Non-whitewater canoe in Whitewater

My paddling background is in WW Kayaking.

I want to become more competent paddling a canoe with the intention to do lots of day trips on some class 1-2 rivers and some canoe camping this winter/spring. Eventually I want to get into some WW canoeing, but I know i’ll have to get a different canoe to do this (class 3+).

I bought a used 16 ft. Old Town Penobscot to learn in. Based on the reviews I figured it was the perfect boat to learn the basics and enjoy some class 1-2 paddling and canoe camping. Most all of my paddling will be tandem.

My question is this…

People say they paddle some mild whitewater in this boat. Does this mean simply running the mild rapids?

I find I can do this without a problem, but as I try to challenge myself by catching eddies, ferry, peel-out, I have run into some trouble. I’ve actually been alright catching eddies, but ferrying across strong current/eddy lines and peeling out seems to be pretty difficult.

I admit my canoe experience is limited and I have tons of room for improvement, but I just wasn’t sure If I was expecting to much from this particular canoe. Any advice from your experience would be appreciated. (I have been doing tons of research on canoe technique trying to improve my skills, I am sure I will have more questions regarding canoe technique in the future. Thanks!)

The canoe
I think you’re probably bumping up against the wall of what the boat can do. The Penobscot is a decent all around canoe, but there are some things it just isn’t meant to do. Negotiate class II? Definitely do able in the hands of an experienced paddler, but when you start to get into the more advanced maneuvers I think you might be just running out of canoe.

It sounds like the Penobscot’s modest rocker is what is giving you difficulty. More rocker would give you softer transitions across eddie lines and more forgiving ferrying. Eskimojo who posts here occasionally can paddle a no-rockered Solo Plus like it has 2" of rocker bow and stern. I can’t do that but it’s fun watching someone who can.

I have a Penobscot
I am guessing that you are probably a smaller guy like I am.(5’-8")

It is a great WW boat for a taller paddler, and for a couple using it tandem, but it hasn’t got enough rocker for you a smaller paddler to horse around in some strong current as a solo.

With that said, on down river running I think it is a fantastic WW boat.

I used to run the Nantahala all the time in a OT discovery but there is no way you could use it as a play boat.



Penobscott is a Wildwater Racer
Not a play boat. In whitewater it is typicaly used to go down river fast not to catch eddys, ferry or surf.

Doesn’t mean it can’t be done with that boat but there are better designs ala Prospector/Explorer/ Appilachian which, while not dedicated whitewater boats, will play a lot more than the Penobscott. But the Penobscott will win most down river races against those boats.

Not a good playboat.
You are fine running THROUGH mild whitewater, just don’t expect to stop and play.

You need a Supernova. She loves to play on a wave.