I am a relative novice, but not a total beginner, to canoeing. We had an OT Penobscot 16 in the '90s, then moved to PA for 16 years and eventually sold it. We just did calm water with it, having little kids. I did a lot of paddling on the Cowpasture in Bath County VA when I was a kid, and we have taken a lot of outfitter-style day trips on the Brandywine in PA, in both canoes and kayaks.
Now were back in our old neighborhood in Richmond, and got an Esquif Presage for my wife and me to do tandem canoeing. We wanted as close to an all-rounder as we could get, with a focus on camping trips , but also capable of shorter mild WW day trips.
I bought it a month ago but it’s been so rainy that the James River has been too high for floating (for me anyway), but yesterday I took it out solo, with some friends on the South-Anna, much smaller than the James. The river was pretty high and there were some rapids that scared me a bit, but I managed just fine. However I went swimming twice… both times not from the rapids but from tree branches along the bank that I hit sideways. First time the canoe dumped me out but did not capsize. Second time the canoe capsized and filled up with water. I was able to swim it to a quiet eddy and tip it over to dump it out, and get back in. Lost my cooler though.
However I learned from yesterday’s experience that I want to get a smaller canoe for such trips. My wife will not be interested in such rapids, and I think a smaller boat will be more maneuverable for me to paddle solo. I would have been a lot more confident yesterday with a more agile canoe. The Presage (15’ 11") felt too big.
Since the only place close to Richmond is Appomattox Canoe in Farmville, I am looking through their options, and since I want a Royalex boat (or T-Formex today), I am pretty much locked in to Esquif. Not that this is a problem, one of my friends has a Pocket Canyon and loves it, and I already bought the Presage for tandem with my wife.
So with Esquif in mind, I have pretty much two options for solo canoeing on the kind of trip we took yesterday. The Pocket Canyon and the Vertige. The former is 14’ 6" with two seats, the latter is 12’ 10" with a pedestal and is strictly for solo. My friend with the Pocket Canyon always paddles it solo, and does flattish float trips as well as class III, so I am pretty sure I could grow into it. But we already have the Presage for tandem and my wife will never be interested in anything above class I or mild class II, and we are even thinking about a SOT kayak for her. So I might end up with a solo canoe for me and a kayak for her at some point. So tandem is not a “must-have” for my next canoe, in other words, since we already have one.
If the Vertige would be suitable for float trips as well as up to class II, I’m thinking it might work for me as a solo canoe. The only thing that gives me pause is the lack of a typical “seat”, since it has the saddle and thigh straps. Does this ever become monotonous or uncomfortable? With the Pocket Canyon, I could switch from kneeling to sitting every once in a while. With the Vertige, or similar “WW solo” canoe, , I would be locked into the saddle position all the time, which might be uncomfortable during the course of a float / camping trip
So I want to ask advice from the group on these two boats. I should also mention that I am not interested in “creek boats” or “play boats”, just a craft that is small, tough and maneuverable up to Class II rapids.
I realize that was a lot of words, and I thank you all in advance for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to your advice!