need a 'new' canoe ...

i just returned from a month long canoeing trip in northern ontario. some rivers, some lakes, lots of portaging, lots of miles.

i’ve been paddling my solo Mad River Independence for a number of years now and just this year i’ve come to the conclusion that the Independence just isn’t what i need. it’s a nice boat and paddles fine when empty, or not loaded with a months worth of gear. when loaded, as it was this year, it paddles like a barge, is hard to turn on narrow, twisting streams and is among the slowest of the slow on lakes. in rough chop in wind, it has a mind of it’s own.

sooooo, i’ve decided that i need to trade in my MR Independence for a better solo “tripper”. one that can handle the solo expeditions i usually paddle. the boat i need is probably a foot longer than the independence and better able to handle a 4-6 week trip. like the MR though, it needs to be kevlar at a minimum, and in the definitely ‘light’ category since much of my trips involve significant carries.

any ideas from fellow canoers would be appreciated.

I am not sure of your height, but you might want to take a look at a Wenonah Jensen 17 if you are tall.

It is billed as the only canoe that is made for both tandem and solo paddlers.

With that said, as much as I love ours for tandem, it is just too much canoe for me to paddle solo.

I am 5’9" and I believe if I was six feet I could paddle it all day solo.

Glad to see you got back paddling even though it wasn’t in your beloved kayak.



One boat that comes to mind is the Wenonah Encounter. It will haul a ton of gear, is pretty efficient (pretty close to a Prism or Magic), and is pretty seaworthy. Weight shouldn’t be a problem since it comes in several layups. The only question I’d have is how well it would work on the “narrow, twisting creeks” that you describe.

Yeah! You’re paddling again. Yeah!
Ok, so now tell me the length of the Independance.

And define what you mean by light.



Swift Shearwater
The Swift Shearwater might also be worth considering. It’s pretty maneuverable, is very seaworthy, and will haul a good sized load. If I remember correctly, it isn’t quite as efficient as the Encounter, but doesn’t give up all that much speed.

I may be jumping to conclusions here, but it seems to me that not paddling like a barge when loaded with 4 to 6 weeks worth of gear, AND a being able to handle the twisty curves you talk about (again, with a big load) might be mutually exclusive goals. Most boats that can efficiently haul a huge load of gear are straight-line runners, not twister-turners.

Off the top of my head, it seems to me that a very high-volume boat that also has quite a bit of rocker, such as a Prospector or maybe even a Supernova, might combine your two goals better than any special-purpose hull that comes to mind, though speed will not be outstanding in that case (but I’m not acquainted with the offerings of the smaller, high-end builders).

I’m with guidboat guy
Your post was making me think of the old propector canoes. They paddle fine solo too. I haven’t been in a canoe that is easy to paddle with 6 weeks of supplies so I’m not sure the perfect canoe exists.

You guya are overlooking the expedition
canoes. They do all of the stated wants and needs including weight, weather, and even the twisty-turny thingie.



That’s good, but the guy who asked…
… the original question doesn’t get any benefit at all from having it pointed out that two of the people who responded to his question are not very well informed. How about answering his question (and educating the rest of us) by actually listing a few of these boats?

No offense - I figure you musta been in a big hurry or something when you wrote that.

Ditto the Shearwater
I think (IHMO) the Shearwater’s max capacity is about 325 lbs (not including hull wt.) whereas that of the MR Independance is about 275. At that weight, the Shearwater isn’t “fast” (but is fairly efficient at medium speeds), but will be seaworthy and fairly manueverable.

For long trips with six weeks of gear (+100 lbs.), I think the Encounter would be a better choice for flatwater tripping … due to it’s speed and high carrying capacity. I think it can handle 350-400 lbs max. A cover may lessen it’s excessive windage … maybe as much as 20-30%.

The Shearwater really shines (as a big multi-purpose solo) at lower load weights … say around 260-300. And on those trips with significant needs for enhanced manueverability. It’s hull is very “full” throughout it’s 16’2" length. I’ve got a snap-on cover for mine that improves security in really big swells/waves/shore breakers. Into some wave conditions … it will pound due to it’s full bow … but, that same bow fullness may “save the day” in another situation (i.e. surfing swells).

I was not pointing fingers at you two by
any means. Sorry if I mislead you. “You guys” meant everyone posting to the thread including the originator. He and I have talked about expedition canoes both on and off the boards We all have talked about them here on the boards. I am fairly sure you were in some of those discussions. I therefore assumed that we all knew what I was referring to when I said expedition canoe.

Expedition canoes are long and have more volume, float higher in the water, so are more efficient under load. They have rocker mainly in the ends so while carrying the load efficiently will still turn better; the windy twisty thing. Most have reduced and rounded free board so behave better in winds. The ones I like best have skegs or rudders to provide optimum control when needed. They have no chimes or no flats anywhere in the hull so the water can not grab ahold; good handling, especially in rougher waters, quite forgiving. They come in both decked and open versions. Weights I know of vary from as low as 37 to over 75 pounds depending on make, model, and how nice you are to the builder (apologies to Diller for stealing his saying). They go by names such as Eagle, Loon, Monarch, Sea Wind, Sea (something), Soaring Eagle, and more that I can not think of or do not know.

Peace guideboatguy.



canoe vs. kayak
hey mick … ok, now that i’m back from my canoe trip i’m ready to take a look at some of the boats you and i have been talking about. that said though, there are really two boat types i’ve been interested in.

the first one is a canoe much like my MR Independence and it’s a boat i use on lakes and rivers of Canada. that’s what initiated this thread.

the second is what i’d call a kayak though you may call it a canoe, decked canoe or something else. in the past, i’d have called it a Kruger. i’ve finally resolved that i’ll never paddle a “kayak” again. i just cannot lift my arm enough and never will. i ‘can’ however paddle a canoe and thus, a Kruger may get me back on the ocean again. that’s what i’d use this boat for … ocean paddling. so can we move on from there? my experience with Kruger thus far is that they’re HEAVY. i want a boat that’s no heavier than my NDK Explorer … 55 lbs. max. i’ve got to be able to haul this thing around.

whadaya got for me?


Dan I have to chime in here
I know it’s not easy to find one but perhaps someone near you can let you try their Hemlock SRT. I still love my old Independence but you are right it’s not up to the task of heavy load on twisty rivers but the SRT has lots of freeboard and good rocker

The “New” but maybe never to be produced Bell Alaskan solo would also have been a good match but I don’t think you will see one anytime soon.

thanks for the input …
i’m not likely to ever run into someone with an SRT to try around where i live. far too rural. perhaps if i’m up your way sometime i’ll stop by for a visit/paddle.

as for the bell … yup, not gonna see that boat anytime soon if ever.

thanks for the input jack …
i’m not tall … 5’9 like you. i’m thinking Wenonah Prism or Encounter since both are longer than my Independence. need to paddle them both to determine their suitability … this isn’t something i need to do tomorrow. gotta cogitate over it some.

yes … you’re probably right
i guess i’m really looking to improve the situation rather than make it perfect. the Independence just doesn’t handle big loads. i’d sacrifice turning for a boat that at least didn’t plod when loaded. i can turn any boat … it’s just a matter of how much work it is. the Indy will turn, but boy it’s tiring after a few hours of it.

Welcome Back Dan
You are wrong about a barge. I had a Mohawk and it was a barge. I bought it to take the dog out in and it did great at that. It did ok until I loaded it down to go camping. Dog, stuff, and I and it was loaded. I litterally stopped to check that I was not dragging something along the bottom. I finally got my eleven year old in a kayak to count to ten in between stokes so that I could keep up, paddling like mad.

I have a kevlar voyager now and it is faster. Not so good yet with the dog as the water is beginning to cool off and I like to stop swimming about this time a year. I am just in the learning stage with it. You are welcome to take it for a spin and kick the tires any time.

Happy Paddling,


That clears that up
Quite honestly, I had no idea what sort of “expedition canoes” you were talking about, and was thinking that maybe such boats as the big Boundary-Waters style Wenonahs (Minnesota 2 and Minnesota 3) might even be included. I should have expected one of them be to be the Sea Wind. :slight_smile: I really know very little about these boats or any discussions there have been about them here, though I do remember reading with great interest some comments you had regarding a Souris River boat (can’t remember which one) that was equipped with a rudder. I’m not much of a fan of rudders for my own canoeing, but I can see how a rudder could really be helpful when covering lots of miles is the main goal, especially in windy conditions.

Anyway, I assumed that your “you guys” comment referred to me and the other guy who posted in response to me because your post was positioned as a reply to us, rather than the original poster. Sometimes message content means more than the position of the message in the thread, but in this case I wasn’t sure.


Two boats definitely do a better job.

– Last Updated: Oct-04-06 10:59 AM EST –

Hi Dan,

I am really not familiar with the MR Independence. I must admit avoided MR canoes all my life. Every MR canoe I did get into just never felt or handled right to me personally. If you give me the MRI specs, particularly length, I may be able to comment on a fresh water boat later.

Now on to salty water:

First a question to help me help you if I can: Will a rec type long cockpit with spray cover do or is your ocean paddling far out and rough enough you need a small cockpit with it's stronger spray cover? Most of the expedition boats I know have a cockpit between 80 and 90 inches long. When these paddlers crossed things like the Gulf of Mexico they bolted rigid tops on the rec style cockpits to make the openings smaller and the spray covers safer. They also weighted more like 85 pounds with all the extra structure. The production Dreamcatcher is at least 75 pounds. I have weighted some decked canoes as light as 47#, but suspect the poor abused shop scales accuracy was a bit off.

Load? Are you going to load the "Kayak" type boat you paddle on the ocean as you described for your two, three, four week fresh water trip(s)? If not then maybe you do not need the volume of an expedition boat for the ocean as you seem to for your fresh water trips. Smaller boat sure would save you weight and could make for easier handling in winds and bigger chop.

Another question: Have you ever paddled a kayak with a SHORT canoe paddle? Works well, especially with a rudder or even a skeg. We are talking SHORT paddle here. You may wish to talk to Chad19 about short-short canoe paddles. In fact you may do well to talk all this over with Chad. Look at tchucks question about short paddles as well:

When you are ready to do real serious test paddling I have five decked canoes (ok, call kayaks for you) and a few open ones too you can try. Might be fun to get a few more interested paddlers to come and we can have a paddle off here on the lower Potomac below Washington DC.

Hope this answered your questions or at least helped a little. Will be unavailable on the net for several days. If you need anything in the mean time just call.



Composite Rendezvous
I know it’s not as fast as you want (probably a Voyager or Encounter has the speed you crave), but for a mix of wilderness flatwater and rivers and coastal trips, a flexcore Rendezvous (sub 45 lbs) with an adjustable cover would be able to handle the load and still manuever on rivers. I think the flexcore kevlar could also survive getting crunched a little. See the collection Canoe Colorado has for sale. They may still have a low-profile version too (which could be used with a cover for less windage).

The downside of the Rendezvous is that they are fairly wide at the gunwale (28-29"?) and deep. Best for larger paddlers.

PS: Just looked at CC’s site … they have a 34 lbs Encounter and a 34 lbs Rendezvous (UL kevlar) and a slew of flexcore’s in the low to mid 40’s. They also have a gorgeous blue flexcore Voyager … the best of them for pure flatwater with a heavy load (and a cover).