Solo Canoe Fever + Questions

-- Last Updated: Nov-15-08 7:46 PM EST --

Dang, solo canoe fever is back. Bell had to go and come out with the Rockstar. Why did I have to sneak a peek at a few weeks back.

Sold my Swift Shearwater a good while back. Sold my Yellowstone Solo years before that. A 16' Old Town Canadienne (small tandem) has been my big boy fishing solo for a year or so ever since I traded BryanM a Sundowner and handful of magic beans for it. I actually enjoy paddling a tandem solo quite a bit. But man that Rockstar seems like just the boat I used to dream of when the Shearwater was a little big and kind of trim sensitive and the Yellowstone a gem, but a little small for my tastes for fishing and tripping. I did fish from the Yellowstone solo a fair amount.

I'm 6'2", weigh 215 lb., paddle with my 70 retreiver or fishing gear most of the time. I paddle class I and II boney rivers 40 percent of the time and flatwater rivers, lakes and inshore coastal bays 60% of the time. I enjoy paddling in strong winds and waves and often need to here in Texas.

Why wouldn't ordering the Rockstar sight unseen (I doubt my dealer will have one, but will inquire) be the thing to do? I've owned two DY designed Bells and loved them both. While the Rockstar may not be technically a DY design, it sure looks like one.

Any other boats out there to consider?



You were

– Last Updated: Nov-21-08 11:40 AM EST –

Probably better off with the Yellowstone. YS and Argosy, and the larger RS are all semi river canoes; adequate bow rocker with skegged stern to aid tracking.

If you prefer Argosy to YS, but need more volume, then the longer and wider RS may be your daisy.

[Another boat in the 30" river class is Swift's Osprey, which carries more volume at 15'. The rocker catalogs as less, but Winters measures rocker differently than Yost, or Kruger.]

Peregrine and Wilderness are almost without rocker, so class II would be quite exciting. Peregrine's 28.5" width would make it less stable than any of the 30" hulls, and much less stable than the 31" Wilderness.

Bell's RockStar and Wenonah's Wilderness are the only 31"s available for bigger guys. One a ~ river tripper, the other a dedicated lake boat.

A big man’s boat
You might take a look at the Hemlock Eaglet. It is designed for a big men and larger loads. At 15’7" and 30.5" width at the gunwales it will handle you, a dog and fishing gear. I think it might fit what you are thinking about.

its not 15’ 7 " though
as the waterline is what counts. There is a good deal of overhang. Make that a 15 foot boat per estimation.

My Peregrine is touted at 15’9. It comes in barely at 15’.

The Osprey is actually bigger than Eaglet. Osprey’s bow shape is quite flared and looks enormous when viewed from above. Would be better IMHO on a river. Eaglet is rather tucked in as a lake boat might be expected…

Paddling Osprey its got a more responsive bow than Hemlocks lake boats. (not counting Shaman or SRT or SRT)

Wenonah Wilderness
It’s more stable than the Peregrine if your going to be fishing and have a dog with you. With your weight and dog I would think it plant the canoe enough in the water to be more wind tolerant.

At your height and weight

– Last Updated: Nov-16-08 12:29 PM EST –

a Wenonah Jensen 17 would be just the ticket.
They used to advertise it as the only 17 foot boat that was suitable for paddling either tandem or solo.
At 5'-9" I am too short and it is uncomfortable paddling solo, but it would be good for you.


maybe Rockstar is the one
I’m surprised that you found the Shearwater “too big”…seems like any tandem would feel even bigger and seems like the Shearwater would fit your needs pretty well.

I recently sold a Hemlock Eaglet and it would handle your load easily and has plenty of stability but it does not turn very well and isn’t really a river boat. I don’t really understand kayamedic’s comment that an Osprey is bigger…Osprey is medium size solo and Eaglet is a small tandem that’s happy with well over 300 pounds. Osprey does have blunt nose but Eaglet has much more volume.

I personally love my Peregrine and I’m 180/185 and paddle with a 70 pound lab but as Charlie says it’s not a river boat…but it does handle cooperatively for a lake boat and handles slow rivers well. It is a bit smaller than a Shearwater so in that respect it fits your wishes.

I’d recommend against an Osprey even though I love Ospreys and hope to get another some day; I think it’s upper rated “efficient” limit is 260 pounds and in my experience the boat was a dream solo but the weight of my dog really changed the boat’s character and it lost a lot of efficiency…but there was plenty of room for the dog with the sliding seat.

Have you paddled a Merlin II? It’s a bit smaller than the Peregrine but also turns a bit better and I’ve bumped an awful lot of rocks with my black/gold boat and it can take a lickin. You can force it to turn in a pinch but not like a real river boat.

Wenonah Argosy is an interesting boat that has good efficiency, volume and river capability.

Good Things to Think About
The Shearwater was a pretty darn good fit really. It was sold as much as anything because I wanted to try some different boats and had only so much money and storage space to work with. The Yellowstone was certainly more fun on moving water, but not as versitile for me due to being a little undersized.

Thanks for the suggestions on the Argosy. I’m certain a test paddle can be had near here. TG in San Marcos carries them I think and a couple of p.netters in Corpus Christi own them. Do you think the Argosy could handle the dog OK? How would you compare the Argosy to a Yellowstone Solo for carrying capacity?

I paddled a Merlin II very briefly 4 years ago at a very windy Piragis Sunsplash. It felt fast and nimble, but I had no load in it and really didn’t get a great sense of the boat.

It feels weird to be promoting Wenonahs since I’ve never owned one. When I test paddled an Argosy I was more impressed than expected and it seemed like it would easily take a big load…but I’ve never paddled one with more than just my own weight. It’s pretty deep. Seemed to really hum along like a good Jensen design when straight up and it seemed to be willing to freestyle/play when leaned, but the transition from vertical to leaned seemed a bit abrupt and when leaned over it was not as friendly as a Shearwater, but overall I would consider it as a fine “only boat” if I ever have to have only one boat. Just an interesting and capable design in my brief experience…probaby a touch faster than a Shearwater but not quite as sweet-handling. I remember that I could freestyle a Shearwater and at least with forward moves one could get about 3-4 feet of stern clear of the water if you got your weight forward. I think it would be easier to fall out of an Argosy than a Shearwater.

Of course the Shearwater also has flatter and lower rails which are more comfy for the dog to rest their chin on when laying down.


Osprey you are welcome
to try out my Argosy if TG does not have one or if it is easier for you to come towards Corpus. Maybe we could meet for a paddle around Victoria or Cuero.

Just let me know.


The Wilderness is no more a “dedicated lake tripper” than a Rapidfire is the fastest 15’er. Measure the rocker on a Wilderness starting 2.5 feet each side of center and it will gradually rise to 1.5 inches at a point 12 inches from the bow tip and stern tip. Look at the side of the Wilderness for the famous Dave Kruger bubble and imagine laying that boat up on its side as it crosses the eddy line and hook a Duffek and you’ll snap right around just like an Osprey will. I have run class II in both boats and the Wilderness is darn sure capable of running moderate whitewater, even for a newbie like me. Paddle these boats sometime, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Prism - Magic
I picked up a used lightweight Kevlar Prism this summer and for your size plus retriever it will handle that load just fine. Plenty stable to fly fish from. Was a bit of a bear to maneuver to the four points of the compass in large wind driven lake waves when carrying no extra weight. A friend has the Bell Magic. I find that a really impressive boat that is very quick and more maneuverable then the Prism. Not sure how it would respond to having a 70lb. dog aboard.

For the price that I paid for the Prism used, its’ very lightweight and my intended purpose of using it for fishing and reaching back ponds it will serve me well, but from a performance hull design point of view, I like the Magic.

Order That Rockstar, Rob

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 8:42 AM EST –

I would NEVER imply that I know more about boats than the likes of Charlie Wilson, but I HAVE paddled with and talked enough with you over the years, and paddled myself enough that I think you and the Rockstar would be a good "Fit." Tell you what, if you buy it and don't like it we'll "Rendevous" somewhere and I'll buy it from you. THAT is how certain I am you'll like that boat from the "Specs."

As for an Argosy, been in one and can't imagine paddling one with a Lab; heck, I wouldn't paddle one with my little 10 lb Rat terrier or try to fish from one. Maybe a 150 pounder could, but not you or I "Comfortably."

And, when you DO get one, Rob, post some pics and thoughts for Bob and I. Really interested in that boat. Take care, my friend! WW

bone to pick?
CEW is one of the most respected poster and paddlers on this board. Disagreeing is one thing, but to post: BS.

You must really be a “newbie”

I also put a vote in for a Wenonah Wilderness. I have had one since this Spring and logged probably close to 400 miles on it - 10% of that being lakes - the other 90% being fairly small, rock infested rivers/creeks (up to class II). It can turn easy, doesn’t take on a lot of water, very stable, decent speed, great fishing platform, can carry a big load (I am ~6’3" 240 lbs. and have put at least 60 pounds of gear in with me without any issues - it could easily hold a good chunk more too).

If you need a solo that can do a little bit of everything, it is hard to beat the wilderness.

Having spent a decent amount of time in “lake” and “river” solo canoes, I would put the Wilderness smack dab in the middle.

Rockstar, Wilderness, Peregrine
Haven’t paddled the Rockstar yet, but have paddled the Wilderness and Peregrine. Wilderness is an excellent Royalex wilderness tripper, turns pretty good, carries a big load, high sides and full bow so its a pretty dry ride, only weighs 47# so not a bear to carry. Peregrine is quite a bit different. I think it is a fast boat with a lot of glide that turns only moderately well. It can be used for whitewater but I cringe when I think of the kevlar hulls bouncing down rock gardens. BTW, to the poster who confused the Osprey and the Eaglet, that is not my impression. I’ve never paddled an Eaglet but used to own an Osprey and it is not “huge” when you look down at the bow. More huge than a Argosy bow, perhaps, but not even close to the Eaglet which is a fine boat. If the Osprey was available in Royalex it would make an excellent wilderness tripper and rock garden river boat for a lighter load. The Shearwater, mentioned above, is a classic all time favorites, too bad it’s not available in Royalex.

That was me

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 6:38 PM EST –

The Osprey bow is huge..where others have perhaps a little flare the Osprey is very flared. It makes sense as some use it on moving water. The Peregrine not.

I wasnt confused. I had Peregrine and Osprey overturned side to side to compare bottom hull shapes and then flipped them right side up. Not an Internet search..actual paddling.

The Shearwater is an excellent boat for a larger paddler but too much skin for a smaller paddler to have to overcome.

Peregrine for sure does not turn fast enough for quick maneuvering when flat but does spin when heeled to the rail. This method of turning makes most paddlers uneasy.

The Eaglet is a pretty new boat. Paddled that one too!

not really a bone to pick
just curious why these armchair quarterbacks can label boats fast or slow or river boat or lake boat when they haen’t even paddled it. If someone wants to be an expert they should at least be somewhat familiar with the boat they’re labeling shouldn’t they? Calling any canoe “dedicated” is just plain hooey IMHO. They can all be used in a variety of ways and if you can’t run a rapid because your boat won’t turn then portage. Nobody ever wrecked a boat or drownded on a portage, that I know of anyway, but then somebody probably has at one time or another so a internet expert will jump on here and call me wrong again.

on the other hand i could be wrong
since I’ve never seen anyone wilderness river tripping in a Wenonah Advantage I guess it could be labeled a dedicated lake boat, but then again I’ve never paddld one so I might be wrong about that, too.

No need to be so serious about this

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 9:16 PM EST –

To say that a certain boat is a "dedicated" something-or-other is merely recognition of the fact that there are MANY different designs, and for many of those designs, a particular usage of the boat was the goal of that design. There's nothing wrong with that, and if you WANT to use a boat for a purpose where its design will be significantly compromised, it's your choice and there's nothing wrong with that either.

I haven't agreed with everything Charlie has said here, and I believe he once said one thing that was completely wrong regarding a boat design I get to see up close on a regular and frequent basis, but to label him as an "armchair quarterback" is pretty darned funny. Stick around here a while, and you will find out more about him (as well as the rest of us, mostly less-significant paddling wackos).

Oh by the way: one thing you disagreed with was Charlie's statement that the Wilderness has almost no rocker. You said it has 1.5 inches, Wenonah says it has 1.25 inches, and I'm going out on a limb that it could be a lot less than that in the case of the the Royalex version. Here's why. The Wilderness is basically a large-scale Vagabond, a boat which supposedly has 1.25 inches of rocker at each end, yet I'm still waiting to see my first Royalex Vagabond that has even the slightest hint of rocker. I don't care what the catalog specs are, in my experience, Royalex Vagabonds don't have any rocker at all. There. I said it.