Paddle Plan

My wife and I are moving to a house on a 120 acre private lake in southern Indiana. The lake restricts crafts to trolling motors only. This is a plus for me as I prefer the quiet andI enjoy paddling. I am allowed four crafts.

I hope to get a solo canoe, a tandem canoe, and a pontoon boat. We already have a kayak that belongs to my son.

I really enjoy Wenonah canoes when I take an annual trip to the BWCA, but am finding it difficult to find them for sale in my region. I would enjoy one, but don’t think I would often (ever) have the load I take on a camping trip so don’t know how well it would handle without cargo.

My needs: I am 6’1” and 250 lbs. My wife is also tall. My sons will only be occasional visitors. I have two golden retrievers who love to be wherever I am. The solo canoe would get the most use. The tandem would be for when my wife would paddle along.

Besides the Wenonah brand, what canoes should I consider or avoid? What should I look for in terms of features?

Thank you!

Where are you? There were two tandem Wenonahs listed in Michigan in the last 48 hours. Solos are tough to find. I found mine here by asking for help.

If you want recommendations it’s important to know how much weight your canoes will carry. You say you’re worried that your solo canoe load will be lighter than when you tripped and then you say you have two large dogs that you want to take (so you dressed with 2 paddles and a kneeling pad is at least 260 and add two large dogs and you’re at 400 pounds which is too much weight for most solos). Will the dogs be in the tandem with you and your wife? How much total weight? Will you sit or kneel? What Wenonah did you rent and like, a Prism?

Good questions. I’m guessing I would usually take out one dog at a time. I guess it would depend on how they handled it.

My rentals were usually in the Minnesota line, I think Minnesota II. I know we had a Sundowner in there, maybe a Prism.

What I would like is information on other brands worth consideration.


Consider: Wenonah, Nova Craft, Esquif, Swift, Old Town Royalex boats, Dagger Royalex, Mad River Royalex.
Avoid: Coleman, Pelican, Old Town Polyethylene boats, Mad River Adventure, anything with integrated seat backs or coolers.

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Thank you!

What about Souris River?

Alternately, could I get a three person canoe and use the middle seat for solo days? Would I have good success with that? Wenonah makes a model they call the Solo Plus for this reason.

Swift ( and Northstar ( both make very nice canoes. They both show the efficient load range for their boats on their websites. A Swift Prospector 16 is a versatile boat that would handle you and 1 or 2 dogs and your wife too if you like. Their Keewaydin 17 would be one great option for a tandem but it’s not really meant to solo. A Northstar Northwind Solo is a well-regarded boat that can handle up to 340 pounds. The Wenonah Wilderness is known to be a stable solo that can carry a big load. A Nova Craft Bob Special is a well-regarded small tandem that would work well as a stable solo for you and 1 or 2 dogs.

Just a few possibilities. Test paddling is always a good idea.

Souris River passes the eye test. I’ve only seen them in shops in Wisconsin. Are you going to travel much with these or are they going to stay on the home lake? Kevlar is light, but do you need to spend $3,000 new vs. $500 used?

As for three-seaters, watch for excessive width.

These would stay on the home lake 99% of the time. I hope they would see nearly daily use.

I would prefer to find something used and moderately priced. I would enjoy a boat that was pre scratched and broken in so that I didn’t have to cringe each time I got too near a rock or a branch. I think I will need to be both patient and willing to drive a distance to find that. Do canoe sales have a season?

It’s now. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

There’s a 16-foot Old Town Camper in Royalex in northern Indiana right now. The Indy area does seem to be devoid of quality listings at the moment.

A 16 foot Camper is a great canoe for a small lake

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Another option, although small for you as a tandem, might be a good solo for you. I wouldn’t recommend Old Town’s polyethylene boats if you’re going to haul them around a lot, but if it’s staying on the home lake, this might be an option to try:

Ever hear of a Navarro Loon?

I haven’t paddled one but it sounds like a great boat for someone that lives on a lake.

Here are the reviews for the 16. There are also reviews for the 17 on this site.

I like the look of it, but I wonder about keeping the wood seaworthy.

I really enjoy the Wenonahs with the aluminum gunwales. I found one that is nearish, but in bad shape. I have never repaired a hole in kevlar and one of the gunwales is a bit bent.

I think I’m in for a wait for the right boat (s). I want a boat that will be a happy place for me. It will come.

I found an 18 ft. Wenonah Sundowner for $700. It has had a rough life. I’m not sure how old it is. Is the manufacture date imbedded in the serial number? I can see previous repairs. There is a split/hole that needs a repair patch. It needs a good scrub and coat. There is a small dent. One gunwale looks a bit bent at the yoke. It does not look irreparable. What might be a reasonable offer? Is it worth the investment of time to bring it back to life?

The last numbers in the serial are E292. I think that means it was built in 1992?

Yes 292 indicates a February, 1992 build date. The interior of the Navarro is epoxy coated so basically maintenance-free but the wood gunwales will need periodic maintenance and if you plan to store the canoe outdoors then aluminum is a good choice. If you want a Wenonah then you should get a Wenonah. I don’t think anyone can comment about fairness of price or ease of repairs of a boat without pics.