Prospector 16: Wenonah vs. Novacraft

Living on the West Coast, central California, I know of only one local store that stocks new kayaks and canoes. They are always having sales on used kayaks, but none on canoes. The only brand I’ve seen them stock is We-no-nah; not complaining here. I’ve never seen them advertise demo days.

I like the Prospector boats. I want one for lake and reservoir floats for deer hunting/weeklong camping/tandem & solo paddling. We-no-nah has 4" of rocker in its Prospectors. From what I’ve read here, that seems to make the boat nimble for river running but compromises flatwater tracking. Novacraft’s Prospector offers “moderate” rocker. I’m trying to figure out which boat better suits my purposes. Qualitywise, how do the companies compare and who, in your opinions, makes the better canoe? OK, that’s a loaded question, but this seems the place to float it.

dont think wenonah did itself any favors
… when it chose to measure the rocker on its prospector at a spot thats reads “four inches.”

I haven’t paddled the Wenonah but have seen it alongside the Nova Craft at eye level and can’t tell much if any difference in rocker. Others here have test paddled both and hopefully they will weigh in.

I like Novacraft’s heavier royalex better. But, for your use, it doesn’t sound like you’d need royalex anyway. If I were in your shoes, I’d consider Wenonah’s Tuff Weave

Don’t think you can go wrong with either manufacterer.

We purchased a Prospector 16’ from Wenonnah two years ago. Coudn’t be more happy with it. It weighs 49lbs. and is easy to transport and load onto the roof. I flyfish from it. Very stable…I tried to tip it over and got the edge in the water w/o going over. I don’t believe that it has 4" rocker. Very easy to turn, goes straight as an arrow, and glides forever. My wife sits in the front 125lbs, I sit in the back 205lbs. The front sticks up a little so add some weight to the front. Solo it works well. I sit in the front backwards and kneel.

Great boat, you will not be disappointed. I paid $1700 from Rutabage in Madison, WI. Kevlar.

It’s All In The Cheek

– Last Updated: Sep-08-06 8:40 AM EST –

I have had the good fortune of paddling most of the Prospector models that are currently available. They are unsuprisingly similar but do have some variances.

The main difference I can find is in the volume of the stem cheeks (the area just behind the bow and just in front of the stern). The Wenonah's and Bell's have the least ammount of volume here and therefore tend to track just a little straighter but also tend to be a slightly wetter ride in waves. The NovaCraft and Esquif boats have signifigantly more cheek and tend to suffer just a bit on tracking but do better on waves.

The Bell purists say that the Bell is the closest design to a "real" Prospector. I'm no expert but I doubt the originals had that much tumblehome. To my eye they look exactly like what they are, which is a Dave Yost interpretation on a Prospector...not at all a bad thing.

None of the manufacturers are building low quality boats, but in my opinion, Esquif is making the strongest/heaviest boat that will take the most abuse. Between the Nova Craft and Wenonah I'd give slight kudos to Nova for using a heavier/stronger Royalex sheet, but its also more of a groan to get on the roof.

one’s bigger
I have not paddled the We-Noh-Nah, but have plenty of experience with the NoavCraft.

It seems to me that the NovaCraft is a bit larger, a bit wider, and a bit fuller. It is also heavier.

Both are reputable manufacturers.

If you value the capacity and stability more, go with the NovaCraft.

I agree that you might not need royalex. I had a fibreglass novacraft for a while and it really outperformed the royalex ones side-by-side on the flats. You might also consider Royalite if weight is important.

Wenonah Prospector
We sold our 90 lb OT Discovery 174, for a 40lb. Wenonah. We are able to get out many more times because it is so easy to load by myself.

lake and reservoir
For lake and reservoir use I’d definitely go with the Wenonah. Both boats are well-built. The Novacraft is a bit more nimble on moving water, while the Wenonah is noticeably more efficient, which is a definite plus on flat water. Since you are looking at lakes and reservoirs, there is no need to go with the slower boat.

prospector measurement is incorrect. I spoke with Dave at Wenonah about this as I was toying with the idea of a Wenonah or Novacraft prospector. Dave notes it to be 2.5 inches.

Thanks w/the rocker info
OK, 2.5" of rocker on the We-no-nah. Now, that’s real good to know. Did he say how that 4" wound up in the brochure? Just curious, these things usually undergo lots of edit eyes before getting to print. But stuff happens. BTDT.

Dave noted it was a misprint although rocker measurements vary depending upon where you begin the process of measurement. Give Wenonah a call and they will be glad to talk with you.

What gives?
Never called We-no-nah, but a check of both 2005 and 2006 catalogs shows the 4" of rocker info. I can see this typo getting by once, but what gives with the second printing? It’s got me wondering if that info is actually correct.

I spoke with Dave Till the production manager. I would give them a call. I have never seen the Wenonah Prospector but have owned a Novacraft model in the past. Not a big fan of Prospectors although they are a great boat for most applications. Personal preference leans toward the assymetrical designs of Bell or Swift.