Help with decision

Hello, I am new here and have enjoyed reading lots of the great info. I am in the market for a boat, and I am leaning towards a canoe. My use will be primarily calm water, slow rivers or ponds and lakes. I am a big guy, 6’4" and 300 pounds. I will probably be using the boat solo lost of the time, but will also be taking my son or daughter with me as well, maybe even my wife from time to time. No more than two of us at a time though.

I have found a guy local that has a Mohawk 16’ whitewater canoe that is approx 15-20 years old, but in good shape. It does not have as much rocker as some of the newer Mohawk whitewater canoes, and he says it tracks ok in flat water.

I am also considering a new Old Town Guide 147 from Academy Sports. The Old Town is of course newer, but is roughly a foot and half shorter. It would be easier to load and unload by myself I would think, and is more of a flat water boat.

So, given these two boats, what’s you opinions?

Skip the 147. I can only guess what
Mohawk ww boat you’ve seen, but I think you’ll be better off with a boat that’s closer to 17 feet, with a rather flat “shallow arch” bottom. One example would be the Wenonah Spirit II, maybe in Tufweave, or ABS. The Tufweave will be stiffer and quite durable.

The Mohawk will have enough rocker that some of your capacity will be consumed with the boat being pushed down in the water as the rocker is “consumed” by the load. And while most Mohawk ww boats are pretty stable for their class, they may not approach the best flatwater boats in that department.

Solo plus. It is designed for what you are going to use it for.

Nice boat
The Wenonah Solo plus is very nice, but a bit above my price point at the moment. Looking more beginner level to get some experience and maybe work up to a nicer boat one day.

Neither of these boats is a good choice for you. Keep looking.

At your size, even alone, you will want a 16’ canoe, and maybe even a 17’ with another person. It depends, as some 16’ canoes have more carrying capacity than others. The important point is that a 14.7’ canoe is too small for you, and most certainly for you plus another person.

The unknown Mohawk WW would probably have sufficient capacity for you because WW canoes are typically deeper than FW canoes. However, WW tandems are usually pigs to paddle on FW, which is where you will spend most of your paddling.

There are a large number of used canoes on the market. I’d look for a 16’ FW tandem. If you can afford a lightweight composite layup, that will help significantly with the process of carrying and handling the canoe on land.

Wrong boats…

– Last Updated: Aug-12-11 9:05 PM EST –

Neither of the boats you mentioned would suit your desired needs; not even close.

As stated by others; you are probably going to need a 16 foot canoe minimum. At your weight; if you are going to take the wife or kids along........I'd also suggest a 16 foot minimum.

Lots of lightly used/reasonably priced Old Town & Mad River tandems available.


Thanks for the input
I really appreciate the guidance. I had been reading reviews on the 147, and even saw a few large guys say they liked it, but I will keep looking. Would a 16’ Old Town guide be something worth considering? I have seen them on occasion at the local sporting goods store.

If you can deal witht the weight…
…of the Guide 16 (82lbs), you might want to keep an eye out for a used OT Discovery 169 or OT Tripper 172. The Disco is only a couple pounds heavier and the Tripper a couple pounds lighter. Both are better boats than the Guide, IMO. You might also consider, if you can find a used one cheap enough, a Penobscot 17rx. 65lbs, and in the same size range.

Although the Guide is not a bad boat (for almost 40" wide), I would buy any of those other three boats used and worn (at the right price) before I would buy a new OT Guide. Figure on around half the price of new +/- for one in very good shape, and much less for one fairly beat up but still straight and true (and perfectly usable).

Will definitely continue to look. I still may go take a look at the Mohawk. The pictures he sent make it look like it has less rocker than the current Mohawk whitewater models. It is approx 15 years old he says, and the pics look like it’s in ok shape. Take a look at this picture and see what you think. I am wondering if it is a more recreational model that was just setup to use in whitewater.

OT Penobscot
I’m your size and I’ve been paddling an OT Penobscot 16RX solo and it does very nicely. Light enough to cartop and carry by myself. Big enough to tandem with my wife, although she prefers to tandem in our OT Camper, which has greater initial stability. But if you are looking primarilly for a solo, I’d recommend the Penobscot.

Regarding the Solo Plus mentioned earlier. I’ve paddled one of these solo and I didn’t care for it. I felt my Penobscot (and even my Camper) soloed better for me and my size. And I can’t imagine paddling the Solo Plus from the stearn and putting someone in the bow. It’s a fine boat, but not enough boat for me.

Kind of hard to tell.
Can’t really see the bottom enough to determine it’s design, but it looks like it might be an “all-around” design. Sure doesn’t look like a lot of rocker there.

If the price is right, it could do in a pinch. The thing about used boats is - like cars - someone else already took the hit. As long as you don’t pay too much for what it is (make sure you know what the exact hull material is and what they typically sell for), you can usually recover most or all of your cost in the event you decide it’s not the boat for you.

several ideas…(off the top of my head)

– Last Updated: Aug-13-11 9:20 AM EST –

Could go the efficient 17'[+] route with either one of the Bells or Bluewater's Tripper 17:
The slightly larger OT Penobscot 16 or 17.
Also think Wenonah has a few...probably already spoken for....

The Bluewater Tripper 17 and the
Penobscots do not have the initial stability needed by a really tall, heavy paddler. Our Bluewater Chippewa is much more stable, but they don’t make it anymore.

Doesn’t look bad
It doesn’t look as rockered as a WW tandem or even a Prospector. If it’s local, why not take a look and a test paddle. Put it on a level surface and try to rock it. Measure the depth. Most important, test paddle it.

The 16’ Mad River Explorer would work for you. It’s a long time classic tandem that can be soloed, and there are many used ones for sale.

Would not recommend Solo Plus
I had a Solo Plus and had planned on using it in similar circumstances to yours. At the time my wife and I were in the 200 lb range. It did not work for us as a tandem. The paddling positions in the the bow and stern were too narrow for us. Unless the bow and stern paddlers of our size were better skilled and perfectly in sync than we were we found it quite unstable - and yes we did swim in circumstances we easily handled when paddling tandem in a Penobscot.

As a solo it was difficult for me to maneuver the Solo Plus on twisty streams like the Current and Buffalo Rivers in the Ozarks. I found I had to choose my line very early and really hold it in order to get through the twisties. However it worked quite well as a solo on lakes or big wide rivers like the lower Wisconsin River.

I agree with the Old Town Penobscot recommendation. We have paddled it tandem and found it works quite well as a tandem for paddlers of our size.

I also have a few friends that regularly paddle the Penobscot solo. They turn it around and paddle it from the bow seat facing what would normally be the stern. Just put some weight up front to get a better trim. They either use rocks or filled water jugs for that purpose when paddling empty. Otherwise use your gear to adjust the trim.

What’s it made from?
The Mohawk looks fine from a distance, but what is it made of? Mohawk used to make a lot of chopper gun fiberglass canoes. If it’s one of those, you might to reconsider.

I’ll second the recomendo for a used OT Penobscot or MR Explorer. If you could find a used Esquif Avalon, I’d highly recommend that too. But Esquif’s are pretty rare on this side of the border. If your budget is really tight, a used OT Disco is better than the Guide. And lots of liveries sell off their Disco’s. There’s a guy on the Wash DC craigslist selling a bunch of Disco 158’s for $425 a pop. Might be similar deal in your area.

OT Disco.
IMO, of the Discovery series, I would prefer the 169 over all the others.

Disco fever
The 169 is essentially a poly Tripper while the 158 is a poly Camper. Is that right?

new canoe
I too would recommend an OT Penobscot 16 or 17 given your descriptions - buy used if possible. In my opinion given your size the 17 would be the best bet for you. The 16 would be best if you are mostly paddling alone.

canoes for big paddlers
Definitely test paddle before you buy. at 6-4/300 you are in a different world from many paddlers as far as stability is concerned. Of the boats mentioned I would risk saying the Mohawk is worth a test paddle, you may want to paddle it backwards with your wife, if she is small, to trim level. The

Bluewater tripper 17 (I have one) is a very narrow,somewhat tippy, canoe that might not be stable enough. A Mad River Explorer would also be worth a look. The 16 to 17’ Old Towns should be worth a look too.