I presently have a wenonah vagabond that I use for fishing mostly. My weight is about 170 and I am 5’ 6" tall so really don’t want a boat to big for me. I really enjoy solo canoeing but would like to start exploring some rivers and bays in FL and take along a paddling partner and camping gear. Don’t have room for two canoes at home. What kind of tandem canoe is suitable for solo paddling that won’t be too much to handle for my weight and build? Saw the solo plus by Wenonah and the Bell Morningstar but don’t know really what to look for…help!
a couple more
It matters how much weight you are going to throw into it - you stated your weight but what about your partner? Most will work fine for most uses but don’t expect to load a solo/tandem up with a ton of gear (of course there are a few exceptions).
A symmetrical canoe can always be turned around with a little weight up front for trim - an aysmmetric canoe is best used with a center seat.
Length: 16.5 and under usually work well
Width (if paddling from center): try to get one with a little tumblehome - it makes paddling easier - especially on those wider tandem.
Clipper: Tripper S
Mad River: Malecite, Explorer 15 (14tt for river use), Express, Horizon 15
Mohawk: Nova 16
Novacraft: Bob Special
Old Town: Penobscot 16
Placid: Starfire (was made by Bell, same mold)
Souris River: Quetico 16
Wenonah: Solo Plus - and a few tandems in the 15 to 16’ range
Prospector: Made by a ton of manufacturers in different lengths 15 - 16’ would be a decent choice.
Build a canoe rack
Trust me and everyone else on this board, if you’re starting to get the fever for boating, one boat is NEVER enough!!!
I have a boat rack already
Problem is…3 kayak on it already plus my solo vagabond canoe. Don’t have anymore room in storage area an cannot go over 16 -6.
Camping/food/water weight add: 100lbs per person. Other paddler will vary depending on who wants to come along. My friends are within 150 -200 max. Therefore: 600lbs to be on safe side for multi day trip with my heaviest friend
600 pounds and you can rule out a few of them. BTW, that’s a pretty good load and most of the canoes could handle the weight but you won’t have much freeboard left and it will handle like a pig. We don’t push 600 pounds for 2 guys a little over 200 for a week in the Boundary Waters.
Also with your size, it is going to be harder to solo some of the bigger canoes from the center.
Bell: Morningstar (nope)
Clipper: Tripper S (maybe)
Mad River: Malecite (nope), Explorer 15 (nope) (14tt for river use), Express (yep), Horizon 15 (nope)
Mohawk: Nova 16 (probably)
Novacraft: Bob Special (nope)
Old Town: Penobscot 16 (pushing it)
Placid: Starfire (was made by Bell, same mold) (nope)
Souris River: Quetico 16 (yep)
Wenonah: Solo Plus (nope) - and a few tandems in the 15 to 16’ range (16 footers probably)
Prospector: Made by a ton of manufacturers in different lengths 15 - 16’ would be a decent choice. (yep)
solo & tandem
Two canoes I use and am happy with both solo and tandem are Old Town Appalachian and Sawyer 190 - you might find used. The 190 is great solo but 600 lbs would be top end capacity.
I was afraid of that
what with the water we need to carry at 8lbs per gallon per person per day it adds up. Alright, I'll just rent a tandem for the trips that are going to be longer than 3 nights so..for a two night trip
paddlers: 320 (can't take my heavy friend) gear 50 food water: 60 = 430! This is not going to work is it?
I use my Mad River Explorer both tandem and solo. Its chiefly a tandem canoe, but I have no problem with it solo. I just flip it around. Its not the perfect solo boat, but it works just fine.
Holds plenty for a weekend camping trip and two people too.
Tell me about your Sawyer 190 Shane.
Would appreciate hearing all about your 190. Things like what you do like and do not like. How it handles in calm, chop, rapids, etc. What you think it is best for.
Saw my first one just last week, but no chance to paddle it.
For open water, 600 pounds is max or
more even for some fairly capacious tandems. I would not want to be carrying 600 pounds in open Everglades bays in our Bluewater Chippewa, which is 16" deep. Manufacturer ratings are often based on how much weight pushes a canoe down to a 6 inch freeboard, and nobody in his right mind paddles open water for any distance with only 6 inch freeboard.
Adding a full fabric deck allows somewhat larger loads, at the expense of loading and unloading convenience.
On the other hand, even having to carry all your water, will you really need such a load? I ran the Dolores for two days and two nights, carrying 32 pounds of water (because Dolores water has high salt content) in a 15 foot whitewater solo/tandem, and I was so lightly loaded that I could have taken my wife without swamping in the rapids.
good to know
the solo plus by Wenonah looks interesting and mentioned on bsia list above. Any comments regarding this boat? The Bell Morningstar may also be a contender. It is hard to get other manufacturers of canoes in south florida at least I don’t know anyone that carries souris river or mad river boats.
So 6" is max of freeboard on a tandem loaded.
Solo Plus Opinion
I ahve had my plus for 4 years and have used it in a variety of conditions.
I’m 5-9 200lbs and find it to be a decent solo. It tracks well and responds well to leaned turns and sculling draws. It lacks the rocker for tight river running but performs well under wind in large crossings. Tons of room for gear and dogs.
Many folks dislike it as a tandem…but I enjoy it. With two strong paddlers the boat performs like a sports car. It lacks primary stability but has plenty of secondary. It’s an act of faith to get two strong paddler really cranking. The boat will rock back and forth, but we have yet to tip her over.
cliff jacobson said it makes perfect since to have two boats: one solo and one tandem. i can’t do it either at this point. i have, however, thought highly of the morningstar as a family boat and one for shorter trips of three nights or so. you’re a bit on the small side. do you think you could handle a tandem paddling solo when the wind and waves pick up?
Have you looked at the Pamlico 135T? I bought one last year and love it. It can handle up to 600lbs and it very stable. also, the openness of the cockpit makes packing for a camping trip very easy. We often take the two kids with us when we go out, and they both fit comfortably between us. If alone, the seats can be moved so that a solo kayaker will be centered in the boat. The boat is very durable and tracks very well.
Solo Plus a bit large for me solo.
I’m 5’6" and 150 lbs and when paddling solo from the center seat without any gear, I have difficulty with tracking, especially with any breeze. I don’t think I sink it into the water enough to take advantage of the tracking characteristics of the Solo Plus. Tracking is much less of a problem when I use my 240cm kayak paddle. I much prefer paddling my dedicated solo canoes when compared to the Solo Plus solo.
For tandem, the Solo Plus works great for my wife and me. She’s a little shorther and lighter than I am and she feels much more stable and secure in the Solo Plus than she did in the Sawyer 190 which I bought and sold last year. The 190 felt a little too tippy to her. The Solo Plus feels fine to her. We don’t do any hard paddling and don’t do any rivers because she doesn’t want to sit in any boat for more than an hour or hour and a half. The Solo Plus works fine for us on the lakes we paddle. It’s very stable for us for birdwatching etc.
Dagger Reflection 15
Before selling it to get a kayak, I had many years of excellent solo and tandem paddling with my Dagger Reflection 15. Dagger sold this model with an optional center seat positioned for solo paddling. I don’t know if Dagger still makes the Reflection 15, but you should be able to find it used.
I’ll look into this boat and think that FBO in Key Largo has it for a test paddle. In Tampa they have the Morningstar and Northstar which I heard from Bell makes a good solo boat.
When I do take the solo out on fishing trips it has about an extra 40lbs of gear onboard so that may make a difference in handling. My friends that do paddle with me are strong paddlers and we have never had trouble in rented tandem canoes.
If only I had a garage that was empty of everything except canoes and kayaks…it would be a wonderful thing!
I converted a solo wenonah encounter to tandem. Put aluminum brackets in bow, center and stern positions so two sliding tractor seats can be unpinned and moved to center or stern. Boat is big enough to easily handle two paddlers, feels very stable and retains balance. Put brackets in for a 2nd foot brace in the stern. Fast, roomy and stable. Lowered and widened pedestals as well. This boat was a fiberglass tufweave, too heavy at 58 lbs for me. A kevlar version should be a rocket as a tandem. I weigh in at 215 and the boat feels well balanced. If you like messing around in boats this would be a good choice.
Interesting, I had thought of doing that
although with so many boats, and at my age, I need to use some up, not acquire more. The attraction of the Encounter is that we can take just one boat to lake country, easy for me at 220 to solo, and a good pocket cruiser with the wife.
I don’t recommend the Morningstar. Since its a symetrical canoe you solo paddle it kneeling with the canoe on edge. In any wind at all it makes it interesting to say the least as the high edge really catches the wind. I wouldn’t want to paddle in in somplace like the Everglades for example. I had fun with mine even in strong winds but that was in a small lake only.