I am now almost 60 and a pretty active road cyclist. I really love cycling and it has given me both mental and physical benefits. I have met a lot of people a made some good friends.
A few months ago I started looking at used canoes; the idea being that a couple days a week I can paddle at the lake close my home or on the slow moving section of the river. Some much needed upper body and core to compliment my cycling. Unfortunately I have seen nothing that really fits the bill. And even well used canoes are bringing good money. I did canoe back in my late teens and enjoyed it. But have not done much paddling since other than messing with a rec kayak from time to time.
In addition, to the local lakes and slow moving river, perhaps next summer I would like to paddle through some of the big locks on the Erie Canal for a couple of days. Once again slow pretty flat water. I think that the canal gets a little bit repetitive so a couple days would be plenty. I don’t think I would take a lot of gear - some light summer clothing, small tent and sleeping gear but not much food since there are towns that I could stop in for a visit and some food.
One of my goals was to get a fairly light canoe so I can move it to and from my trucks ladder rack with out a struggle. My feeling is that if going paddling is fairly easy (much like cycling) I will want to do it … but if I have to struggle with a large heavy canoe I will not want to go to all the effort for a couple hour paddle.
Since I am not very experienced I was looking for a fairly easy boat for the lake and slow moving river. Something relatively light weight and around $1,500. I don’t see paddling ever replacing cycling, but rather something to compliment it, so I want to keep the investment reasonable.
After doing a bunch of research and visiting a number of paddling shops I came up the the following solo canoe options. (BTW: I am about 6’ 1" 215 and will turn 60 soon).
1.) Esquif Adirondack - 12’ around 43 lbs. Flat bottom. A lot of primary stability. But I fill up that boat pretty good without any gear.
2.) Old Town 119 - Just under 12’ but . Once again it seems a bit small and the build quality is not near what the Adirondack is. But it is 3 layer PE and around 50 lbs.
3.) Nova Craft Fox 14’ - My local paddling store who I have great respect for; suggested this fiberglass boat (also mentioned the 12’ trapper but I think if I was going 12’ the Adirondack would be perhaps a better choice). The shop is confident that this is the boat for me. But I am a bit concerned about fiberglass given my level of inexperience; and the fact this boat seem like a boat that might be a challenge for the first few months. However, down the road it might be the most rewarding - a fast boat that could respond as my paddling skills improved. This is slightly above budget. But it is pretty light at only 50lbs. I do find this boat very intriguing; and I think within a year I would grow into this boat and come to appreciate the speed and handling that the Fox 14 offers.
4.) Silverbirch Firefly 14. This is a UK made boat in Duralite (high quality 3 layer PE) it is probably the most versatile boat here - advertised as an easy-going touring canoe that runs true but can handle up to class 2. This boat has 2.5" of rocker - where as the other boats have very little. This like the Fox has less primary but a ton of 2ndary stability I would expect it would not track quite as well on the flat water. But it would be great in the river. I don’t think this brand is common in the US but it sure is a nicely made PE boat. It is 56lb a bit heavier than what I hoped but not reasonable compared to some of the 75-80 lb old towns that are common her. I think this is like the Jeep Wrangler of the group - tough and offering me a lot of flexibility to explore different waters if I decide to.
Because of my size I feel that a 14’ solo boat might be a better option. The Fox 14’ is probably the nicest made and challenging boat - and the speed on the flatwater lake really appeals to me - probably why I like road cycling (not gravel or mountain biking). But I don’t know about the fiberglass. I some ways the Firefly 14’ might be the best choice for a start since it is 3 layer PE and offers so much flexibility but might be more of a master of none.
Any experiences, thoughts, recommendations on these 4 boats would be appreciated. Or perhaps something that my research and paddling shops did not uncover?