Solo Canoe Choice - Weight & Wind

I’m looking at getting a solo canoe and have my eye on a Wenonah Prism. I found a used one with Kevlar Ultra Light at 35lb or a cheaper used model at 42lb which is Kevlar Flex-core. How much of an issue is it going to be with a novice canoeist weighing ~125lb in such a light boat under windy conditions? Would it be better to save some money and go with the Kevlar Flex-core at 42lb?

I’m talking about if the wind picks up and gets gusty on a lake, reservoir, or canyon. I realize skill and time in the seat are the biggest factors here but from a novice perspective. I’ve read that the prism has good stability, etc. but then others say differently, then I’ve read 20 threads and don’t know what to believe!

For any solo canoe ever made you will find individuals that say it is stable and others who say it is unstable. I have found the Prism to be very stable with its waterline width of 29 3/4" and it does not have nearly the “bubble sided” tumblehome that many other Wenonah canoes have. But a person who has never been in a solo canoe might perhaps find it edgy.

It is a big boat for a paddler of your size to be using unloaded for day trips but that wouldn’t necessarily turn me away from it if you have your eye on a used one at a good price. If you are looking to buy new you might wish to consider a smaller boat unless you plan on doing trips with a sizable load.

How a canoe behaves in windy conditions depends more on its depth than its weight. The more canoe sticking up out of the water the more it will be affected by the wind. The Prism is not especially deep for a solo canoe, 12 1/2" at center so it is not horrible in that regard. But if you have a beam wind and need to turn either upwind or downwind one end of the canoe is going to have to be turned against the wind. And the longer the boat is the harder it tends to be to do that.

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Seven pounds hull weight isn’t going to make much difference with you added to it. Essentially, it about a 4% difference ((125+35)/125+42) = 160/167 = 0.958). Pblanc covers the rest.

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Yep, exactly what I thought. Question answered.

Some people add a large container or two of water to increase the total weight in a lightly loaded canoe in the wind. Also a spray/wind cover will help reduce the push from wind hitting the inside of the canoe.

You should be fine. The Prism is a pretty big, wide solo so it’s inherently quite stable. It’s often used in rental fleets where all sorts of folks would be using it. If you can easily handle the weight of the heavier lay-up (loading and unloading the boat) seems like a good choice since you save money and it should be a bit tougher but if there’s any doubt I’d recommend the lighter one so you never hesitate to use it. You may still get blown around a bit since you are so light and the Prism has no rocker so you may find that making u-turns on windy days is a bit challenging.

You can always add cargo to weight a light canoe, but you can"t make a heavy boat lighter for a long portage or loading on your vehicle. Seven pounds on the water is nothing, but seven pounds up a steep hill you will feel.

“You can always add cargo to weight a light canoe, but you can"t make a heavy boat lighter for a long portage or loading on your vehicle. Seven pounds on the water is nothing, but seven pounds up a steep hill you will feel.”

I completely agree with this statement by plaidpaddler, and I agree more with it every year I age. I’d go for the lighter hull unless finances would be prohibitive.

As to whether a Prism is the right solo boat for a 125 lb. paddler, I’m a little dubious. A novice will have a steep learning curve in any canoe, but at 16-6 the Prism is a very long and capacious boat for anyone to solo. It strongly emphasizes straight ahead tracking over maneuverability, but that is what many paddlers want. Others don’t.

Good points. Going straight is my main goal as I paddle flatwater lakes and reservoirs, so that’s no issue. It would be silly of me to not think it would be a learning curve!

Yeah, the point of a light bit is easier to get out is a big one. I totally know about this, and it is a big one! For now, though, a slightly heavier boat for learning will do until I can earn my chops for something more expensive!

If the Prisms you looked at are in good condition and the price is acceptable, I would be inclined to buy one as you would almost certainly be able to sell it and recover most, if not all of your money.

A Prism would certainly get you out on the water and learning how to manage a solo canoe. It could well be that you find that a smaller boat would be better suited to your needs, but in that event you may be able to trade the Prism for one.

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