Is there a perfect boat?

I am a kayaker who after 10 years on the water has decided to take up a single blade for recreation. While I use to outfit canoes (Wenonah, MRC, OT)I have little experience with buying one. I have spent many hours searching reviews for the perfect canoe. There are obviously a lot of opinions out there and I have come to the decision that there is no perfect canoe that will do “everything”. However perhaps if I explain what I will be using it for I could get some good leads on “my perfect boat”.

I will be paddling mostly with my wife and going on short trips. The water we experience will mostly be large bodies often with significant chop and waves on a windy day. While a longer boat is obviously going to be faster I’m not really out for speed as much as I am stability (mostly for my wifes nerves) and ability to handle waves without tipping. I’m not above getting a whitewater boat for this reason. However tracking may be helpful in large bodies of water.

Is there a perfect boat for me? Like many before me I have been looking at the We-no-nah Aurora and Spirit II, MRC Explorer 16, Old Town Discovery, and Mohawk Intrepid’s.

Although my experience
has been limited to only a few boats, I can say that it has ok speed and has lots of stability…if these are key, a 17 foot Souris River Quitico is a great boat. Mine has been in serious whitecaps on large open water,also have paddled quick rivers and quiet lakes. It is ok at a lot, not really great at anything. If you want a light (44pounds) safe boat this could be for you. However, they are a little spendy and there are faster boats out there, like a Bell North Woods, or Wennona Escapade. Both are faster than the Souris River.

Good Luck


Paradoxically, a boat with marked
arch in cross section (we own a couple) will feel more tippy or tender at rest, but will be less likely to be upset by waves, especially those impinging from the side.

If you are concerned about boat control if waves come up on a lake, set up your seats for both sitting and kneeling, and practice both regularly. Kneeling makes it easier to keep a boat from being thrown over by waves.

Keep in mind that when you’re talking about “speed” in a canoe, as much as anything you are talking about designs that cut through the water with a minimum of resistance. Speed itself is not the real advantage to such boats. Instead, ease of moving through the water is their greatest advantage. If you want to cover lots of flatwater, like paddling down a windswept lake or across a wide body of water, you want something that won’t be so much work to paddle. Whitewater type canoes are not only not particularly stable-feeling, but they do NOT move through flatwater without a LOT of effort to move them forward AND keep them going straight. Primary stability, such as you get on a lot of the wider recreational designs like the Discovery canoes, is also a trade-off for ease of moving across flat water…the greater width and flat bottom that makes such canoes FEEL stable means more resistance to forward movement just because you have more of the canoe below the waterline in cross section. And as G2d noted, an arched cross section will feel tippier (less primary stability) but MAY actually be more resistant to actually tipping. I say “may” because a lot of a canoe’s “final” stability depends upon the shape of the SIDES of the canoe in cross section. Straight or outwardly flared sides have great final stability (it’s hard to actually flip them), while canoes whose sides have a lot of tumblehome (sides curve inward in cross section) have very little final stability.

My advice would be to get yourself a good cruising or touring design. Wait til warm weather and take your wife out in it, let her get used to the initial tippy feeling, maybe even TRY to flip it in warm, shallow water with her, and she’ll get a good idea of what it takes to flip the canoe. Once she’s comfortable with its final stability, everything should be just fine.

The next boat is always the perfect one.

Thanks for the info…
I appreciate all the advice! I am now searching for something with a little more “speed” than I origanally intended. Thanks again!

Souris River Quetico 16
I concur with Brammy’s advice for a Souris River Quetico model. Given that you’re only day tripping, however, the 16’ version may be a better choice.

I have this canoe and it is very versatile – outstanding initial and secondary stability, lightweight (42 lbs. in kevlar, 49 in Duralite), durable (epoxy), handles a reasonable load, balances tracking and turning well for your use (tracks slightly better than turns, with 1" rocker), acceptable speed (but not a strength). I even use it effectively solo (turning canoe around and paddling from the bow seat).

Check it out at (this site is better than the Souris site).

If you’re accustomed to kayaks…
Then you’ll have different perceptions when it comes to “speed”–or glide or efficiency, if you prefer those terms that are almost synonomous, but not quite–and stability. And, as you already know, there’s a big difference between that wiggliness known as initial stability and the seaworthiness and survivability that people sometimes call secondary stability.

So, considering where you’re coming from as a starting point, I’d say you’re wise to consider something with more “speed.” If, for example, you’re looking at Wenonahs, maybe try a Minnesota II or an Escape. Don’t be so sure you should be paddling the Aurora or a Champlain.

Just my two cents’ worth… In the end, try lots of canoes. See for yourself.


I’d take the old town disco off you list and put the Old town Tripper 17 or the penobscot on you list. Otherwise I think any boat from your list would be fine.