I live in the North West of Scotland.
I am buying a canoe that I will use in the slightly sheltered sea loch (fiord) below the village and in the larger lochs around the Highlands and Islands. I want a canoe that is not too long (for solo paddling), can carry fairly bulky gear for camping, hillwalking etc, but I also want a canoe that can be used for the family also (wife, two boys, cocker spaniel)
I have my eye on a Mad River Ex 14TT that appears to fit my requirements.
I would be grateful if people could share their experiences they have had with the MR 14TT and let me know their thoughts on its suitability.
Mad River Explorer
You might be asking too much. A 14 foot canoe that can take bulky gear or a family of 4 with a dog is probably going to be so beamy as to be a slug to paddle. I have an MR Explorer 16 (Kevlar) that is a wonderful versatile canoe that might fit the bill better. It has great load-carrying capacity. Granted, it is bigger than ideal for solo paddling, but before I got a solo canoe I did paddle this boat for up to 15 miles on flatwater. The length of the boat doesn’t have all that much to do with its suitability for solo paddling. I have an MR solo canoe (Traveller) that is actually an inch longer than the tandem. The solo canoe is considerably narrower, however. Paddling the 16 foot tandem solo requires one to sit toward one side and heel the boat some, ala Mason.
14tt won’t be enough boat for a family
of 4. I own one and have used it to camp out of with my wife. There was sufficient room, it was a bit cramped. Also, used it for solo paddling, but I usually paddle the yak when solo. It is beamy as pblanc said.
I Have Many Hours Experience In One
And I believe you're asking this boat to do things not in it's "Nature." This boat was first called the "St. Croix" and I bought one the 1st year it came out ('99, 2000, can't remember). Sold it after a few years and missed it so bought one under it's newer "Explorer 14TT" name.
This boat is a PERFECT boat for: two adults or possibly two adults and a dog on the river, or two adults and ONE child on the river, solo tripping on the river IF you are a larger person with longer than average arms or torso. This boat LOVES to turn and is very happy on RIVERS, but I would never reccomend it on lakes. I really like this boat, but it is not the right boat for what you're looking for.
Going to be difficult to find a boat that can be soloed AND fit a family of four on Lochs. Fo 4 I'd look towards something like a Wenonah Itasca or a Bell Northwoods. For a boat that can be soloed and hold two adults and one child maybe something like a Bell Northwind.
Good luck! WW
I own a Royalex version of that canoe
and it wouldn’t think of doing any serious paddling in it with the load you described. I have an 18ft Wenonah Champlain that I use when tripping. I usually go with my wife and two dogs, but no kids in the eighteen footer on extended trips. I’ll take the Explorer out with the wife and dogs when not doing any extended paddling and basically no other cargo. With the load you described I wouldn’t get anything under 17 foot and probably a larger canoe considering the kids will only get heavier and how much cargo you intend to carry. With an overloaded canoe the first squall you get caught in you’ll be swimming. You’ll probably have to get a second canoe for paddling solo. I own three.
It’s a great boat for two
Like most canoes it is a great boat for two people and a light load. It is also an inexpensive boat and a great first boat. I left mine with my mom in Florida and I miss it a lot.
At 72 pounds it is easy for one to carry, anthing bigger will weigh a lot more or it will cost more than double the price. It is wide for a solo boat. On mine I made another thwart and pinched in the center about an inch before a long solo trip. It’s not a bad freestyle boat if you take out the seats and put in two thwarts and pinch it in about two inches and add a full pad on the sole.
I’d really think this is a very versitile boat and I think you’d have a hard time finding anything better for the price. When I bought mine they were about $599.
You might want to consider two canoes.
On the other hand, I’ve paddled a seventeen foot Coleman solo for years in white water with no problems. Given that you will be doing flat water you should be able to paddle a larger canoe solo with no problems, assuming you know how to paddle. Depending on your age and/or finances you might want to consider a large kevlar canoe for its low weight.
Oh yeah, if you have winds there you should be most cautious on windy days or avoid paddling then at all.
The Explorer is a great canoe but
you just don’t want to overload it. I still paddle mine, just not overloaded. As far a paddling it solo, you’ll have a lot more fun paddling a dedicated solo canoe. I did a lot of paddling solo in the Explorer, but it isn’t a solo canoe. The Explorer was my first canoe. Next I got a larger tripping canoe and finally a solo canoe. Anyhow, good luck in your quest for the perfect canoe. Try loading any canoe you’re considering with the type of load you expect and check how much freeboard you have. You don’t want to be swampped by the first passing motorboat.