Nova Craft Prospector 17' for family

-- Last Updated: Dec-23-13 1:20 PM EST --

16' Nova Craft PAL Kevlar/Specra in Green has been purchased.

THANKS everyone.

Looking to move from our 16' Osagian Lil' Missourian square stern, to a family paddling canoe.

Is the Nova Craft 17' Prospector, Royalex, a well suited option. We have to van top it for our camping trips and would like to keep it in the 60-65lb range. Coming from an 80lb aluminum, this should feel considerably lighter and easier for us.

Often it will be just me (Dad) and one kids or maybe a dog, or maybe 2 kids and a dog, out paddling. The odd time we like to load us all in and just head out to a point for lunch, but no packing gear or anything.

I also don't mind heading out solo and doing some fishing etc.

We were thinking Royalex, 17', comes in around 65lbs, long enough to add a sling seat or two, which we have and use in the Osagian.

16' Pal
15' Bob Special (lightest)
16' Prospector

are all other considerations, or anything from the Nova Craft line as we prefer to buy from MEC if we are buying new.

thanks and any help/suggestions are appreciated.

Probably a good choice
If you want to sometimes load the boat up with a family of four and a dog I would consider a 15’ boat too small. It sort of depends on the size of your kids, whether they can effectively paddle, the size of your dog, and how well-behaved the dog is.

If you anticipate going out with 4 infrequently and the dog is small, you might get by with a 16’ boat. The 16’ NC Prospector is quite stable and seaworthy.

Fine Canoe
A good friend has a NovaCraft Prospector in kevlar - one of the best designs you could want. I have a BlueWater Prospector, and while it’s a decent boat, the NovaCraft is a tad ahead - tracks better, ribbed hull vs. foam patch bottom, better stability and general handling. Can’t see how you’d go wrong with the NovaCraft.

Not a good way to compare/recommend

– Last Updated: Nov-16-13 4:22 PM EST –

Even though I like the Nova Craft Prospector, I would say that comparing two *composite* Prospector models from different companies doesn't do anything to suggest something meaningful about the suitability/quality of one particular brand when the boat will be Royalex. Usually there's a lot of difference between Royalex and composite versions of the same boat made by the same company. Also, "better tracking" of one particular brand would not be considered an advantage or an indication of superior design by a lot of fans of the Prospector, since one of its most-loved attributes has always been it's fairly good maneuverability. That said, straight-line cruising in a Prospector isn't difficult for anyone with proper technique. It's possible that the same could be said about "better stability", since the original Prospector had a somewhat more-rounded bottom than most canoes, and at first impression, that would lead to a less-stable feel (but with its own advantages of course).

A friend of mine (PJC) has the Nova Craft Prospector 16 in Royalex, and though it's a nice, versatile boat, the bottom of the hull is much flatter than that of the original Prospector design. I think that might be partly due to the extreme flexibility of Royalex when spanning such a wide bottom (the hull gets even flatter when the boat is loaded and in the water). To complicate matters, I see that this model is currently offered in two grades of Royalex, and the heavier grade certainly would be stiffer. I have a Nova Craft Supernova, which at the time of purchase (several years ago) was only available in one grade of Royalex, but based on the weight, I can see that that grade is what they NOW call "Royalex Plus". It's much stiffer than other Royalex boats I'm familiar with, and though the strongly rounded hull surely contributes to that, it's also pretty clear that the material itself is stiffer than normal. Unfortunately, the Prospector 17 in Royalex Plus would be a whopping 80 pounds.

Material, weight, loading

– Last Updated: Nov-16-13 4:35 PM EST –

In my reply to one of the posts here, I mentioned the extra weight of the "Royalex Plus" version of the Nova Craft Prospector 17. If I were in the position of choosing such a boat, I'd try to check them out in-person to compare the stiffness of the two Royalex versions, though I realize that the original poster may not be fussy about such things. Still, there's a lot to be said for boats that have stiff hulls. On the other hand, there's a lot to be said against boats that are quite heavy. The OP may want to weigh those factors along with cost. For what it's worth, twice in recent years I've bumped into a couple "up north" with a composite Nova Craft Prospector, and being that they are definitely in the "canoe enthusiast" category, they really like the stiffness of the hull (and of course, being composite, the weight is only moderate, but you pay extra $$ for that).

Now, if by some chance you end up choosing the 80-pound Royalex Plus version for the extra stiffness of the hull, loading it on a van need not be that difficult. Back in the days when our family carried fishing boats on top of full-size vans, we had lengthwise bars running between the ends of the regular cross bars on both sides of the car. The boat would be leaned up against one of those side rails and pushed onto the roof, and only once it was up there crosswise would it be pivoted to be lined-up on the cross bars. It's incredibly easy to load a heavy boat that way. It's the same procedure as some people use for sliding a boat on from the rear, but on a full-size van the rear cross bar is usually not close enough to the back of the car to make that possible, but if you can mount it that far back, do so and see how it works. It COULD be that with such a long span between front and rear bars, making the transition from the boat being tilted and being flat would require a lot of force to be applied to the boat from the rear (too little lever arm at the user end, too much lever arm where the boat tips up into the air, beyond the cross bar), in which case the side bars would definitely be worth considering. Actually, if I still had a full-size van, I'd have side bars on general principle.

15’ vs 16-17
thanks for the info guys.

Unfortunately, they don’t stock many boats at MEC or any other Canoe store where I am (Winnipeg).

Our boys will be 6 & 9 come spring, so they are young and small at the moment, the older can paddle a bit but they are not going out on their own or offering any real help when it comes to getting around…the dog is about 70lbs.

As I thought, the 15’ boats are too small for anything but 1-2 people max and there is likely no way we are all getting in there or even 3 of us.

The Royalex Light is likely the option we will go for, even though MEC calls it Royalex.

I still have some time to decide and will keep looking around. used is also an option, but again, we don’t see many locally and a drive to the US to get a demo after driving, hotel and any taxes at the border wipes out the savings.

For what its worth -

– Last Updated: Nov-17-13 6:52 AM EST –

I paddled a Nova Craft 17 foot prospector (royalex) for a couple of weeks on a trip up north. It was a rental. I like that boat a lot for river tripping and I think it is a wonderful and versatile boat. The hull is similar to my idea of a prospector but the bottom is a bit flatter which actually improves it as an all around family type boat. I have to say though I would be surprised if the 17 foot version comes in at 60 Lbs. Felt heavier than that to me - maybe 75Lbs? Another boat that might be a good boat for the op is the Old Town Tripper - the tripper is a little bit bigger feeling for some reason, maybe the NC Prospector ia tad narrower? But they are very similar boats.

Oh by the way!
You may not have a LOT of time to make up your mind. Last I heard, the company that makes Royalex is going to cease production very soon. Others here will know more details, but I seem to remember that beyond about March 2014 it may not be possible to get a new Royalex boat at all. Also, bear in mind that there may be a six- to eight-week wait for your boat if you can’t buy it “off the shelf” at your store of choice.

April 2014
Poly One has announced that they will cease Royalex production as of April 2014.

16’ NC Prospector . . .
. . . is a deep canoe, 15", and hence voluminous for its length.

It should easily suffice to carry one adult and two kids and a dog.

It would be easier to solo and to carry than than the 17’ Prospector, and may even be cheaper.

As a lake boat, I’d get the Blue Steel version instead of Royalex if you can afford it. You’ll appreciate the lighter weight when you are 10 and 60 years old.

It’s a popular choice in the UK,
because of its versatility. For solo paddling, they “heel” the boat to one side, fairly easy to do with the prospector design, so that they don’t have to reach way over to get the paddle shaft vertical.

Plus -
the prospector hull has that whole Bill Mason thing going on. :slight_smile:

All the Masons seem to be paddlers,
artists, and writers. Though Bill’s been kinda quiet.

He still speaks wisely

– Last Updated: Nov-17-13 7:26 PM EST –

and softly from the grave. He knew what its all about.

Hard to imagine that no one will pick up the manufacture of royalex.

Prospector 16
We have a Nova Craft Prospector 16 in Royalex Light. Good all around family canoe. It’s fairly easy to load on top of the van (can be done by one person if they know how). I’d buy the same canoe again. Our paddling is mostly smallish lakes and windy rivers, and it maneuvers fine. I can easily paddle it solo from the center.

Nova Craft Pal Kevlar/Ash

– Last Updated: Dec-19-13 9:17 AM EST –

The Prospector never happened...The Osagian Classic never I have this as an option.

So I was at MEC last night on an unrelated trip and noticed a Brand Spanking New (appeared to be) Nova Craft Pal (Green) in Kevlar (Aramid I guess) with Ash Trip for $1500 down from $3000 CDN. The nice thing with MEC is it will come with full Nova Craft Warrant as well as MEC Rock Solid Guarantee (basically lifetime if any issues arrise out that are not normal wear & tear)

As I was paying for a pair of gloves, I asked the clerk to put it on HOLD for 48rs (their max) so I could research it.

I have a feeling, I won't see another deal like this from MEC (rock solid return policy, even years after) and am debating breaking the news to my wife..."I want to buy another canoe).

I would then sell the Osagian Lil Missourian Square back (my plan for a while) and upgrade to what would be a very nice canoe (at least my thinking). I just wonder if it is big enough at 16' to accomodate the odd trip (2-3 times a year) when all four of us (and dog) want to get out on the water and hit the lake. We use a sling seat and drop in now and even though we are crammed, we make it work and have no complaints from anyone in the boat.

For the most part, it's me and one of the kids, while my wife stays on shore and relaxes. So we could probably cram us all in for the odd time we want to all get in. Or heck, one of us could use one of the 2 sit on top Kayaks we have and paddle beside.

It was listed as KEVLAR, 54lbs, which to me looks like the ARAMID version with ASH trim.

Boy, it sure was pretty...that's for sure.

I don't want a very high maintance canoe, it will be stored outside (protected by raised sunroom on our bi-level house). I don't mind treating the wood every now and then, but hoping it's not something I have to worry about or may be damaged by our -30 winters up here in Winnipeg.


Well, It’s a Good Hull
I’ve only paddled a royalex Pal, and only for one day, but I liked it and feel like it would meet your needs. I have a friend with a composite Novacraft and it’s held up very well. It won’t hold the volume a Prospector will, but many folks buy too much boat for their average paddling venues. You and a couple kids or you and an adult and a kid should be fine. I have a good friend who owns a Pal and I’ll send him this thread.

Only question I have is the storage. Wood gunnels do better out of rain, snow, and wet weather. If it is covered from the weather, and treated a few times a year it should do o.k.

I would say buy it.
But then, I can always come up with a reason to buy another canoe.

The price is very good, especially north of the border and if kept in good condition, I don’t think you would have any difficulty whatsoever selling it if it doesn’t meet your needs. Conceivably, you might even be able to make a profit on it.

Yes, the “Kevlar” denotes one of the aramid layups, and the weight indicates the heavier aramid layup. Kevlar is a DuPont trade name for a family of different types of a material generically known as aramids. Kevlar has largely become synonymous with aramid the way that Band Aid has with adhesive bandage, or Scotch Tape with transparent mending tape.

The boat will definitely have less capacity than either a 16 or 17 foot Prospector, and probably less than your present square stern canoe. As to whether it will accommodate two adults, two children and a dog I would say “maybe”. If you are planning only flat water trips on protected water in good weather you might be OK.

But the Pal is 2 inches less deep than the corresponding sized Prospector so it won’t have as much free board to keep water out if waves come up. But I wouldn’t sweat that too much because there is no one boat that is going to meet all of your stated uses, from paddling solo to paddling with 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog. The Pal would be more suitable to paddle solo than a 17 foot Prospector, and you will find that you like the lighter weight more and more as time goes on.

As for the wood trim, if you have to store the boat outdoors, protect the trim as much as you can from moisture. The rails on the boat probably come oiled. You might consider refinishing them with varnish or polyurethane which is more difficult to apply than oil but more durable.

Buy It!
That price qualifies as a steal for a quality new Kevlar Tandem. Even if its not “ideal” for your big family outings, it is a great boat to get out on the water. You will be able to get your money out of this canoe 5-10 years down the road if its kept in good condition. With the coming demise of Royalex, composite canoes will only go up in price. The NovaCraft woodwork is really solid and also their hull layups. Not as light or sleek as Wenonah, but built for their home customer base.


Buy the Pal!
It’s small for your whole family. Maybe okay for lily-dipping on a small lake. But, as someone else mentioned, you can’t beat the price and may even be able to resell it for the same or more. A suitable canoe for two adults, two kids, and a dog is going to be a real handful for one person on and off the water. OTOH, a pair of canoes such as this Pal would make a great tripping set for the family.

If I was within a short driving distance of that deal - you would already be too late.