Prospector vs. Dedicated Solo for Rivers


I am an avid kayaker and now have gotten into canoeing. I love it. I have a Prospector tandem that has a center seat for solo use and paddle it as a solo.

For use on rivers and mild whitewater, how would a true solo compare…something like a Bell Yellowstone or Wenonah Argosy?

I like the way the Prospector handles…very maneuverable and stable (although a bit wide and does seem to need to be paddled heeled over a bit as a solo).

Would I notice better performance in a true solo or is the Prospector pretty good for use as a solo boat for moving water?



I can’t answer that in general.
I could make my Mad River Guide outperform a prospector in most conditions, though the Guide would be wetter in large waves. But the prospector is a higher capacity boat.

Prospector vs solo hull

– Last Updated: Apr-10-09 9:12 AM EST –

The prospector is a symmetrical, highly rockered tandem canoe: a classic.

As a tandem, it runs pretty wide and long. Too wide to allow cross strokes, to long to allow a solo paddler to dominate and draw the bow to either side.

Solo canoes, being much narrower and somewhat shorter encourage cross strokes and allow the bow to be drawn onside or offside and the hull to be heeled to either side.

As one's stick skills progress, most are inevitably drawn to solo boats. More control and more fun.

Matt, the following is a highly subjective and strongly biased viewpoint…

what Charlie says is invariably and unequivocally true.

however, i have paddled a Prospector on many a solo and tandem trip and find it the ideal companion. it has such a fun and reassuring feel solo, yet retains much of the play and response of a smaller boat. i did a 12 day solo trip of the Bloodvien river from headwaters in Manitoba in mine, and it was a dream, a totally spiritual deal. yes, i’m an over sentimental Canuck at times, but there is that feel, of soloing this classic that is just right. i’m 6’5" and lanky and can cross stroke that baby all over the place. my size is a real advantage to soloing a P, so YMMV, but it get’s my vote if you are only going to have one canoe. i have 2 sea kayaks a river kayak and can justify only 1 canoe, and it’s a Prospector, without a doubt and nothing else.

Novacraft 15-ft Prospector
Is the boat Nightswimmer paddles. He recently decided to soloize it and removed the end seats, added a center, bagged it out and was soon running light Class III in WV. Here’s a pic from last weekend.

Stability, too
A mad river freedom solo will be better for maneuvering in whitewater, and a bit quicker on the flats too. The Bell will maneuver fine, but swamp way sooner.

The real difference you will first notice is initial stability. The prospector is just a better platform for lunch, fishing, taking pictures and getting in and out of. Both are fine, but I would suggest sticking with the Prospector until you need better whitewater performance, and then getting a playboat if required.

C’mon Randy,

where’s the rest of the pics?


Depends on what you mean by performance
Of course a dedicated solo will be faster and more maneuverable than a tandem, being narrower and shorter.

But if you are comfortable in the Prospector and don’t need more speed and maneuverability, what the heck?

If you haven’t ever seen the late Dave Mason’s videos you really should try to find one showing him paddling his Prospector “Canadian style” down whitwater rivers.

Mr, Canoehead, I don’t know that I
could maneuver my MR Guide better in whitewater than I could a typical 16 foot solo. Sometimes it’s better for a boat to be really light on the water when in rapids.

One issue is, which prospector are we talking about? Most now offered do not have the amount of rocker CE Wilson cites. But a 16 foot Prospector would certainly be better in whitewater than the redoubtable old 16’ Bluehole OCA that many southeasterners learned in.

Bill Mason