Solo Pelican???

I just wanted to see if anyone out there is soloing a Pelican Navigator and what their thoughts are on it. I did a search on this site for “solo canoeing” and checked the buyer’s guide and product reviews and thepelican website. A lot of good info. They advertise it as a good solo/tandem canoe but just wanted to see if there was some other first hand accounts of how it is. My friend and I have a 17 foot, old aluminium tandem for shared paddling but I want something for myself / and some gear. Also, how is the fit. I’m 6’2" and 210lbs. long legs/arms and a belly. thanks.

No first hand experience here
I was hoping someone would give this poster a first hand account of paddling a Navigater.

I had never even heard of this particular solo, so I popped over to the Pelican website for a quick perusal. Nice website, easily navigated, a tad short on technical information!

It’s worth noting that rather than being a solo canoe, the Navigater is “soloable”. It is 14 ft long, 37 inches wide, flat bottomed, and has a keel. My immediate inclination is to say it is not nimble! But, I should leave that observation to a person who has actually paddled it.

In neither the description nor the technical details is there any mention of rocker. However the photograph seems to show a good 3 inches of rocker. Having it and not mentioning it in the description seems weird. Was this photographic illusion? Would there be some benefit to rockering a flat bottomed boat with these dimensions and a keel?

I’m guessing that this boat is quite acceptable for solo fishing in calm water close to shore. Along with the poster, I’m curious what this boat is like.

I have an MR 15 RX Explorer that
has about the same dimensions which I paddle solo. It’s a tandem though. I kneel and paddle the canoe backwards. It’s a great canoe for tandem day trips and when my wife doesn’t want to paddle, I’ll go solo. However, I later bought a dedicated solo canoe and much rather paddle it than the wider Explorer. I’m about the same build as you and didn’t have any trouble with the width, but a narrower solo canoe is a lot more fun to paddle. If I was going to go fishing though, I’d probably bring the Explorer since it’s a lot more stable.

The term “rocker” isn’t of much use…
…anyway when talking about Pelican canoes. I figure they are made of the same Ram-x plastic as the old Colemans, and if that’s true, the boat will be so warped and wavy on the bottom after the first year or two, and rocker that had been there would be obliterated.

Pelicans are okay boats if your paddling is a long way from being serious. For going out for short distances on small bodies of water, most people will think they are just fine. As soon as you start to need something that’s nimble or which cruises for longer distances, any of the “real” canoe makers will have something better (but at a higher price).

solo canoe
It does not sound like this would be a good solo boat,

.At 37 inch beam with a flat bottom and a keel it will take a lot of effort to paddle.You will never regret paying a little more for a better boat like a kevlar,that will serve you for years

and be a joy to paadle.

Initial cost a concern? The Pelican
Navigator could be made to serve as a casual solo boat. ((I have NO IDEA why they put tandem seats in such a short boat, unless it is for kid use.)) But I would encourage you to look for better value-for-price points, boats that might hurt a little to buy right now, but would give back much more later on. I notice Rutabaga sells the Wenonah Argosy in Royalex for 1000 bucks. That is a real value, and by shopping around you may do better. Try to avoid solo boats over 32" wide. Even though you’re tall, a narrower boat will paddle easier.

Checked it in person
Thanks all. I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods real quick after work today and checked out their boats while picking up some other items and all of the Pelicans they had did seem to be flimsy and cheap. Even when talking to my wife, when I told her the low cost she said “That’s it? Why don’t you get something good?” Thanks for all the insights. I am going to save a little longer and keep researching and shopping around.


– Last Updated: Apr-07-08 7:31 PM EST –

I'd look for used solo -- something like a Wenonah Vagabond might work well for you. I just saw a used one listed for $750.

If you don't mind aluminum canoes, here's one from the Pnet classifieds:

(CT) Grumman G129 Solo Canoe Length 12'9" Beam 29 1/2" Includes Bell T and regular Kneeling pads and Paddle 41"shaft 21" blade. Price $600.

After doing some searching…
I am thinking that if I describe what I will be using the canoe for you guys/gals could give me some more advice. I live near Lake Wallenpaupack Pennsylvania and want to use the boat on that lake as well as the Delaware river, maybe the Finger lakes in NY and my father in-law lives near the Potomac River in VA and I would like to get out on that at some point. So, I guess I am looking for a recomendation for a solo that can take some rough water with camping gear along with it. I’ve been searching the “buyer’s guide” and the “product reviews” but my eyes are getting buggy and my poor notetaking is getting more confusing. Plus, some products aren’t in the guide. An above poster suggested a Wenonah and their “new” Wilderness looked interesting but I would appreciate any suggestions. Also, the budget has increased to around $1500. Thanks.

now you’ve got some options
There are many good boats for those uses in your price range. You need to decide whether you want to emphasize low price and toughness (look for a boat made of Royalex or other plastic) or light weight and refined handling (look for a “composite” boat, made of fiberglass, Kevlar, or carbon). You don’t say where on the Delaware you want to paddle, or how good you are at avoiding rocks.

Consider a used boat. There’s a good chance you will want a different boat after a couple of years in a boat that you like but that is imperfect for you. Some options in the p.n classifieds right now (none are mine):

Bell WildFire in MI, apparently Kevlar and fiberglass (what Bell calls “WhiteGold”), inferring from the listed weight.

Another WildFire, in PA (Pittsburgh, though), a little heavier than the one above. The WildFire is one of my favorite boats (owned one for eleven years), and loved by many others on this board – do a search.

Wenonah Advantage, if you want to emphasize speed across that lake and suffer corresponding unhappiness in twisty or rocky waters. It will feel tippy and might be tippy.

Wenonah Moccasin. I don’t know much about this model, but the catalog always made it sound like a good boat for your needs.

Grumman G129. I don’t know anything about this hull shape (probably not great), but aluminum boats are famously forgiving of abuse, like leaving it outside all year. The price is right. Lots of disadvantages to aluminum – do a little research.

Mad River Independence (two, one in PA), another fast boat that will be hard to handle in twisty or rocky waters, and that will feel tippy at first. A lot of fun once you get used to it.

That’s all that leap out at me in the classifieds. If you’re willing to avoid rocks (either by skill or by paddling somewhere else), I’ll push you toward the WildFire – man I love that boat.

All my recommendations are based on the assumption that you’re looking for the joy of paddling. If you’re looking for the joy of fishing or photographing or cloud-watching, you should probably choose a wider, flatter-bottomed boat.

Save a good chunk of your money to buy one good paddle and one cheap paddle, and then another good one in a year. “Fifty extra dollars in your paddle will make you happier than five hundred extra in your canoe.”

Plus there’s a life vest and other accessories – they add up.

I’m happy to answer questions … this was the condensed version :slight_smile:

– Mark

fishing and other uses…
Personally, I pretty much disagree with the conventional wisdom that for a fishing or photography canoe you need something wide and flat bottomed. Face it, there are few if any solo canoes that are stable enough to stand and fish comfortably, so exactly why do you want one that is going to be a barge to paddle just so you can fish?

I almost never get in a canoe without having a bunch of fishing tackle. While I love paddling, fishing is always the biggest reason I paddle. I want a canoe that will get me through the flat, unproductive water on the river as quickly and effortlessly as possible so that I can enjoy the paddling and get to the good fishing more quickly. And a good paddling design, especially one that leans a bit toward good tracking ability, works best for me. On rivers, the same design characteristics that make the canoe glide through the water with a minimum of effort also makes the current glide past the canoe without affecting it as much, so I can slow or stop the canoe in current long enough to make a few casts.

So, I wouldn’t recommend the short, wide, flat-bottomed canoes even if you’re fishing or photographing. My current favorite solo is the Wenonah Vagabond in Royalex, and that’s about as wide and flat as I care to go.

Solo boats
I’ve a spec sheet on almost every traditional and pack solo canoe available.

Doesn’t cover Royalite solos due to their poor on-water and overhead characteristics.

email me at I’ll forward the file

$1500 will get plenty of canoe
If you want a dedicated solo, try a bell or a wenonah prism or one of the swift boats, etc. There are a lot of good solos out there, and you’ll get pick of the litter on the used market with $1500. Don’t skimp on the paddle(s), either.

solo canoe
Take a hard look at Prospector 15 0r 16 .These boats are a treat to paddle.Some real good canoes made in Canada.They will have a slight tumblehome and can be leaned when turning etc.

Landford or Scott Canoe are a couple of names to check out.However no matter what you are looking at,suggest you try paddling the canoe before you buy it.

P.S. Nova Craft canoe in London Ont. make a real nice 15ft. Prospector

One thing to keep in mind about…
…Prospectors. What’s true for a beginner in any solo canoe is even MORE true for a Prospector. You really need to learn how to paddle reasonably well to “have fun” in one. Don’t let that stop you from considering a Prospector - just remember that solo-canoe paddling isn’t easy until you’ve had a good bit of practice. After that, it’s a real joy.

So, I won’t need to forward my photos
of Pelican canoes wrapped around trees or rocks on the Toccoa and on Murder Creek…