Help researching Wenonah Sundowner 16'6"

I’ve come across a old Kevlar Sundowner 16-6 on craigslist. I haven’t been able to find much information about this particular canoe. There’s a lot of information on the 17 and 18’ models of the Sundowner. Can anyone tell me the important dimensions and paddling characteristics of this boat; (tripper, cruiser, barge); good and bad points? The HIN is:

MFP EC257 K788 16-6 Sun

I’m looking for a smaller tandem that can handle 400-500lbs worth of paddlers, dog(s), and gear. If it’s something similar to the current Wenonah Escapade I would really be excited. Thanks for any information you have on this canoe.


16 1/2’ Wenonah Sundowner

– Last Updated: Jul-11-09 7:37 PM EST –

Originally this boat was called the "Echo". Wenonah built it in various layups: vacuum-bagged Kevlar with PVC core (38lbs) and either center rib or cross rib construction in either Kevlar (53 lbs) or "Tuf-weave"
glass/Kevlar composite (66 lbs) or all fiber (72 lbs).

Specs are length 16' 6', maximum width 34", gunwale width 32", 4" waterline width 32 1/4 ", bow height 20", stern height 17", center depth 13 1/2".

It had a slightly flatter bottom than the 18' Sundowner with straight sides at the ends and slight tumblehome amidships. Otherwise similar in shape to the larger Sundowner.

Designed to be a general purpose tandem touring canoe for smaller people or those carrying lesser loads.

My wife and I rented one from an outfitter in Old Forge for a canoe trip in the Adirondacks years ago. I remember it being a pretty friendly boat with no major vices, not particularly fast due to its shorter length, but stable and fairly easy to turn.

We were probably putting about 400 lbs total in it, or a tad more, and I remember encountering some pretty stout winds on Long Lake and Raquette Lake and it did OK. It was the main rental canoe that particular outfitter used for tandem tripping boats.

I have never paddled the Escapade. Judging from the line drawings and the specs, the two boats look more similar than different. The Escapade definitely has more center tumblehome. It has an inch less bow and stern height. The Sundowner has an inch less overall width but an inch more gunwale width due to its lesser tumblehome. The Sundowner is a full inch and a half narrower at the waterline. Both have minimal rocker and a rather flattish bottom.

Good pocket tripper
As Pblanc says this hull has few vices. It is a nics light tripper for smaller paddlers and those with less gear.

It has more volume than the Escapade, due as planc points out to less tumblehome in the midsection. The Escapade was pulled in to become a tandem than can be soloed.

Wenonah made it for more years as the Echo than as the 16’6" short Sundowner. It was revised as the 17’Sundowner which exists only in Royalex now.

The 16’6" hull was made in several layups no longer in the Wenonah catalog. In fiberglass the most common was the cross-rib layup, in Kevlar the core-stiffened was the lightest and most popular. Some of those hulls weighed under 35# and are very stiff. The core-stiffened was also available in fiberglass and at around 50# or slightly under was an economical alternative to the cross rib kevlar at about the same weight.

The biggest negative about this hull was a lack of initial stability for large paddlers. Many large people could not seem to get comfortable in this hull. They would buy the 17’Spirit. Now Wenonah makes the 18’ Champlain for them. Smaller paddlers loved this hull for its light weight and ease of handling in the wind.

With a light load it is a quick hull.

The price should be equal to the layup. An extra-stiffened glass hull at 68# is not worth what a core-stiffened kevlar hull at 35# is worth. The glass hulls were painted tan inside, the kevlar hulls even with exterior gelcoat are natural kevlar inside.


What are large people coming to?
A very unsteady lot. Our first canoe was a Moore Voyageur with a very arched shallow arch. We started out kneeling (on bucket seats) and never had a problem. The boat was never swamped or flipped, and we ran Chattooga 3 at 2.1 feet.

Of course I know a manufacturer might be dumb enough to round a hull too much, but I don’t see Wenonah doing that.

There are just a lot of clumsy big people out there.

Comng down from a bass boat
Those that seem to want the most initial stability are large people with a high center of gravity, little waist flexibility, and a background in rowboats or jonboats. Just a random sample of people i have put into canoes who were very uncomfortable in hulls that i rate as very stable. For these people there is the Sportspal, the Discovery Sport series, and the Grumman Square Stern.

When a large paddler leans over the rail to check on what fish he has on the line, his partner needs to move quickly to counterbalance. And a very large bodied paddle is not usually able to keep his upper body inside the gunwales and be able to see down into the water next to the canoe. Matter of mass and gravity.


Was paddling the Schroon recently,
and while the long rapids were great fun, the lake-like pools were even longer. I noticed many Coleman and Sportspal canoes, but only one Royalex boat that, if paddled properly, might have made it through the rapids without swamping. As far as I could see, those second homeowners had no intention whatsoever of doing the rapids.

I went from a single scull to our arched canoe. Maybe that’s why I didn’t expect a whole lot of stability.

16’6" Sundowner
My wife and I got one of these as a wedding gift over 15 years ago. Ours is Tufweave foamcore – very stiff through the bottom, but only ~ 55 lbs. We tend to use it as a day tripper, but have also used it for weeklong trips in Algonquin and the ADKs - we tend to pack light (think backpacking with a few extras). It tends to pound onto the backside of wakes and large waves, with the bow plunging pretty deep (little or no flare), and can be pushed around by waves from the rear quarter when loaded. Despite straight keel-line, we use it happily on small streams and creeks (Brown’s Tract Outlet). Comments about heavy paddlers finding this tippy are prescient… only time I’ve tipped in this was when my “little” brother (~280 lbs?) was in the bow and he grabbed the gunwales to steady the boat… somehow I get the blame for this. Very sleek boat, very handsome. We’re happy with it.

Help researching Wenonah Sundowner 16’6"
Thanks for the great information on this canoe. I took a look at it over the weekend but wasn’t able to paddle it. It was a cross rib model with gelcoat and was painted tan inside. Does that mean it was probably a tuf-weave boat? I’m not sure how to interpret the HIN, but I thought the K indicated Kevlar:

MFP EC257 K788 16-6 Sun

The canoe was mixed up with a lot of other boats so I couldn’t really lift it by myself. If I had to guess I would say it was about 50-55lbs. I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep looking for another tandem, but I’m curious about this boat’s construction. The two things that make me want to keep looking are the cross ribs and the tractor seats. The cross ribs have a much higher profile than I expected and I prefer a hung bench seat. Half the fun is pursuing new canoes anyway.


Wenonah Echo
I was lucky enough to own one of these canoes. Mine was kevlar, and 34" at the gunwales. A great canoe. My friend and I took it to the Boundary Waters three times for a week each time, and it worked great. (We are both under 180 pounds). We took a weeks work of gear and it handled great, both into the wind and in cross winds. It tracked straight, easy for one person to carry, and stable. A plus is that it wasn’t as bouncy without a load as my friends kevlar Spirit. A great canoe for tripping and fishing. Sadly, I sold it a few years ago. Now that I have room for a canoe, I would love to find another one (hint).