Nova Craft vs Bell and also Material ?'s

I have narrowed down my selection to a 17ft Nova Craft Prospector or Bell Northwind and Alaska canoes. The reviews were good for all three canoes but allot of them seemed to be from first time buyers, so I would appreciate some comparisons from the more experienced paddlers.

I am also wondering which material I should go with. I like the sound the royalex for durability but the Kevlar composites sound allot more comfortable to man handle. The dealer felt royalex-lite isn’t a good choice for canoes over 16ft. I will be using the canoe mostly with my wife and 2 kids(next year 3) however I will be using it solo quite often. Does one material handle better than the other in the wind? All the experience I have is with an old smoker craft aluminium and it is a tank on and off the water.

Thanks for the help.

Ask yourself

– Last Updated: Mar-08-05 1:12 PM EST –

How much are the wife and kids really going to canoe with you. A few years ago I bought a Wenonah Spirit II to use the same way you describe. Turns out that the wife only goes once a year (obligatory), the youngest, once a year as well. I also made the mistake of trying a true solo canoe at a pnet gathering and never used the Spirit II solo again. I still use the Spirit II but now have three more canoes as well and dreaming of the next one.

How much will you really have three kids and a wife with you? Two used canoes may be better than one new one.

excellent point
You may want to consider 2 smaller canoes and set up something where you can join the 2 together with a catamaran poles.

I looked into the Northwind and Alaskan, I was told the Alaskan is a large volume tripping boat built to hold alot of people and stuff. I went with the Northwind, it will be OK for me and wife and daughter. Solo still remains to be seen. The Royalex Northwind is a foot shorter than the Kevlar Northwind at 16’6"


Re Nova Craft
Here’s a comment I passed on Nova Craft the other day - just copied and reposted for you. It relates specifically to toughness - from paddling with my friend in his, I’ve found it a fine canoe - can’t think of a better family craft - but I don’t know the other makes that have been mentioned.



Don’t own one myself, but I have paddled with a friend who does - he has the 16’ Prospector in Kevlar, and it is a very, very good canoe indeed. Our friend is one of the hardest-going paddlers we know - does lots of solo, lots of rough water, did the Churchill River a couple of years ago. A season or two before that, he wrapped it on a rock entering a small but brisk river from a lake - canoe stayed in the stream all night, with water pouring into the open ‘mouth’ - so much pressure the bottom folded up enough to hit the centre thwart as the canoe bent around the rock. Next morning, he managed to pry it off using a long pole, and the hull sprung back into shape…and not a leak! The gelcoat had taken a pounding, with chunks big as your hand missing and ragged edges and gel cracks everywhere, and one gunwale had split, but otherwise the Nova Craft was just fine. Granted, it looks kinda rough where the gelcoat has been rebuilt and not repainted, but that’s kinda like the rule in judging bulldogs that says “…honourable scars shall not be held against them.”

I like his hull better than that of our BlueWater 16 Prospector, and might well have swapped if it hadn’t been for the river incident. It tracks very nicely, turns well, and has a more ‘solid’ feel than ours, especially when running lightly loaded.