Florida river and offshore canoe?

I am looking to buy a canoe mainly to solo, but I need a tandem so the wife can ride if she wants. It will see light day trips, extended Florida river trips (lots of tight sections and many fallen trees) mostly solo and paddling in the intercostal and offshore for the Keys, Flamingo and the Everglades. I know I am asking a lot from one boat and I don’t mind loosing some flat water speed to have rough water ability.

I haven’t paddled in a while, but backpack, camp, and paddled a bit in boy scouts when I was younger. I was thinking I need ~16’ and have been reading a lot on the net. I was looking at a Mad River Legend, but people say it’s a pig on flatwater, then I found the Swift Dumoine, which looks promising. Swift is hard to get in the south.

Any suggestions? I guess the beach and ocean is kinda like WW.

An ocean canoe? I’ve taken a canoe
in the ocean a couple of times. Got rolled and thrashed coming back through the surf both times.But,I’m not good at ww paddling.

I asked Charlie Wilson what he thought about taking my Rapidfire into a salt bay;his answer made me switch to my kayak.

I realize this answer is no help.

The main factor for ocean canoeing
is not canoe choice, it’s self discipline. As String said, you can get rolled and pounded in anything more than mild surf, and if you’re out there solo, a sudden wind shift could blow you out to the Gulf Stream.

I think what you should do is to solve all your river, swamp, and saltmarsh problems with a good canoe choice, and then restrict your open ocean paddling to the best, most predictable conditions.

Also, what makes for a good whitewater canoe does NOT make for a good ocean canoe. Whitewater canoes don’t grab ocean waves in a way that allows them to track properly over peaks and troughs. Trust me, I’ve tried.

RapidFire does fine on the Gulf

– Last Updated: Mar-17-09 3:29 PM EST –

of Mexico..

However that was at the end of my trip when I had 25 lbs of water..not 100. The Gulf where I went did not have hard driving surf but one to three foot waves short and choppy.

Other canoes I have paddled on large bodies of water are the Wenonah Odyssey and the Hemlock Peregrine. The Peregrine in the Everglades (Gulf side) and the Odyssey in the Gulf of Maine and Lake Superior.

I have a sea kayaking background. When you learn to sea kayak you learn alot about when to go and when not to go and wave and wind behavior.

So it is more about judgment than a particular piece of equipment. You may want to consider a larger canoe simply because you will have to haul water. Canoes do have the advantage of a seat to stand on when you have to haul yourself up to a chickee platform.

I took my Swift Raven down to the Gulf of Mexico and its a river running boat. I found it annoyingly slow. The plus is the rounded bow just shed water off and I never got a drop in even when I had to wind ferry across some three to five feet chop-without a sprayskirt. For some reason tracking is not an issue with me or that boat.

If we know what you CAN get a hold of maybe we can be of more help.

PS the Legend is hard work on the flats.

Good advice.
Any suggestions on a boat that would fit these needs?

Hmmm. Speed calls for length. But
swamps and small streams call for a shorter boat. A lot of solo paddling tends to argue against too much length. Let’s say we don’t go over 17 feet, and try to go lower. Solo means narrow. Try not to go over 34", and 32" is a good compromise.

Hauling a boat over deadfalls calls for reasonably light weight. We once hauled our 85 lb, 18.5’ Moore Voyageur over 30 deadfalls or snags on the Loxahatchee. But lighter would be easier. Let’s try to stay under 65 pounds.

No rocker means faster, but no rocker means harder to turn, and can mean harder to manage in chop or wave trains. Let’s try for a modest amount of rocker.

Deeper means dryer, but it also means you can get blown around more if out in the open in a fairly empty canoe. So let’s look at canoes that aren’t super deep. (Example of too deep… Our 16’ 10" Bluewater Chippewa, 48 pounds, wonderful swamp boat, but 16" deep in the center. Even tandem, blows around easily if not loaded with gear.) Maybe 13" deep, with ends not too high.

Kevlar boats are more often made for light weight than for durability. You can find Royalex canoes that meet all requirements and are 65 pounds. You can get the Wenonah TuffWeave layup, strong, resists wear, fairly light.

OK… Look in the 16.5 foot range in Bell canoes. In Wenonah, look at the 17’ Spirit II (not that narrow), but also the Aurora and some of their other 16 footers. Bluewater has a fast, maneuverable, narrow 17 footer called the Wilderness. Mad River has the Malecite, but I think it may be a bit shallow. Others will nominate more.

I’m surprised…
no one has suggested a Kruger Canoe. I don’t own one because I’d rather own a couple or three boats (maybe four) for the price of one of them.

That said, they’ve proven themselves in everything from the Pacific Ocean, to Arctic Rivers and even up the Grand Canyon. Additionally, they regularly compete and win in the various Watertribe Challenges.

You have two very different needs
and I would pick the boat that is going to fulfill the majority of those needs. To get a boat with the volume for the ocean and then try to run twisty little rivers with trees everywhere is perhaps not going to happen.

Its OK to rent sometimes!

You can solo paddle a wide boat…36 inches for example if you learn Canadian Style. Soloing that boat in the ocean heeled over is not going to be easy(it acts as a sail) and a possibility is finding a boat in the 16 foot range that you can paddle backwards from the bow seat. Some come with tractor seats that make that option not possible.

Learning to heel a boat will make a long boat more maneuverable in tight quarters but its not something I care to do while bouncing on the ocean.

If the majority of your trips are going to be on the ocean pick a boat for that.

And pick up a couple of Mohawk Solo 13s for river play. They are not expensive. I may have one for sale.

I have found it really hard to find solo boat rentals.

How about a Wenonah Advantage?
The Kruger Seawind is probably the best choice but very pricey.

Escapade or 17Jensen
Both are tandems than can be soloed from a center seat. Both have more volume than the solo plus, even though the Escapade is the same length. Neither is very deep, but you are on a river expedition or large windswept lakes. Either one is short enough to handle the turning rivers, again with less current to deal with than a Carolina or Adirondack river, thankfully Florida is very flat.

Both canoes are efficient paddling tandems,fairly narrow to facilitate the solo paddling and with enough volume for camping gear. I’ve fast tripped in the Adirondacks with a 17Jensen and had no problems on open lakes with a weeks worth of gear and food. The Spirit is a better boat for waves, but pretty wide to solo over any kind of distance. Yes you can solo a wide tandem heeled over ‘Canadian style’, but its nowhere as much fun as in a narrow canoe.


Florida has moving water
its not quite THAT flat…

Juniper Run is a good test of technique in Ocala National Forest.

When I paddled it in a Peregrine the trees, deadfalls were enough of a challenge that I could not just drift and take pictures. Additional challenge came from the two or three dozen canoes that I passed that were sideways or upside down or stuck inbetween trees.

A digression …back to shopping.

I am LOL thinking of a SeaWind on creeks. Its a great ocean canoe.

I think Kruger Canoe…
would claim it wouldn’t be a problem.

But then again, I’ve never paddled one, or even actually seen one. Just what I’ve read about them including the book the Ultimate Canoe Challenge, 28,000 miles in a canoe.

He’s going to spend most of his time
on rivers. A Kruger is certainly not a good boat for that.

And I’m surprised at all this stuff about solo paddling from the back of the bow seat. Real solo paddlers do not do that. A dedicated solo seat is necessary. If anybody is still paddling solo from the back of the bow seat, it’s time to put aside compromise methods.

The only time, I “paddle” a tandem…
solo is when I’m practicing poling in my Penobscot. Solo. I have three other dedicated solo boats, Mohawk Odyssey 14, Wenonah Voyager and a GRB Classic XL all of which for their best use. The three of them together didn’t cost as much a Kruger.

Wasn’t referring to you regarding solo
paddling. As for the original poster, based on my own forays into paddling on the ocean off Jupiter Beach, and on Lake Michigan, I’ll bet he doesn’t spend large amounts of time out there with the dolphins. He needs help finding a boat for Florida rivers and for occasional forays into open water. That doesn’t require a Kruger, and it doesn’t require two boats.

Sometimes sitting on a seat and
soloing makes sense. I took out the kneeling thwart from my Dumoine and replaced it with a standard thwart to make room for packs. My partner got hurt and evacuated and then I had to paddle 150 miles in four days(the St John in Maine). My knees were killing me. The replacement thwart was way too high. Thats when I decided that I would like the option of spinning the boat around and paddling from the bow seat backwards though it is a compromise for boat control.

That said the Dumoine is indeed a good boat for Canadian style solo as it comes with a kneeling thwart. It can be quite maneuverable, and its pretty dry. Its up to you to evaluate your knees. You cannot spin the Dumoine backward and paddle from the bow seat. Nor solo from the stern seat. It is very far aft.

We paddled with it on Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario and it gave a reasonably dry ride. It has loads of room up front but it is trim sensitive, so dont throw the heavy gear way in the bow. You will have less control than you wished for and the CG may question you for OUI.

I invented the foam pedestal seat back
in 1973. My seat allowed comfortable kneeling, sitting, and even had a portage yoke in the front. Of course I didn’t realize what a genius I was, so I didn’t patent it.

A foam pedestal seat properly positioned in the center of a solo, or a relatively narrow tandem, canoe is more comfortable, versatile, effective, and safer than a kneeling thwart. As for paddling seated backwards on the bow seat, that’s for emergencies.

I don’t know that …
the original poster can do what he wants with one boat. How about the Wenonah Solo Plus?

I’ve never paddled one personally, but it is designed with a dedicated solo seat and seats for tandem. Although, as been said, anyone would have to be very selective about when to paddle on the ocean.

I tried a Solo Plus and found it rather
stiff in its handling characteristics. But of course I’m mostly a whitewater paddler.

A wacky possibility would be to rig a large solo for tandem. The Wenonah Rendezvous in Tuffweave would be a good Florida swamp cruiser, has enough freeboard for open water, and might be set up for occasional tandem use. I’d be interested in what Eric Nye would say about this.

A wild card… The Millbrook AC/DC, 16+ feet, 31" wide, very light, strong, fairly fast. It was designed to race in the combined slalom and downriver whitewater nationals.

Another nice Bluewater is the Peterborough, 31" wide.

Tandem partner may not be experienced
I reccomended the Escapade & 17Jensen over the Solo Plus even though he states that his paddling will be mostly solo, because the Solo Plus is not the best tandem if the paddlers are not both experienced and balanced. The Escapade is the same length as the Solo Plus, but fuller at the tandem paddling stations. It is wider at the middle, but deeper also, and as a solo is better suited to his open water forays than the solo plus.

The Rondezvous as a tandem would be a challenge to paddle. Small short people wanted.