From the literature, the Penobscot and Prospector canoes seem designed for very similar work. Both seem like good flatwater workhorses in even 16’ versions for floating weeklong camping/hunting trips. Is one design inherently superior to the other, better suited for such expeditions?

The specs on the OT Penobscot 16’2" read 1,100-pound capacity at 6" freeboard, 34’ beam, 13.75" beam and 13.5" gunwales. All this in a Royalex package weighing 58 lbs. Sounds impressive, but am I missing something?

More info
Not sure if this will help but…

There are some noticeable differences in the ways the different Prospectors paddle. They are generally good moving water boats. Some, but not all, do a good job on flatwater as well.

The Prospectors are wider than the Penobscot. Most of the 16’ Prospectors are 36" wide. IIRC, the Prospectors typically also have deeper ends.

To compare how they paddle, you really need to compare the Penobscot to a specific company’s Prospector.

"Prospector" designs typically have more rocker than the OT Penobscot. This tends to improve manueverability at the expense of tracking. There are significant differences in the different manufacturer’s interpretations of a “Prospector” design.

The Penobscot 16 has a good reputation as an all-around canoe, but don’t take the “1,100 pound capacity” seriously. Half that would be a pretty good load.

Penobscot 16 load
I use a Penobscot 16 for tandem tripping. IMO it is a good all around tripping canoe that handles flatwater, rivers up to class II and wind/waves fairly well. I have loaded it to about 550 pounds (two adults 200# each and gear for a week)and had plenty of freeboard. I would be suspect of the 1100# rating - I certainly would not want to paddle it that loaded! For the price - I find it a capable and good tandem choice.

As c2g noted not all Prospectors are not created equally. Even the original Chestnut Prospector had variations – they made several “Prospector” models. But generalities can be drawn.

As has been said the Prospector design as a wider canoe with higher ends than the Penobs. Angstrom noted that Prospectors have more rocker – very true. I’d add that Prospectors also have fuller quarters, and more solid secondary stability. These characteristics all combine to allow for good wave deflection in rough water and great maneuverability, especially when heeled. Prospectors are much more maneuverable than Penobscots – they are very different in that regard.

I think of Prospectors as good general purpose canoes that do better in moving water than Penobscots but are not as quick on the flats. Being straighter keeled and less rockered the Penobs have better glide on smooth water. They also have less wind resistance due to the lower profile ends.

Still, the Penobs do make a pretty good “all-around” type of canoe – but quite different from the Prospector which I would also characterize as an all-arounder – for different reasons. Hope that makes some sense. Performance compromises are the name of the game when one buys a “general purpose” canoe. You have to judge for yourself which performance issues are most important for you with the conditions you face. For instance one might prefer a Prospector over a Penobscot if one generally did more moving water than lakes. The Penobscot might get the nod if one did more lakes and/or open rivers. The effects of wind, waves and currents should be given some thought.

BTW, I don’t even look at “load capacity”. By itself it’s a meaningless term – there is no industry standard used to measure this. Some canoe builders will state waterline width under various loads and/or amount of freeboard under a given load. These measurements have some merit, but a blanket “load capacity” figure (as one sees in Old Town ad-copy) is really meaningless by itself. My two cents…

FWIW, we own a Penobscot 17 and have used it for many years as a family canoe – it’s set up w/ 3 seats. We paddle mostly solos today, but we still bring out the Penob on occasion and frequently loan it to friends to use. It makes a good family canoe for easy to navigate rivers (Class II and below) and does fine on open water. But at about 70 pounds it’s quite a handful to portage. A friend owned a We-No-Nah Prospector for a couple of years and I enjoyed paddling it several times (a composite version – 16’). Someday I hope to own a Prospector as well, not sure which brand though.

Another FWIW, my 14’ Merrimack Baboosic solo is my “hands down” favorite canoe in my little fleet. It’s a scaled down Prospector. Love that boat!

Second what arkay said.
We own a Penobscot16 and 400# is the optimum load for decent paddling. 500# drags it down and turns pleasure into work. Anything over that…forget it. Loss of maneuverability and freeboard makes it unpleasant and unsafe. Still can’t figure out where OT gets their capacity figure. That said, the Penob is a useful general purpose boat. OT is a good company.

We used our Penob16 on our last trip for fishing on a lake. We have done this before. The wind was picking up and we concluded that we need to lower and reposition the seats. There isn’t enough room in the bow for fishing gear for us fat, old people and the high seat position made us feel like we were sitting on a bobbing cork.

We hadn’t been in this boat for over a year and have been talking about selling it and buying a Novacraft Prospector16. So we stopped at Rutabaga on the way home and looked at several options. We concluded that instead of spending the bucks for a new tandem, we could buy 2 new solos. We will refit the Penob16 and keep it as a guest boat. Then, after test paddling some lake boats, we’ll try to find a used lake tripper that works for fishing.

No boat does everything well and I would suggest buying the boat that works for your majority use.

NC P16
You already said you are buying two solos, so this is more for folks who are looking at Prospectors. My personal opinion is that the Novacraft is really oriented towards moving water. It’s pretty agile, but is less efficient than other brand Prospectors when you have to move it along without the current helping you. However, both initial and secondary stability are superb, and the build is super solid, so it does have a lot going for it. It just wouldn’t be my boat of choice if I were spending most of my time on lakes.

Right, c2g. We decided that we
didn’t want to spend the money for a tandem river boat and really need to think about a tandem lake boat in a light layup. Didn’t make that clear. We really like the NC P16 for tandem river tripping, but we like solo river paddling better. So since we would only use a tandem boat once or twice a year, why spend the money? We spent an hour in the shop looking at boats, looking at prices on tandems and looking at each other looking at the solos. When you are considering spending over $2000 for a tandem, two solos look sweeter by the minute. lol

16 Penobscot

I own & much enjoy my 16 Penobscot. My ‘03 OT catalog lists similar dimensions to those you posted but capacity of the 16’ @ 860 lbs & @ 1100 lbs for the 17’ version. Regardless, I agree these are still overstated but disagree that a 16’ version can’t handle 500lbs efficiently. Wife & I (300 lbs total) have taken our 16’ version to Everglades numerous times. On our last trip we were out 8 days before returning to E-city to resupply & carried 17.5 gal of fluids (140 lbs @ pt=lb. As there are no portages we could afford to be decadent & am sure we also had 100lbs of food & gear aboard. Despite this 540+lb load hull handled extremely well even in wind & waves.It would be hard for me to imagine one needing in excess of this load.

Thank you all …
for sharing your experiences. I had been made aware through this forum to realistically consider the actual load capacity at half the stated load. Was using the rated capacity as a guideline. Found a used OT Penob 16 for $600. I’ll try and make a move on it if it hasn’t already sold.