New Canoe

I want a canoe for Rivers in South Alabama and North Florida, a tandem 15-16 foot, that can also be paddled solo and I have a 40 Lbs. Australian Shepard that will go every trip. Not many places in South demo canoes so I’m flying blind. Thanks if Y’all can help

what can you get ahold of?
Whats on CL within a reasonable distance? It may work better to propose a hull and we say yay or nay.

New canoe
You cant go wrong with an old town “discovery or pathfinder” . i have a Discovery I believe it’s 15’8", very stable and has the ability to carry a fair amount of weight. It doesn’t draw much water either. i also bought a set of outriggers because I had young children at the time. Yoy can not flip it when they’re on the canoe. On the solo paddle aspect, I havent mastered the technique but have friends who don’t have much trouble with it. I usually move to the yoke, (amidships) and do OK . Good luck!

Tandems Can Be a Bit Difficult…

– Last Updated: Nov-03-15 10:48 PM EST –

....for the average person to solo due to the width. That said, I've soloed a ton of different tandems for years. Positioning yourself close to center and kneeling helps. I'll list a few of MY favorites, but opinions are like arses......

Also, you probably want something with a little bit of rocker? Our friends whom hail from that area seem to paddle a multitude of small, twisty streams in South Alabama and Northern Florida. I'll also send them a link to this thread so they can get in touch. Maybe you could paddle a few boats if you hook up with some paddlers down there?

OK, I myself paddle a Wenonah Prospector 15. Mine is royalex, but if you choose a Wenonah their tuff flex layup is PLENTY sturdy. Also, many used boats available, especially this time of the year. I paddle primarily twisty Ozark streams. Other small tandems that I have used and I'll list in terms of MY preference would be:
Bell/Placid/Colden Starfire
Dagger/Mad River Reflection 15
Mad River Courier
Bell Morningstar
Bell Prospector
Nova Craft Bob Special
Novacraft Pal
Ranger Otter
Wenonah Adirondack
Mad River Explorer 15

That will give you a starting point. There are plenty of reviews on this site and others on the web (
BEWARE of the "10 out of 10" reviews and the ones like "I just got it yesterday and it looks so good..."

Here's a link to some of my boats over the years. May give you a few ideas? I've converted several tandems to solo (including my current everyday boat) over the years:

Good luck!

Mistral 16
for sale here in Florida. E mail me. Widernessweb is familiar with the model. It is symmetrical so it can be soloed from the bow seat reversed. Has rocker and loves twisty streams. Public service announcement.


Some ideas
Most tandem canoes I’ve tried paddle well enough solo a long as you sit more toward the center. If the boat is symmetrical, flipping it around and paddling from the front seat works well.

A few tandem boats that take particularly well to solo paddling are:

Bell/Northstar Northwind 16

Nova Craft Bob Special

Wenonah Solo Plus

Hi Shooter
I live in Bay Minette. We mostly paddle solo, but started out in a Penebscot 16 that had three seats. We could tandem paddle in it or my husband could solo it from the center seat. I would like to paddle with you sometime.

We used a Penobscot 16
last May. Even did Juniper Run with it. My hubby soloed it on the Silver. He is tall though with longish but not ape arms

Swift Otter if you can find one at 15 feet is a wonderful boat for solo or tandem

16’ Prospector –
I have I 16’ prospector that I use for both tandem and solo. When solo, I position myself in the bow half of the hull and paddle it backwards. If there is such a thing in a symmetrical hull. I sit on the bow seat or kneel closer to the yoke depending on the situation.

A little extra ballast in the other end of the canoe helps trim it out. I use a 5 gallon bucket of water that is supposed to hold the fish I catch between the aft seat and the aft deck.

I find it ample enough to fit two American adults, yet nimble enough to allow for solo maneuvering.

I Concur
If you have the layup that groovymanatee has, this would be a good boat for a really good price.

Some comments

– Last Updated: Nov-04-15 6:59 AM EST –

Unless you are prepared to shell out big bucks for a new composite hull, your best bet is to search the used canoe market and see what is available as Kim suggested. If you start out by picking one or two specific models to search for used, you may spend a good bit of your life waiting for one to turn up within reasonable driving distance of you.

For your intended use a used Royalex boat would perhaps be best if you can deal with the weight. Royalex boats in the 15-16 foot length range are going to weigh 60 to 75 lbs. A couple of the lightest are the Wenonah Prospector 15 and the Old Town Penobscot 16, both of which have been endorsed and both of which would be good choices. Another choice not mentioned would be the Dagger/Mad River Legend 15 or perhaps even the 16, both of which are good river boats, although the 16 is a bit broad for solo use and somewhat heavy at around 75lbs.

I would not rule out a good quality composite canoe if one happened to turn up. A number have been mentioned as good choices and there are others. Of the boats mentioned, I will point out that the Mad River Courier is a solo canoe, not a tandem.

Three layer rotomolded polyethylene boats like the Old Town Discovery 158 are tough and serviceable but are more difficult to repair than other materials and are very heavy. The Disco 158 is going to weigh around 90 lbs which is getting really heavy for one person to portage or car top.

There are also one-layer (solid) thermoformed polyethylene canoes like the Old Town Saranac 160 or the Pelican 15.5. These can be made more cheaply than the three layer polyethylene versions but are about as heavy and have the added disadvantage of being undesirably flexible. This flexibility requires rotomolded plastic seats and center seats or consoles that have footers extending down to the hull bottom to provide some rigidity. These seats and consoles are heavy, uncomfortable for some, and can't be removed.

I would not entirely rule out an aluminum canoe. A 15 foot aluminum tandem double-ender will weigh around 60-70lbs depending on the hull gauge. They can often be found quite cheaply and are virtually maintenance-free. Aluminum is hot in the summer, cold in the winter, sticks to rocks like glue instead of sliding over them like other materials, is noisy as a junkyard dog, and usually have keels which are rather undesirable in river boats. But many of us started out in them, they work, and can always be sold for scrap. If you are thinking of buying a used one, paddle it if you can to check for leaking rivets.

The Mistral 16 is a Prospectorish hull design with a bit more rocker than most. It paddles nicely. It is going to weigh about the same as one of the lighter Royalex 16 footers. I would certainly consider the one mentioned if still available. Just be aware that there are issues with repairability if cracked and that most models are "sinkers" unless they have been provided with supplemental flotation like foam blocks or airbags.

If you had to settle on one of the models already mentioned, my choice would be the Old Town Penobscot 16 in Royalex. This is quite fast for a Royalex hull and is one of the lightest 16 footers ever made in that material. It has been often used as a solo. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years the price on used Royalex canoes in good shape have gone up quite a bit since the material is no longer made so buying new is no longer an option.

There happen to be a few Penobscot 16 Rx boats recently listed in your general area. Here is one listed in Columbus, Georgia 12 hours ago for $600. Only one picture, but it appears to be in good shape:

Personally, if I were you I would jump on this one, or at least call the seller and ask if he has additional photos or info. If it is in good condition, it will likely move fast.

There are a couple of others but they are more pricey. Here is one in Mobile for $1000 but it comes with one very nice paddle, a second nice paddle, a third paddle and a couple of PFDs of some type:

Lastly, one in Milton, Florida for $1100. The seller has reduced the price once and might come down another $100 or so if it has not moved:

…Pete, there’s no balsa in Groovymanatee’s Mistral, he has the “Upgraded” hull. And I think it would hold up well down there? I DO still miss that boat a bit, but I feel that way with many of my former river companions!

Oh, BTW, I’m glad Pete pointed that out about the Courier. It would be great for paddler with a load and a dog, but I did forget to mention it’s a large solo hull. But if you could find one in decent shape down there, I’d snatch it up if you’re not going to paddle with two people in the boat.

Shooter x
Call me at 561-306-1623. I have float bags with the Mistral and I need to sell it as I do not have room with another boat on the way. I am in South Florida and will let the Mistral go for a song!


If I Was in Florida…
…I’d take advantage of it!

If the Mistral is in good condition and available at a good price you would be hard pressed to do better finding a used boat that fits your needs.

If the Mistral is stock it will have a secondary thwart positioned aft of the center yoke 22" behind the amidships center line. For solo paddling I would buy a kneeling thwart like this one from Eds Canoe:

Remove the aft thwart and use the existing gunwale hole for the aft machine screw of the kneeling thwart hanger. Drill a new hole on each side for the forward machine screw. Buy a removable foam kneeling pad or just get some of this cheap foam “puzzle mat” from Harbor freight and cut it to fit:

With the kneeling thwart in this position your center of gravity will likely be about 15 inches behind center. Put your dog just in front of the portage yoke and you should be reasonably trimmed for solo paddling.

Just be sure to keep those float bags in and blown up if you plan to paddle in water more than a foot or so deep.

Tandem canoe
There is an Old Town Camper just North of Birmingham for $250.

It is lighter than the OT 158. It has a wide flat bottom without a keel. I paddle mine solo all the time sitting backwards on the front seat. Replace the cane with webbing when it breaks.

Greg Hester

If you have no fears of fiberglass,
check out Indian River Canoes.

They are good designs,and lightweight for fiberglass.

They are also sold in your neck of the woods.

They are also a good value.

…I think the OP is gone?

Mistral 16
Thanks for all the help, sold me on the Mistral 16.

mistral 16
Thanks for all the help, sold me on the MistraL 16.