Solo Canoe?

Not a lot of solo canoes here is south Florida…so not a lot to try out. I’m looking for a car top , 14-feet (or so), ultralight layup for:

the flat water of south FL

the twisty creeks of central and north FL


amount if rocker?


Experienced kayaker and tandem conoeist, not much experience with solo canoes. Who knows their solo canoes? Thanks for the help.

Solo canoes
From my personal perspective, I like solo canoes in the 14 to 16 ft. range. On flat water that you want this for and if it was me I would lean towards an efficient hull design with a good glide then use paddling technique to handle the twisty sections of a river. Others may lean towards more rocker and maneuverability so to a certain degree it is all going to come down to personal taste. Wenonah, Bell, Hemlock all have hulls that will work. I use a used Wenonah Prism (price was right) and my friend has a once new Bell Magic (price was wrong). I like the Magic better, but I liked the price I paid for mine even more. Personal taste. Did I mention budget? Anyways mine will handle all of my general requirements, plus more.

Mohawk Solo 14
is a good layup and length for you on those twisty spring fed streams.

They used to be made in Florida and now in Chattanooga TN…but still not so far from you.

That length would put it in the day trip weekend trip category and not require heeling it over to negotiate something like Juniper Run.

But if you hanker to the Everglades you will want a longer boat with a larger L/W ratio to beat the tides and the weather. You can negotiate those twisty turny runs with technique…a boat that will not turtle you when heeled. I ran Hemlock Peregrine through the Glades and also Juniper…two very different environments. But I am comfortable heeling the boat to the rail…a technique that converts many long boats temporarily into shorter ones for the turn.

Since it is about as much as the paddler as the boat…there are good designs from Wenonah…I like the Argosy as that is the one I know the best. And Hemlock and Bell…YS or MerlinII.

Its easier to adapt if you are kneeling…heeling the hull is more comfortable then.

Tell us more about you…are you a sitter or a kneeler? And your height.

The LAST thing you want to do on those FL streams is get stuck acrossways…and 16 feet might do that.

While FL is flattish, its water often moves.

solo canoes
There are so many good solo canoe designs now that it is hard to single one out. Unfortunately, the cost of new high quality ultralight composites is very high now, with the high cost of petroleum-based products.

I would look at what is available used in an area within which you would consider driving to arrange a test paddle and pickup. Sellers will often be agreeable to driving partway to meet you. Pnet has a good classified section and I would also check out craigslist. Research the boats that you see listed to see if they fit your needs.

Look for a canoe in the 14 to 15 foot range and about 28.5 inches wide. For use on twisty streams you will want at least a little rocker maybe 1 1/2 inches.

I hear that

– Last Updated: Jun-01-09 10:13 PM EST –

OK, me = 51 (soon), 5' 10" about 180 lbs work out about three days a week but the age thing is catching up.

Also, I hear you about getting caught crosswise in a long boat - been there done that - in my Impex Diamante on the upper Wild and Scenic reach of the Loxahatchee.

I'm a kneeler but I also like to sit.

You might take a look at Vermont Canoes:

My Tupper, 12ft 9in and 25 pounds, is perfect for the twisty creeks of central Florida. So far she’s been on Rock Springs Run, Wekiva River, Hillsborough River, Ocklawaha River, Alexander Creek, and Tarpon Bay.

The Indy is a gorgeous boat, too, larger and about 10 pounds heavier, but you can kneel in it. Rob paddled one on the Hillsborough.

Mosquito Creek Outdoors in Apopka is now a dealer for Vermont.

Holler at me if you’re up this way to go paddling.

a NEW Wenonah
okay, if you are buying new (but who does that? they should just start all canoes out as used) and getting a Wenonah, I would say to save the money on the ultra light and just get the foam core. I have an ultra light and I like it, but I see points where it is no longer a value…even long term. The foam core is smooth on the inside and I like that while the ultra light has ribs. Personal taste, I like the smooth look.

and OF COURSE look at Placid Boat Works. a wildfire is ALWAYS nice. You basically don’t find and of those boats for sale used. They are TOO nice.


Did all the upper Loxahatchee, in an
18.5 foot tandem. Thirty three footlogs. Boat was so long, we couldn’t get caught crossways.

with a solo canoe…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-09 3:17 PM EST –

A primary issue can often be more of "Does one know their paddling skill level" more than their knowledge of specific canoes. There are a lot of canoes out there, but fwiw I'd go and either rent or demo some solos first if at all possible...and see what size, can handle comfortably.
In addition to the previous replies..there've been some really good threads to search for...concerning solo canoes and their pros/cons..
and matching oneself to a particular canoe.

done that in a StarFire
with a tandem partner…we had a blast doing FreeStyle and watching 12 foot kayaks ping pong off of cypress knobs.

I know my husband and I could do anything short of Noble Hammock in our Wenonah Odyssey because we can rail that puppy but would it be fun?

PBW Flash and Wild
temporarily unavaiable…there are a few in stock.

You can look at classifieds for old Bell Flash and Wilds. The Wild would be the better fit.

In my opinion the last layup I would want in Florida especially if you are paddling over oyster bars would be a flat foam panel lay up. If that is damaged I hear it is hard to fix. Oyster bars are similar in effect to Ginsu knives.

and there lies the rub
its relatively difficult to find lots of solo canoes to evaluate and when you find a solo symposium its time to jump at the opportunity.

Those events always have time for show and swap

In Florida,
it is darn near impossible to find a solo to demo. I was interested in Hemlock’s Nessmuk, Hornbeck’s Lost Pond, Wenonah’s Wee Lassie, and Vermont’s Tupper. None of the Wenonah dealers had a Wee Lassie to demo, and of the others, the only one that found its way down to Florida was the Tupper. Lucky for me, it was a good match.

S. Florida: get a tracking canoe
Virtually all of Florida is tracking canoe country rather than turning canoe country: large expanses of salt and fresh water with no gradient.

Even the mid-state runs like Juniper and Rock Creek are not really twisty. They may be narrow and congested and require precise boat maneuvering – such as back ferrying and side slipping – but they don’t require rockered canoe turnability.

Unless you have a very strong solo canoe correction stroke or just want to freesyle play, I would get the kind of hull that is tuned to the kind of water that dominantly surrounds you: flat and ocean. If you prefer kneeling and light weight, then I would recommend a kevlar or kevlar/carbon composite kneeling canoe in the 14.5’ to 16" range with little rocker – i.e., one that emphasizes tracking and speed rather than turnability.

I’m not an expert on all the current canoes that fit that category, but I think boats like the Hemlock Peregrine and Bell Merlin II would fit the bill. I’m sure there are Wenonah’s and Swift’s that also would.

This kind of hull will turn just fine for Florida’s rivers, and will eat up the dominant straight ahead paddling with less correction effort and more speed. This also means they will be easier to paddle upstream in the springs than short, highly turnable canoes.

well that wasnt my experence at all
Juniper this spring was very twisty and for the life of me less than four feet wide in some spots…how do you backferry…with all the blowdowns. Also some of the Everglades creeks are very twisty such as Gopher Creek.

I have used Peregrine and a more higly rockered boat in Fla and find that for the Glades I just alter my boats hull by heel…but if you are paddling any of the trails near Flamingo timing is crucial when using a long straight go ahead boat. The more highly rockered boat simply had too high a block coefficient so when the tide was against me I sure felt it!

But if you want to use a “straight ahead boat” to maneuver you will want to be kneeling…and practice the heeling.

FreeStyle is a technique not a boat and one of its centers of birth was Florida.

Just to brag again, we ran Juniper in
our 18.5 foot Moore, and when we got to where the second spring joined flow from Juniper, we pivoted and paddled upstream to the spring. What is that second spring, Fern or something?

A large, lightly loaded tandem canoe actually turns pretty easily, even if designed more for speed than for maneuverability.

The Vermont Canoe Indy…
I had it on Rock Springs Run, Wikiva, and Hillsborough. Tracks, turns, fast (but not a racing canoe)and is well sized for 180lb paddler plus gear. But of course that’s what I’m gonna say.

Mosquito Creek Outfitters has an Indy at their store in Apopka and it is able to be paddled on their demo pool on site (20’x60’). Additionally, I’ll be back in October with a full fleet of demo canoes, including the Indy, and if you’ve not made a decision yet, I’d be happy to go out for a day paddle on one of the awesome local runs ( I bet sissy103 will be there, too). If you can’t get up to Apopka, I’ll come to you.

Currently the Indy in Kevlar with aluminium gunwales is weighing in at 31 lbs.

Happy paddlin’


On the ultralight layup, be sure you
need it, because it will mean more money and more fragility. A 14 foot solo in any sensible glass/Kevlar layup should be light enough, and much more durable.

The Indy is gel coated for durabiliy…
perfect for the stumps, logs, and the sandy bottom rivers and lakes of Florida.

and how did you do for speed

The thirty out of control Grummans I encountered…and six people in the water?

Sure adds an element of spice.

Continue bragging LOL… I taught a FreeStyle class once in an Wenonah Odyssey and

made a windmill out of an Old Town XL…heeled over on a box stroke to a gimbal it resembled an old prop and I scattered a couple of dozen small solos.

And then threw up…(dizzy)

Given the skills you can do amazing things with about any boat… but not everyone wants to learn or execute those skills.