Help with canoe decision.

Since I dont have a place to store not can I afford two canoes (one for solo and one for tandem) help me choose on from these two.

Swift Mattawa

Nova Craft Bob Special

They will be both paddled solo 80% of the time and in tandem only for weekend trips with my g/f.

Other then the shape of these boats the specs are similiar.

me - 6’3" - 190Lbs

her - 5’4" - 110Lbs

pack - at most 80Lbs (for two of us)

The weight seems to fit within the optimal weight for both boats…

What say you?

Ohhh and I am not a good canoer at all… but might be looking to change that this season. I do however kayak a lot and will never stop 'yakking.

Since you mentioned that the Mattawa is a contender; and you mentioned that you are relatively inexperienced with canoes: How do you plan to solo that canoe?

The Bob Special
is a great boat. It will need weight up front when soloed. There is not tons of room in the bow for a second paddler, but she may fit jsut fine. The Nova Craft Pal is another great boat you may want to consider. If your only options are the Bob or the Swift, I would choose the Bob.

Good luck.

Bob Special
I have never paddled a Mattawa but I had a Bob Special. I am about your size and my wife is about the size of your gal. My wife had sufficient room in the front - not as much as in my OT Penobscot but she never complained. As a solo, I paddled reverse from the bow seat and never really ad any problems.

We never tripped in that boat so I can’t comment on how it handles a load.

These are two completely different

You say you are soloing 80 percent of the time. The Mattawa is asymmetric… it simply will not paddle the same with you sitting backwards on the bow seat as it does when the canoe is paddled tandem. Dont even think of soloing from the normal stern seat.

Only if you are comfortable kneeling with a kneeling thwart or without that support amidships will you be able to solo the Mattawa.

What is the paddling would be in tandem
… and tandem only. Which of the two boats would you choose?


tomek, welcome from the shadows:)
Just kidding, I know you’ll never give up your Delta…

Are you looking at composite? I’m curious if there are significant price differences between Swift and Nova Craft layups.

IMHO the Mattawa will be faster by a little bit, and the Bobs will turn a bit better. Other than that they are both fantastic canoes and you won’t go wrong with either of them. Paddling solo in the Mattawa or Bobs is easy from a central position, I use a minicell saddle velcro in place. Both are fun boats and both manufacturers have a fine product IMHO.

I’ve gotta ask …
Why do you paddle dedicated solo WW boats (Bell Prodigy X, Esquif Vertige) with a custom bench seat installed, but paddle tandem canoes (Bob’s, Mattawa) solo from the center with a saddle installed?

To me being essentiall locked via a saddle into dead center would be a hadicap when paddling a tandem solo from the center.

But, I can’t say I’ve ever actually tried it either. So, maybe I’m missing something.

Because it’s there and because I can
When I’m canoe camping in a Bell PX or Esquif Vertige you bet I use a bench seat. If it’s just a whitewater day trip then I use a minicell saddle like everyone else.

I don’t always paddle a tandem canoe with a minicell saddle, either. Only when it’s convenient and I don’t take the time to install a third seat. Like when I enter local races. Place the front of the saddle at the back edge of the yoke and velcro it in place, velcro a couple knee pads and it’s good to go. Try it some time, it’s fun.

You can’t go wrong with a Mattawa for tandem paddling. I have not paddled a Bob but the Mattawa is quick and efficient and turns on a dime and is a super sweet boat overall. Being asymmetric and a bit longer than the Bob should give it a significant edge in efficiency.

The Swift is also good for Canadian style solo - it’s super stable heeled way over, but it’s a bit wide for upright solo. Mattawas are magic boats for sure.

Well now

– Last Updated: Mar-16-08 12:29 AM EST –

There have been a few great canoe designers. Gene Jensen, Steve Scarborough, John Winters and David Yost come to mind for both excellence and breadth of work.

The Mattawa is one of a great designers more refined hulls. You'll need a kneeling thwart replacing the third thwart to solo the thing, but with Swifts' infused rail system, [where'd they get that?], the thing weighs 32 lbs. Not bad.

One could argue that a tumblehomed hull would be better for soloing from a kneeling thwart and, maybe, an advantage for a petite bow paddler, but Bell's N'Star is made South of the Border.

Tomek, start
watching TV on your knees if you want that sweet Mattawa…

you can’t turn it around and paddle backward from the bow seat.

Any other solutions?

Double hinged boats
DY always suggested that seats be mounted flat on the Curtis Companion and the Bell StarFire. That way, being symmetrical hulls, they could be paddled in either direction to offer good trim for paddlers of equal weight or a much heavier stern paddler, including solo.

The issue with flat seats is that they are universally uncomfortable in both directions. But then Yost used to be pretty well padded below, so maybe it didn’t make much difference to him.

The best and obvious solution is to trim the tandem seats for the most common burden and drop a kneeling thwart say 8 inches aft of center for solo paddling.

A removable solo portage yoke will be required. If the buyer has the good sense to get the lightest variant possible, a strap around fabric and foam yoke weighing 12 oz works just fine.