Looking at 2 canoes... help me decide.

-- Last Updated: Apr-24-08 1:30 PM EST --

Hello all... I'm presently looking at two canoes that might fill my needs and need some advice. I'm looking for a ~17' hull to use mainly for canoe sailing. Because the craft's main job in life will be sailing (with a single outrigger...), weight and portage-ability aren't *too* important. High volume, good freeboard, sturdiness and moderate rocker are. Here are the contenders at the moment:

1. A new Nova Craft Prospector 17 SP3 Available locally at $850

2. A used Dagger Venture 17 (in Royalex i assume, did they make it in anything else?) at $700. About 100 miles away.

Assuming the Dagger is in decent condition, which boat would you be looking most closely at? One concern I have on the Dagger is the size/strength of the gunwales, which on a sail rig are used as attachment points for lee board thwarts, etc.

Since the sailing is a relatively rare use, I'd welcome any comments about the relative merits and drawbacks of these boats... or other suggestions for hull choice as well.

Matthew Lyon

Not much help …
but I can say gunwales can be replaced and or built up. You could remove the current gunwales and add beefier ones. You can also laminate them to build them out even more – that is layer them. Also you could add on to just the sections that need to hold attachments.

Both OK
The dagger is thinner, sleeker, faster, lighter, and doesn’t look as much like a canoe.

The nova craft is more stable, stiffer, has far more volume, is more maneuverable, and much better in rapids.

For sailing - I would prefer the prospector.

For almost all tripping - Dagger

For tripping with significant moving water - NovaCraft

Other factors - the Dagger is a bargain as Royalex can be repaired.

The Nova Craft is a bargain because that SP3 is a fine performing, if heavy plastic that is really really tough. I hate the old town poly, but Nova Craft got it right on their prospector 17.

Canoes are great - you will enjoy either, but you should probably buy both just to be sure.

Thanks… and one more contender?
I appreciate the input so far… we went and looked again at the Prospector and it looks great.

Any thoughts on the Mad River Explorer 16? There’s a Royalex one close by for a pretty reasonable price.

Another good one!
The Mad River explorer is another fine hull.

Somewhat of a compromise between the previous two.

Well built, stable, maneuverable, but a bit less volume than either of the others.

I took a MR explorer and a Dagger Venture 17 down the Bow River for a short trip. the MR was easier to backferry around corners, and I prefered it in these conditions. On a Lake, I would prefer the Dagger.

The MR also has a good stiff bottom because of the v shape.

All good boats. If weight is unimportant and staying dry is, go with the Novacraft.

If speed and flatwater tripping are priorities, go with the Dagger.

If you want a great all-around boat, with a bit less cargo capacity, the Mad river is a fine choice.

You have chosen three of my favourite canoes!

If I had to pick, I think I would take the Prospector, because I like big canoes. Many would likely take the Dagger, because they prefer more modern styles and efficiency. The Explorer is a legendary canoe for good reason, just a hint smaller than I like (excellent for short trips, makes a good solo - great canoe).