I am considering the purchase of a shorter (16 ft. or less) Royalex tandem canoe for use on twisty, shallow streams, and am especially interested in the Bell Yellowstone tandem. As a newer hull, it doesn’t have much of a track record yet. I would be interested in hearing the impressions of Yellowstone owners, and how it might compare to the Bell Morningstar, OT Penobscot, and Wenonah Royalex tandems.
The OT Penobscot will not turn as easy.
The new Wenonah Prospector might be a candidate. The Bell Morningstar has a good balance of reasonable speed and ability to turn.
You could even look at an Esquif Vertige X, but be careful that you don’t go unnecessarily short. Extra length is not a handicap if the boat has some rise in the ends and sits easy enough on the water for good handling. Extra length means extra capacity. Also, if you ever use your boat for solo poling, 15 feet is really getting too short.
Be careful going too short
I think that “shallow” may be the operative word in your post. I think you may find that going any shorter than 16 feet will cause you to run aground more often when carrying two people, while the increase in manueverability with such a short boat will be very slight. I’d only go that short if I planned to use the boat solo more often than tandem. I’ve used tandem 15-footers before, and though they were aluminum, they were pigs compared to 17-foot aluminum boats, and they ran aground constantly in shallow, rocky streams, while the 17-foot boats sailed through with no trouble. Since aluminum canoes are very flat-bottomed and wide compared to the better designs, any “good” canoe of similar length is going to sit even deeper in the water than the short canoes I have experience with.
Displacement and length
Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about the relationship of length and displacement, but Bell’s displacement figures show the advantage of a longer hull. I really enjoy the performance of my Royalex Wildfire, so assumed that the Yellowstone might make an equally satisfying tandem. But maybe I should be thinking in the 16-17 ft. range. There’s a lot to consider in choosing a new canoe, and I appreciate the suggestions.
My wife and I took a Yellowstone tandem out for a 15 minute test drive at Piragis sunsplash this spring. Conditions: no gear, flatwater with 8" chop. Granted you can’t really experience a boat in 15 minutes, but here is my impression: very maneuveable, OK tracking, with my wife and I in the boat I would say there was enough freeboard to do class I, but not class II water. I felt it wasn’t enough boat for the two of us. I’m sure this boat would be fine for 2 average size adults whose combined weight is about 350 lbs or less. There wasn’t a lot of room in the boat - would be a day boat at best for us. I wasn’t real comfortable reaching way out to do a forceful draw; probably because the boat was close to the load limit. We paddled the Bell Alaskan next and I was much more impressed. In fact if I was looking for a royalex tandem river boat with tripping capacity, the Alaskan is the boat I would buy.