solo trip with 16 foot Penobscot

Thinking of a 10 - 14 day trip in woodland caribou this summer and was pondering taking my Penobscot. I am 6’4" @220 and trip with like 60 pounds of gear/food. I like to explore as well as fish. Anybody else solo with a tandem? Thougths, comments welcomed.


Go for it
you have 2" and 15 lbs on me and I solo with my 174 Discovery, although I haven’t gone on an excursion like that. With the weight you will be carrying you should be in for a good trip.

If you will be going in shallow areas might be a good time to try poling! (maybe practice a few times first if you don’t pole already)

A whole nation
I’m perhaps generalizing a bit too much, but I speak for all of Canada when I say that solo tripping should be done in tandem boats, usually heeled over a bit. That is the way I prefer to go. I’ve owned a few dedicated solos, and other than in whitewater I find them lacking. Sure they are a bit faster than a tandem, but they are also less stable for fishing and relaxing, a bit harder to pack, and that much less versatile. The Bell Yellowstone Solo, a boat that most seem to love, I found far to small and lacking in buoyancy.

When I go on solo trips now I take a kevlar prospector that weighs less than my old mad river guide (which was a great boat, but no better than a prospector most of the time).

The other argument

– Last Updated: Apr-02-10 8:34 AM EST –

Is that the performance differences between a dedicated solo and a tandem paddled solo are huge. No one with the stick skills to dominate a real solo would ever paddle a tandem solo unless paid to do so. The solo is just, plain, way more fun!

Part of the issue is the heeled-down stance a solo paddler must assume to reach the water over the hulls width. Looks cool, but the hull carves a turn toward offside with every forward stroke. That requires gobs of correction; energy expended in a direction we are not going: major inefficiency!

Another negative for soloing a tandem is the complete lose of cross strokes. We can't see, much less reach the water over the high off side. And there are significant wind issues as well.

All that said, few of us paddle for a living, so efficiency isn't a requirement. If the image of Bill Mason prying off the rail is more compelling than the sheer joy of dominating a boat with, among others, cross strokes, so be it.

Maybe I will see you there

– Last Updated: Apr-01-10 11:31 PM EST –

I have a two weeker in August in WCPP. I will have a 33 lb Hemlock Peregrine. Though it has its faults its 33 lbs and I can make a mistake with it on portages. Some of the portages have lots of up and down and I am old and weak.

Dont get deceived by the short distances. Some of the ports are cruel. Worse as in last year when it was paddle walk or get sunk in loonshit due to flooding. I was grateful for 33 lbs when I got pinned to the waist on one of the Kilburn ports.

Light and durable is an asset there, but if you are young and strong that boat is OK. Some of the larger lakes may give you wind problems.

Canadians being practical pick bigger boats that can handle two, be soloed by one and have the volume for a safe cold water Arctic trip. But I have soloed WCPP (four times) in a dedicated 15 foot solo.

My total load too was around 275.

Its a beautiful park with lots of cliffs. Enjoy.

Well, some of us can still cross stroke
a tandem, but I admit that I wouldn’t do it except to executer a cross draw for a hard pivot to the opposite side.

Yes and No
I love paddling solo canoes. Especially when it’s just me and the boat.

But for tripping, a tandem paddled solo has the advantage of greater capacity. Tandems can be more versatile too. There aren’t many solo’s which I’d consider for a trip that included poling upstream.

A Prospectorish hull, I’ll include my MR Explorer in that group, is easier to solo in a straight line when heeled than when flat, showing very little if any tendency to carve to the offside.

I suspect the a Penobscot would solo better paddled flat but I don’t have enough experience in that hull to be sure.

I used to solo camping occasionally in my old Old Town Tripper–17+ feet and 80 pounds—so long as you don’t go out if breezy conditions or do really technical white water(say over class II) you shouldn’t have a problem

I’ve done a much shorter trip (5 days)…
solo with the Penobscot 16. I didn’t really have to paddle it heeled over because at 6’2" I can paddle from the bow seat pretty comfortably. Just put the gear far enough forward for ballast.

Its those portages
some of them have rises of 100 meters over 400 meters. (thats over 300 feet).

And the footing is sloppy or on caribou ridges.

Its most unlike Quetico or the BWCA which of course makes it interesting!

Sounds kinda steep! My canoe is not exactly light!! Looks like I could be in for a physical trip. I was out today, wind gusting to around 20 + MPH. I was on a narrow stretch of water, a real wind tunnel, no huge swells, just a blast of fast air for about 1 1/2 miles. I did ok solo in the Penobscot with a tripping load. Tough duty though. Great practice but can’t really say it was too fun.

Tough duty

– Last Updated: Apr-04-10 8:42 AM EST –

You said it perfectly. I own a Penobscot,Explorer,Perigrin,Yellowstone solo,and a few more. Tommy is right, if you are a poling upstream you need a tandom.Or when I am paddling and poling with Molly my Yellow Lab. I love the big boats. But when I get caught out in wind or have to carry it very far I want my 32 lb. boat. It just way more fun to paddle the solos. Like Charlie said why burn up all that energy pushing a big boat. Your Penobscot will work but is not always your best choice. Have fun on your trip.

Yah its a bit more work sometimes

– Last Updated: Apr-04-10 10:32 AM EST –

Comparable ruggedness might be down by the Falls Chain.

Last year was so wet in WCPP that any heavy load just sank you to your waist in mud.

I didnt have any particular problems with wind, though if you choose larger lakes up north that could be an issue.

Your boat would be fine on the water . I keep seeing references to paddling a tandem solo and how it would work. Yes it would.

But so far nothing about portaging from anyone else..has anyone else been to WCPP?

Bob there are a couple of things you can do to make the portages easier. One is to call Clare at the Red Rock MNR office and find what has been cleared recently and what blowdown events may have happened over the winter. The blowdowns can certainly make portaging harder. MNR does not have the staff to do the whole park every year and relies on paddlers reports of bad areas, then prioritizes them for the crew.

Anther tactic is to plan on four portages or so a day..less than what you think you can do. As you do not have to have a permit for a particular lake you can up the speed and make a bigger trip if you wish after sizing things up.

solo a tandem
I have done extensive solo in my old town disco. They are right the wind can be a problem, but I found if you put most of your pack weight up front it takes most of that problem away.

You are right, the Penobscot is very safe in the wind. I guess I really mean the extra arms that it takes to paddle a wide boat for a long distance. I think know one talks about portageing one is that most men could not do it for long. I have the same problem with my Explorer in Roylex. But you sound like a big guy and may be fine. When I first started tripping I was told to put my boat on my head and take it for a walk in the woods. I never did! Good luck.