Prospector comparison?

The Bell Seliga Tripper (17’) is one foot longer than the Bell Chestnut Prospector (16’), but the Tripper is 2.5" wider than the Chestnut. Both have same rocker. Which has better glide?

I dont think that is the question
you intended.

John Winters wrote about canoe and kayak glide in 1998 for Kanawa.

Glide depends on boat speed, weight in the boat among other things. Tankers have great glide.

For canoes glide can vary between boats due to angle of yaw (a paddler function to some degree). And there are variations in boat design that give the aggressive racer better glide at high speed and less at low speed.

Did you really want to ask about glide or which boat has the theoretical higher hull speed?

Thats mostly determined but not all…by the length at the waterline divided by the width at the waterline.

The answer is on the Bell website.


Will you use the canoe solo or tandem?
For solo use, the 16’, narrower Prospector will be both more manageable and faster.

For tandem, the Seliga Tripper is a foot longer, and from the pictures, has more bow and stern in the water. Tandem, it will be faster.

The Chestnut Prospector has been well-received in the UK where paddlers want a canoe that is easy to manage solo, with camping gear, but that can occasionally take the family tandem.

If you want primarily a tandem canoe, and are concerned about glide, I would consider a Wenonah Spirit II or Adirondack in Tufweave.

You’d mainly want a Prospector if you like to heel the boat to one side and solo Canadian style.

I actually have a Bell Prospector. Heeling either it or the Seliga to one side gives a totally different waterline length to width ratio. What the actual figure is I do not know but I suspect the speed aspect is the same tandem or solo between both boats. The Seliga having more mass would of course be a little harder on your joints solo.

If you heel the boat the width does not matter as you work close to the water on one side. Soloing from the bow seat backwards may result in a slightly more vertical stroke in the water with the slightly narrower station…but the Prospector remains at a sluggish value of below 5 for waterline length to waterline width ratio. Its a river boat. It has high stems…good for water shedding and not so much for wind.

We wont even get into block coefficient…another indicator of speed…which is just as well as I have figures from neither craft.

The real question is where did you find both craft?

The marked changes in velocity, or
acceleration/deceleration, in a lightly loaded canoe paddled solo can make a boat with a poor L/W ratio feel “easy” to paddle. This is the case with my ww boats. Heeling a boat to one side can also give this illusion, and of course with the stroke axis nearer the boat axis when heeled, it just feels effective. But I think it’s an illusion.

Heeling a wider boat may yield a worse L/W ratio, and a worse hullform, than heeling a narrow boat. My 30" wide Mad River Synergy, a ww boat, seems not to lose much water length when heeled, and slips along easily. My Millbrook Edsel is shaped more like an Ocoee, and heeling doesn’t help. The hullform gets worse.

I think the OP has to tell us, solo or tandem? Then the decision should be easy.

Thanks guys.
I appreciate your responses, especially those more pertinent words of advice from g2d. Now, please allow me to rephrase my question:

If you have paddled solo both the Bell Seliga and the Bell Chestnut Prospector in the same relative conditions, and you’re an experienced 200-pound paddler, please tell me if you noticed a difference in glide between the two canoes.

between the two
I have not paddled the Seliga, but I have paddled the Prospector both solo and tandem and I was a bit over 200 at the time. It is an efficient tandem and paddles well solo. It compares very favorably to other 16’ tandems I have soloed. If I were looking at getting one of the two boats and would be paddling it solo, I would definitely go with the Prospector.

I have paddled the Wenonah Escape (17’6") and the 17’ Wenonah Prospector as solos and, although they worked out okay, I have always been more comfortable soloing the 16’ tandem boats. The 16’ boats I have paddled have included the Mad River Eclipse, a Mad River Explorer, the Novacraft Bob Special, The Novacraft Prospector, the Old Town Penobscot 16, the Mad River Malecite, the 16’ Souris River, the Novacraft Pal, a Mohawk, and a few others I don’t remember off the top of my head. The Bell Prospector stacks up well against all of them.

I’m not trying to lay claim to being an expert, I’m just saying I’ve soloed enough tandems in both sizes that I’m pretty comfortable saying I think the shorter boat is the better choice for a solo.

As far as glide/efficiency is concerned, there probably isn’t going to be a huge difference between the two if you are paddling them solo. If you are paddling them tandem, all I know is that the Bell Prospector is a relatively efficient hull and I would be surprised if the Seliga was any better.

I’ve paddled Canadian-style in both the Bell Prospector and Bell Seliga. Neither makes any sense whatsoever as a solo boat… but for solo use, the Seliga is far, FAR more fun - it’s the easier of the two to heel to the rail, retains a decent waterline length even when heeled, and so long as there’s no breeze, is a joy to fling around. If you like a challenge, that’s one I would recommmend :slight_smile:

For all PRACTICAL purposes… I’d avoid either boat: Swift’s John-Winters designed Kipawa and Winisk strike me as way superior for actually going anywhere… as (to a lesser extent) do David Yost’s Bell Northstar and Swift Keewaydin 16 and 17 - though for sheer entertainment, none come close to the Yost-designed Starfire (now produced by Colden).

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to test them, other tandems which would be on my list ahead of the Bell Prospector and Seliga would be the Hemlock Eaglet and Wenonah’s Escapade and Sundowner.

prospector comparison
Great information. Thanks so much. So many hull designs and so little time!

Snowgoose, I might prefer one of those
canoes for swiftwater rivers and for lakes, for “going somewhere,” but one of the things that a properly designed prospector can do, that none of those other boats does as well, is class 1-3 whitewater. That’s one reason I mentioned the popularity of prospectors in the UK. They really do have some whitewater over there, as well as lochs. They often don’t have money, car carrying capacity, or storage space for more than one boat, and a prospector is the one design that can fill the bill.