First Time Canoe Buyer- Suggest What I Need

I am considering making a move on a canoe. I have given a lot of thought to this, read about different canoes and tried to discern exactly what canoe I am looking for. Before I make my decision I would like to have input from a person who is knowledgeable.
I would consider myself a beginner when it comes to my use of canoes. I have used a couple different types of canoes on lakes and ponds 6 or 7 times.
I will use the canoe for touring lakes but would also like to use it to go on multi day river trips and camp on the banks along the way. I have limited my options to either a tandem or a solo canoe. Now, I would love to have a friend go with me but would like to have the option to use the canoe by myself when no one is available to accompany me, is this possible? What would be the difficulties I would have in using a tandem canoe by myself?
The canoes I am currently considering are:
Old Town Discovery 147
Old Town Guide 147
Old Town Discovery 119

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

To start with the 11’-9" canoe is too small for two adults. Is there a reason you are not considering a kayak?

What kind of budget are you working with, are you looking new or used? I was looking for a tandem small enough I could handle it solo or with my kids, who are young enough they can’t really help paddle yet (5 and 3).

After a lot of research I purchased a used royalex Bell Drifter (actually rebranded as a Galyan’s Woodsman III), and it has served my needs well. I put a kneeling thwart in it, and I canoe from that position when solo or with the kids in the canoe (solo, but heavier). It’s 15’6" with decent rocker, so I can maneuver it pretty well down wide rivers and slower creeks, but it’s 36" wide with no tumblehome, making reaching the water with the paddle difficult without healing the boat some. I would really want a narrower boat to go down technical water or faster streams. (Bell made that canoe and rebranded them for Galyan’s, with some woodsman III’s being a no tumblehome 15’6" drifter and some being a 16’6" shouldered tumblehome Northwind hull. I’ve seen both on Craigslist recently, so you have to pay attention to which hull it is). Bell also made some Drifters and branded them for Scheel’s as well.

The Bell Drifter hull is the same as a Bell Morningstar, but the Morningstar has a shouldered tumblehome, so a Morningstar would handle the same, but should be a little easier to solo from a middle seat or kneeling thwart. Bell also made a Yellowstone tandem that would be a short tandem you could set up to solo, but it’s a more rockered hull that probably wouldn’t serve you as well on lakes and ponds. I’ve seen a lot of people mention the Old Towne Penobscot 16 as a lightly rockered tandem that can work as a solo. The royalex version of that boat would be lighter and easier to manage solo, but harder to find used. Wenonah makes the Solo Plus as a tandem/solo boat. There are a few companies that make prospector canoes in 15’ or 16’ models, those could be worth looking into as well.

The problem I have is that the more time I solo my boat, the more I want a dedicated solo. I can really battle the wind some days paddling by myself, and a little more maneuverability would be nice. As a tandem, my boat works well, but I don’t have the capacity or efficiency of a longer boat.

@magooch said:
To start with the 11’-9" canoe is too small for two adults. Is there a reason you are not considering a kayak?

I like the look and feel of a canoe more. Also the seating position position in a canoe is preferred over a kayak.

@Obe said:
What kind of budget are you working with, are you looking new or used?

I would prefer to find a used boat if it’s right and I would like to spend >$800.
Thank you both

Like I said, this will be my first boat and I want the experience I have with it to help me learn more about canoes and what I want out of one. A “starter boat” if you will

All of the boats I mentioned should be boats you can find used in that price range. There’s a Bell drifter in Iowa for $650 on craigslist right now. I think there was a mad river explorer 15’ on here, might be worth a look. The Bells typically go fast, and I haven’t seen many royalex prospectors up for sale. Royalex penobscot 16’s have been pretty sought after as well. The solo plus is probably higher than $800, but that’s just because I think I’ve only seen them for sale in tuff-weave layup (used).

One thing to note is that Bell canoes have great secondary stability, but are going to feel a little “tippy” at first due to the shallow arch hull. Penobscot 16’s will take a little getting used to as well, but it’s another great hull.

If you’re budget was higher I was going to suggest getting two canoes, a used solo and a used tandem! (I am saving for my solo now!)