I’m looking into buying a prospector 16’ kevlar canoe. Right now I’m looking at the Langford and the Nova Craft. Does anybody have any insight or suggestions.
Also check out the Wenonah
A friend of mine has the Wenonah Prospector 16 in the Kevlar Flexcore lay-up with wood trim. It’s a beautifully crafted canoe that handles like a dream.
Trailhead Prospector Canoe
I bought a Trailhead Prospector Canoe last year and like it very much. Mine is in their expedition royalex layup with wood trim (they also have kevlar). Trailhead is located in Ottawa, Ontario. The owners, Wally Schaber and Chris Harris used to paddle with Bill Mason and are pictured in his books with their canoes. Supposedly they used one of Bills Chestnut Prospectors to make their molds. I tested paddled the Nova Craft and Trailhead at the same time. I liked them both. The Nova Craft has more rocker I thought and turned quicker, thus I felt it would be harder to keep on course in a wind. The Trailhead turns easy also, but I felt it tracked better. I felt the Trailhead was a better choice for me since I wanted as much of an all around boat as I could find. The test paddle was on a large lake with fairly calm conditions, 1 and 2 paddlers, no gear. I have paddled my Trailhead loaded, empty, solo, double in mild rivers and large lakes.
Good luck in your search and happy paddling.
P.S. Check out Hellman Canoes; they also make a Prospector.
If you read people’s write-ups on ther Langford boats it makes one wonder about Langford quality.
I think that Nova Craft has a solid reputation.
Bluewater makes super nice boats…great craftsmanship and quality so if they sell them near you that might be another brand to consider.
Prospectors? speaking my language
i thought i would email you directly on this topic. as you know the name Prospector has no appelation control but it generally implies a 16-17 foot canoe of “normal” proportions and some to considerable rocker that translates into a good all purpose tandem tripping canoe that also solos well. i have lots of experience with prospectors and own 2 currently. i am the quintisential all around canoeist. i trip, i day paddle, i solo, i solo trip up to a week, i tandem trip up to 2 weeks, i coastal canoe and river canoe. the prospector is not the best for each of these activities individually but is quite good at all of them to a greater or lesser extent. my prospectors are from Evergreen Canoe out of Toronto. one is kevlar with black walnut outwales, ash inwales (scuppered) and all black walnut trim and seats. the canoe is yellow. my royalex boat is my ww canoe. Evergreens is most like the model from Trailhead. the dimentions are identical and only the slightest difference in curvatures. rocker is about 2 inches or maybe a tad more.
Wenonah makes a nice interpretation very much like the 2 mentioned however it has 4 inches of rocker making it either very playful or a handful depending on what you want. it also is slightly more bulbous with a 35/36 inch beam compared to the 34 of the others.
Trailheads models are made by Bluewater which use vacuum bagging and expensive epoxy resin which is more impact resistant. Evergreen uses std vinylester and a quality hand layup with excellent woodwork. EG is also less expensive but the layup durability and stiffness is a bit lacking. no one can touch Wenonah for sophistication of layup to maintain stiffness while reducing weight. but they look like industrial tools sometimes compared to Canadian made canoes. the Langford boats don’t impress me. with a Prospector you paddle the boat backwards from the bow seat, cause it isn’t really backwards. Langford are all about the kneeling thwart. it’s just wrong. Nova Craft are decent boats but are fuller, and not as fine paddling or maneuvering as the others.
i could go on and on really. all canoes fascinate but none like a well balanced prospector. and that’s what this boat is really about. i like the Wenonah but it falls just outside that wonderful balance of design attributes that you find with Trailhead and Evergreen. they really do: go straight well, turn well, are seaworthy, do rivers well, solo well, etc, etc. ultimately i wish you were close by, i would go out in the boat and show you. they can be amazing craft.
if you want to ask any questions go on ahead.
good luck in your search. James
Bluewater and Nova
We have a Bluewater Prospector in Kevlar - perfectly nice boat we picked up as insurance salvage, new but badly scratched up during shipping. We’ve had some abrasion problems with the bottom, but that’s not the canoe’s fault - a lot of our canoeing involves dragging the canoe thru very small, rocky brooks that connect chains of ponds - there’s no way to portage aroud these, and walking thru the brooks carrying anything is asking for trouble.
A friend has a Nova Craft 16 Prospector that I’ve paddled and liked, perhaps better than our Bluewater - it seems to have a better turn of speed, tracks a little better, and it is one tough hull for sure. Several years ago, when coming out of a pond, he wrapped it around a rock in a small but fast-flowing river; it swamped with the open mouth into the stream, and with darkness coming on, he couldn’t free it. It stayed in the river overnight, with the bottom bent up touching the centre thwart. Next morning, he pried it off, and it sprang back into shape, with NO leaks. The gelcoat had shattered and split in places, and one gunwale had cracked. He repaired the damages, and he’s done a lot of paddling, including Labrador’s Churchill River, in it since then. She ain’t pretty any more, but it gets the job done just fine.