If ya had to pick one...

to paddle mostly solo with a few tandem trips would you chose the wenonah solo plus or the bell morningstar? Looking at the royalex versions for slow rocky rivers and flatwater.

Thanks a lot.

The Wenonah Solo II is (in my HMO) a solo hull that is fitted out so that it can also be paddled tandem, while the Bell Morninstar is a tandem hull that is also suitable for solo use.

The Solo II tracks much better than the Morningstar… or (to put it another way!) the Morningstar is more maneuverable than the Solo II, and it also is the more seaworthy of the two when when used as a tandem.

You pays your money and you takes your choice!

May I suggest a third alternative (based on my own experiences with these canoes). That would be the Mad River Malecite. I had needs similar to yours, and that is the canoe I chose (in kevlar). I don’t think it is made in Royalex, however and I’m wondering why you want a Royales hull in the first place, given the kind of usage you envision for it.

Royale’s chief advantage is that if it is bashed out shape, it can be bashed back in again. For this “feature” you pay the penalty of having a relatively heavy boat made of a substance that cannot be moulded to exactly replicate the fine lines a glass,kevlar or carbon fiber layup. can achieve. In other words, a Royalex Solo II is not an exact copy of a Solo II made of TuffWeave,kevlar or carbon fibre layup. It is also much more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to repair other kinds of Royalex hull damage that are easily repaired on conventionally laid up hulls.

For the kind of use you describe, I would not recommend Royalex.


now you did it
of those three would the malecite be best for a solo paddler under 200lbs?

I would occasionally use the boat on the Susquehanna in low water. Pretty rocky and (from prior cut up legs) sharp rocks too! I do have a Malecite but it is an old fiberglass one that weighs around 75 # and is a handful putting on top of a full size pickup (about 7’ to the roof racks on the cab, no rear rack thanks to tonneau).

I already dented up the roof of the minivan trying to use this boat solo.

Solo Plus Opinion
I paddle my plus both as a tandem and solo on the Susquehanna regularly.

As a solo it is relatively fast but does require a fair bit of lean to make sharp eddy turns.

I don’t think that I, nor my paddling partners are particularly gifted paddlers, but we have never had a problem running it as a tandem. My wife and I often take both dogs with us and have yet to tip even running through the Dauphin Narrows (mild class II).

For what its worth the Solo Plus is the most popular solo/tandem boat amongst the staff at BMO. 4 of us own our own and we have 2 in the company fleet.

I weigh less than 180 lbs. fully clothed and equipped and have no trouble handling my Malecite, which is the kevlar layup and weighs 50 lbs… that’s pretty heavy for kevlar, but it has ash gunwales, butternut decks at bow and stern and 3 caned seats. The lightest layup that was available when I bought it (about 1998) was a kevlar 'skin coat" (no gel coat) which was advertised as weighing 43 lbs, as I recall. Caveat I should add that it was made about 1998 in VT (before MR was sold and its operations moved down south.) I don’t know if the curr It was made in VT, incidentally, before MR was known for solid construction and high priceswas sold and moved its operations down South,

Malecite (2)
Oops! Something glitched while I was editing writing my last message. Let me recap what I meant to say in my caveat! to wit:

Caveat: l. Advertised canoe weights are only reasonable approximations of what the actual canoe you get will weigh due to the fact that each canoe is layed up by hand. There is no standard governing how any manufacturer selects a weight to advertise. Some use an average weight, while others (I think Wenonah is one of these) use the maximum weight that is allowable under their construction standards. The Wenonah Advantage in skin coat kevlar, for instance, was advertised as being 33 lbs., but the one I received weighed only about 32 according to my bathroom scale.

2. If you are worried about sharp rocks in the Susquehanna when the water level is low, you definitely IMHO)don’t want kevlar, which cuts easily. Get something with a good gel coat surface because that resists cutting better and is a cinch to repair if it is damaged.

Solo II as tandem
I didn’t mean to imply that the Solo II was not a satisfactory tandem canoe. But it is a fact that Wenonah itself rates this model as being less seaworthy when paddled tandem than its other tandem designs, but give it high marks when it is used as a solo. I doubt very much that one would encounter anything on the Susquehannah at low water that would put it to the test.

I grew up in NJ and so I do have some dim memories of those rivers back there in August! I paddled the Solo II with my wife in the Columbia River in March one year, and that is an entirely different proposition, believe me!. We didn’t dare venture into the full current but prudently stayed in a backwater created by Tomahawk Island north of Portland.


Royalex solo/tandem ?
By narrowing your choices to Royalex hulls between 15.5 and 16.5 feet … and being solo in them most of the time … you’ve pretty much chosen to make it hard on yourself because of the high hull resistance and poor ergodynamics. So, if you’re giving up on going fast, consider how easy they are to solo paddle at slow to medium speeds? Narrower gunwales and decent tracking point to the Solo plus for your intended usage. However … there IS a way to have solo speed in a medium short Royalex canoe … hehe … wait for it … ROW IT ! Get an Adirondack (medium volume 16 footer with both decent good speed and stability) and drill/bolt Old Town sockets outside the gunwales midway between the front seat and the yoke. You can row it solo by sitting underneath the yoke (reaching over it to stroke) on a 4-6 inch cushion or row it from the front seat facing a stern paddler or paddle it tandem from the web seats. Rowing it will be fast (5-5.5 mph solo) or paddling it (tandem) … medium speed (4-5 mph) … nice canoe either way with plenty of stability. And, you could easily use it as a solo rowing tripper with a huge amount of gear (150 lbs.) … achieving high sustained speeds, good acceleration and maneuverability (oars have fantastic spinning leverage). Have fun … all the boats you’ve mentioned are pretty good … but paddling them solo WILL LIMIT both your distance (stamina) and speed due to the inherent inefficiency of trying to solo power a fairly large hull on one side at a time with just one blade in the water. If you don’t want to row (most people don’t “get it”), switch your priorities towards a narrow composite tandem and you’ll pick up a LOT of efficiency (fiberglass Jensen 17 ?) solo and still have fine tandem paddling performance (just watch out for the largest rocks). If you occasionally get a bruise or small rupture … duct tape it and repair when you get a chance.

Thanks for the tips. I think I’ll try usiing a hitch mounted rack like the Yakima drydock and muscling the old Malecite onto it and the roofracks until I get a better sense of wether or not it will work for me primarily as a solo boat. It’s in really good shape now but if it does get busted up I’ll repair it…it probably won’t be worth less when I sell it.

Appreciate the advice.

Just an observation…

You were looking at the MorningStar and the Solo Plus in Royalex. These boats are listed as 59# and 60 pounds respectively. You’re old glass Malecite is listed in 20 years of MRC catalogs as 64 or 65 pounds with wood rails. THis surely isn’t enough weight difference to take on the poor performance and crappy abrasion resistance of royalex. Royalex really only has one place in canoes… whitewater canoes. Fiberglass and Kevlar boats with gel-goat exteriors are epically more abrasion resistant than any royalex canoe. The beauty of royalex is that it takes impact, not that it’s abrasion resistant. A good kevlar boat will take years of abrading on rocks before it gives up the ghost…So unless you’re worried about wrapping the canoe, or just all out running into rocks at full speed, I’d take a good gelcoated kevlar or glass canoe over a royalex canoe every time…


malecite weight
I weighed my malecite on a bathroom scale once and it was either 72# or 75# which is a bit more than the others. My wenonah, weighed on the same scale, was exactly what the catalog said. The malecite was bought second hand from a livery so I don’t know if MR beefed up the hulls for rental boats? this one was built in the late 70’s.