Prospector Fans-Please Comment

-- Last Updated: Sep-10-09 12:00 PM EST --

One intersting thing about the Nova Craft Prospector . . . I initially got a 16 foot Prospector because I thought it would be an all-around boat that I could do whitewater tripping with that would allow me to take on some rapids but still paddle flatwater in between the rapids fairly well.

I've greatly enjoyed paddling this boat in whitewater. It has good rocker (about 3 inches) and I've found it to be quite maneuverable for a non-dedicated whitewater boat. However, I've been very disappointed with the flatwater capabilities of the boat, especially when paddled empty. I've paddled lots of flatwater, but I can hardly make this canoe go straight when empty. Actually, it goes straight, but with the rocker the wind side-slips the boat and pushes it way off course, requiring tons of compensation and correction. I did greatly enjoy it on the whitewater, though, and will probably outfit it more specifically for that purpose. However, prior to a satisfactory performance on Class III water, I was actually considering selling the boat because it wasn't the all-around canoe that I was expecting and just getting a whitewater tandem canoe.

I am a little puzzled by everyone on these discussion pages who thinks that Prospectors are the greatest lake tripping canoes out there and that they are so fast. I wonder. . . have they not paddled a fast canoe or am I missing something? I'm used to paddling something like the Bell Northwind, Wenonah Sundowner, or Wenonah Spirit II and the occasional old Alumacraft. Any of them are hands down faster than my Nova Craft Prospector. I did not expect an all around canoe to perform as well as these other boats on flatwater, but it really doesn't perform very well at all. Certainly not as well as the advertisements and other people on discussio boards say they do. It certainly tracks better than a dedicated WW boat, but that's not saying much, really. Anyone have a comment for me?

Prospectors carried loads. With a load
a Prospector will not skate around in the wind.

I’m not sure why some think the Prospector is a totally wonderful lake boat, loaded, but it should be a good boat. Some boats you mention, like the Spirit II, are not easy to solo paddle with a load, partly because they don’t heel to one side for a “Canadian” approach.

Good points.
I did have this boat loaded on one camping trip and it did perform better as a flatwater boat. I’m not really intending to paddle this one solo, but Candadian style probably would work better in this canoe than others.

Bill Mason had a Pal
with caned seats and only 12" of depth that would often appear in his films as opposed to the higher volume and 14" or so deep Prospector (slat seats). You are not the first to comment that this big boat gets blown around when empty. I think that Mason always called it a prospector; artistic license I guess.

In regard to a Sundowner being paddled C
I have an 18’ Sundowner and I paddle it Canadian style often. OK maybe not as much since I got a dedicated solo, but when it was my only boat, 80% of the time it was on the water, it was being paddled solo from just behind the yoke, kneeling with a home-made saddle bag full of cut up pool noodles and other retired foam accoutrements. You can easily keep the gunnel in the wash, (the boat has terrific secondary stability) and it is quite fast as an oversized solo. The only downside is not so much maneuverability and the wind can cause a little grief. I’d assume for solo lake travel, wind in mind, the sundowner, with a little less freeboard, may outperform the Prospector.

BTW a prospector is next on my wish list. Want to sell?

Fast Prospector?
I guess I missed or ignored those claims of speed on flat water with Prospectors. I have noticed some claims of brand x prospector being faster than brand y and plenty of reference to Prospectors outperforming lesser hulls - but if there was ever an overall belief of Prospectors having exceptionally good forward speed and tracking, I don’t see it here. There are individual reviews that are lacking in objectivity for the various Prospectors, I think, just like most other models reviewed here and elsewhere. I think you have to learn how to discern between happy customers and those who really are trying to give good advice.

As for my personal take on my Nova Craft 16’ Prospector as an “all-around” canoe…that depends on your mix of uses. I spend maybe 80 or 90% of my time on rivers, so I would be fine with just my Prospector. But I also have a Penobscot, so I don’t have to use the Prospector on flat water. The Penobscot is another claimed “all-around” boat, but it is more heavily weighted to flat water, IMO. I could get along with just that boat as well, but I’d be getting a lot wetter on the rivers.

So for me, the Prospector would probably be the one boat I would keep if I had to have only one - especially since I spend a great deal of my time standing with a pole (even on lakes, which sometimes helps BTW). The two boats I now have, Prospector and Penobscot, cover both ends of the “all-around” spectrum, so to speak - but others might hit more squarely in the middle.

Fast ship…fast enough for you old man
I like the Prospector but I agree it’s not a fast lake boat. It is a very nice boat to paddle in most instances especially in white water or on our very crooked Missouri streams.

I’ve paddled mine around the lake a few times and if I had purchased it as a lake boat I’d want my money back. You’re right when you say it catches the wind and doesn’t track very well. I usually have mine loaded with a cooler and quite a bit more gear than anyone needs for an overnight or day trip. It seems to do much better on flat water when it has a couple hundred pounds of kit and paddlers in it.

In the first photo I have it heeled over canadian style without any gear. As you can see there’s a lot of boat out of the water to catch wind. However, paddling like this allows one to keep the boat moving in the right direction with minimal paddle input…still not fast though.

The second photo illustrates how we usually paddle the boat. My wife weighs 109 lbs so I pack most of the gear up front to help trim the boat out. The area immediately in front of me is usually empty and the dog occupies the area between the yoke and rear thwart. While I have never weighed the gear I can guess it’s around 80 lbs with another 60 for the cooler plus me at 260. Throw in a 20 pound dog and we’re pushing 529 pounds. This settles the Prospector quite well and allows us to cross the flatwater sections pretty quickly.

Here I am soloing the boat for some photos. No real gear except the Yeti cooler which weighs a ton. You can still see that most of the stem of the canoe is out of the water. It is easy to turn on a dime though.

I guess the real answer is that this boat is never going to be as fast as a kevlar Wenonah lake boat.

technique, technique, technique…
Keep trying, it will make you a better paddler!

best all rounder, perfectly balanced
but by no means, the ultimate ‘lake boat’. furthermore the NCP lacks the finer ends and general slimness that other prospectors do, such as the Evergreens, which makes them nicer all rounders than the NC in my opinion.

Ha Ha . . .
Nope, not selling. I actually boat extra floatation for it today to outfit it more specifically for WW use. It definitely has its place for me. I just started this discussion because I felt a lot of people described this boat as something I felt it wasn’t. Good luck :o)

Your right. The elusive designation of
all-around canoe definitely does depend on what type of paddling you primarily do. The Penobscot is on my list. I had a Bell Northwind in royalex for a while that was a nice all around hull in many ways, but was wet on the river. I got rid of that one and went to my current all around favorite (with all of my biases!) is a Wenonah Spirit II. It is really a lake boat, but rides high enough to stay dry in whitewater and even surf a bit. Unfortunately it’s not too maneuverable, but it did all right on a class II+ Canadian river loaded with gear (but we definitely had to think ahead a bit in the rapids). It was an often pushy river with some big waves but with lots of flatwater in between. I guess it’s true that you choose the all-around boat that is weighted more toward the paddling that you most often do.

if you want to solo this canoe you will
improve the paddling by making a straddle duffle bag. Just stuff a nylon bag with cut up pieces of micro foam (sleeping pad material) and tie it up. Now place it in the middle of the boat on your favorite paddling side and sit on it.You will have trimmed the boat much better than sitting on the front seat paddling it backwards. No its not the best lake soloeing boat but its doable especially with alot of gear,hence the one boat do everything good (not best).

Wood/Canvas Chestnut Prospector

– Last Updated: Sep-11-09 6:35 PM EST –

custom built by Muskoka Fine Watercraft in collaboration wit Bill Mason his'self...

Fast lake canoo... nah! But a great boat fer messin' around an' few better fer rivers. But dats me oopinion!

Also have a Wenonah 16' Royalex Prospector.