solo canoes seaworthy?

Two very different scenarios
River waves are very different from ocean waves. I had the problem you describe with my Slasher. Enter a fast current and it loads up on the stern. Until I got used to the stern squirting it was a garranteed flip.

On the Ocean there usualy isn’t much current. My trouble there was simply holding a course. Paddling into the swells I could see them coming and adjust. When the swells were coming from behind they’d tend to spin me and I wasted a lot of energy correcting after the fact.

Though I’m truly a weanie surfer on the ocean. (Anything over 5’ is a MONSTER!) I do enjoy surfing in the Slasher. I just wouldn’t want to have to travel very far in it.

Hate to see it end.
Been lurking on this thread and enjoying it.


I hope you enjoy your trip. It sounds to me like you have enough experience to keep yourself out of trouble. I paddled a Sandpiper once and liked it. The Vagabond looks like it would be fun for the kind of things you are doing.

The general topic of canoe seaworthyness is interesting to me and my own limited feel for it is that a boat with some rocker is a help as of course is proper trim. I paddled in some dicey following waves in the BWCAW this spring and one of the things I remarked about to the Bell Canoe rep I spoke with later was how easily I found it to control the stern. I could let the boat get dangerously close to parallel with the waves (so as to progress toward a lee shore) but also swing the stern back perpendicular to the waves when bigger ones approached. The boat, a Northwind, did inspire confidence in those conditions.

I’m still figuring things out in my Swift Shearwater solo canoe, but she seems to do fine in the waves if I am triming her right and does better with a load. Wish I could compare her to a Bell Magic in the wind and waves.

Regarding the Shearwater
My Shearwater is pushed around by breezes/wind from the rear when I daytrip and have less than 200 lbs. onboard. When I know it’s going to be windy, I snap on a spray cover and take along two 2 1/2 gallon waterbags to lay near the bow and stern. The extra 40 lbs. dampens the ends and makes the boat less quick to spin on it’s relatively flat bottom. It’s rocker (2"bow, 1"stern) and hull “fullness” are to “blame” of course, but they combine to allow one to manuever with loads up to 300 -325 lbs. while tripping. As a tripping boat, it’s superb in waves up to a couple of feet. Beyond that, the “particulars” of the rough water situation dictate it’s suitability for being out there. She’ll generally ship water over the side before taking it on over the bow. One time, I used it light with leeboards set backwards at 45 degrees to act as a double skeg about 3/4 ways back from the bow. THAT totally solved the rear being blown sideways. Although I sometimes wish for the speed of a Prism or Magic, I feel that the Shearwater is their better for tripping in conditions with both rough water and current to contend with. I think it’s one of the most “seaworthy” solos available. Tough too … in exp. kevlar/wood construction. I row mine using a beanbag as a seat and average around 4.2-4.4 mph with a modest cruising effort. You have to work a bit to stay at a 5 mph average … not really worth it while tripping.

Thanks Stap
Sounds like my experience. I’m close to 220 by myself and 240 or so with standard day trip gear. I did load her up with tripping weights a month or so ago and had it up to around 325 this was in a strong wind and I was impressed with the manuverability.

I think this points up for the general discussion, that even a canoe that may be at the upper end of seaworthiness for a solo still takes experience and experimentation to allow its optimum use in the wind.

It also supports what Beachcamper suggests regarding the match of paddler and boat size. He’d need to have a 50 lb pack just to match my body weight and still probably doesn’t have my reach. Difficulty controling a 16-17 footer that is “more seaworthy” might make it less seaworthy for someone Nessmuk’s size.

good grief!
if you cant move your weight around in windy conditions, well, you might as well bein a kayak. weight forward upwind, weight aft downwind and i dont mean a couple of inches, i mean however much it takes to get the boat to handle. that said, your windage can easily overpower any paddler in 25 kn and waves. in fact you’d have a challenge in a sea yak in those conditions.

Heres 20 photos of a decked canoe in rivers and big water. Plenty of room to move about.

Even add a sail if the wind gets just right.


I have learned alot with this post and hope the discussion does not end.

weight, waves and wind
moving weight is a big factor for me. i put a sliding wenonah seat in my rob roy and it handles much better when the wind and waves come up, especially when i’m going light on a day trip.

conditions wise, i can paddle on larger bays and actually make way in 25 knots. water here is shallow, so the waves are typically a foot to a foot and a half. they’re small, but nasty. they tend to form into a constant, rolling surf that pounds your boat every couple of seconds when paddling into weather.

i’ve paddled the boat in open Gulf waters in those same conditions with a load. wish i’d had a spray cover, but only once did i feel like the boat was getting tippy.

on the trim side i typically store gear toward the center and out to within a couple feet of the bow and stern. i like having weight in toward the ends, but i’ve found that my boat will ride up and over waves better if i put a small float bag between my gear and the bow/stern. when the packs are completely against the bow and stern the boat tends to dive into waves. that’s the only conditions that have caused me to take on water from the bow. those conditions were three foot incoming tide waves in a pass with 30 knot winds behind pushing the waves in the same direction.

Tranquility Solo with rudder?

– Last Updated: Jan-23-05 10:44 PM EST –

This really appealed to me as a kayaker...but it may be an abomination to knowledgeable canoers.

Fitted out with a spray deck I think this canoe is pretty close to what I envision as the "perfect" boat for the areas I paddle. What do you guys think?

BTW: Test of my wenonah was canceled due to very high winds so I took out the sea kayak instead for the weekend trip.

Go For It!!
There is a lot to like about that boat. You may find mixed feelings on this board about the optional rudder, but I’ve heard that using a rudder is more efficient than using control strokes, and in high wind, anything that increases efficiency is good. Not sure how durable that rudder mount looks, but there are always ways to improve things if necessary.

Souris River canoes are a little hard to come by around here, so even though they have some really nice boats, I really didn’t give them a thought back when I bought my Wenonah. I suppose you have to order them direct. I bet this would make a dandy solo BWCA boat.

I’d seen the Tranquility and the rudder rig but hadn’t thought of the application for coastal paddling. If you think the rudder is a good option for you maybe you’d want to see if it would work on other canoes as well. If it works for you, who cares what anyone else thinks about it.

I paddled a Souris Q17 a couple of years ago on a scout trip in Canada and was very impressed with the boat’s design materials and construction quality. Would love to own a Q16.

WildernessWebb and Mickwood have both owned Q16’s and may have both paddled the Tranquility. Mick has tons of experience with Kruger Seawinds, which have rudders of some sort. So he might have good info. on the subject of rudders . If you haven’t done so yet, you might want to start a thread specifically on the Tranquility and the rudder system.

Very interesting!
Any idea how the rudder is controled? Foot pedals?

Somebody had a Mad River Independence with a skeg a while back. Seemed like a good idea to me.

Like any of these, I’d want to try it before I spent that kind of money.

nice option
i’ve never paddled a souris river, but i’ve always heard good things about them. looks like a neat boat. sliding seat with two heights, a rudder and spray deck would make a seaworthy canoe capable of coastal touring, in my opinion. i think the rudder’s fine, especially on long days. i’ve thought of adding one to my rob roy, but i don’t want to put $300 into and have to drill holes into the boat. personally, i prefer the bucket seats. maybe souris river offers them.

I am glad
you guys don’t think it’s an awful idea. I like the fact that the canoe is 15’-6 and that should improve speed. But with my height and weight I can’t control a canoe that size in winds as well as a 14’ canoe with less than 13" center depth. So the rudder would be a really good option along with the spray skirt in bad conditions.

Too bad there aren’t any dealers here in FL. As far as the rudder setup, it is supposedly a good rudder system but they won’t divulge how it is installed…

Wenonah’s do want to weather cock according to the breeze. However I saw the same problem happening to a Bell Merlin on the Fulton Chain of lakes. I am not so sure it is the canoe as it is where they are paddled. The Bell did super on a tight meander, out in the open lake it was painfull watching the guy paddle it. It was also painful watching the Savage rivers, Grass Rivers and Wenonahs on that day.

Local Dealers?
Beachcamper, if you have a local dealer who is the sort that does a lot of retrofit/repair kind of stuff on canoes and kayaks they might be able to fix you up with something adapted from a kayak. I paddled with a woman last year who had a rudder on a Wenonah sandpiper. She said a nearby dealer had made it for her. This is a genuine paddlesports shop not a big box sporting goods store or a powerboat place that sells a few canoes and yaks. Might be worth asking around if you have dealers like that nearby.

Today I saw the photo of the Tranquility in Canoe & Kayak Magazine (p. 72). Sweet looking.

Thanks Osprey
I took a zoom on the picture they had on their website and I bet i can actually rig up a rudder on a canoe. But I would not do it on the Vagabond. I was looking at the Mohawk Odyssey 15 as a contender. I have installed rudders on two kayaks and it’s not hard at all.

Frankly the price they are asking for in the ad is really not expensive at all for the rudder, install/foot pedals. The tranquility is very nice looking but pretty expensive and I don’t know how that kevlar would hold up to the oyster reefs so numerous where I paddle. In the BWCA the rocks are mostly boulders (granite, etc) but not the sharp razor blade cutting type we have down here.

Saturday night we left camp at night to beat the wind on sunday. The currents in the river were pretty swift and there were oyster reefs everywhere. My kayak gets pretty scratched up especially when you can’t see where the reefs are and the current forces you on them. I don’t know how a kevlar canoe would do in that scenario.

Souris River Toughness
The Souris River boats are claimed to be as tough as any composites (Kruger’s are an acception I suppose). The Souris boats we used in Canada were the duralight layups and seemed to be holding up very well to typical knocks the scouts and seasonal guides put them through. We tied up on a windy shore one day and one of the boats shifted from its position and took a beating against a rock the whole time we broke for lunch. The result was only superficial scratches.

I remember how oyster reefs could eat a pair of tennis shoes up in half a day’s wading. We’ll see over the next couple of years how my Shearwater’s expedition kevlar layup holds up. I’m a couple of hours from the Texas coast and plan to trip there in the near future. Think I’ll do my best to stay off the oysters, but thats easier said than done.

Please let us know how the rudder turns out. It is sounding better to me all the time for my planned coastal trips.

definitely worth considering
I haven’t paddled one, but the Souris River boats seem to be well-designed. With a rudder and a spray cover it sounds like one worth considering seriously.

Does Souris River offer the spray cover as an option? I know some companies offer them on some of their boats, but I can’t remember which ones. For some reason I thought I had seen an advertisement for a Souris River boat with a Northwater spray cover. Just curious.


canoe and kayak magazine
has the boat on page 72 this month. The cover is not attached with snaps like the one that cooke custom sewing has on their site. I have to say, the cooke one looks like it won’t come off the boat in wins while this one they feature does. I also like the two piece feature not the 3 piece shown.

The kevlar is the only drawback I see unless someone out there has had experience with this material and oyster reefs.