Grumman G129 Solo is sweet & seaworthy!

IT DOES HAVE TUMBLEHOME! Though not much: Max Beam = 29.5" and gunwale width at the OUTSIDE EDGE is 28".

I traded my kev ultralight Wenonah Whisper for a Grumman / Marathon G-129 Solo today and paddled it about four hours on Thompson Lake in The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve with steady 15 - 20mph winds with gusts to 29 mph and 1-3 miles of fetch and shallow water (less than 2’) at the far end of the fetch, which resulted in short period waves (1 - 2 seconds) that were up to 18" trough to crest and sometimes whitecapping and I agree with plaidpaddler’s reviews here:

----------------------------------------------- “Both my mixed partner, Gearwoman, and i paddled the little Grumman for an hour each. We both liked it a LOT.

For reference, she owns and paddles both a Merrimack Baboosic and a Wenonah Jensen WWC1. I have a Wenonah Mocassin and have had a Wenonah Solitude and and Old Town Pack. She paddles the Pine Barrens of NJ and i paddle the Finger Lakes.

The 129 is stable, is narrower than the Pack, the Mohawk solo 13, and is wider than the Wenonah Sandpiper or Bell Flashfire; using boats of approximately same length. It handles well, turns and leans nicely; and tracks better than you would expect in an aluminum solo with traditional ends. I could pace a couple in a Mad River Royalex Explorer easily, but had to push to keep up with the same pair in a Kevlar Spirit II.

The hull seems lighter than its published 44 pound weight. Did not get it onto a scale, but will get the real world weight soon.

The bench seat was well located, i could sit and also get my feet under it to kneel, size 10.

Being the first true aluminum solo it feels different from any boat i have paddled. Since it is so stiff, no flex in anything, it seems bolted to your body even sitting down. Move your hips and it responds, no wiggle in a cane seat feeling, no wooden gunwale flex, no bottom oilcanning like most royalex solos, just a solid little boat.

GW leaned it more than i ever could, she felt it was not quite as good as her Baboosic for freesyle manuevers, but behaved very well when leaned over. She much preferred it over the Mohawk solo 14’s she paddles so frequently at her canoe club outings. She estimates it will catch her friends in royalex Bells by surprise in the tight little Pine Barrens streams. We will know that in Sept.

Do not pass this boat off lightly, go out and paddle it. I truly hope it becomes a very popular boat for Grumman/Marathon. It is a great design that should be looked at by every Boy Scout camp as a great hull to teach solo canoeing to the small bodied young scouts. And as a canoe that can be soloed on a trip by a smaller person.


and here: “yes it will quite nicely as just what you state, a knock-about solo.

I wrote the review referenced in the earlier thread. I am unchanged in my opinion after several years. The price is probably the biggest obstacle to its sales success. Its now too close to some better paddling Royalex canoes. It will still be a good Scout Camp canoe for small solo paddlers.

It is a good canoe for fishing and small stream work. It would not be my choice for a long distance day on open water; 10+ miles on a lake.

It is plenty deep and has very full ends, so boat wakes and waves are not a problem. Being short, the keel does not inhibit paddling like a keel on a longer tandem. It will sideslip and turn nicely. Much easier than the same solo manuevers done in an aluminum tandem. It will keep pace with most royalex tandems paddled casually. It has no bad paddling traits, only the usual aluminum comfort problems of heat and noise. Both can be cured with piece of outdoor carpet or foam in the bilge and paddling on the seat. I used a piece of closed cell foam insulation to kneel on and to pad the seat.

I paddled nonstop for over an hour and only got out so my partner could try it.



with the exception that it didn’t feel like it weighs less than the listed 44 lbs, at least not after I’d paddled for four hours. I’ll weigh it sometime soon.

Water did splash a little over the gunwales with the larger waves when I was drifting parallel to the waves while watching the white pelicans, double crested cormorants, coots and other water birds with my binoculars. I felt completely secure sitting in the boat in these conditions - enough that the only thing I was paying attention to, other than the birds viewed through the binoculars, was my position in relation to the bouys that mark the off limits portion of the preserve, since the winds were pushing me towards the bouys. I sat 99% of my time out today, somtimes crosslegged, sometimes with my heels bracing a little on the cross rib that is directly under the front thwart and sometimes with my feet in resting in front of that cross rib. I intend to install a Wenonah sliding footbrace for better bracing.

Water also splashed over the bow when I drove the boat harder into the oncoming larger waves, but not when I drove it less aggressively into the oncoming waves.

It is very quiet with the waves following. I had quite a bit of noise when I would drive hard into the waves and the bow would drop onto the oncoming waves, which were only 3’ to 5’ apart.

The boat seems to be wind neutral - it would drift parallel with the waves and neither leecock or weathercock.

It seemed pretty easy to turn either into or away from the wind and waves.

It definately turns easy, easier than my Curtis Lady Bug, Blackhawk Zephyr, Sawyer Starlight and royalex Bell Yellowstone. This brought a BIG SMILE to my face. It doesn’t take much of a lean to free it up and it seems pretty secure in a lean and I never felt like I was out of control or about to go over when experimenting with the maneuvering.

I’m really tempted to get it out on some of the local twisty streams, but they’re often shallow and rocky and I’m not sure that I want to dent it up with that kind of abuse.

It seems to track nicely when driven sit & switch and with control strokes with the Zaveral bent shaft paddle, as well as with control strokes and indian stroke using the Grey Owl Scout straight shaft paddle that I borrowed from the gentleman that I traded for my Whisper. BTW, the Grey Owl Scout seems like a very nice inexpensive paddle and I’ll be looking for a deal on one.

I am eager to get it out on a familiar course in normal, relatively flat conditions and see how it compares to the other boats in that situation. I rarely paddle in wind and waves of the magnitude that I enjoyed today - sometimes that much wind, but usually not enough fetch for waves anywhere near that large.

I encourage canoers who are fond of short, maneuverable solo canoes to give one of these a test paddle whenever you get the opportunity.

I realize that many on this board have an aversion to aluminum canoes, but…

“Don’t knock it until you rock it”

Grumman G-129

Since i wrote that review several years ago, i bought a G-129 used. Picked it up in CT. last summer from a guy who like it alot, but finances dictated he sell non-essential assets.

It has been paddled on several Pine Barrens trips in southern NJ, some Fat Elmo territory. The keel was never a problem, contrary to predictions by the Royalex Solo Faction. Never burned myself on the hull, again contrary to the sage predictions of others. Aluminum conducts heat so well the hull was at water temp all day; 70’s for those streams in summer. The Bell kneeling pad it came with made a nice soft cushioned sound dampener. None of the paddlers who paddled it had any problem navigating the tight confines of Cedar Creek, or keeping up with the trip leader in his Bell RX solo. Everyone who paddles the little tin can comes away surprised with how nice the canoe paddles. Like any minority it has had to deal with prejudices, and has convinced several diehard paddlers they were wrong in their assessments. It is not a perfect canoe, it has its inherent drawbacks; the keel, the fixed seat, the aluminum sound. Will not use it on long Adirondack trips; the Moccasin and Jensen WWC1 are better for that. Won’t race it, the J-180 is better for that. But it could be tripped; enough volume for gear, seaworthy enough, light enough. Just have to keep the pace down.

It will be used for Canoeing Merit Badge classes. Better than my other boats for new paddlers going solo.

And it will probably outlast all my composite boats. As long as the price for aluminum scrap doesn’t go sky high.


A couple more observations:
1. Seat placement is such that the front edge can be used for carry on the shoulders and balances well this way, though there isn’t much head room - I have to have my head forward a little while it rests on the back of my neck. I’m wearing a old style orange horse collar type PFD with the thickly padded neck flap when doing this.

2. My 9’ NRS cam buckle straps are just an inch or two too short for the belly straps on this canoe with my rack spacing because of the depth of the canoe. I can use one 9’ strap, but the other strap has to be longer.

If anyone has some 12’ NRS straps with the rubber buckle covers that they’d like to sell, send me an email and I’ll take them off your hands.

Unfortunately I do knock it
literally and it scares off all wildlife.

I wish it did not make such a racket if you move in it and get so hot.

Its not at all a bad solo and actually I find all Grummans stable when heeled to the rail and also quite able to spin. Contrary to what I have read about flat bottomed boats…

Actually it requires some oomph to heel over if kneeling. I think its rep of being bad on secondary stability comes from sitting paddlers…some of the seats I have seen in Grummans are pretty high.

Well, you did knock it before you rocked

– Last Updated: Jul-01-09 9:15 PM EST –

it. That's the proper order I things.

Noise is an issue when setting the paddle down in the bow, if not done carefully, but that's the same in my composite hulls. Royalex is nice and quiet. I'll probably put a pad down when sneeking up on wildlife in order to reduce noise.

Edit of the subject line: I meant that you did rock it before you knocked it, since you have paddled it before commenting. Sorry about that.

Tandems are different
The seat mounts in some of the tandem configurations are high. and with the paddlers much closer to the ends, the effect of their center of gravity on final stability would not be the same as a seated paddler in the center of the solo G-129.

The bouyancy of the tumblehomed side of the solo entering the water as the canoe is heeled is enough to stabilize it. A 15’ tandem with two paddlers leaning the hull would not have enough, as the flat bottom of the hull starts to come out of the water, the width gets narrow very quickly, the side settles deeper in the water, the length of boat in the water decreases with the tilt, the gunwale goes under, and the paddlers are swimming. Faster than i typed that.


More observations:
1. BEWARE of sharp edges on seat bracket where it meets the gunwales when you grab the gunwales to pick the boat up.

2. The seat is bolted to the angle bracket, the same as my royalex Bell Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo, so you change the seat to whatever hung seat that you want and can raise or angle the seat by using a spacer between the stock seat and the bracket.

3. I prefer driving it with a straight shaft paddle (basic 20" long blade), now I just need a decent quality, small bladed paddle. I just haven’t warmed up to my Bending Branches Loon and it seems like a larger blade than I want.

4. This ain’t no flatwater cruiser. At least it didn’t feel like it during my 2nd straight day of paddling in strong winds.

5. 44 lbs is heavier after the 2nd day of paddling than it was after the first day of paddling. It won’t replace my 31 lb Lady Bug for daily paddling.

6. This boat flat turns nicley. I’m eager to see how it performs on moving water.

7. A more rapid narrowing of the rails in front of the seat would be appreciated for stroke mechanics.