Old Town 158 Discovery as a Solo?

I’m looking at getting a used Old Town 158 Discovery in polyethylene, and using it as a solo canoe. Has anyone tried this, or done so in a similar boat? It seems to be a very popular canoe but little info exists on this topic.

My plan is to remove the seats, and install a seat as close behind the yoke as I can while still being able to fit my knees in. This should get me closer to the center of the canoe than simply paddling the canoe backwards from the front seat. Either that or placing the seat just behind center and adding a removable yoke.

My concern is the handling and width of the canoe. It is moderate rocker, shallow arch, no tumblehome, 15’8" long, 35.5" wide at the center and 13.5" deep. I am 6’2" have disproportionatly long arms, and am a very strong paddler. Thoughts on how it will behave as a solo, and will I even be able to paddle it at that width?

I am planning on using it in all conditions, tripping, flat water, rivers, creeks, and up to class 3 WW if I think I can handle it in that boat. I will also eventually be fitting it with a cover.

Here is a link to the boat for those unfamiliar: https://oldtowncanoe.johnsonoutdoors.com/canoes/recreation/discovery-158?id=11086

I’m pretty much in the process of doing something similar with an Old Town Guide 147. I have a thread running now with the changes I have made to shift my CG forward and still leave open the possibility of a second person paddling or just as a passenger. My plan because of the width problem is to use double bladed paddles and my seating with two would be more like the weight distribution and spacing of a tandem kayak.

The Guide 147 has those molded seats and they are nice except they can’t be used backwards so I figured out how to turn the bow seat around and move it slightly forward and then just in front of the center thwart I added a bench seat DIY.

Mine will be multi usage but no WW or very mild WW. I worked it out so I could sit or kneel from the main seat. I also added a foot rail something you might want also. And the optional front area leaves me a large area for cargo when using as a solo. The unused bow and stern areas I made into DIY floatation.

You will have even a little more length so I think you will be good. I started with a canoe I found used so I worked with what I had.

I’m pretty new to the forum also so welcome.

Let me start by saying I have no personal experience with your specific canoe.
One of my canoes is a colemna two to three person canoe that I picked up for like $300. Cheap and indestructible.
Despite my several kayaks and a beautiful Wenonah prism solo canoe, it’s my go to fishing boat.
I just use it kneeling in the center with a gardening pad, and I kneel along the right edge to give me a better paddling position and a better turning edge. I also try to remember to bring a cooler or something for the bow to set it lower in the water an reduce my wind profile.
Sometimes people turn the boat around and paddle from the bow seat (in what is now the stern) which gives you better leverage for maneuvering, but there really is no better way to paddle a tandem boat than kneeling in the center (IMHO).

I solo a Royalex Wenonah Heron that comes in around 52 pounds often. It’s my boat when I’m not sure I want to subject my Curtis Ladybug to the rocks of whatever river I’m paddling. Soloing a boat that weighs 52 vs 36 pounds is a substantial difference and both of the models in question weight substantially more. The other factor is width. When you paddle, you’re going to constantly be reaching outside the gunwales. It doesn’t matter how long your arms are, you want a boat that’s less than 34 inches wide if you’re going to solo it regularly. My Heron is 36 inches wide. My Curtis is less than 30. My Heron also has a much higher bow and stern height, which leads to wind-cocking when I am paddling on rivers with intermittent shoreline cover. Keeping it in line on a windy day can be a bear. And while adding 15 pounds to your load might not seem like much, you really feel it when you absolutely need a draw stroke to avoid trouble. In short, I think soloing any canoe is great, but the two models discussed – in three-layer polyethylene – are going to be a less-than-pleasant experience.
Not trying to step on your projects, but I think you will enjoy something else much, much more.

I like hearing the advice from way more experienced paddlers than I.

My multi usage is quite a bit different than the OPs as I believe he is hoping for a large solo canoe made from a double boat hull, but also hoping for some degree of being nimble like a much lighter and thinner solo boat. Myself I know it will be a bit of a tug boat and I will likely be using it much more recreationally for fishing and even sitting. I will be going with friends in kayaks on day river floats and my worry isn’t in keeping up as much as being the barge for all their coolers. One good thing about packing their stuff it will keep them close to my speed. When I go alone my speed is of no concern I get there when I get there. I have adopted that philosophy riding bikes and you won’t find me in any pace lines. I ride a touring bike that has wide gearing and is 3 times the weight of my friends. I hope the analogy will crossover to canoeing but time will tell and I’m sure there is reasons why with canoes like bikes the right number to own is N+1 where N = The number you own now. I have 8 nice bikes out in the garage right now. I just hope I don’t end up with 8 boats. I know there will be two as she has her heart set on a kayak.

I am placing some hope in a few articles where people explained the benefits of a longer double bladed paddle in a wider canoe.

I found an OT Canadienne in kevlar that is the small one, 15’7" with a 32 inch beam. It weighs 49 pounds. I took out the seats and the middle thwart and rear thwart. I put back a solo seat and a rear thwart. Works fine as a solo boat.

1 Like

The key is that canoes are versatile. While each design is best suited for one particular use, it can also be used in other circumstances. What you are proposing is not ideal. But because you are tall, and have a long reach, you will be able to pull it off. As long as the weight of the boat is manageable for you I say go for it.