updated: Sep-01-11 10:01 PM EST –

Both of you got killer deals on those boats, and both you & Ramblin Jack are intelligent enough to recognize that. Neither are "grail boats" however.

If necessary, I could christen them at the Rendezvous; if that would make you two feel better.........
I know it would make me feel a lot better at 3 a.m. some night, after having about 3 or 4 J.W.
Dundee Honey Brown Ales

Hope to see you two at the Rendezvous; seeing both of you sooner than would work too. Wish the Saint would get some water & help entice you guys into driving south.


I thought…
I thought that was one of a good husband’s duties; teaching his wife patience?

Was I misinformed?



PAL. For sure.
You need to try a NC PAL, I think it could be exactly the boat you’re looking for.

I’ve Done That, Bob
She has HAD to learn “Patience” with me (LOL)!

Kanoo, I’ve wondered about that Pal. It’s a bit longer than I was thinking, but… A friend in Texas who has been also searching for that “Perfect” boat just recently bought one; he seems to be happy with his. Thanks for reinforcing the idea to try one. WW

I had a few of the boats you list,
for me, the PAL has been my favorite tandem, trumping boats like the Bell Morningstar (comp) and Northstar (comp), and Prospectors of various builds. Boat fit is an individual thing, for me the PAL just works like no other when it comes to a tandem.

Mohawk Odyssey14?
Not the ‘grail’ boat, but it has worked well on your rivers for me. I’m big, not tall and haul 4-5 days gear. One of the people who recommended the boat to me does photography from the boat for a living. It’s totally not fussy. I find that it likes a load and doesn’t need much water under it. Not fast, not fancy, not light, but I have no trouble keeping up and I can carry it when necessary. Def cheaper than most. Different boat than the Solo14 and Odyssey15. Well suited to sitting with a double blade, which is how I use it. It’s ok with a single blade, but not optimum. Just a thought. I know the Bob had one a while back and said it was so-so for him, but I think your use will be different than his.

I Paddled One…
…but only for a couple minutes several years ago. Can’t remember a darn thing except it turned very easily and I got out of it after hitting a rock and putting the 1st dent in it! That may be a good option, Pam. I have a friend selling one too, so that may be the easiest next step finding the “Holy Grail” (LOL)!

Worth a try…
Lower the seat if you’re going to sit. I use large pool noodles for thigh cushion/braces. Hope to get back to MO some day, but we’re working on getting a new biz going and time away is limited. Hoping to get on the river here next week for a few hours and will try to take pics of my set up if you want.

That would be great.

ok. See what I can do next week.

Stewart River Ami, Hemlock Eaglet
I like the specs you are after.

Modern STSE solo canoes (skinny, tippy, sissy, elitist) in the 14’-15’ range do not have sufficient initial stability or balance beam to provide reasonable platform capabilities. They sacrifice almost everything on various altars of paddling, and paddling-only, performance. One must cultivate reflexive twitch balancing just to stay still in them to smoke a cigar.

Yet tandem canoes shrunk to 15’, such as the Novacraft, Swift and Langford Prospectors, remain too fat in the 35"-36" range.

Some older WW canoes, such as Blue Hole Sunburst I and II, come close in specs except for too much depth and perhaps too much turniness for lake paddling.

The Hemlock Eaglet comes close to your specs:

The non-fat, non-STSE canoe I would like for a versatile paddling and platform canoe is the Stewart Rive Ami with sliding bow/solo seat:

The Ami is a shortened Chestnut Pal with a flatter bottom, which skips right over the $3000 price barrier to $4000.

Millbrook flotation answer.

– Last Updated: Sep-02-11 3:37 PM EST –

No built-in flotation on Millbrook boats - other than what the wood rails & thwarts etc provide.

If you are flexible on that rocker, you might also consider the Coho. I am finding it an improvement over my NC Prospector in most aspects. Lacking significant rocker, it needs more aggressive lean to spin it - but secondary is so strong that isn't a problem. It is a deeper boat than the Souhegan though. Also, the Coho is slightly asymmetrical. Interesting to note though, that Chip Cochrane poles his stern-forward.