Light 14' to a Heavy 16'

I grew up paddling in a tandem 14’ Wee-Noa-Nah Fisherman weighing in at about 50lbs. I’m looking at buying a first boat for my self. I am looking for an all around boat capable of a day on flat water, and just as at home going down a river, topping out at about class 3- rapids. I am looking at the Nova Craft Prospector 16 sp3. Is there a better choice of boat I’m not aware of? Also, the SP3 weighs in at 85lbs, how drastic of a difference will i notice when paddling?

Hi William. I’m also a new member and a returning canoeist from years ago. I just bought a used Old Town Guide 147 and it’s right now around 85lbs. I don’t know if that 35lbs you will notice all that much in the water, but I noticed it toting the thing around. I bought a really nice folding canoe dolly for $40 and working now on a less strenuous method of getting it on and off the car top.

Mine will be mostly a solo when fishing and if we go as a group on a float she will have a kayak and I will have the gear load in the canoe. So sometimes I will have help, but I have to plan on being alone and I’m not getting any stronger.

I haven’t studied all the newer brands but 85lbs for a 16 sounds pretty normal.

Welcome to the site. I have been using the search feature a lot and it’s amazing all the info there is.

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85lb is a tank. That’s what my OT weighs. It is too much for most people to solo carry or load up.

You definitely feel the weight paddling, but it doesn’t get pushed around a ton in the wind. I would have to have no other choice to choose a boat that heavy.


I don’t really think the weight matters at all out on the water, just when you’re carring it. The design of the hull is what really makes the difference in feel. If you were to jump from one boat to the other you might notice the weight, but thats probably the only time. I’m just speculating, but a racing canoe made out of polyethylene would probably be much nicer to paddle than a tub made out of Kevlar. Again I think it has more to do with hull shape than a couple extra pounds in a boat that can carry nearly half a ton.

I think you are on the right track with a Nova Craft prospector 16 sp3, that is the exact boat I am also looking at for similar conditions. Keep in mind that the 16’ sp3 is only 15’4" long, not 16’ long.

Other similar boats include an Old Town Discovery 169, Silver Birch Broadlands HL 16, and Esquif Prospecteur 16.

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I agree 85 lbs is a tank esp for a solo. That’s polyethylene tandem weight.

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In your shoes I think I’d be considering the same boat in other layups. I have a NovaCraft Prospector 16 in Royalex and consider that to be pretty heavy - on par with my Grumman 17 which is considered too heavy by many. I agree with others here though that light weight doesn’t make a world of difference on the water. Acceleration and really quick turning and stopping ability is hampered by weight, but once you get that freight train rolling that momentum can be used to your advantage in many common situations. Just don’t start and stop a lot.
But 85 lbs is heavy enough to be a pain loading/unloading and is certainly a bear if portaging is part of the picture for what you intend to do with it. On the other hand, if you’re young, strong, and willing, its not as if something of that weight hasn’t been portaged by generations of paddlers using wood/canvas canoes with a little water soaked into them - as happens with older w/c canoes that haven’t been scrupulously cared for.
The NovaCraft Prospector 16 design is a great all-round hull, though. IMHO, Its arguably not the best for any single function (cruising, whitewater, fishing, photography, solo, tandem, etc.) but as an all-round compromise boat it may be the best. I think if I were to have only one canoe forever more, that might well be the one I’d want. But 85 lbs is heavy - the other layups from NovaCraft might be worth taking a second look at.

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Bud16415, what’s your method for getting the canoe on your vehicle? I still haven’t come up with a way that doesn’t scrape of end of the canoe or lifting over my head, possibly throwing my back out.

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I get my 85 lb boat on my roof by myself and regret it basically every time. I am a big guy (6’5", 220) and don’t have a very tall vehicle (Ford flex) and it is still a struggle.

Rear loading would probably have to be done gunwales up, but then I have no idea how I would flip it.

I go from the side, resting one gunwales, then sliding it over. The hardest part is lifting it over my Yakima keelover brackets and getting it into place.

I won’t miss it for a moment

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I think the method I use may be better after all. This video is kinda how I do it. How to load a canoe onto your car or suv by yourself - Old Town Saranac 146 - YouTube


Look into RX versions of the Penobscot and Aurora, but nothing wrong with a Prospector, either. I’ve taken my Royalex Heron through class 2s solo and felt confident. But I’d want more bow width and height to try 3s.

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I was in fact working on my loading device today.

I made a simple roof rack for my little KIA Soul just 4 blocks I made from PT 2x4 with a hole thru them for the 6mm screw holes that are behind the little plastic caps. On top of the 4 blocks I ran two 2x4x48 PT across the car for the canoe supports. Doing it this way gets the canoe high enough to clear the antennae base. The little whip will unscrew on most new cars something a lot of people don’t know.

Now the loading part. I have 2 poles 2x2x96 that pin to the 2x4 cross pieces and reach out from the car and down to the ground at around a 45 degree angle. To those poles I added 5 each blocks spaced the lower one 40” from the bottom end and then 12” after that. The plan is my canoe will be strapped to the dolly roughly in the middle and I will roll it up beside the car. I will tip it over so the gunwales are leaning against the poles and the wheels sticking out away from the poles. Now the plan is to walk the canoe up the ramp by lifting one end and hanging it on the blocks. I will stand on one end lift it up and then walk to the other end and do the same. When I get to the top the one side will be resting on the rails and then I will push and slide it all the way on. I think I will have some blocks or pins that I bump against to keep it on center.

If it all goes to plan I will be driving down the road with the dolly wheels straight up in the air. When I get to my fishing hole or float launch That will save me time not having to put the dolly on again. I will reverse the process to take it off then store the poles on top unload all my fishing gear and seat backs into canoe and when I get to the water remove the dolly fold it up and store it in the front of the canoe. My plan is making just one trip from the car to the water and then once at the water putting in as quickly as possible. The same with taking out. I would rather be messing around stowing gear and so forth at my car rather than at a busy ramp.

The only draw back is I have to park in a place where I have some room to one side or the other to load and unload as I made it to work from both sides. So if I pull out and find someone parked on both sides of me I will have to move the car. I doubt I will ever be out when there is maxed out parking. If I’m with others and I don’t want to use the ladders I can just ask for help because with two people it is an easy lift. I just don’t want to have to ask for help and at home I want to load myself without problems.

I know that was a long explanation and within the next few days I will post some photos on the OT Guide 147 thread I started that’s all about the journey getting going this spring after not having a boat for many years. I also added some paddle holders and rod rest. I’m also looking at some kind of anchor for still fishing and also maybe a drag for river fishing, fishing down stream. :canoe:

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Yah I’m definitely not the strongest guy out there and drive a lifted Tacoma so it’s quite a high rack system I got, thanks for the insight

I think I get what you’re saying but I’ll have to be on the lookout for your photos.

I’m going to be busy today so wont be playing with the boat until later. I should have something posted by Friday or Saturday. I will post it to this link.

My Old Town Guide-147 - #18 by bud16415

I saw a video on here where a guy ran a tight strap between the ends of his racks. He loaded his canoe from the side of the car by laying the bow on the strap. Then he pushed it from the stern until the boat was balanced then turned it 90°.
My thought was the racks need to be firmly attached but it looked like a good method.

Load canoes on a roof rack from the rear if you are solo.
Lifted trucks are trouble.