Solo canoe choice

I am looking for a new solo to paddle flatwater rivers here in Florida. The river I usually paddle is the Loxahatchee which is a blast. Lots of flow downriver, some pullovers(logs) and sharp right angle turns. In spots the river is 10ft wide. I have a Hemlock Kestrel which is great on the open areas I paddle but requires a bit of work on the turns. The trip down is all smooth but the return in current provides the work. No shuttle. I weigh 160lbs, am 5ft.6inches and carry very little gear. I usually kneel and j or c stroke. I sold my Swift Osprey which I used on the river but it seemed a bit big for me and as I age lighter can be better. Any help from all your combined years of experience is always appreciated.


The Royalex Argosy might suit your needs. Quick, light, fast on the flats, similar stability and manuverability to the Osprey. The Yellowstone Solo would be something to look at too maybe. The Wenonah Wilderness is one of my favorites, but it is about the same size as the Osprey and doesn’t turn quite as well as the Osprey.

I think a Flashfire(13’) would be ideal.I love using mine for conditions just like yours. Anything but Bell’s ultralite layup should be tough enough.The Flashfire is currently being made by Placid Boat Works. If you can’t afford one an inexpensive alternative would be a roylite Wenona Sandpiper(also 13’). I have used mine for those conditions also. I like short boats for narrow streams.


I second the motion for a Flashfire

– Last Updated: Dec-03-08 7:04 AM EST –

although if you carry much gear or a dog you may be pushing the upper weight limits for good handling. In that case a Wildfire would be my choice. The downside of the Wildfire for you would be the width. Unless you have unusually long arms for your height, reaching over the gunnels for a good vertical stroke may be awkward. All of the Placid Boatworks hulls are plenty strong. As mentioned in a previous post, some of the earlier Bell hulls were build pretty light. Wildfires are fairly easily obtained used, if you can't afford a new one. Used Flashfires are hard to find and snapped up quickly when they do appear.

Marc Ornstein
Dogpaddle Canoe Works
Custom paddles and cedar strip canoes

Argosy and Flashfire were on my list. A dealer in Jacksonville has 3 Wildfires in bg, wg and kevlite layup. All are new but between 7 to 10 years old. She wants full price for them. Cant go that route and the Wildfire does appear a bit big. Flash would be great if I can sell one of my kayaks. How is the royalex argosy for weight?

A second for the Argosy…

– Last Updated: Dec-03-08 10:01 AM EST –

...and some info on weights. The Royalex boat weighs in at 45 lbs, just a little more than the Kev-Flex version (43 lbs, if memory serves.) However, the UL Kevlar model is only about 30 lbs. This would be a wonderful craft for the Loxa. And you probably will get in a few months more paddling time than we do here in Wisconsin! poster nermal has lots of recent miles in his Argosy and can certainly give you some corroborative points.

second the FlashFire
few months ago test paddled Argosy against Osprey,

and both feel about the same in size.

Another option…

– Last Updated: Dec-03-08 11:03 AM EST –

Mohawk Solo 13 in R-84 layup is about 36 lbs.
It's length would be great in the narrow areas, and it would probably be a fun & nimble little boat on the twists & turns.
New one is $680.00 plus shipping charge(Tennessee to Florida for you).

I don't think Wenonah is still making the Sandpiper; it's not in their 2008 catalog. Of course you might find a used one.

There are a few other canoe companies with 12 or 13 foot models. I believe most of those were designed with stability for fishermen in mind, are quite wide, and would probably handle like a mini barge in comparison to some of the other canoes already mentioned.


P.S. No mention was made of the amount you were prepared to spend on the canoe you're seeking?
There is a "very wide" price range between some of the canoes that have been suggested.

full price?
i wouldn’t pay full price for those boats either, although i do like bells

a friend of mine recently bought a whitegold merlin II for $800 in near mint condition with a cooke spray cover. the boat was in florida, on the east coast.

as to your question, i think you have some good recommendations already.

flashfire seems like a great fit for your body size and the waters you like to paddle. wildfire could be a good fit too if you’re hauling more gear.

don’t have experience with the wenonahs.

good luck, and let us know what you end up getting.

Hey, we tandemed an 85 lb, 18.5 foot
long Moore Voyageur over about 35 footlogs, from well upstream of the interstate. So I don’t want any complaining about a few 90 degree turns or some pullovers.

My only recommendation is to possibly avoid foam sandwich designs. Some Canadians have reported breakdown around the borders of the stiffening area from repeated dragging over things. This concern might not apply if you don’t have much of a load aboard. By itself, the weight of the boat should not strain the foam core.

I’ll be watching with interest.
I’m 5’6" and 155 lbs.

…canoe design + paddling skills

– Last Updated: Dec-03-08 11:26 AM EST –

Sounds like what you want is a canoe with some rocker..y/n?
As talked about, the Flashfire design is a nice, high standard in design to either buy or study for demo/purchase referencing... Hull design, with a slightly more dynamic paddling-style, can make a slightly larger, but yet..nimble boat handle the "tripping" water you're talking about.
fwiw...bicycle & chain-lock can provide the intermediate link to the vehicle from take-out. Something that will fly upstream often won't possess the best characteristics for mobility on the downstream journey.


Consider something different
IMHO, a canoe is just a little too big for the upper portions of the Lox River, especially when the water level is low. I’ve done it in a 16 footer, and its not easy. Since you’re not carrying any gear, consider a kayak with a large cockpit. If you transport from Riverbend parking lot, get something very light. If you live on the River, it doesn’t really matter.

You find it easier to climb out of a
kayak than to get from kneeling position in a canoe? I don’t. For solo, I would use my 14.5’ foot Mad River Guide, or even my 15’ MR Synergy, which with its high ww rocker, will ride up easily on many logs.

No to the kayak
Nothing beats a solo canoe for negotiating little creeks like that, especially when you need to climb in and out of the boat onto deadfalls that must be crossed. Unless you can “tight-rope” walk your way to the very tip of your kayak and from there, step up onto an unsteady fallen limb three feet above the water, I guarentee a small canoe makes the job easier in tight quarters. Nevermind the problems kayakers have with the double-blade paddle on small creeks.

Someone mentioned Mohawk, …

– Last Updated: Dec-03-08 12:50 PM EST –

... and I find that Mohawk's Oddysey 14 is just superb for tight, twisty streams. It's an excellent compromise between a stable general-purpose boat and one that can truely dance. My only doubt about that boat in your situation is the upstream capability. I regularly paddle mine upstream against some fairly good current, but for long distances or current that's "too strong", a faster boat might be what you need. The Oddysey 14 moves well enough, but is not a speedster.

Someone also mentioned Bell's Merlin II, which I also have. The skegged stern on that boat is a royal pain in small creeks. You can MAKE DUE, with a Merlin II, but the Oddysey 14, pudgy as it is, is like a sparrow next to a turkey when compared to a Merlin II in the maneuverability department. The Merlin II is pretty quick though, and in straighter rivers it's pretty fun.

of good info. I have used a Prijon Capri and a Current Design Kestrel several times on the Lox. Both work ok but are just not as much fun as a solo canoe. The flash seems like a good option but a bit pricey in Placids layup. The Wildfire which I have paddled empty twice feels too big and bargelike. Mohawk solo 13 sounds like fun downriver but the width and flat bottom may require a double blade on the way back up. As mentioned Pier 17 in Jacksonville has 3 Wildfires. The wg is $1600, the bg is $2200 and the kev lite is $1700 . All have wood trim and are new but several years old. Seems a bit much and I would rather shell out the extra for a Flash or go the Argosy route in rubber or composite.

Hate to say it but
IMO the Osprey you had is the best boat out there for what you want to do. Light, manuverable and one of the best for attaining back upstream.

Since you sold it I guess you don’t agree. I’m interested in what you settle on instead. Different strokes :wink:


Hate to say it but you
have a decent boat. The answer is not another boat. You need to advance your paddling skills and learn to use the shape of the Kestrel to aid your turns.

This means heeling and learning to pitch the bow down for carving and planting.

There are two great canoe instructors in Fort Pierce. Look up Mark and Becky Molina.

I have done the Loxahatchee a couple of times in a boat closely related to the Kestrel but much older.

All the above boats mentioned by others are fine particularly Flash, but its more about the paddler than the boat.

I have used the Kestrel on the river several times and it is adequate. With a good lean it does well but it just doesnt have that sure feeling on the edge of the Osprey or even the Wildfire I have paddled. For estuaries where I paddle much of the time its a gem. Wind resistant, fast and a bit twitchy if you bird or fish. Great boat.

I may try the Argosy as there is one in Vero. Not far from the Molinas who I have met.