New Guy Question

-- Last Updated: Aug-19-07 8:56 AM EST --

Hello all. New to the forum and looking for a little advice. Would like to get my five year old out on the rivers of Northern Virginia; looking for a good used canoe. Have a OT Osprey 140 w/ paddles and dolly ($700) and a MR Explorer 16rx w/wood gunwales + three paddles ($750), Dagger Legend 16 royalex ($550), in the local classified ads. All advertised as in good shape. Have read numerous threads about PFDs, stability, don't get a conoe too stable/slow to outgrow, etc. Have not cracked the code on which way to go for length and longevity. Further, are these decent prices?
Thanks in advance for your help.

Why not rent to start?
Before buying a boat, getting out in a rental might not be a bad idea. It would be a shame to drop a chunk o change on a boat just to find out that neither of you have any interest beyond one or two paddles. fwiw

Renting Canoes
I agree completely. I have been out before, just want to get an idea on what people like for the inevitable end of summer fire sale on outdoor items like canoes and boats. Pretty sure there’s a small marina nearby where I can find a rental.

the Dagger and MRE
are both well respected canoes, the MRE seems legendary among the experienced canoeists. I’d say either of these would be a canoe you can grow into for river trippin’. The Osprey has a dolly for a reason, weight and width are an issue, this is more of a pond fishing canoe. I am of the belief you should just buy one, forget the sucking sound of rental dollars being pulled from your wallet. Price is your call, both seem reasonable. Good luck and enjoy.

Dagger Legend
would be the way I would go based on the type of paddling you would be doing. The MRE is a good hull, but for river paddling the shallow V hull can tend to hang up on river deadfall; ie logs. If the rivers you are looking to do are of the larger, wider, and deeper type the MRE is okay.Prices are reasonable assuming the hulls are in good shape.

The problem with renting is that most liveries have boats that are tough to destroy (which is a reasonable priority), not necessarily boats that are a good design to paddle.

Good luck

take the Legend
The wood gunwales on the Mad River are a liability in maintenance and what was said earlier about the shallow V hull is true. The Legend is more of a dedicated white water boat that turns much better and is much drier than the Explorer. It is slower on flatwater where you are providing the propulsion and not going with a current. But there are much better boats for that purpose than the Explorer.

The front seat in the Legend is mounted far back from the bow and a small bow paddler may have a hard time reaching the water; but seats can be moved. Aside from that, the Legend is the best of the three for your purpose.

I own a Legend 16. I also own a Kevlar version of the Mad River Explorer 16. I’m not sure how well I can extrapolate my experience which the Kevlar MR to the Royalex version, but I assume performance would be similar, at least. Both are good boats. If in good condition, the price sounds reasonable for both. If they are local I would go look at them. The MR Explorer is a fine river boat short of heavy-duty whitewater. The Legend would definitely be better suited for that purpose. On flatwater, you would be a lot happier with the Explorer. In my opinion, the MR Explorer 16 is one of the most versatile tandem canoes ever made.

just pick one …
But don’t pick the Osprey as I believe it’s a kayak.

I also wouldn’t bother with the renting suggestion. Before you’re done you’ll have sunk like $100 into the equation, plus time constraints – which is the quickest way to ruin a day on the water.

Just buy one of the canoes listed by what others suggest and get your butt on the water before summer is over!

If you rent and don’t have the absolute time of your life you might not rent again; but if you own you’ll try it again, and again, and again.

And if you still don’t like it you’ll probably be able to recoup your complete investment by selling the boat to someone else.

And if you do like it you WILL be buying a better canoe someday, but by then your kids will be able to go out on their own in the old boat.

I know a

– Last Updated: Aug-19-07 7:18 PM EST –

a few people who feel there is NO BETTER CANOE than a MRE with wood gunwales. The Legend and MRE, for their intended purpose as a do-it all canoe, are as good as it gets, so don't feel like "I'll get a better canoe someday." Maybe someday something more specialized for playboating perhaps.....;-)
The Osprey is a canoe, short, real beamy, real low, actually a great boat to rig oarlocks on and fish ponds and small lakes. Actually, I just looked it up and it's not as heavy as I was thinking( think I had it confused with the "guide"), but not a river canoe.

All good choices
The Osprey is pretty light and makes a great row boat because it is so wide. That same wide beam makes it harder to paddle solo.

The Mad River explorer is an excellent do it all canoe.

The dagger is supposed to be great too. But I’ve never paddled one.

The Prices all sound great, I’d buy the one that is in the best condition and get out there soon!

Vote for the MRE
The Explorer is a general purpose canoe that can do many things well. True, the wood gunwales need to be oiled twice a year, but that is pretty easy. Don’t buy wood gunwales unless you are going to maintain them, or they will rot off. Also, it will help if you can store the canoe out of the weather. The MRE will run anything you are likely to paddle in your area.

For an “only” canoe, I suggest you look for one that is highly flexible. If you get the boat-buying “disease” and want to buy canoes for special purposes, keep the MRE to use for purposes other than that special purpose. For example, if you decide you want a whitewater boat like the Legend, the Explorer will fill the bill when you want to lake paddle or river trip. So, I’d go with the MRE, so long as you are willing to care for those wood gunwales.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

Another MRE vote
When I bought my Rx Explorer, with wood gunnels, I had a voice in the back of my head saying “yeah, but are you going to maintain it?” The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say, and of course I never found the time to maintain the gunnels. A few years later, and an upcoming lengthy trip, forced me to consider doing something about the obviously deteriorating gunnels. Fortunately, they turned out not to be too bad. I had to do some heavy sanding, but it went well. Tedious, but not difficult. And the oil went on very easy. And, so long as you keep up with the oiling, 2 or 3 times a year, applying the oil with a rag only takes a few minutes. If you’re in a cold climate, you may want to remove the screws at the bow and stern to allow for expansion and prevent cracking of the royalex (I have’t done this yet, and am afraid to look, but it seems fine so far).

As for the boat…it has done everything for me I have asked of it…mild whitewater, poling, flatwater, big lakes, Narragansett Bay…the canoe can do just about anything.